minoritarian + literature


minoritarian + literature
  ---- by Ronald Bogue
  In a 1912 diary entry, Kafka reflects on the advantages Czech and Yiddish writers enjoy as contributors to minor literatures, in which no towering figures dominate and the life of letters is consumed with collective social and political concerns. Deleuze and Guattari argue that Kafka's characterisation of minor literatures actually maps Kafka's own conception of literature's proper function and guides his practice as a Prague Jew writing in German. The essence of Kafka's minor literature Deleuze and Guattari find in three features: 'the deterritorialization of language, the connection of the individual to a political immediacy, and the collective assemblage of enunciation' (D&G 1986: 18). Kafka discovers in Prague German the instabilities of a deracinated government language subtly deformed through Czech usage, and in his writings he further destabilises that already deterritorialised German in an ascetic impoverishment of diction and syntax. Throughout his stories and novels Kafka directly links psychological and family conflicts to extended social and political relations. And though he necessarily writes as a solitary individual, he treats language as a collective assemblage of enunciation and thereby attempts to articulate the voice of a people to come (since a positive, functioning collectivity is precisely what Kafka finds lacking).
  In the concept of minor literature Deleuze and Guattari connect the political struggles of minorities to the formal experimentations typical of the modernist avant-garde. What makes possible this rapprochement of politics and formal innovation is Deleuze and Guattari's view of language as a mode of action in continuous variation. Every language imposes power relations through its grammatical and syntactic regularities, its lexical and semantic codes, yet those relations are inherently unstable, for linguistic constants and invariants are merely enforced restrictions of speech-acts that in fact are in perpetual variation. A major usage of a language limits, organises, controls and regulates linguistic materials in support of a dominant social order, whereas a minor usage of a language induces disequilibrium in its components, taking advantage of the potential for diverse and divergent discursive practices already present within the language.
  A minor literature, then, is not necessarily one written in the language of an oppressed minority, and it is not exclusively the literature of a minority engaged in the deformation of the language of a majority. Every language, whether dominant or marginalised, is open to a major or a minor usage, and whatever its linguistic medium, minor literature is defined by a minor treatment of the variables of language. Nor is minor literature simply literature written by minorities. What constitutes minorities is not their statistical number, which may in actuality be greater than that of the majority, but their position within asymmetrical power relationships that are reinforced by and implemented through linguistic codes and binary oppositions. Western white male adult humans may be outnumbered worldwide, but they remain the majority through their position of privilege, and that privilege informs the linguistic oppositions that define, situate and help control non-western and non-white populations, women, children and non-human life forms. Minorities merely reinforce dominant power relations when they accept the categories that define them. Only by undoing such oppositions as western/non-western, white/non-white, male/female, adult/child, or human/animal can minorities change power relations. Only by becoming 'other', by passing between the poles of binary oppositions and blurring clear categories can new possibilities for social interaction be created. Such a process of becoming other is central to minor literature and its minor usage of language and this minor becoming other is that which turns a dominated minority into an active force of transformation. Hence, minor literature is less a product than a process of becoming minor, through which language is deterritorialised immediately social and political issues are engaged, and a collective assemblage of enunciation makes possible the invention of a people to come.

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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