Suture as the Seam Between Literatures

  • A T Reisenberger University of Cape Town


Ownership of art and, by implication, of literature as an art form cannot be attributed to a single individual as if he or she were living or writing alone in a vacuum. This is because culture has collective ownership. Thus a writer gives voice to a collective experience. Even when recording particular experiences of individuals as unique characters the author, as well as the literary characters, form part of a collective culture. The attempt of an individual who belongs to a minority group to derive a sense of identity which incorporates and reconciles his or her idiosyncratic vision of the world with the society around him or her, by bridging the split in the identity, is realized in literature by what Jacques Lacan calls “suture”. While this issue of ambivalent identity is not resolved, the tension it creates gives rise to innovative art and literature. However the emphasis is usually on the contribution that the mainstream literature “bestows” upon the minority literature. This article highlights the enormous contribution that peripheral cultures and literatures have on the evolution, growth and vibrancy of the usually more settled and conservative, dominant, local mainstream literature.

Journal for the Study of Religion Vol. 19 (2) 2006: pp. 125-137

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eISSN: 1011-7601