Minimalism, bloodied and raw: Palahniuk's literary violence

Hourigan, Daniel (2009) Minimalism, bloodied and raw: Palahniuk's literary violence. In: 2nd Conference of the International Society for Cultural History (ISCH 2009): Cultures of Violence and Conflict, 20-23 Jul 2009, Brisbane, Australia.

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This paper analyses how Chuck Palahniuk's minimalist violence toward literary style feeds on conflict to bring the reader to a 'gut reaction'. It will be proposed that the
Palahniukian source of this psychosomatic expression is the literary style of 'romantic minimalism'. Foremost, Palahniuk's style is romantic; his stories profane the utility of everyday life from within. And Palahniuk uses minimalist prose to shape this romantic impetus. This minimalism strips the regime of language raw; making it an unadorned core of literary expression that is too intense for merely cerebral celebration. Palahniuk's 'romantic minimalism' condenses the reader's experience into an
evocative experience of, at times conflicted, embodied imagination. This condensed 'gut response' is reflexively explored in Palahniuk's book Diary where the motif of
uncontrollable cerebral excesses (i.e. Stendhal syndrome) is a vital part of the ingested narrative that resonates within the reader's imagination. Mutatis mutandis,
Palahniuk's exposition identifies several axioms that bridge the psychosomatic reception of his literary enterprise with the aesthetic field of his prose. Firstly, the contours of his minimalism are substantially 'in-aesthetic', excessively powerful. Subsequently, this excess is purified and condensed by Palahniuk's minimalism that transforms the words on the page into violent things that exceed the dead symbolic structures of written language, catching the reader unaware. From this it follows that this 'powerful excess' is not localised in the aesthetic 'present time' of the narrative but rather relies on the speculation of imagination, the in-aesthetic excess. Yet the reflexive ficto-critical exposition in Diary only partially reveals the resonance of Palahniuk's 'romantic minimalism' with our 'psychosomatic imagination'. While these axioms appear to suggest something extra-literary about Palahniuk's minimalist prose we should remember that this is merely the fruit of his subjection to the tyranny
of symbolic regiment (language). Thus, in his fidelity to minimalism is Palahniuk also therefore his own tyrant?

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © 2011 University of Wollongong. Permanent restricted access to published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Arts - Department of Humanities and International Studies
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2014 04:03
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2015 01:57
Fields of Research : 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2203 Philosophy > 220307 Hermeneutic and Critical Theory
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2203 Philosophy > 220314 Philosophy of Mind (excl. Cognition)
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2203 Philosophy > 220310 Phenomenology
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970122 Expanding Knowledge in Philosophy and Religious Studies

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