Dominique Hecq grew up in the French - speaking part of Belgium. She now lives in Melbourne. Her works include a novel, three collections of short stories and six books of poetry. Her stories and poems have been published internationally. These appear in English and other languages in anthologies, journals and on websites. Over the years, her work has been awarded a variety of prizes. Hush: A fugue (2017) is her latest book in English. Hors limites, her auto-translation of Out of bounds (2009) is hot off the press at L’Harmattan.

Coming up for Air

Dating from the late fourteenth century the noun ‘inhabitation’ denotes the ‘act or fact of dwelling;’ but also a ‘state of being’ and a ‘place of lodging’ or ‘abode’ from the Old French habitacion or abitacion ‘a dwelling or act of dwelling’ (12th century). It might also come directly from the Latin habitationem, the nominative case of habitation, ‘a dwelling,’ a noun of action from the past participle stem of habitare whose common Latin root is the past participle of the verb ‘to live, inhabit, dwell,’ the frequentative of habere ‘to have, to hold, possess.’ A most unstable term which must have arisen when the need was felt for an abstract term to express the ideas of making a home, and, by extension, populating. It is a rich word, conjuring as it does notions of occupancy, residence, ownership, control, possession, but also antithetical ideas of pre-occupancy or co-occupancy or post-occupancy, as in the fact of haunting and the state of being haunted. Like Freud's ‘Unheimliche’ (2001 [1917-1919]), ‘inhabitation’ highlights the unstable boundary between the familiar and the strange as well as the porous nature of the membrane between the inner and the outer. This paper will approach the following question: as a writer, do I inhabit language, or does it inhabit me? I will do so with specific reference to ‘Air: Dreamwork of a novel’ and ‘Masks,’ two works concerned with dialogical authorship and heteronymy.

Keywords: Inhabitation – language – writing – psychoanalysis – poetics

Fugal alternatives

For over twenty years, conflicting claims in the construction of identity have been central to the problems of re-defining autobiography. Elizabeth Bruss (1976) referred to autobiography as a literary practice that is in continuous flux. Georges Gusdorf (1980) problematised the relationship between subjective and objective memory in autobiography. Paul Eakin (1992) drew attention to the shifting boundaries between fact and fiction in self-representation. Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson (2001) argued that autobiographical writing assigns both singular and multiple subject positions to the representation of identity. Contemporary experimental poetry inflected by the autobiographical drive actively engages these conflicting issues within the context of autofiction. In this paper, I touch upon the relationships between autobiography and fiction and poetry to explore how different modes of representation raise questions regarding the construction of identity. I will focus on my own work, specifically on the composition of Hush: A Fugue (Hecq 2017), first written as a novel, then as a memoir and, finally as cross-generic text. Because the paper revisits the composition of a work which took over two decades to write, it is written in inductive mode, only arguing its point by allusion and accretion in order to highlight the speculative departures at work in the process. These speculative departures, or fugal alternatives, concern the discrepancy between the reading ‘I’ and the writing ‘I’ on the one hand, and the theorist and ‘the breathing author’ on the other. These alternatives are shown to underscore the active character of identity formation in the writing process and the retrospective nature of (embodied) knowledge.

Unfettered flights of thought

Between Madness and Creativity

This paper is in two parts. The first examines the relationship between creativity and madness as it manifests itself in the work of Freud and Lacan and culminates in Lacan’s theorising of the operation of suppléance, a proxy device that prevents subjective dissolution and provides a key to understanding the hidden order of artmaking. The second problematises suppléance by testing it against Ehrenzweig’s theory of creativity. The aim of the paper is to identify schemata that link madness and creativity using a psychoanalytic frame in order to question theory in ways that may be helpful for artists, and more specifically creative writers. It does so by focusing on Lacan’s conceptualisation of the real as ambiguous and ‘extimate’, two ideas also present in the work of Freud and Ehrenzweig. The ambiguity and ambivalence at stake here are retrieved from the unconscious as the ‘equivocation’ between the real and the imaginary (Lacan 2005a: 102; emphasis added). This equivocation is precisely what must be negotiated, I suggest, when madness beckons and a threat to the ego looms, unless some creative solution is found which enables the knotting of the real, the imaginary and the symbolic. As an art, writing may be that which knots together the ex-sistence of the real, the consistence of the imaginary and the hole introduced by the symbolic, while also showing how these can each be transformed according to the way in which suppléance works at each level.