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LUDIC TRANSFORMATIONS: GAME AND PLAY IN JULIO CORTAZARS 62 MODELO PARA ARMAR AND GEORGES PERECS LA VIE MODE DEMPLOI BY ALBA JARAMILLO A thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. Jocelyn VanTuyl Sarasota, Florida May, 2009
Jaramillo ii Acknowledgements Special thanks to: Luz M. Gaviria Jaime Jaramillo John Witte Dr. Jose A. Portugal Madison Sharko Info Commons Kateland Harte Dr. Gabriel Saad Maia de la Calle John Ewing Caf Bustelo Lee Ellen Reed House on 45th St. Anna Hamilton Monica Tambay Treat Street Persephone ThornHauswirth Justin Boner Tierney Elison Dr. Cris Hassold Lorna Bouret Caf Pilon Scott Ross Misha Wyllie
Jaramillo iii Table of Contents Acknowledgementsii Abstract.....iv Introduction Chapter 1: Rules and Reader-Author Interplay.....9 Sticking to the Rules: Game and Reader Play in 62 Model Kit ..... Envisioning Success: Polemics of Visi on and Reader-Author Competition in La Vie Mode DEmploi...23 Chapter 2: Ludic Transforma tions: Creating New Texts.36 Cortazars Ludic Thresholds....37 Perecs Transformative Constraints. Conclusion... Works Cited.....61
LUDIC TRANSFORMATIONS: GAME AND PLAY IN JULIO CORTAZARS 62 MODELO PARA ARMAR AND GEORGE PERECS LA VIE MODE DEMPLOI Alba Jaramillo New College of Florida, 2009 ABSTRACT Experimental authors have often used th e theme of game and play in literature for stimulating new ways of reading and narrating. The Argentinian writer Julio Cortazar (1914-84) and French author Ge orges Perec (1936-1982) integrated this notion into their work in order to experi ment with different narrative designs and encourage reader participation. The application of this theme to literature often carries a tension between control and freedom that affects the structure of the text as well as how it is interpreted. With reputations as the authors most complex works, 62 Modelo para Armar and La Vie Mode Demploi thematize the notions of games and play and provide examples of how the tension between these terms makes the interpretation of the texts more ope n but, alternatively, more regulated. In this thesis I focus on how the notio ns of game and play influence the reception as well as the creation of the text. In the first chapter, I look at the ways in which the authors use of game frames the relationship between the figures of the reader and the author as being both competitive and collaborative. In the second chapter, I look at a set of arbitrary models around which the authors structure their
novels. Through these models, these writers are able to destabilize meaning in the texts by relying on a network of rules instead of traditional analys is of the text. My focus throughout this study is directed towa rds an analysis of the textual dynamics affected by the concept of game and pla y, and how concepts such as constraint, regulation, and freedom of c hoice come together in the reading and writing of the text. Dr. Jocelyn VanTuyl Division of Humanities
Jaramillo 1 Introduction The notion of game and play is a thema tic subset of techniques often used in experimental literature. Authors borrow concep ts from different games and apply them to their narratives in order to criticize the conve ntions of narrative language. Literary games in Julio Cortzars 62 Modelo para Armar ( 62 Model Kit ) and Georges Perecs La Vie Mode DEmploi ( Life a Users Manual ) demonstrate how the notion of play can affect ways of reading and stimulate new ways of narrating. With a reputation as the authors most complex works, 62 and La Vie thematize the notion of games and play in order to venture into experimental forms of non-lin ear writing. They introduce a discourse that changes the way of appreciating th e possibilities of the novel. In 62 and La Vie, games appear on different levels. They can be game s the characters play, linguistic games and even games that dictate the creative process of the text. All these formats are generally placed under the same umbrella when it come s to considering a novel to be a ludic novela literary work that employs the use of game and play. One main characteristic of this genre is a high level of self-reflexivity. The use of game in literature commonly involves fo rmal techniques such as word-play, fragmentations of text, or sets of instructions. All of these stylistic choices call into question the structure and language of a text and its form in order to destabilize it. This attack on the foundations of the text is also an attack on the traditional model for a narrative, which has customarily been composed of a series of conventions such as linear temporal progressions of plot and causality of events. In terms of structure, there is a degree of convention to the tr aditional novel which the use of game aims to question and subvert. For an author to impose literary games in a conventional structure is to
Jaramillo 2 acknowledge its status as part of a larger canon and establish its part icipation as well as its detachment from it. In order to discuss experimental novels th at employ game and play, it is necessary to consider their divergence from the traditional novel. In establishing this type of autonomy, the ludic novel has a tendency to create a set of rules specific to itself, as would a game in order to distinguish itself from reality. Although in theory every novel could be said to have its own set of rules, the ludic novel frequently makes them explicit. In 62 and La Vie for example, the inclusion of a prol ogue that contains directions on how to read the novel dictates to the reader that the text he is about to encounter has very specific rules. As a result of this line of novels having an exclusive set of rules, methods for approaching these works vary greatly, as there is no solid model of analysis. This varying application makes the idea of play a nd game a highly malleable field for literary investigation. However, a common characteristic that al ways appears when discussing game and play in literature is the contenti on that ar`ises in the applicati on of these terms as either an external discourse or as an already inherent property of narrative language. In other words, are game and play creative interventions in the text or are they already natural to it? The answer to this can be as simple as deciding whether game and play are used to describe narrative language (a closed-structured system full of possibi lities) or a solution to the problem of breaking free from conventiona l models of narrative. In this sense they can be both, but at the same time th ey reveal a problematic foundation. The difference between the terms game a nd play is crucial for understanding the underlying tensions inherent in their application. In many languages they mean the same
Jaramillo 3 thing (in French jeu and in Spanish juego) but they have a completely different meaning in English: game refers to a closed system of rules; play is the act of playing with, within or even outside of them. For this study, although the difference between the terms game and play is not the main concern, the questions that arise as a resu lt of their differing functions help to explore the tensions present in their application and the effect they have in a literary text. One of the first dialogues that approached the contentions between the concepts of game and play originated in Johan Huizi ngas and Roger Caillo iss studies. Although neither of the two authors spoke directly about literature in terms of game or play, they established a theoretical framework to disc uss these notions in different contexts. Huizingas canonical work Homo Ludens makes a detailed analysis of play in society and attempts to give an encompassing definition of the qualities of pla y. Caillois responds to this work years later with Le Jeux et les Hommes, a detailed analysis of different types of games and the importance of highlighting their differences and motivations. Caillois text considers the different manifest ations of game and poses the idea that play, like game, is governed by rules because it functions under conventions that susp end ordinary laws and establish a new set of rules (Caillois 10). More recent authors use Huizingas and Cailloiss studies as a springboard for discussing game and play in literature. In th ese latter studies, the variety of ways game and play affect different aspects of the litera ry text are explored more closely. In his book Games Authors Play, Peter Hutchinson goes in depth to co nsider the effects that literary games in a text have on the figures of the au thor and the reader as well as the ways different games transform the perception of th e text. Other authors like Warren Motte use
Jaramillo 4 the discourse of game and play to analy ze a series of literary texts. In his book Playtexts, Motte affirms the idea that, to different degrees play is inherent to all texts. Although there are several other examples of models of analysis for ludic texts, many times the methodologies are based on an essential equation: study the dynamics around rules that a playtext (to borrow Mottes term) is subjecte d to in order to better see how a text can creatively extend its meanings or play with them. A thorough analysis of the relationship be tween game and play with literature became a pressing need as there appeared more narrative trends that reflected a fascination with this phenomenon. Twentie th-century literary movements such as Surrealism, the Nouveau Roman and the Oulipo often employed games as formal narrative experiments in order to challenge common practices in writing. Authors like Julio Cortzar and Georges Perec were heavily influenced by these movements, thereafter becoming key figures in this pa rticular literary genre that heavily employs the notion of game and play. Unlike the majority of the writers we associate with the avant garde, Julio Cortzar had his beginnings in Latin America. He was born in 1914 in Belgium and grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina. There he bega n writing short stories, perhaps the narrative format for which he is best known. He was one of the pioneers in the movement known as El Boom Latinoamericano, which developed in the last third of the twentieth century and included Latin American writers that we re experimenting with new forms of writing. For most of his adult life, however, he lived as an expatriate in Paris, where he wrote some of his most famous works, including Rayuela and 62 Modelo para Armar Living in France, he was heavily influenced by the French literary movements of Surrealism and
Jaramillo 5 the Nouveau Roman. While not an official member of either school, the beliefs that shape his novels are marked by common char acteristics of these movements. An example of Cortzars Surrealist tendenc ies is the use of dualisms, a view of existence that the surrealists shared that asserts an inherent dualism in existence, constituted by that which we perceive ev eryday as well as that which we do not perceiveor that which stays in our subconsciou s. According to the surrealists, things belonging to the realm of the subconscious hold a truth that the habits of the everyday perceived reality cannot grasp. This way of thinking can be seen in Rayuela s dualistic nature as a novel that moves between two geographical spaces (Paris and Buenos Aires), and establishes two ways of reading it. The novel could be read in the normal linear progression but it could also be read in a specific order that Cortzar has assigne d in the beginning of the novel. This type of narrative structure poses the idea that there is a normal way of reading the novel as well as an alternat e but inherently truer way to reading it. Similarly, many of Cortzars short stories have characters who find outlets to other modes of existence within reality; this makes them question what they would normally perceive as the everyday reality. This way of thinking can be seen in Cortzars use of literary games, which have a way of subverting what he believes to be the univocal, conventional text in order to show more open texts that perhaps reveal a truer aspect of reality. Evidently, Cortzars narratives dont follow Surrealism in a strict sense, but instead use its beliefs as one of the ways of subverting what he considered to be th e imperative logic of Western metaphysics. Cortzar has also borrowed techniques fr om the 1950s French literary movement
Jaramillo 6 know as the Nouveau Roman. Characterized by its rejection of the conventions of the novel, the Nouveau Roman looked for new ways of narrating while undermining the contrivances of plot, action, characters and ideas. In many of Cortzars works, as in Nouveau Roman texts, the spatio-temporal logic of the novel is subverted by a fragmentation of the text. An example of this is 62 s divergent logic that instead of making the plot move over time, it builds it up by a series of associations. These associations are made by the characters a nd work as would a web, creating links and events by something that doesnt necessarily look for a finality of plot. Published in 1968, 62 Modelo para Armar ( 62 Model Kit ) is a novel that is ostensibly the creative realization of theoretical concepts of a fic tional character named Morelli established in Chapter 62 of Rayuela ( Hopscotch). It has been considered Cortzars most experimental novel since it aims to diverge from traditional representations of space, time, characterizati on and overall plot structure. With this premise, the novel develops simultaneously in London, Paris, and Vienna with characters that abruptly shift from one place to the next without a seemingly linear progression. This is mostly due to the fact that the novels rationale is determined by an idiosyncratic process of association. For example, elements as common as love triangles and murder plots that might appear in more conventional works, are translated here as part of a network of associations that the characters create. A romantic re lationship could very well be associated with a traumatic death in a surgery room, a French female character could be a historical figure of a vampire, an old German caretaker or even a pin of a basilisk. In this way, conventional themes of love and death are lost in a web of trivial associations, slowly building up a narrative fabric.
