Chapter

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

Ridvan Askin

in Narrative and Becoming

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print September 2016 | ISBN: 9781474414562
Published online May 2017 | e-ISBN: 9781474426947 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9781474414562.003.0003

Series: Plateaus New Directions in Deleuze Studies

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

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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

Chapter.  18382 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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