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Narrative and Becoming$
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Ridvan Askin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474414562

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474414562.001.0001

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Narrating Sensation: Michael Ondaatje’s The Collected Works of Billy the Kid

Narrating Sensation: Michael Ondaatje’s The Collected Works of Billy the Kid

(p.77) 2 Narrating Sensation: Michael Ondaatje’s The Collected Works of Billy the Kid
Narrative and Becoming

Ridvan Askin

Edinburgh University Press

The second chapter traces in detail how Ondaatje’s text engages in what Askin terms disfiguration—the very process of disfiguring its representational surface both in terms of content and form—in order to unearth its constitutive sensations. Disfiguration makes tangible what otherwise remains intangible, the very constitution and genesis of actual narratives from virtual sensations. In The Collected Works of Billy the Kid disfiguration is most prominently on display in a series of becomings the protagonist undergoes culminating in his metaleptic account of his own death where his brain breaks apart and thus literally kills off representation. It is in staging such acute moments of representational crisis that the narrative reaches the impersonal and nonhuman beyond of personal and human experience. By the same token the beyond of actual narratives is attained: the sensations and forces that make up the death of Billy are those that make up the narrative at hand in so far as it is the narrative that assembles and composes the figure of Billy. It is thus that The Collected Works of Billy the Kid can be said to be a Deleuzian monument of sensation.

Keywords:   actual, becomings, disfiguration, experience, Michael Ondaatje, representation, sensation, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, virtual

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