Jaramillo 7 A similar experimentation with the novel that undermines the common themes in a conventional plot can be found in the work of Georges Perec. Perecs life was brief yet prolific. He was born in 1936 in Paris to a family of Jewish immigrants. His parents died tragically in World War II, an experience re flected in much of Perecs oeuvre. Novels like La Disparition and W ou le Souvenir de Lenfance are known to be heavily influenced by this memory, as subtly manifest ed in the formal aspect of their narrative. La Disparition for example, is characterized by its omission of the letter E throughout the text, which meant leaving out words that contained the most common letter of the French language. This was a formal decision that has been said to be a symbol for absence: in the beginning of th e book Perec dedicates it to E ( Pour E ), in French, the pronunciation of the E sound is identical to the word eux (them), possibly referring to people lost during World War II. For Perec, we ighty themes such as this are many times concealed under the guise of games, whic h undermine their conventional portrayal and channel it towards the creati on of an innovative text. The autobiographical aspect of his work is among the main approaches including the sociological, Romanesque, and the lud ic. (Bertelli 35). All of these elements are at work to some degree in his novels. The ludic, perhaps the characteristic he is most known for, refers to a recurring use of games in the text, incited by Perecs entry into the Oulipo group in 1967. Oulipo, which stands fo r Ouvroir de Littrature Potentielle (roughly translated as The Workroom of Poten tial Literature) was a group of writers and mathematicians who brought together their disciplines for the purposes of fueling creativity. Their belief was that if there was a mathematical equation that could create a set of constraints, artistic in spiration could be put to the same test and more original
Jaramillo 8 writings could result from it. Perecs La Vie Mode DEmploi was published in 1978, and is said to be the most famous books that came out of Oulipo; consequently, Perecs claim to fame. La Vie, is a novel that claims to be many things at once: an apartment building, a puzzle and a repository of many novels. The novels ninety-n ine chapters are comprised of rooms in an apartment building which are each carefully described, followed by a story of the life of the inhabitants present. Percival Bartlebooth is the main character, and as a player of puzzles, he is reflective of the format of the book as a puzzlea series of stories that the reader pieces together according to his or her own preference. Looking closely at how texts that thematize game and play for the purpose of stimulating a different understand ing of texts, I use Cortzars 62 Modelo para Armar and Perecs La Vie Mode Demploi as my main examples. This th esis is mainly interested in the inherent tensi on between the notions of game and play as equated with a level of regulation and play of language. In the first ch apter I will expl ore the element of interplay in the relationship between the author and reader fi gures. Although initially the relationship appears to be antagonistic, it could also be cooperative, and frequently these attitudes are necessarily intertwined. For th e second chapter, I will consider the texts where a similar tension is stipulated. Analyz ing the novel as a game featuring a closed system of rules, I focus on how these author s are able to work within the self-imposed limitations in order to create new textual configurations.
Jaramillo 9 Chapter 1: Rules and Reader-Author Interplay A salient feature in literature that employs game and play is the interactive aspect between the reader and the text. There is the id ea that the text is available for the reader to play with either by active participation in its meani ng, which at many times may be ambiguous. In literature that thematizes the use of game and play however, there is a stronger authorial presence, si nce the signaling of a game is made more explicit by a narrator-author figure. In both 62 Model Kit and Life a Users Manual a narrator-author makes it clear to the reader from the initial pa ges of the book that they are about to read is a game that will enable them to make a personalized text. Nevertheless, the specificity of the methodology for achieving this establishes a point of contention between reader and author in terms of their agency over the text. Sticking to the Rules: Game and Reader Play in 62 Model Kit In 62 Model Kit the act of reading is portrayed as a game that allows the novels textual possibilities outside of conventional structures to come into effect. Cortzar makes explicit the importance of reading as a way of playing right from the start. He frames the novel with a prefator y note that prepares the read ers for the narrative they are about to read. This frame ini tially demonstrates the dynamics in the textual relationship between author and reader through the proposal of the game that functions as an approach for navigating the text: La opc in del lector, su montaje pe rsonal de los elementos del relato, sern en cada caso el libro que ha elegido leer (8) (Th e readers option, his personal montage of the elements in the [na rrative], will in each ca se be the book he has
Jaramillo 10 chosen to read; Rabassa 4.) This authorial st atement is expressed in the foreword as part of the readers game that the title 62 Model Kit suggests; that of a Lego-type game of pastiche that is to be applied as textual co mbination. In this manner, the author suggests a game to which the reader responds. To Cortzars recent critics like Lucille Kerr, this dynamic appears explicitly in the text as a scheming authorial move : By opening with what the reader is urged to take as an authentic author ial statement, and under the guise of guiding the reader to read independently , 62 would underscore the difficulty of reading on ones own. (92). This, to Kerr, suggests the contradiction that o ne must turn to the authors word not only for instructions about how to read but perhap s also for information about what is being read (93). However, the opposition that puts th e reader in a state of control as well as dependence cannot be simply interpreted as a revealing flaw in the authors pseudodidactic concern for the reade rs role in the narrative. On the contrary, the note is selfaware and almost sarcastic, since its own in structional nature refl ects a tension between rules and freedom on which games rely. The seemingly contradictory na ture of reader agency in 62 suggested in the preamble is to be taken at face value if the more productive aspect of game as a successful reading tactic is to be taken into consideration. If Cortzars introductory note is seen as the pure image of the tension of ga me (a structure that promotes freedom of the player to choose but also within a space defi ned by rules), a more efficient approach to understanding and participating in the novels concern for the limits of narrative language can be reached. This tension is comparable to that of the reader when challenged by a regulating authority (of the author) but is also given the freedom of choice in the personal
Jaramillo 11 reading process. The act of read ing in this situation includes the reader in a discourse that is to be handled ludically, that is, with the playful attitude generally taken within a game. In reading, as in game, the reader-player is given material embedded with rules and regulations and he is to d ecide how best to use it. As a system that allows freedom of c hoice but is simultaneously a closed and regulated structure, game in 62 reflects the tensions that permeate the subject matter that the characters experience in the novel: the li mits of language. The preoccupation with the limits of language is a popular theme in Cortzars work. Many of his characters experience crises over being restricted to expressing themselves in a language they cannot use to express their real ity. In his famous short story Las Babas del Diablo ( BlowUp ) for example, the protagonist witnesses a nd photographs an event that intrigues him, only to later discover in the picture that he might have been mistaken in what he saw. Despite both accounts being as close as he can get to the truth, the reality of the event remains outside of what he is able to articulate : Nunca se sabra como hay que contar esto 214 (It will never be known how this can be narrated ;120). In this story, the main characters experience of the si tuation may be considered a reading of his own fictional reality, and the difficulty of being able to narrate it. This lack of control ove r an objective narration in 62 is made more apparent in the characters in their position as play-objects of a narration over whic h they have little control. With the inclusion of a game, however, 62s characters are also able to be the texts chief creators through a se ries of repetitions that drive the narrative. These textual repetitions take the form of a game, whic h allows them to play with the narrative language by which they are controlled. They are both subjects a nd objects of narration
Jaramillo 12 through a game that they not only play within the fictional space of the novel, but a game that also plays with them as they become figures in a narrative created and recreated by an external author and reader. They increas ingly become author-reader figures. Author and reader find themselves in a constant battle throughout the text in the representation of characters struggling in their own narrative language. To address the principal concern of the limits of narrative language, 62 Model Kit presents the reader as a dis guised protagonist in the novel Juan, the actual protagonist, is the strongest double of the reader found in th e text, appearing init ially as someone who reads the fictional world around him but also creates it. Right from the opening pages of the novel, he is depicted in the act of r eading when he begins interpreting a diners request for a chteau saignant (literally bloody castle, but in French is an expression for undercooked meat) that he overhears while sitting in the Polidor restaurant. For Juan, the phrase unleashes a chain of associations: Juan deba ser el nico parroquiano para quien el pe dido del comensal tena un segundo sentido;  haba hec ho trampa sin la menor conciencia que el desplazamiento del sentido en la frase iba a coagular de golpe otras cosas ya pasadas o presentes de esa noch e, el libro o la condesa, la imagen de Hlne,  la aceptacin de ir a sentarse de espaldas en una mesa del fondo del restaurant e Polidor. (10-11) Juan had to be the only customer for whom the diners request had a second meaning;  he cheated without being aware in th e least that the displacement of the meaning of th e phrase would suddenly cause the coagulation of other things past or present that night -the book or the
Jaramillo 13 countess, the image of Helene, the acceptance of sitting down with his back turned at a rear table in the Polidor. (Rabassa 6) Juan interprets the event that ju st occurred (the diner asking for a chteau saignant ) as having to do with a series of other significan t elements that are pr esent in the novel (a countess, a book, Helene), including the very act of sitting at the restaurant in a specific place. For him, all the events have already taken place, he has just read the book we as readers have not read yet. But just as these events have already taken place, and Juan reads them, he is also a part of them when he reads himself accepting sentarse de espaldas en una mesa del fondo del restaurante Polidor (s itting down with his back turned to the rear table in the Polidor). He also reads himself in that ini tial passage as it switches narrative voice and speaks in first person: Por qu entr en el restaurante Polidor?  Por qu despus de entrar en el restaurante Polidor fui a sentarme en la mesa del fondo [?] (9). (Why did I go into the Polidor Restaurant?  Why, afte r going into the Polidor, did I go sit at the rear table? Rabassa 5). In reading his fictional milieu by making associations (even reading himself) but ultimately haciendo tram pa sin la menor consciencia (cheat[ing] without being aware in the least), Juan becomes simultaneously subject and a trapped object in the narrative. He is narrated and r eads this narrative. He tries to escape it by authoring the narrative associ ations but all he can do is trace the narrative through repetition. As he interprets and reinterprets the elements around him he is described by a third-person narrative voice: [un] pjaro cado y desesperado de f uga, aleteando contra la red y dndole su forma, sntesis de red y de pja ro en la que solamente haba fuga o
Jaramillo 14 forma de red o sombra de pjaro, la fuga misma prisionera un instante en la pura paradoja de huir de la red qu e la atrapaba con las mnimas mallas de su propia disolucin: la condesa, un libro, alguien que haba pedido un castillo sangriento, un pontn al alba, el golpe de una mueca destrozndose en el suelo. (17) [a] fallen bird, desperate to flee, flapping against the net and giving it its shape, a synthesis of net and bird wh ich there was only flight or the shape of a net or the shadow of a bird, flight itself a prisoner for an instant in the pure paradox of fleeing from the net that entrapped it with the delicate weave of its own dissolution: the countess, the book, someone who had ordered a bloody castle, a barge at daw n, the crash of a doll as it broke on the floor. (Rabassa 11) As a poetic image that appears shortly after the Polidor episode, this image could very well represent the paradoxical place of Juan in the novel. He appears as trapped in the narrative (fallen bird, desperate to flee) but also creating it (flapping against the net and giving it its shape) he is part of an overarching narrative ( synthesis of net and bird) but also the generator of a language limited by its own constitution (flight itself a prisoner  fleeing from the net that entra pped it with the delicate weave of its own dissolution). The dissolution here refers to th e loss of a stable mean ing of the narrative through repetition of elements throughout the novel. The countess, the book, the diners request etc. are all elements related to Juans game of associations which he repeats throughout the novel and have no final unifying significance. This repetition is manifested as a reread ing of the different elements in the novel
