Like a Dog Chasing its Tail

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

Richard Smyth’s Genetis: A Rhizography participates in several kinds of discourse. Sometimes, the Storyspace work is a serious scholarly essay on hypertext and madness and follows the rules of that form of discourse (citations and all). At other times it is an obscene fable, an autofiction, or a joke. However, regardless of what it looks like—poem, essay, screed, or allegory—Genetis is always trying to get at the same question: How can you make a self (or in more Lacanian terms, a “subject”) capable of telling about itself and being understood by others? Since we know our selves by how and what they say, that question is synonymous with another: What kind of text, what kind of discourse, can serve as evidence of such a self and prove it legible, whole, and (perhaps) healed?

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In Genetis, the search for self is first phrased as a quest towards an origin. The work’s title references both the biblical Genesis and the science of genetics, the two deepest-encoded sources of the late-twentieth century Western self––one offering a cultural discourse explaining human society, and the other offering an objective scientific discourse of the body's creation. [2] Both are staged in Genetis, and the kind of language used to authorize and describe them is imitated. 

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Dene Grigar