The Purloined Chamber: A Lacanian Reading of Richard Powers’s Plowing the Dark

The Purloined Chamber: A Lacanian Reading of Richard Powers’s Plowing the Dark

Johanna Heil

Richard Powers’s seventh novel, Plowing the Dark (2000), opens with an obscure piece of text describing some kind of unimaginable room that evades precise symbolization:

This room is never anything o’clock.
Minutes slip through it like a thief in gloves. Hours fail even to raise the dust. Outside, deadlines expire. Buzzers erupt. Deals build to their frenzied conclusions. But in this chamber, now and forever combine… .
Marriages go on reconciling and cracking up. Addicts swear never again. Children succumb in their beds after a long fever. But on this island, in this room: the faint rumble, the standing hum of a place that passes all understanding.

Manifestations or variants of this chamber described here keep surfacing as interludes in the course of the novel. This essay investigates these interluding chambers according to their contents and their function within the greater context of the novel. I propose a Lacanian reading for interpreting these chambers, which is informed by his interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Purloined Letter” in particular. The character and function of the purloined letter will be taken as the tertium comparationis from which the interpretation will develop.

Untangling the Structure of Plowing the Dark

On the page following the passage quoted above, chapter 1 of Plowing the Dark begins with a narration that seems realist and realistic, both in terms of content and style. One of the protagonists Adie Klarpol, a young New York artist who (out of necessity) works in advertising, is asked by an old college friend to move to Seattle to join a group of programmers who work on the graphic design of a virtual reality project that the company he is employed with is developing. The story is set in the late 1980 which makes research of virtual reality a contemporary endeavor. Adie accepts the invitation and is thrilled by the project since it offers her the opportunity to employ her artistic ideas and graphical skills. Not only can she reproduce her favorite paintings in a three-dimensional and interactive environment, she can also re-enact her most cherished childhood memories, as well as some quite painful ones. The place of work feels like a playground for disillusioned thirty-to-forty-year-olds who are given the chance to find professional fulfillment in a groundbreaking project that will revolutionize the possibilities of perception and create new standards for research in computer technology. The actual projection room in Seattle’s realization lab into which the different rooms are uploaded is a white cubicle that is tellingly called Cavern (allusions to Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” and Baudrillard’s ideas on simulation, simulacra, and hyperreality are hereby acknowledged).

This Seattle plot develops throughout the first three chapters, but in chapter 4 a different narrative voice takes over: a second-person narrator is employed, and the reader quickly learns that this second strand of narration exists independently from the first strand which had been introduced at the beginning of the novel. This second narrative strand deals with an American English teacher of Persian descent, Taimur Martin, who has mistakenly been taken hostage in Beirut, Lebanon, and who is being held captive in a small, dark room. His only means not to lose his mind is to repeat stories he has read, and to re-live misguided conversations with his ex-girlfriend by trying to find alternative endings which might have saved their relationships.1

Two parallel stories are told that do not seem to have anything in common except that both incorporate a single room which serves as a literal and symbolic projection screen: in Seattle, it is the Cavern in the realization lab that Adie uses to visualize rooms which symbolize her desire; in Beirut, it is Taimur’s mind that serves him as a symbolic screen onto which he can paint actual memories and improved re-enactments of past moments of his life. The two strands of narration finally converge at the end of the novel when Taimur Martin appears in one of the demonstration rooms Adie has designed: a version of the Hagia Sofia that Adie had chosen to represent W.B. Yeats’s idea of Byzantium. The key to understanding this encounter lies in the above-mentioned room that “passes all understanding” (Powers, Plowing the Dark 3).2

The Prelude

After the two epigrams but before the first chapter actually begins, the reader has been introduced to a room, a chamber, that is somewhat cut off from the rest of the novel. This prelude can easily be (mis)understood for one of the demonstration rooms of virtual reality and thus belonging to the Seattle plot line, just like the other demonstration rooms that are described in the course of the narration. However, there are a number of interluding chapters portraying rooms that are not referenced by the Seattle characters but that resemble the chamber described in the prelude on a narratological and a semantic level. I argue that the chamber described in the prelude and the rooms described in interluding chapters have to be understood as something quite different from the demonstration rooms created in the realization lab in Seattle. By the mere position of the text, i.e., after the epigrams but before the first chapter, the prelude is placed within and outside the realm of the novel at the same time. This chamber—which should exist inside the parameters of space and time—cannot be entered, though. Future, present, and past are combined in a place in which the successive implementation of time has never been established. Detached from both time and space, the room holds a multitude of potentialities:

This room lingers on the perpetual pitch of here. Its low local twilight outlasts the day’s politics. It hangs fixed, between discovery and invention. It floats in its pure potential, a strongbox in the inviolate vault. (PtD 3)

The formulation of the chamber “floating in its pure potential” is evocative of Aristotle’s view on the characteristics of worldly things. To him, man-made products are realizations of a material’s potential, i.e., its virtual form. Wolfgang Welsch exemplifies this idea with Michelangelo’s approach to sculpture (“Wirklich: Bedeutungsvarianten” 194-95; “Virtual to Begin With?” 29). For Michelangelo, creating a statue is not a process of creating a genuine work of art but rather a releasing of an inherent form from a block of marble. In this view, any given block of marble already is a certain statue, already has a certain form, only that it has not yet been realized but waits in its potentiality (or virtual existence) until reality is finally released. The difference between the terms potential/virtual and actual diminishes and becomes only a modal one. The virtual existence of an object is merely one that waits to be released and to become actual or factual. Virtual only means not having been released yet but already being decided.