Jaramillo 15 and a gathering of new ones. Elements echo throughout the novel, constantly reappearing as new readings of that initial reading in the Polidor. The act of rereading is presented in 62 as a game that the characters play. Juan and his girlfriend Tell play a game of associations where they make deliberate c onnections between cultural myths and people they come across in their lives. Juan and Tells game connects Frau Marta, an old woman that seduces a young English girl, with the Hungarian Countess of Bathory, a historical figure that was accused of the deaths of se veral young women in acts of vampirism. For Juan and Tell, la vieja pudiera ser algo asi como una presencia de la condesa (103) (the old woman might have been something like a presence of the countess; Rabassa 79). Frau Marta in turn, worked as a stand-in for Helene, a main character in the novel whom Juan pursues romantically but also demonizes through morbid associations. Several images present throughout the novel also connote, for Juan, connections to the Frau Marta-Countess-Helene triangle, such as an image of a basilisk that appears in Helenes pin, the Viennese house where Ju an and Tell are staying and Mr. Ochss (another character in the novel) ring: Pensar en el basilisco era pensar simultneamente en Helene y en la condesa, pero la condesa era tambin pensar en Frau Marta (16) (Thinking about the basilisk was th inking about Helene and the countess simultaneously, but the countess also meant thinking about Frau Marta .; Rabassa 10). This game of association is the mechanism that drives the novel, it creates a narrative by making arbitrary links between elements in the text. Each rereading is the reconfiguration of the associations already established, it is a ludic reproduction that attempts to subvert the limits set by the text. As evidenced in the beginning pages of the novel, Juan is the principal creator of
Jaramillo 16 the narrative fabric when he overhears a diners request (that of a chateau saignant or a bloody castle) that initiates th e chain of associations. The ac t of rereading is for Juan a more prolific activity, making him a more comp etent player than other character-authors who also engage in this act: Para mi el juego tuvo casi en seguida mas cartas que para Tell, en esos das llego la mueca de monsieur Ochs, el relieve de un basilisco incorpor otras presencias en la danza vienesa, como luego haba de sumarse un libro de Michel Butor en Pa ris y al final (pero ese final haba sido quiz el principio) la imagen de un muchacho muerto en una clnica. Desde su lado diurno y atorbellinado, Tell jugaba con el mnimo de las cartas: la vieja, la chica inglesa, el hotel habitado por so mbras que trizaban el tiempo, e impalpablemente la condesa como alguien que tambin pudiera estar hospedndose en el hotel (107). Almost at once the game had more car ds for me than for Tell. During those days Monsieur Ochss doll came on the scene, the relief of a basilisk brought other presences into the Vie nnese dance, just as later a book by Michel Butor would be joined to it in Paris and, in the end (but that end had perhaps been a beginning), the image of the image of the dead boy in a hospital. From her everyday and whirling side Tell played with a minimum of cards: the old woman, the E nglish girl, the hot el inhabited by shades which tore time to shreds and impalpably, the countess as someone who also might have been a guest in the hotel (Rabassa 82). Juan and Tell play the same game, and refer to the associations as cards. Rereading
Jaramillo 17 becomes an issue of combining and collecting pieces. For Juan, things like Monsieur Ochss doll (who is a stand-in for another character), and the dead boy in the hospital (an association that the character of Helene ma kes with Juan) were among the many elements that create links between char acters and events in the novel. This evaluation of textual events by fictional characters through game pu ts them in a position of reading actively, taking cues and combining them to their liking (and in this way also generating text). This configuring of the text through re reading is for post-structuralist theorist Roland Barthes a ludic activity that proves to be productive of new texts, not a unidirectional mystery game that ends once all is resolved. For Barthes, the reader rereads a text not for some intellectual adva ntage (to understand be tter, to analyze on good grounds), but for a ludic advantage: to multiply signifiers, not to reach some ultimate signified (S/Z 165). If Barthess idea of the ludi c advantage of rereading is applied to 62s characters, it can be inferred that Juan is the more apt player, since he is the one that makes more prolific rereadings of the elements given to him. In 62, succeeding in the game is evidently surpassing the authority of the author and coming up with a new set of personal signifiers. Critics of Cortzar could dismiss such ludic proposition as a Cortzarian tactic for making readers read the text in his own terms, since this seems to agree with his prefatory note in the beginning of the novel and the famous lector cmplice/lector hembra (accomplice reader/female reader) bina ry that he previously proposed in Rayuela (5158). This binary suggests an active stance on th e part of the reader when approaching a text (lector cmplice ), while deems the lector hembra as simply a consumer of the text provided (Rayuela 515). To further understand this concept of the lector hembra and
Jaramillo 18 lector cmplice in terms of the text, a parallel can be drawn between these two groups with Barthes notion of the texte scriptible (writerly texts) and the texte lisible (readerly texts). Readerly texts are what the lector hembra would read; they are traditional and static in meaning. Inversely, th e writerly texts are what the lector cmplice would read; they let the reader become the authors a ccomplice by reading in a way that is more similar to writing. Barthes writerly texts en courage readers to pr oduce of the text and to re-write it (Barthes, S/Z 4). The idea of being a lector cmplice is equated with an idea of being at the same level of the author by doing what he does: producing a new text. In this 62 this can only be possible through an acceptance of the game that Cortzar proposes in the prefatory note. While in 62 Cortzars idea of playing in orde r to produce new texts is to some degree a didactic maneuver to show his own id ea of the possibilities of interacting with the novel, the tragic element of being a victim to language underlines the nuance of this didacticism. Cortzars self-awareness is be st exemplified in th e novels underlying anxiety that resides in the inability to be completely in control of language. The endless echoes of associations that pervade the novel demonstrate the charac ters clashing desire to keep control of the narrative but also let themselves get lost in it. Game in 62 is by no means a way to reach an ul timate meaning that the author has prepared for the reader, nor is itself an elus ive and final signification. Game is a chance for the author to experiment with the possib ilities found in the limits of language that constitute a text. As a stru cture with rules and designated boundaries that depend as well on an interaction within these limits, game lends itself to migrate to the literary field which is already full of conventions. In 62, game explores the role of the reader, the
Jaramillo 19 author and the text, making them overlap without losing sight of their limits. Literary critic Matei Calinescu has written on this possibility of play as a way of exploring the boundaries between author, text, and reader and temporarily transgressing them for a ludic reward. He speaks of play as not just the reader engagi ng with the text he was provided, but more as a collaborative process between reader and author. For Calinescu, this collaboration would be justif ied by the readers intention to play the game correctly for a reward that may include creating new games (or in other words, the exciting chance for the reader to become an author) (154-5). For a novel like 62, this collaborative approach to games as a way of playing with the text can prove to be effective, since it would requi re a more active stance on the part of the author figure, something that is generally demanded of the reader. In 62, this collaborative is represented in the character of the paredro a constant and collective Other of the characters. The paredro can be a neutral character or a capricious designation for an idealized Othe r as well as any one of the characters disguised under this titl e. He is a type of comrade; a twist on the negative connotations of the concept of the Other: la calidad de paredro aluda como es sabido a una entidad asociada, a una especie de compadre o sustituto o baby sitter de lo excepcional. (28) (the quality of paredros alluded, as can be seen, to an associated entity, a kind of buddy or substitute or baby sitter of the exceptional. ; Rabassa 20). As a dignified other the paredro is a character that emerges within the characters themselves. It is a creation of the charact ers but also a part of them. With the paredro
Jaramillo 20 characters become authors of themselves, a temporary illusion of control of their identity through camaraderie. The position of the paredro allows for the embodiment of the tension between author and reader that is found in a ludic re lationship. He is a collaborative effort of a character-reader to author an Other that he himself has authored. In this way the paredro shows a happy coexistence of th e figure of the author and the reader. Alternatively, the paredro could also temporarily erad icate the distinctions of reader and author by its inherent haphazard nature: cualquiera poda ser el paredro de otro o de todos y el serlo le daba como un valor de comodn en la baraja, una eficacia ubicua y un poco inquietante que nos gustaba tener a mano y echar sobre el tapete llegado el caso (35). anyone could be the paredros of another or of all and being it gave him something like the value of a joker in the cards, a ubiquitous and somewhat disquieting efficiency that we liked to hold in our hands and throw on the table when the situation arose (Rabassa 25). The paredro embodies the tension between author and reader but at the same time can exist as a type of wild card, a strategic erasure of identity as a means for playing. This erasure of identity is not a personalized one but as a conventionalized identity such as that of the author or reader. The case of the paredro also demonstrates the ambiguity of the narrative voice, which like in the case of the quote above, it is never quite clear who speaks. When it comes to the paredro names are disregarded and it becomes a me-him, we-him, me-you (and so forth) relationship. Wi th the disappearance of these conventions,
Jaramillo 21 the subject-object relationship pr esent in the author reader ri valry would be eliminated as well. Literary critic Jacques Ehrman expl ains this relationship in terms of play: The player, like the speakerthat is, each of usis at once subject and object of play. The pronouns I, you, he are the different mo des of the play structure. The subjectivity-objectivity dualism is abolished because it is inoperative. (Ehrman 56) This erasure of the subject-object relationship during play allows for a game that is more focused on the dynamics of the players th an on the null concept of subject-object dualism. As a structured system with rules that depends on the dynamic of the participants involved in it, game sees no hierarchies but only rules and their faithful adherence to them. In chapter 62 of his previous novel Hopscotch (from which 62 is fashioned), Cortzar reveals this aspect of play and how it would work when applied to literature: [Los personajes tendran] una interacci n de otra naturaleza, un billar que algunos individuos suscitan o padecen, un drama sin Edipo, sin Rastignac, sin Fedra, drama impersonal en la medida que la consciencia y las pasiones de los personajes no se ven comprometidas mas que a posteriori. ( Rayuela 475) [The characters would have] an interac tion of a different nature, a billiard game that certain individuals play or are played at, a drama with no Oedipuses, without Rastignacs, no Phaed ras, an impersonal drama to the extent that the consciences and the passions of the characters cannot be seen as having been compromised ex cept a posteriori. (Rabassa 362)
Jaramillo 22 Ehrmans focus on the impersonal aspect of the game is reflected here as an impersonal drama that would have no leading psychological ly developed characters. They would be in constant motion, and their existence woul d depend in their dynamic with each other. The characters dynamic would not be arbitrary, nor would it be wholly controlled by the author. To expand on the metaphor of pool, the characters/billi ard balls would be subjected to an overarching system of laws of physics, a structure as closed as is language. As early as in this passage of Hopscotch Cortzars more nuanced concern with the reader is made evident, sinc e he wants the reader to play w ith the narrative, but is also aware that the narrative is controlled by a language that will never be controllable by either the figure of the author or that or the reader. The onl y possibility of agency is to play with what is available a nd consider the possibilities. In his idea of an efficient way of applying play to literature, Matei Calinescu proposes a stri ct following of the rules of a game in order to gain the most in reading a text: correct play does not exclude but actually requires the kind of imagination by which an interprete r asserts his or her individual skill and creativity within the rule s of the game. (156). Calinescu proposes an adherence to the rules of the game, a close following of their parameters as a point of departure. Applying this t actic to the narrative of 62 Model Kit would provide a freedom from the limits of language by using its own restrictions and turning them into an advantage, a type of rigor that would lead to creative prolif eration of text, something that many of Cortzars recent criti cs have failed to consider when approaching the overlooked nuance of the aut hors concept of game.
