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    NDiaye’s intelligent subjects

    Asibong, Andrew (2013) NDiaye’s intelligent subjects. L’Esprit Créateur: Marie NDiaye’s Worlds/Mondes de Marie NDiaye 53 (2), pp. 28-41.

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    In this article, I explore some of the key forms of intelligence, pseudo-intelligence, and stupidity depicted in the texts of Marie NDiaye. Arguing that the cerebral brilliance of many of NDiaye’s earlier protagonists functioned as a symptom of their emotional ‘deadness’ I go on to analyze the workings of an emerging blueprint for relationality and psychic ‘aliveness.’ The protagonists of Marie Ndiaye's theater and prose fiction find it extremely difficult to locate and use meaningful intelligence about the world they inhabit and that inhabits them. But what exactly is "meaningful" intelligence? How does one distinguish it from more seductive, counterfeit or "meaningless" forms? And why, when it does occasionally offer itself up for experience, is it usually pushed away with a barely concealed repugnance? In this article, I want to explore some of the key forms of intelligence, pseudo-intelligence, and idiocy that NDiaye's texts have represented over the years, from the first novel Quant au riche avenir,1 published in 1985 when NDiaye was 17, to the 2011 play Les Grandes Personnes.2 Arguing that the cerebral brilliance of many of NDiaye's earlier protagonists functioned as a symptom of their emotional malfunction, I go on to analyse the workings of what I perceive to be an emerging blueprint in the texts for new forms of intelligence, forms that surpass NDiaye's hitherto established models of information-retention or spectacular—even fantastical—displays of intellectual prowess. This new paradigm of intelligence begins to emerge as a palpable potentiality in some of the relational situations depicted in texts from the middle of the 2000s onwards, such as Les Paradis de Prunelle3 and Mon cœur à l'étroit,4 and contrasts with earlier protagonists' demonstrations of logic, talent, and cultural mastery in its embrace of a more fully human capacity for the acceptance of painful truths, care for the damaged self, and the growth of what we might call "aliveness." The meaningful intelligence whose slow development I am attempting to outline here is, I tentatively suggest, applicable not only to the metamorphosing subjective and relational situations depicted in the texts themselves, but also to NDiaye as a metamorphosing artist, and to myself, as I metamorphose in my own thinking and feeling around NDiaye as writer and woman.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: Editors of this special issue: Warren Motte and Lydie Moudileno
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Research Centres and Institutes: Birkbeck Interdisciplinary Research in Media and Culture (BIRMAC) (Closed), Aesthetics of Kinship and Community, Birkbeck Research in (BRAKC)
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 19 May 2014 10:42
    Last Modified: 09 Aug 2023 12:34


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