Detection – “a diffusive function carried out by many different characters that, in its resemblance to reading, creates a virtual network of identifications through or by which the reader can be made to enter the world of the novel as one more participant in it” (190)

Narrative sequences of disclosure must be plausible to make a sensation. Their plausibility drives the interest attaching to personified voices. Only plausibly personified voices may sync up their “bodily effects” with those of the reader. That is to say, if both bodies are to go through the sensations of exposure to “the same order of events,” then a minimal criterion for that likeness is the plausibility of the fictional body that voices those events.

Yet what this assertion seems unclear about, at least so far, is the difference between the bodily effects of two kinds of narrative event. While this argument gives an account of how personified voices share sensations with those who read them, it says little about the network of details, or “little ‘connecting links,'” through which the “order of events” itself comes to seem plausible.

Second criterion: narrative events, built up through the concatenation of details, need room to stretch out — they need a duration that paraphrase can’t handle.

Networks of evidence carry out the “diffusive function” of plots of detection just as much as characters. Their individual functioning is, however, indiscernible: their only value is in aggregate — in isolation, they are “trifling.” Details do not extend their invitations to participate in the discovery of secrets by way of a “network of identifications.”

Lurid details break the antinomy of “graphic” and “pictorial” space. Is that paint or blood on the scalpel? Sensation or representation? Index or figure?

Unnatural vividness — or the “animatedness” of paint — is, like the lurid detail, a way of both enticing spectatorial positions into the diegesis — “graphic” space — and of expelling them onto the surface form — “pictorial” space.

Novels do not, of course, necessarily bear the same divisions as paintings. With Collins, though, it does seem as though the detail — especially those that jump out at you from the network of minor details — forms the real fabric of the novel’s plausibility — its sheen of corporealism. Sensations repeat — touched all over, or over and over.

Maybe then it’s where sensation brims over a personifiable vehicle or character-space — maybe something like the “gleam” — that the detail is at its most lurid. There, then, it’s not a matter of coordination between a fictional body’s response and a reading body’s response. Rather, it’s actually the fictional body’s inability to contain its response — where it spills over into atmosphere, perhaps — or its excess of sensation to representation — that, though still hitched to an “event” and in that sense coordinating both bodies around the diegesis, also underlines the asymmetry of or delay in exposure : obviously, the fact that the reading body may respond to the “order of events” as a formal or pictorial order (a surface) whereas the fictional body, to maintain its plausibility, ostensibly may not.


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