Jaramillo 23 Envisioning Success: Polemics of Visi on and Reader-Author Competition in La Vie Mode DEmploi As in Cortzars 62, game in Perecs La Vie Mode Demploi serves as a mechanism to explore author and reader antagonism, a relationship explicitly portrayed in the fictional characters dynamic. Focusing on the reader figure, La Vies fictional game seeks to highlight reading as an essential act ivity for interaction with the text and its author. The fictional game expos es a parallel readers game that, with a strategic use of vision, is enacted in the reading process. The concept of the gaze as a strategic skill represents the tension between the main characters competitive game. The gaze can also be compared to the idea of vision as the ski ll of choice to navigate the novel, since so much of the novels structure is defined by the spatial exhaustiveness of the apartment building where the narrative takes place. Through the use of irony and a deliberate portrayal of rivalry, Perec asse rts the tension of an author-r eader game and underlines the advantages that the author has over the read er. Perecs affirmation of the inevitable authors sway on the reader also demonstr ates a level of iron ic distance and selfawareness. Similar to Cortzars 62, the pseudo-didactic game that La Vie wants the reader to engage in is a tongue-in-cheek portray al of the tensions th at inhabit the readerwriter relationship. As an objective, yet deceitful way of pe rceiving, the nature of vision embodies the type of playing that is most effective for e ngaging with the text. In an incisive way of looking, the reader-viewer is discerning and arbi trary, but it is always possible that with the authors tricks, riddles and other play ful turns of phrase vision becomes thwarted. This aspect of visual polemics demonstrat es the competitive games tension that is
Jaramillo 24 present in the novel. Right from the beginning of La Vie the reader is given a glimpse of the visual game he is about to encounter. The novel is introduced by two epigraphs that could very well show the character of the au thor versus reader game that Perec is challenging his readers to pla y. The first one sets a suspenseful tone and asserts the autonomy of the reader by letting him be an attentive particip ant of the text: Regarde de tous tes yeux, regarde. (Jules Verne, Michel Strogoff ) (15) Look with all your eyes, look. (Jules Verne Michel Strogoff )(Bellos ix) The epigraph reads like a warning sign for the reader, letting him know that there is more than what meets the ey e. With phrasing that calls out fo r the readers undivided attention, La Vies first epigraph is followed by another th at seems to undermine the suspense of Vernes quote: Lil suit les chemins qui lui ont t mnags dans luvre (Paul Klee, Pdagogisches Skizzenbuch) (17) The eye follows the paths that have been laid out for it in the work (Paul Klee, Pdagogisches Skizzenbuch ) (Bellos xv) In contrast to the first epigraph, this sec ond one conducts the reade rs gaze into a preestablished direction which is to be inevitably followed. In terms of reader agency, the quote embodies the notion that the readers co nditions for reading a novel are consumed by an authorial prerogative. In addition, the ch oice of authors also indicates the type of visual exploration required. Verne is a scie nce fiction novelist who focused his narratives on themes of exploration and trav el, paralleling in this case La Vie s concept of reading the novel in a more interact ive manner by ignoring linear conventions of narration. Klee on the other hand is the artist w ho invented the concept of drawing as taking a line for a
Jaramillo 25 walk (16), an idea that parallels Per ecs affirmation of author guidance. The effect of Verne and Klees quotes howev er, is best exemplified in the lifetime rivalry between the main char acter of Percival Bartleboo th and his opponent Gaspard Winckler. Bartlebooth, a millionaire with time and money to spare, imposes upon himself a futile lifetime project that requires him to learn the art of watercolors for ten years, travel to different seaports and depict them in watercolor paintings for the next twenty years, and send back the paintings to Ga spard Winckler, who will make them into personalized jigsaw puzzles. After traveling the world, Bartlebooth re turns to build the puzzles during a twenty year span. A figure th at determines an essential aspect of the millionaire protagonist, Winckler maliciously makes the puzzles increasingly harder for Bartlebooth, who struggles throughout the process of assembly until he eventually becomes blind. The dynamics of Winckler and Bartleboot h mirror the interaction established in the epigraphs in the sense that Winckler is always one step ahead of Bartlebooth in the puzzles, predicting his next move and cutti ng across it. In the preamble of the novel, under the guise of a humorous essay about the art of the puzzle, th e nature of their relationship is further explained: en dpit des apparences, ce nest pas un jeu solitaire: chaque geste que fait le poseur de puzzle, le faiseur de pu zzle la fait avant lui ; chaque pice quil prend et reprend,  chaque combinaison quil essaye et essaye encore  chaque intuition, chaque espoir  ont t dcids, calcules, tudis par lautre. (20) despite appearances, puzzling is not a solitary game : every move the
Jaramillo 26 puzzler makes, the puzzle maker has ma de before ; every piece the puzzler picks up, and picks up again  every combination he tries and tries a second time  every insight, each hope  have all been designed, calculated and decided by the other. (Bellos xvii) This assertion not only foreshadows the compe titive nature of the characters, but it also reveals the condition endured by readers of a book and players of a game that has been previously set up for them. In arguing that p uzzling is not a soli tary game, however, Perec proposes a type of colla borative game despite having an ever-winning player. As in literature, there will always be an author and a reader, someone wi ll write in order for someone to read. This structure that always seems to favor the aut hor is broken down when it starts being perceived as a game wh ere two parties are engaged in play. In his book Rereading Matei Calinescu expands on the colla borative game between reader and writer, referring to the readers ex perience as an involvement in a competitive/cooperative game with the author. According to him, this paradox is possible only if the reader pay[s] atten tion among other things, to those incidental details. (155). The incidental details are the nuan ces of small fragments of text that the author or reader might not be immediat ely aware of, but which the reader could creatively invent or strategically catch. In the case of Bartlebooth and Winckler, (as reader-author figures), this way of playing is portrayed most clearly in the description of the millionaires careful and detailed approach to solving Wincklers puzzles: [il] devait, pour trouver cet angle vr ai dire presque mais pas vraiment tout fait droit, cesse r de le considrer comm e la pointe dun triangle, cest--dire faire basc uler sa perception, voir autrement ce que
Jaramillo 27 fallacieusement lautre lui donnait voir et, par exemple, dcouvrir que lespce dAfrique reflet s jaunes quil tripotait sa ns savoir u la placer occupait exactement lespace quil cr oyait devoir remplir avec une sorte de trfle a quatre feuilles aux tons mauves teints quil cherchait partout sans le trouver. (400) In order to find that admittedly almost but not quite, right angle, he had to stop seeing as the apex of a triangle, that is to say he had to switch his perception, see otherwise what the other had provided to mislead his eyes, and for instance work out that th e yellow-tinged approximate Africa he had been fingering without knowing where to put it, fit precisely into the gap he thought would take that dull mauve four-leaf-clover shape which he couldnt find anywhere. (Bellos 335) In this particular case, Bartlebooth engage s with the absent author of the puzzle by reacting creatively to the piece s he has provided. He has to switch his perception in order to play more competently, sees shapes which he calls Africa in order to make the game more whimsical and perhap s easier to resolve. In add ition, this reconfiguring of perception also works as a metaphor for th e ambiguity and fragmentation of memory (another important theme in the novel), since the image that Bartlebooth pieces together is one that at some point he witnessed and painted onto a blank page. In this way, the player-reader (Bartlebooth-us) is confronted with an authority that challenges reader agency through a strategic game -text he has created. The ga me requires the reader to modify his perception in order to succeed. For Matei Calinescu, the strategy fo r playing a competitive/collaborative
Jaramillo 28 literary game employs a weighty use of de notation, that is, a more descriptive and objective meaning attached to concepts. For Calinescu, the reader can benefit from the use of denotation for serving the goal of c onnotation (he refers to connotation as the more suggestive metaphorical meaning of c oncepts generally associated with poetic language). In the case of Bartlebooth, a care ful study of the pieces would follow a regime of precision (concreteness, realistic detail, literalness) that may seem to enhance suggestiveness and symbo lism (Calinescu 155). Every time Bartlebooth begins a new puzzle he builds it with a rigueur cartsienne (398) (Cartesian rigor ; Bellos 333) in wh ich he divise les problmes pour mieux les rsoudre, les aborder dans lor dre, limine les combinaisons improbables, pose ses pices comme un joueur dchecs qui construit sa stratgie inluctable et imparable. (398) (divide[s] up the problems the better to solve them, deal[s] with them one by one, ruling out improbable combinati ons, placing the pieces as would a chess player constructing an unanswerable gambit; Bellos 333). In this way Bartlebooth could trust that he would finally put the puzzle together successfully, perhaps winning by solving quickly the puzzle that Winckler expect s days to take for him to piece together. However, as the epigraphs have signaled to readers, it is impossible for the reader-player to win other than creatively a nd for personal benefit th rough discoveries of nuances in the text, since the author has alr eady laid all the paths for it. The familiar contours that Bartlebooth finds in the puzzle, such as un chapeau, un poisson, un oiseau tonamment prcis, longue queue (399) (a hat, a fish, an amazingly accurate bird with a long tail; Bellos 333 ), are merely tricks that Winckler has prepared with the purpose of fooling the eye.
