Peripheries and Possibilities: Time, Space and the Body in Female Drug Literature

In: Time, Space and the Human Body: An Interdisciplinary Look
Nycole Prowse
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Elizabeth Grosz’s seminal text, Space, Time and Perversion, initiated a postmodern feminist understanding of how bodies live and are positioned as spatio-temporal beings. Grosz suggests that ‘in order to reconceive bodies, and to understand the kinds of active interrelations possible between (lived) representations of the body and (theoretical) representations of space and time, the bodies of each sex need to be accorded the possibility of a different space-time framework.’ This chapter proposes that drug literature provides a platform where such alternative corporeal possibilities can be played out. In the literary sphere the drug trope reframes spatial and temporal regulatory notions of the body. The drug metaphor disrupts temporal linearity through the reconfiguration of ‘junk time’. Likewise, landscapes, cityscapes and a sense of place are re-imagined in fluid, drugged dreamscapes. In this way, drug imagery evokes leakages and slippages across time, space and the body enabling a re-evaluation of corporeal possibilities and potential. The extremities of drug use create a hyperbolic subject-body in drug literature and also magnify the examination of difference between bodies based on gender and corresponding (dis)connections with space and time. A textual analysis of two Australian novels, Helen Garner’s Monkey Grip and Luke Davies Candy, provides a literary comparison to canvas Grosz’s assertions on the implication of gender when reframing the spatio-temporal positionality of bodies. Both novels portray junk bodies inhabiting and (in)habited by the inner-city urban space radicalising traditional notions of subjectivity and a sense of place in Australian fiction. Both novels utilise the drug trope to intensify and collapse spatial-temporal-corporeal divisions, however, they do so differently and with contrasting outcomes. In particular, the impact of gender on the opiated reconfiguration of time and space in Garner’s and Davies’ novels will be examined for its repercussions on agency for the female subject.

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