Jaramillo 29 The notion of a deceitful directing of vision as game has a lot to do with the essence of the novels creation as much as in its perception. Critic Patr izia Molteni points out how the game between Bartlebooth and Wi nckler follows a pattern of artistic creation. If the creation of the game is done by one of the players (Winckler-author) through a mainly visual medium (puzzle-text), it would seem that most of the tension of the game is already present in the moment of its creation. The authors participation in the game could be seen here, since the author will have to think ah ead and would have to predict reader perception. Like Winckler, the figure of the aut hor is best portrayed in the painter Valene, the oldest re sident of the apartment build ing. He was also involved in Bartlebooths life, as he was the millionaires watercolor teacher for ten years. Although his appearance in the book is not as frequent and does not seem as significant, Valenes role in the novel is crucial for further understanding the authors side of the visual game and how it affects the reader. Valenes long-term plan for painting an apartment building down to the very last detail locates him as an omnipresent narrator, or a narrative conciousness (Paulson 328). The outline of this project is followed by an extensive list of the subjects he would paint, along with a brief descri ption of their stories, all of which appear in the book itself (281-6; Bellos 228-33). With a project like this, Valene and his pending painting are clearly a mirror image of Perec and La Vie. Valene pictures himself in the painting as another character in the novel but also the mode st creator, in the same way that [les] peintres de la Renaissance qui se rserv aient toujours une place minuscule  non pas une place privilgie et significative une intersection choisie  (279) ([the] Renaissance painters who reserved for themselves a tiny place in the midst of the crowd
Jaramillo 30 , not a significant or priv ileged place at a chosen inte rsection. Bellos 226). By both concealing and embedding himself in the picture, Valene embodies the idea that for the artist, as Molteni has asserted, the art of pe rception and the art of deception [are always] associated. In other words, in order to be tter perceive, there has to be an element of deceit. In creating a mirror character like Vale ne, Perec hints at just how intrinsic is the role of game is to the creation and perception of the novel, and how a good use of vision can prove to challenge the intended deception. Furthermore, in his essay The Apartment Building Perec describes the project for the novel, which is echoed by Valenes: I imagine a Parisian apartment building whose faade has been removed ( Species 40). The most particular thing about the essay is Perecs fascination with the vi sual, suggesting to the reader things that he ought to do systematically, from time to time such as noticing how unfamiliar things may come to seem as a result of taking staircase B instead of staircase A, or si mple tasks such as look[ing] upwards when visiting an apartmen t building (Species 45). As someone who visually takes notice of even the most munda ne details that surround him, it comes as no surprise that through his fiction, Perec chal lenges readers to be discerning observers. Vision, like reading, becomes a strategic proce ss for the player, and this very act is charged with a game that the author, that is, the other player has already played. As an activity that carries a history of moves and countermoves, the act of looking in La Vie extends to reader perception through the descriptions that set the tone for each chapter. Down to the most mundane details, Pe rec makes sure to describe everything in the room, guiding the readers gaze throughout. The descriptions adopt an almost arthistorical discourse; pencils in a desk, patterns of a rug, a cup of coffee, a lit lamp all are
Jaramillo 31 included in a description. As is generally th e case, someone will be in the room at the moment of description, bein g described just as plainl y as the next object. These descriptions seem to capture the subjects in mid-action and constantly direct the viewers gaze to the specific objects that surround them: [Batrice] tient entre le pouce et lindex de sa main gauche une longue cigarette quelle regarde se consumer Une de ses camarades, vtue dun long manteau de lin blanc, se tient debout contre la porte et semble examiner attentivement un plan du mtro parisien.  une des jeunes filles verse le th. Une autre ouvre une bote de petits fromages en cubes. La troisime lit un roman de Thomas Hardy sur la couverture duquel on voit un personnage barbu, assis dans une barque au milieu dune rivire, pcher a la ligne, cependant que su r la berge un chevalier en armure semble le hler. La quatrime regarde avec un air de profonde indiffrence une gravure qui reprsente un vque penche au-dessus dune table sur laquelle est pos un de ces jeux de solitaire. (40) [Beatrice] holds between the thumb and the index finger of her left hand a long cigarette, which she is watchi ng burn away. One of her friends, dressed in a long white linen coat, is standing by the door and seems to be carefully studying a map of the Pari s underground.  One of the girls pours tea. Another opens a box of cheese packed in small cubes. The third is reading a novel by Thomas Hardy, on the cover of which can be seen a bearded character sitting in a rowing boat in the middle of a stream and fishing with rod and line, whilst on the bank a knight in armor appears to
Jaramillo 32 be hailing him. The fourth, with an air of profound indifference, is looking at a painting depicting a bishop le aning over a table on which you could see one of those games calle d solitaire. (Bellos 18) This passage exemplifies a significant portion of the visual dynamics that are operating in the novel. First, it describes several girls and the activities they are engaged in. The subject is treated as a still life, barely de scribing any psychological aspects. They are caught in mid-action, describing what they ar e doing but not really providing any motives or signs of what they will do next. It is as if the reader was almost reading a description for a genre scene in a pain ting, not a literary text. Following the vein of art historical discour se, the second thing that is immediately apparent is that most of them are engaging in a visual activity. The reader finds out about the objects that surround them by the girls g aze: one looks at a ciga rette, the other at a map, another at a painting and then the ot her one reads a book. This also suggests different ways of observing by variations in visual perception as exemplified by the different uses of the gaze such as regarde semble examiner attentivement, lit, regarde avec un air de profonde indifferen ce, (watching, seem s to be carefully studying, reading, with an air of pr ofound indifference, is looking). Through the gaze, the reader directs his vision, and this vision can take many forms, depending on the case and the goal. In terms of game, a myriad of visual options to solve a puzzle are suggested to the read er by shifting perception, similar to what Bartlebooth does during his own puzzle-solving game. However, as demonstrated here, the navigation of the room is directed by the gaze of its inhabitants, fictional characters that Perec has created. The reader sees them, what they do, and then examines what they
Jaramillo 33 look at, only to later get closer to look at the detail. In fact, the authors direction is so palpable that he seems to provide a magnifyi ng glass for the reader when he zooms in on specific images such as the Thomas Hardy cover, and later in the passage, a Bosch imitation. Perec seems to be prepared for any reader counter-move, since any reader discovery is supported by the system of constraints that drive the novel. Perec sets up the novel to be the result of a meticulously planned system of constraints, this way creating a foundation of the text unknown to the reader. Most of these constraints consist in carefully arranging elements such as histori cal events, colors, aut hors and paintings. But unless the reader owns the record for all of this, the Cahier de Charges (roughly translated as a project proposal; for Perec it was where he kept a careful list of constraints that he would employ throughout the novel), it is nearly impossible to spot crossreferences or a pattern in the text. This hi dden system of constrai nts that underlies the novel is once again a call for th e reader to be especially attentive, to try and find discrepancies, or spot false refere nces in the process of reading. Later in the same passage, the reader is confronted with yet another zoomed-in image, which contains a hidden citation: Il est fait dune plaque de bois, dont la forme trapzodale voque assez bien celle dune presse-raquette, da ns laquelle sont mnages vint-cinq cuvettes disposes en losange, susceptib les de recevoir des billes qui sont ici des perles de belle grosseur poses a la droite de la plaque sur une petit cousin de soie noire. La gravure qui imite manifestement le clbre tableau de Bosch intitul LEscamoteur, conserv au Muse municipal de
Jaramillo 34 Saint Germain-en Laye, porte un titre plaisant bien quapparemment peu explicatif calligraphi en lettres gothiques. Qui boit en mangeant sa soupe Quand il est mort il ny boit goutte (18) It is made of a wooden board, trapez oidal in shape, much like a racketpress, in which twenty five holes have been drilled so as to form a lozenge, deep enough to take the piec es which are in this case good-sized pearls, placed to the right of the boa rd on a little black silk cushion. The engraving, which manifestly copies the famous painting by Bosch known as The Conjuror, in the Municipal Gallery at Saint-Germain-en Laye, has a humorous though not, apparently, very illuminating tit le handwritten in Gothic lettering: He that with his soup will drink When he is dead shall see no drink (Bellos 40) The final and most typographically visible aspe ct of the directed gaze in the passage is the gothic lettering for the Bosch engraving that immediately st ands out. Literary critic Catherine Lorente referred to this phrase as a prime example of lconomie de la description (economy of description) which ap pears to be an ironic gesture from Perecs part, since he has meticulously described othe r elements in the r oom, down to a horseman on a books cover (Lorente 36). In the typographically separated phrase, Lorente spots a hidden citation from the French writer Rabelais, whom Perec does not officially cite at any point in the passage (36). This is one of his many hidden references throughout the te xt that is integrated in the narrative without notice. As an added bonus to this discovery, there is an additional
Jaramillo 35 nuance found in the French word boit, (drink) which sounds almost exactly like word voit (see). Details like these are supposed to be found by the discerning reader in order to play with the author and catch his traps. Following Calinescus idea of literary play, a game between the reader and the author woul d be most fruitful in this situation if the reader spots the Rabelais reference and finds an accidental linkage which Perec does not foresee. Despite being a visual game where the au thor is always one step ahead of the reader-player, game in literature succeeds in a novel that forces reader interaction with the text. This success is due to the fact that, as philosopher Jean-Franois Lyotard has stated, game is not about equality of players but about strategy. For Lyotard, the game of language does not really look for a winner or a truth but instead seeks performativity (qtd. in Mitchell 5). In La Vie the aspect of performativ ity would account for a creative reading of the text, taking a dvantage of all the stories th at Perec proposes and creating something new, such as spotting cross-re ferences and connecting them to another narrative, or simply reading the chapters out of order. A literary game like this would also suggest the idea that the meaning of the novel would be decentralized, in the sense that there would be no real finality of signifi cance. The meaning woul d not be static but would be a potential one, depending on the strategies the reader takes on.
Jaramillo 36 Chapter 2: Ludic Transforma tions, Creating New Texts 62 Model Kit and Life a Users Manual are novels with hi gh aspirations. They propose an infinite number of interpretations of their texts by having a mobile configuration of their narratives. The mobility that their texts allow is a direct result of previously established models created by the au thors in preparation of a final product. In these models, the authors delin eate their vision of how a text could subvert traditional linear narrative formats and replace them with a multiplicity of potential narratives. As generators of multiple narratives, 62 and La Vie could be seen as autonomous mechanisms that are constantly attempting to tr ansform a reality to cr eate new texts. This transformational process is most apparent in the dialogue between the narrative events and the structure of the novel. This chapter focuses on how diegetic ma nifestations of game reflect on the structural aspects of the novel. In Cortzars case the model, presented originally in Chapter 62 of his previous novel Rayuela ( Hopscotch) has a theoretical nature that more often that not works on a linguistic level. For Perec, the model is more idiosyncratic, and is based on a series of formal constraints pr esented in the posthumous publication titled the Cahier de Charges Despite the differences between the types of initial models the autors use, both models strive for for textual transformations through a series of mechanisms that make possible any permutations of the text.
Jaramillo 37 Cortzars Ludic Thresholds In chapter 62 of Rayuela Morelli, a fictional author figure (and a self-reflective double for Cortzar), foresees a novel as work ing al margen de las conductas sociales (on the [margin] of social behavior), and in un territorio donde la causalidad psicolgica cedera desconcertada (475, 477) (a territory where psycholo gical causality would yield disconcertedly; Rabassa 363). Although the novel referred to in the legendary 1963 work Rayuela was a hypothetical onefive years later it would crystallize into what is 62 Modelo para Armar In this statement cue words like margen (margin) and territorio (territory) bring to mind an enclosed space, calling to attention the insular status of Cortzars idea of the experimental novel. As several of their titles suggest (e.g. Hopscotch The Winners ), most of Cortzars novels have an esse ntial ludic dimension. In esta blishing this clearly defined textual space for play, Cortzar makes a clear line between a place to engage in this activity and the outside of it. In fact, this di stinction about the inside or the outside of play seems to follow Johan Huizingas desc ription of play as delineating a spatial separation from ordinary life. For Huizinga, play has a closed space is marked out for it, either materially or ideally, but alwa ys hedged off from the everyday surroundings. (Huizinga 19-20). The spatial separation from ordinary life in Cortzars case can refer not only to his ludic novels, but it also appears in their narratives in many forms, some metaphorical, some more literal, most ostensibly having an exploratory function for providing access to the unknown. He refers to 62s project as an exploracin de lo exploratorio, experimento de la experimentacin [exploration of the exploratory, an experiment of
Jaramillo 38 experimentation] and all of it, according to Cortzar, must not renunciar a la narrativa, a la organizacin de otro pequeo mundo donde pudiramos reconocernos y divertirnos y andar junto a Feuille Morte y naufragar c on Calac y Polanco (Ultimo 260) [must not renounce the narrative, the orga nization of another small wo rld where we can recognize ourselves, have fun and walk with Feuille Morte and be shipwrecked with Calac and Polanco]. Cortzar presents the domain of the ludic a nd the experimental as a marginalized and isolated space that is an organizacin de otro pequeo mundo [organization of another small world]. The isolation also points to an essentia l theoretical view em ployed throughout the novel: interchangeability. Within the domains of the ludic sp ace, elements in the novel lose all individual value and instead become constant replacements for one another. For example, the recurring theme of the vampir ism could either be considered in its connection to the historical character of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, or it can alternatively be perceived as other recurring characters such as Helene or Frau Marta. We already saw in Chapter 1 of this study how making connections between these elements could be considered a form of creative play. This level of interchangeabil ity, as Cortzar mentions in the prefatory note, is not like that presented in his previous novel Hopscotch, where the chapters are neatly divided and could be taken as individual pieces. Here the interchangeability is more en el nivel del sentido; (8) (on the level of meaning ; Rabassa 3). In this sense the level of interchangeability would be more visibly linguistic, resulting in a proliferation of possible meanings. An example of how this works on a linguistic level as opposed to the narrative as a whole (although this is actually a microstructure that could re present the narrative)
Jaramillo 39 appears as early as the prefatory note where the notion of transgress ion is introduced but quickly dismissed in the sense that its pref ijo se sume a los varios otros que giran en torno a la raz gressio: agre sin, regresin y progression (7-8) (prefix is placed alongside the others that spin about the root gre ssio: aggression, regression, and progression; Rabassa 3). In the novel a ll of these meanings are connatural (Rabassa 3) (connaturales; 8), in other words, they could all signify the same thing. Cortzars notion of interchangeability is similar to techniques of the Nouveau Roman, which in seeking to undermine a finali ty of meaning in the novel. The Nouveaux Romanciers looked for narrative techniques that would destabili ze signification. In 62 the whole idea of interchangeability could be said to be serving a similar purpose. Having interchangeable elements subverts the idea of a single storyline or character having absolute importance over the other, since a ll are linked to one another. As mentioned before, this interchangeability tends to be reserved for a ludic space. But since the novel as a whole is working in this marginal location, interchangeable elements spread throughout its narrative. An example of how the interchangeability in the novel could be characterized as belonging in the ludic realm is found in the notion of la zona (the zone). La zona (the zone) is a term used to describe a psychologi cal state. To avoid actually delving into the psychological description of char acters, Cortzar replaces th is with a spatial term. Once again this tactic is similar to that of th e Nouveaux Romanciers, who adhered to spatial language to avoid falling into ps ychological charact erization. In La Jalousie ( Jealousy ) a novel by French Nouveau Roman writer Alain Robbe-Grillet, there is no psychological description of the characters but instead they are narrated and characterized by an
Jaramillo 40 ostensibly objective description of the space they inhabit. A spatial term would be the most objective and neutral way of talking a bout the characters since spatiality is discussed in relative terms, not in hierarchical ones. In the narrative, the zona appears as a place where all the characters reunite and discuss events that happened in the Ciudad (the city), another frequently used term used to indicate the everyday perceivable reality of the characters (and another spinoff of interchangeability, since the Ciudad could be any of the cities that the book mentions at any point in time). The zona could be seen as an equivalent of the paredros, an entity that can embody many or all characters at any given point in time. In the zona, there is a sense of community and exchange that subver ts conventional subjective dynamics. The zona is described as entre ubicua y delimitada [y] se parec[ida] a ellos, a Marrast y a Nicole, a Celia y a monsieur Ochs y a Frau Mart a (between ubiquitous and limited [and] resemble[ing] all of them, Marrast and Nicole Celia and Monsieur Oc hs and Frau Marta; Rabassa 12). In la zona the characters partake in a series of absurd experiments. There, they become the perfect image of something co mmon to Cortzars us ual protagonists: a somewhat nave and loose group of bohemians for whom the world is an adventurous playground (Borinsky 89). In one of these instances of ludic e xperimentation, they perform an absurd exchange of infantilismos (infantilisms), a series of nonsense words that increasingly become a competition for creativity and subvers ion. Words like guti guti, osts osts fetete, Psenos toquetoque sapa, or Tete tete fafa remolino, (82) are uttered one after another by different characters, as if trying to compete by making the most aurally memorable utterances. In la zona, nonsense words gain the same
Jaramillo 41 significance that words in a normal di alogue would have, making them into interchangeable linguistic entities. Although essentially the zona is a psyschological state, in 62 it is referred as a space that can happen at a given time. The zona generally occurs at the Cluny restaurant, where the characters are se parated as a group. This sepa ration indicates another limit between their play space and the outside reality of what one of the character refers to as the parroquianos In Spanish the word parroquianos can either mean a habitual client or parishioner, a play on the word to re present the people outside their circle as conservative bores deep into a routine, poco plsticos [lacking plas ticity or not being able to change]. In doing this they draw a line between their play-world of words and the outside where the parroquianos exist. Th ey subvert the outside world by making it external to their play-community. Regardi ng groups engaged in play, Huizinga expands on this type of behavior as something that seems to express this is for us, not for the others. What others do outside is no concern of ours at the moment. For the characters in the Cluny table, or, inside the circle of the game, the laws and customs of the ordinary life of the parroquianos no longer count (Huizinga 12). The enclosed game community of the zona functions as a safe haven for the characters and demonstrates the notion of creating limits to engage in play. However, as much as the ludic space is delineated, it remains an ambiguous in-between space that like Cortzars idea of the experimental novel is gr ounded within a specific margin or a set of limits. In much of Cortzars work there is a preoccupation with the idea of limits, such as limits of a closed language, limits of knowledge, limits of perception etc. In stories like Axolotl for example, the main character finds himself inadvertently being turned into the
Jaramillo 42 fish he observes in an aquarium, with the fi sh tank glass serving as an actual physical limit between the two beings. However, despite these limits, Cortzars narrative retains a sort of fluidity between these two worlds by a playful a pproach to language, one of the main characteristics of his writing. Fo r instance, in the short story La Continuidad de los Parques a narrator describes a character in th e process of reading a story. Through wordplay and grammatical tricks, Cortzar blurs the limit between fiction and reality when the character who reads is suddenly a pa rt of the story he wa s reading. In conflating these two worlds, the limit of the page of th e book is transgressed by a play of narrative language. On a closer look, the idea of play in the narrative language provides Cortzar a certain space to experiment with ideas and tr ansgress what is lo otro (the other), or what we cannot experience and is beyond our limits (Ultimo 260). In 62 this notion of play is no exception; the novel aims to transg ress these limits by different kinds of games that work on a fictional or linguistic level. As the initial event in th e novel, the episode of the restaurant is the core example of this fo rm of play with language. As described in the last chapter, Juan playfully interprets a diners request, the chateau saignant (an expression for undercooked meat) for un castill o sangriento (the di rect translation: bloody castle). Out of that interp retation rise a series of asso ciations that link the bloody castle to the mythical story of Elizabeth Bathry, the vampire countess who used to victimize young women in her castle, which late r in the narrative al so connects her to other relevant characters in the story. This mixing of narrative elements (ass ociations), used on the basis of their
Jaramillo 43 symbolic value and arbitrary connections with others evokes what anthropologist Victor Turner describes as the liminal space. Turners liminal space is a ludic threshold, that isolated from society may involve a co mplex sequence of episodes in sacred-space time, and may also include subversive and ludi c (or playful) events. Juans episode in the Polidor as well as the sessions of infantilismos in the zona could be seen as belonging to a liminal space, a moment in time where char acters engage playfully with the fictional world around them. In liminality, an entity plays with the familiar elements and defamiliarizes them. Novelty emerges from the unprecedented combinations of familiar elements (Turner 27). Although these examples of ludic threshol ds suggest a level of passivity or a submission to an overpowering experience that happens to the characters, most of them are induced by the characters themselves. In fact, there are many instances where the characters singlehandedly insert play into their so called reality to create a stir, motivated by a desire to observe the results of experime ntations. Marrast, for example is one of the characters that induces a cha nge in the regular social or der of things by deciding to intervene with an experimental social game in which he proposes to the club Neurticos Annimos (Neurotics Anonymous) an investig ation to find out the species of a plant depicted in a portrait exhibite d at the Courtauld Institute. Th is project brings an unusual amount of attention to the mediocre portrait, something that disturbs the directors of the museum. Eventually, the painting gets removed out of suspicion and discomfort. A game that questions possible outcomes regarding a group of people in interactions puts the player in a sense of control. Out of what started with a game directed by Marrast, gradually changed the dynamics and expectations of an institution and the endeavors of a
Jaramillo 44 group which apparently have changed their orig inal proceedings (whate ver it is that the Neuroticos Anonimos do) in or der to favor a game they dont realize they are involved in. The idea of causing a scene that will alte r the conventional m odes of society is something that Cortzar employs frequently in the novel. Such is the case of M. Ochs dolls. A secondary character in the novel, M. Ochs plays an important role in showing other types of transgressions which are deliberately employe d at a cultural level, aiming to scandalize members of the bourgeoisie. He plays a type of lottery game on society, by making dolls that carry in their stomach obj ects ranging from a dirty toothbrush, to a hundred francs bill to phallic objects. His idea takes effect in three phases: la primera se encenda cuando la nena rompa la mueca y dicho sea de paso, le estaba bien empleado por sdi ca; la segunda, que ya interesaba a Monsieur Ochs, era el efecto que las revelaciones de la nia producan en su madre y dems familiares; el tercer o que pona en rbita la cpsula, era la denuncia a la polica y el escnda lo publico debidamente explotado por los diarios. (132) the first [one] was ignited when the girl breaks the doll, let it be said that in passing that she had made good sadistic use of it; the second, which did interest Monsieur Ochs, was the effect that the girls revelations produced on the mother and other members of th e family; the third which placed the capsule in orbit was the accusation made to the police and the public scandal, which was duly exploite d by the press. (Rabassa 101) Through this perverse game of chance, M. Oc hs creates situations that would otherwise
Jaramillo 45 be unthinkable, and forces them upon the conve ntional order of soci ety. M. Ochs serves as a figure of a subversive ludic transgressi on on established struct ures, by introducing chance and chaos into order. However, in doi ng so, he also introduces a different order, not only in society but in th e text, since his dolls are al so part of a long chain of associative elements th at produce the narrative. In the end there is a haunting metaphoric al image of what a new chaotic order would look like. In the frenzied movement of the characters struggling to meet in the train station, they become fractions of an overall figure. They also form different figures, a symbol for the permutations that th e book suggests by the readers creative participation: [mi paredro] mira[ba] un farol que at raa muchsimo a los insectos; era divertido ver los rpidos poliedros que componan y que slo la atencin o un parpadeo consegua fijar por un in stante para dar paso a nuevas combinaciones en las que sobresalan por sus mritos propios algunas mariposas blancas, diversos mosquitos y una especie de escarabajo peludo. (365) [my paredro] look[ed] at a lamp that at tracted a lot of the insects. It was amusing to see the quick polyhedrons they formed and that only close attention or a blink would fix them for an instant, giving way to new combinations in which those that sto od out on their own merits were a few white moths, several mosquitoes and a hairy beetle. (Rabassa 280) This poetic image closes the book and reduces th e characters to simple organisms that are constantly creating new patterns. The idea of combining elements, be it small
Jaramillo 46 grammatical pieces to create new te xts is the basis premise behind 62 Modelo para Armar But this notion also suggests that in in serting game into a traditional narrative order, a new order could be forme d, by working and moving around limits. In theory, the model proposed for 62 gives way for many rewritings and textual combinations. The model appears as a free and flexible structur e whose whole purpose seems to be devoted to its constant dismantle ment. However, since the model is of a more theoretical nature, there is a sense that ther e are certain conventions and vocabulary to be used in order to participate in the game proposed within this model. Nevertheless, Cortzars use of language and creation of th e fictional world according to this model provides an example of how something as lim ited but also free can affect the narrative conventions of a novel. Perecs Transformative Constraints La Vie Mode DEmplois different levels of constrained narrative functions make it what Perec called called a machine raconter des histoires (Bertelli 244) [a storytelling machine]. More than a machine however, La Vie exemplifies a closed system of rules and constraints that aims to expand narrative possibilities th rough this very same system. In this sense, Perec prog rams his novel as evidenced in his Cahier de Charges, a posthumous work that documents the plan for La Vie to be the creative result of a previously established system of intricate rules and constraints that are meant to be manipulated so that that they cease to be limitations but become instead a springboard for creativity. The transformative aspect of the constraint or how it develops into the narrative we read, can be useful to see how rules and game could be applied to language, by
Jaramillo 47 exploring additional meanings and transfor mations of the sign. But above all, the commitment to this system of constraints is what creates the tens ion between control and freedom that is so particular to game. This can be seen in the charac teristics of game that have been discussed by theorists, such as th e feeling of dominance game provides and the desire to lose oneself in the experience of playing. For example, Huizinga emphasizes games essence as having a maddening power or an intense level of absorption (2). On the level of novelistic creation, Perec crea tes a game that is based on engaging with the rules themselves, not in be ing subordinated by them. In contrast to Cortzar, the level of transgression that Perec exercises in his novel is not one that is extraneous to the system but instead is programmed in the sy stem, which reflects a more open view of language as a field already embedded with glit ches that we do not see, rather than a system full of apertures from which to escape. The impulse to create a system of rules, an alternate order and separate space to play is a view of game that aims that reflect s a need to control things. It also reveals a desire for structure in order to dominate what is not controllable. This is more obviously presented in Bartlebooths project, an end eavor that does violence to a normal life process in order to adjust itself to a superimposed banal order. [Bartlebooth] dcida un jour que sa vie tout entire serait organise autour dun projet unique dont la ncessite arbitraire naurait dautre fin quellemme  excluant tout recours au hasard, len treprise ferait fonctionner le temps et lespace comme les cordonnes abstraites ou viendraient sinscrire avec une rcurrence inluc table des vnements identiques se produisant inexorablement dans leur lieu, a leur date. (152-3)
Jaramillo 48 [Bartlebooth] resolved one day that his whole life would be organized around a single project, an arbitrar ily constrained programme with no purpose outside its own completion.  all recourse to chance would be ruled out and the project would make time and space serve as the abstract coordinates plotting the ineluctable recu rsion of identical events occurring inexorably in their allotted places, on their allotted da tes. (Bellos 117-8) The project is not only for ludic purposes; it consumes his whole life, and it becomes a part of his identity. The as pect of implicit desire for dominance and power exemplifies Bartlebooths project. His life is shaped to be a closed system of rules that would rule out tout recours au hasard (all re course to chance), meaning th at all the elements that are beyond his control he would try to obliterate. An opposite example of the use of game as a compulsive contro lling of life in the novel is the case of David Marcia, a charac ter who encourages chance through game (a controlled and voluntary system), a nevertheless domineering impulse to control his life through a voluntary submission to chance. Marcias inclination for games of chance is a result of previous events starting with hi s failed professional moto rcycling career as a result of a freak accident. In the course of hi s life, he goes through a series of other failed projects, such as car-racing (which he had to can cel indefinitely as a result of accidentally killing two children), producing records (which was canceled due to lack of revenues and a conductor who was a chronic perf ectionist), being a site manager for a travel agency (a project that was derailed by the hiring of Boris Kosciuszcko, a ch aracter who introduced him to theatre). As his last active endeavor, his theatre festival project was ruined by violent
Jaramillo 49 storms which frequently broke out during the seasonwhere he lost most of his investment. As a result of losing his small fort une in less than three years, he returned to live at the apartment building now described in present time in La Vie where he works in his mothers antiques shop to support his latest crazegames of chance--and in particular roulette, at which nearly ever y evening he loses be tween three hundred and fifty and one thousand francs (Bellos 365). Bartlebooth and David Marcias use of ga me in order to control chance, either by obliterating it or by acknowledgi ng its power and promoting it is similar to the tension in the underlying intricate structure that La Vie is composed of. Game in La Vie is a way of satisfying a need to control or structure chance, or to be more precise, realityan escape from that structure by a controlled aleatory action. La Vie Mode DEmploi or Life a Users Manual is an ironic statement on the proj ects that the inhabitants take on throughout their lives in order to control th em, and their respective failed results. These games are tinged with a sense of unpl easant forcefulness, a feature that is dramatized in La Vie as a project that leaves no space for the normal course of life, a banal project that is intensified negativel y by the hand of Winckler, who carefully plans Bartlebooths demise. However unpleasant, it ne ver ceases to be a game, since game is not necessarily defined according the level of enjoyment but the participants voluntary insertion into it. Caillois has stated this when he says that game is ruined by the nihilist who denounces the rules as absurd and convent ional, who refuses to play because the game is meaningless, not by the cheat w ho violates the rules since he at least pretends to respect them (Caillois 7). This gives game the characteristic of be ing an arbitrarily determined endeavor,
Jaramillo 50 with a logic that follows its ultimate executi on. It also gives game the quality of still existing even when the rules are bent. Perec employs this idea when he uses the clinamen, a scientific concept created to desc ribe the inexplicable swerve of some atoms from their usual course first discovered by Lucretius, a Roman philosopher (James 6). The concept is adopted by the Oulipo to repr esent creativity in the intricate constraint systems that the literary group was so fond of The breaking down of original order (i.e. constraint system) can be seen as a transgre ssive action that aims to transform the text. Here we can see how game has a transformativ e power, in the sense th at it is a type of amalgamation to a previous order and changes the configuration of the previous text. In order to understand the clinamen however it is necessary to understand the novels structure and hidden constraints. The notion of the clinamen goes hand in ha nd with the idea of the ludic text as an autonomous space. The chafaudage or scaffolding of the apartment building, as Perec calls it, expresses the textual layers that La Vie Mode DEmploi has, starting with the Cahier de Charges as a base mathematical constraint st ructure. This has allowed Perec to respond to mathematical equations as opposed to traditional writerly inspiration. This means that the romantic idea of artistic inspiration as happenstance is replaced by a system of rules. The novels underlying stru cture consists of a ten by ten grid which represents the apartment at 11 Rue Simon Crubellier, containing a hundred rooms, to which the novel of a hundred chapters corresponds. However, Perec cal ls to attention the fact that the book has ninety-nine, instead of a hundred chap ters: The little girl who appears on pages 231 and 318 is entirely respons ible for this (qtd. in Magn 3-4) The little girl mentioned before the end of Chapte r 65 on the lid of a biscuit tin, where she is
Jaramillo 51 depicted munching on the corner of a petit-be urre, is a metaphor for the clinamen, which if the apartment building is visualized, subtracts its botto m left-hand cellar room, which is never seen and described (Magn 3). Another element of constraint employed in the novel is the Knights Tour, a mathematical problem that requires the knight to visit all the squares in the chessboard only once. In La Vie this determines the novels narra tive, moving from room to room and describing each of the inhabitants, as well as a biography of the people there. To avoid repetition, Perec made sure that none of the rooms were visited more than once, as does the polygraphie de cavalier (Knights Tou r). In the basic order of the chapters and narrative, the transformation occurs before the reader encounters the text: Le cheval sarrte dans la casse situ e langle infrieur gauche du plan damier, correspondant une cave. Cet ar rt nest pas pris en compte dans le livre : le chapitre 66 ne dcrit pa s une cave mais la pice qui correspond au 67e dplacement du cheval : La b outique dantiquits de Madame Marcia. ( Cahier de Charges 15) [The knight stops in the box located in the lower left angle of the chessboard, which corresponds to a cellar. This stop is not taken into account in the book: chapter 66 does not de scribe a cellar but instead the room that corresponds to the 67th move of the knight: Madame Marcias antique shop.] The text is then transformed by a voluntary omission of an element. By deciding to not describe the cellar, Perec not only make s the narrative events change, but also transgresses the system he himself built, and overturns the logical composition of the 10
Jaramillo 52 by 10 grid. This marks a glitch in the system and introduces a level of tension within the process of creation. The order of the narrative even ts then becomes dependent on a game that is played by itself, with a type of algorithm that takes care of the order. The chess configuration is the visualiz ation of a mathematical problem, a purely mechanical approach to establishing an order of the narr ative. With an algorithmic change in the system, Perecan authorial figurecreates a spectacle of textual transformation, and he becomes a witness to the workings of the text-machine he has authored. From an antagonistic point of view, sim ilar to what we saw in the previous chapter of this study, this could be the challenging factor of the game, such as the tricks Winckler employed, but it also could be an inse rtion of chaos into the same system Perec built. This same tension between the order and disorder is seen as an ironic dialectic played in the book through the rivalry betw een Bartlebooth and Winckler. The different elements of game come forward in the book in this way, mixing discourses in a way which is what Perec calls an chafaudage or scaffolding. The portrayal of game is fictionalized through Ba rtlebooth and Winckler, each re presenting a force and discourse in the system. Similarly, in the Cahier de Charges the figures of Bartlebooth and Winckler represent this tension in the regulated system, an antagonism between order and disorder. The execution of the game itself, the victory of Wincklers tricks, is also a victory for chaos in the system, the victory of the alea tory and creativity inside a highly regulated system. In a sense, the constraint system is an autonomous machine that is destined for failure because its purpose has always been of a ludic natureas is Bartlebooths failure as a result of Wincklers ludic ploys.
Jaramillo 53 In a close analysis of the system of constraints (according to the Cahier de Charges ), the reader is able to see the transforma tion of the text at a linguistic level. The system of constraints used to write the nove l is based on a table of 420 elements divided into 42 lists of 10 elements each. These 42 ca tegories specify, at least in theory, the function of each element in a given chapter. The 42 lists are then divided into 21 pairs, and the elements within each list are combined using a 10 by 10 orthogonal Graeco-Latin bi-squarea matrix that distributes pairs of el ements in such a way as to ensure that no pair is repeated and that no individual element appears more than once in the same column or row of the table. The resulting 21 squares determine the combination of the elements in the overall table. Perec varies the application of this combinatorial algorithm by using a pseudo-quenine dordre di x (a pseudo-quenina of the 10th order). This is a permutation of the poetic form of the ses tina, which Raymond Queneau generalized to make it applicable to poems of a different number of lines (baptized quenina after the author). Chapter 9, for example, employs like the other chapters a list of 42 elements that determine several elements important in the narr ative. The constraint requires them all to be present in the chapter. One of the more interesting things about th is list are the items 39 and 40, which modify other items in the list, either by omitting them or replacing one for another. For example, Gap in 1 would mean that any item in the first group of four items could be omitted, which breaks the constraint of having to include all of them but through another constraint. The Gap constraint also gives Perec the freedom to choose which one he omits. In the constraint labe led Wrong Perec would have to replace an element of that list with another, modifying the set of instructions that belong to that
Jaramillo 54 specific group of item. In addition to these metaconstraints as critic Bernard Magn has called them, there are the autometaconstraints which a dd a further constraine d modification to two already overlapping constraints. This other level of modifi cation of constraint would occur if the items 39 and 40 would choose their own group to gap or wrong, making them gap or skip themselves or wrong th emselves. This would gi ve Perec free reign as to how to apply these constraints. This action responds to principles of game, which require the player to stay within the limits of a set of rules but encourages as tute moves to make the best out of what the rules allow. This is a similar type of reasoning to the Oulipo group, whose members believed in the power of constraints to fuel creativity. Assuming language to be material, the Oulipo group turns to a ludic aspect to cr eate innovative experime nts in the literary field. Structuralists have written about the gram matical transformations of language in ludic terms. Like the Oulipo group, they a ssume the materiality of language and its potential effects in creating new significations1. For a structuralist like Roland Barthes, the stretching of signifiers is a ludic act, and this can be s een in the transition from the Cahiers de Charges to La Vie Mode DEmploi when it engages in the creative twisting of constraints into new meanings. For example, in Chapter 9, the constraints Japanese Garden and Contemporary Music are not i mmediately obvious, a nd require a certain type of knowledge and deep observation. The constraint Japanese Garden for example ___________________________ 1 Regarding conventions of language such as the metaphor, Barthes speaks of the pleasure in manipulating the text, which is tied to a ludic drive to multiply meanings. He analyzes an instance of the metaphors inventive use in the novella Sarrasine by Ba lzac, where he presents th e carrying out of a single [syntagm] to infinity by twisting language within its limitations.
Jaramillo 55 is fulfilled in the bibliography under the name of Hagiwara, who was a famous landscape artist known for his Japanese tea Garden in the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California. Just as this constraint was so loosely interpreted, so was the Contemporary Music through the last name Gogolak, containing the words Go go, a type of music that was popular during the time the book was written. Perecs interpretations of the constraints are more free than the clinamens themselves, since as Barthes has suggested, they can be carried out to infinity in terms of how they are interpreted. In another case of tying the ludic with the transformational, structuralist Grard Genette does close readings of Oulipian texts and links the idea of the transformational to the aleatory aspect of the Oulipian text: Cest le hasard qui opre, aucune inten tion smantique ny prside, rien de tendancieux ni de prmdit. Dans la parodie classique (et moderne), le jeu consiste dtourner un texte de sa signification initiale vers une autre application connue davance et laquelle il fait ladapter soigneusement. Dcidment (on le sait), il y a jeu et jeu. La parodie est un jeu dadresse ; loulipisme est un jeu de hasard, comme la roulette. Mais comme lavoue le sous-titre dOulipo) cette recration hasardeuse ne peut manquer longtemps de devenir recrati on, car la transformation dun texte produit toujours dun autre texte, et donc une autre sens. (56) [Chance is the one that operates, no semantic intention precedes it, no tendencies or premeditations. In cl assic (and modern) parody, play consists in diverting the text from its initial signification towards another application known in advance and to which it is carefully adapted.
Jaramillo 56 Obviously there is game and game. Par ody is a play of dexterity; Oulipism is a game of chance, like roulette But (as the sub-title of the Oulipo acknowledges) this aleator y recreation cant avoid for too long becoming re-creation, for the transformation of the text always produces another text, therefore another meaning. We can see chance as a creator of a new order, as we saw in Cortzar, but instead its ludic haphazardness rises from the fact that aucune inten tion smantique ny preside (no semantic intention precedes it). Instead, a system of mathematical rules determines its creation. The constraint Angst for example, would be a feeling that would most easily be translated for the purpose of a mood or dr amatic function, but in Chapter 9 it is taken down to the bibliography and completely ignor ed in its semantic context. The game of chance here occurs for the fact that Perec ha s to incorporate this word, but keeps a sense of control over how it is fulfilled. In this sense one could say that Perec works within the rules and highly respects them, but also extends them and diverges thei r meaning into other semantic fields that have the possibilities of creating new meanings and texts. In the fiction of La Vie this is represented in the highly ironic death of Bartlebooth: Assis devant son puzzle, Bartlebooth vi ent de mourir. Sur le drap de la table, quelque part dans le ciel crpusculaire du quatre cent trenteneuvime puzzle, le trou noir de la seule pice non encore pose dessine la silhouette presque parfaite dun X. Mais la pice que le mort tient entre ses doigts a la forme, depuis longtemps prv isible dans son ironie mme, dun W. (578)
Jaramillo 57 Seated at his jigsaw puzzle, Bartleboot h has just died. On the tablecloth, somewhere in the crepuscular sky of the four hundred and thirty-ninth puzzle, the black hole of the sole piec e not yet filled in has almost the perfect shape of an X. But the ironi c thing is, which could have been foreseen long ago, is that the piece the dead man holds between his fingers is shaped like a W. (Bellos 497) This is clearly a dramatization of the inser tion of chaos into order, and the bending of rules in a highly constrained system that inev itably has been reduced to an ironic failure. It also conducts the reader to a new type of game, or better yet, a new text: a former work by Perec titled W ou le Souvenir de LEnfance, a semi-autobiographical novel where Gaspard Winckler appears as one of the ma in characters. The new text that we are directed to has been there all along, with an unrevealed potentiality. In transgressing this original order with chaos and impossibility, Perec creates textual possibilities by directing us to new games and texts and transforming the rules he himself has established.
Jaramillo 58 Conclusion In the literary context, the term play is often used in a genera l sense to refer to techniques that demonstrate a le vel of selfreflexivity in th eir use of language. In this sense, any formal experimentation in literature could be framed as a manifestation of play. A nod to the reader, mobile novelistic structures or even ironic authorial statements are all techniques that could be construed as a form of play in literature. Novels like 62 Modelo para Armar and La Vie Mode Demploi have absorbed the notion of play and made it into a major theme in their narratives In doing so they solidify the use of this term into a model that imitates a game. In thematizing play through an explicit literary game that drives the narrative, Perec and Co rtzar highlight tensi ons between the rules and freedom that play permits and the effect it has on the text. The appeal that most authors find in the notion of game and play however, is not the tension that creates it but rather th e expansive effects it can have on the text. Twentieth century experimental authors w ho have looked to revol utionize literature found a useful tool in game formats that unde rmined previous rules and conventions of a text in order to establish their own. As we saw in Perecs case, a game La Vie drove the narrative and affected th e order in which we read it. Th e replacement of conventions by arbitrary rules would signal how the conventions of the text are merely rules that at any time could be modified and be replaced by others. This aspect was clearly seen in Cortzars notion of interchangeability of el ements in the novel, which undermined a finality of significance. The implementation of this notion would suggest that a text could turn into a field full of potential moves and transformations, or an infinite number of ways in which it can be shaped according to ones preference.
Jaramillo 59 The open approach that authors such as Perec and Cortzar emphasize for interpreting their novel is then based on a f acilitating mechanism that is constantly oscillating between principles of freedom and constraint. Acknowledging the rules that go into a game, as we saw in this study, is also the best way to a ttain mobility within them. This sense of motion within a default structure such as the game-texts we have seen in this study also implies a different way of reading, in the sense that it emphasizes the actual process as opposed to an absolu te and principal content. In imposing a new regulated field where free motion is essential, literary texts are able to decentralize the authority of a specific meaning by its constant displacement. Nevertheless, the idea of constant motion and displacement as a means of providing the reader the freedom to choos e his own adventure foreshadows fairly recent practices in reading derived from technol ogies that have become widespread in the past two decades. With the advent of the in ternet, for example, methods for reading are constantly migratory. In the text that a ppears in the internet, the hypertext, the information that the reader looks for may be found in many places at once or can have infinite order of links in order to register it. Similar to the re ading practices that result in the games these novels propose us to play, there are numerous ways to make for oneself not only an ultimate interpretation of the text but also an ultimate construction of its structure. Despite the fact that much criticism argue s that we can all author any novel we read depending on life experiences or personal histories, th ese novels take this concept and actually try to make it happen. With a medi ating system of rules, be it theoretical or highly mathematical, there is the idea that with an arbitrary system such as gamenow
Jaramillo 60 things such as digital interfacesa nyone can build their own narrative.
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