 Comparable to this conception of reality, the chamber described in the prelude contains various realizations. This characteristic is shared by the Cavern in Seattle whose white cubicle may take on every appearance that has been programmed. The decisive difference is that, according to Michelangelo, each block of marble hides its one special realization that turns the block’s virtual existence into factual existence. Using Lacan’s terminology, the signifier does not respond to one single signification but to a multitude of significations. The chamber, just as the realization lab, has held and will hold an infinite plurality of potential realities. While the programmers think that they genuinely create each demonstration room according to their creativity and abilities, the reader senses that the individual rooms the programmers are still developing already exist at some other unnamable level, the level of the prelude’s chamber. This becomes clear in the description the Jungle Room, a room based on Rousseau’s painting The Dream. The reader is presented with two versions of this room, one that is being developed in Seattle, and one that has always existed and which is presented in chapter 10 as an interlude.

A second decisive difference of the prelude’s chamber to Michelangelo’s marble block is that the chamber lies “between discovery and invention” (PtD 3). Discovery presupposes existence before discovery, invention presupposes non-existence before creation. The chamber, though, neither fully pre-exists nor is created as such, which defies (logical) comprehension. The same holds for the rooms that appear as interludes in Plowing the Dark. Within the frame of the novel, they do not belong to the realm of actual existence that can be found in Seattle’s realization lab. Their description transcends what could possibly be within the programmers’ means of creational power. In order to analyze the quality of these rooms that resembles the prelude’s chamber, I will analyze two of the rooms whose representations appear as an interlude in Plowing the Dark: Imagination’s Room and the Jungle Room. 

Two Interludes: Imagination’s Room and the Jungle Room

Chapter 19 presents Imagination’s Room, a room that is never mentioned by the programmers and artists in Seattle at all and therefore evades the information that could be presented in the Seattle narration. It is one of the chapters that, according to Charles B. Harris, is “presented in a highly metaphorical register that contrasts markedly with the novel’s otherwise realistic presentation” (119). Of all the rooms described in the course of the novel, it is the one whose style most resembles that of the prelude:

In imagination’s room, all things work out.
This is the place’s guiding rule. Nothing gets in that doesn’t already fit. No twist of plot, except what is slated.
In this room, nothing bleeds. Nothing rots. Nothing breaks. There is pain here, but there is no suffering. Things do grow, but never past their prime. All local flesh has learned that lizard trick of regeneration. The cheetah takes no more than half the antelope’s flank. Then the sacrifice grows back again. (PtD 144)

The room is characterized by an eternal state of life, health, and regeneration. The rules of decay of the outside world—of suffering, of rotting, of growing and dying—do not apply. Instead, the status quo of all existence within the room is preserved and restored if disturbed. As all things work out, every possible dream finds its realization: “The people in this room grow up to become what they’ve always dreamed of being” (144-45). The whole chapter reads like a utopia, yet with the following restriction:

But this room can’t brook any depth or width. Dimension is already too degraded to sustain. This room leaves no place to sit and absorb it. No spot where any outsider might just gaze. Even the weight of a solid glance would tip, wreck this room’s precarious equilibrium.
This is the room to which dying people retire. This is the room from which infants are taken to be born.
This is the soul’s balanced window box, the domain of finished poems.
This is the heaven of last imagination. The paradise of detachment. The room of no consequences in the least. Of making no difference in the whole known world. (145)

The existence of such a place is based on the fundamental human desire which is encapsulated in the purest of all possible manifestations of rooms in the prelude’s chamber: eternity. However, the room represents eternity only in relation to two aspects of time, i.e., in relation to past and future; the present is blocked out. The last paragraph underlines that this room is not of this world; its existence does not bear any consequences, and it does not make any difference to anything. It exists in a void, but still it is there. It caters to the possibilities that may lie in the Cavern, but it also fuels the discrepancy between the potentiality the Cavern holds and the ideal that the prelude’s chamber represents. Imagination’s Room and the prelude’s chamber by themselves, though, are of no consequence, which indicates that they need to be considered in the interplay with some other rooms in order to mean something. This relation may be compared to Saussure’s assertion that “language is a system of interdependent terms in which the value of each term results solely from the simultaneous presence of the others.” (66)

The first version of the Jungle Room that the reader encounters is one created by Adie. The hard work that the programmers invest into the creation of the Jungle Room, though, is not mentioned in the interlude at all. As it is presented in the interluding chapter 10, the room exists independently as it is, not as a creation within the Cavern:

The Jungle room seems strangely familiar.
Your eye recognizes the place at once, although it has never been there. Or say your eye has been there, long ago. Back before childhood’s childhood. Before your eye was even an eye. And say that you’ve toted this spurge around inside ever since, a keepsake of long-abandoned cover. […]
Still the Jungle Room swells, as awful as its template. For there may be no return, no quarter, no resting place behind these renderings. These leaves hide nothing but the signs of hunger. Even the myth of elemental loss somehow misses the point. It may not be in you, ever, to believe in a home of your own devising. The tree may not grow that can trick both heart and limbs. (67-68)

The description of this room leaves an uncanny feeling that stems from the suggestion that the room has been known long before birth and is impossible to get back to in this life. The room is described as beautifully sublime, as enchantingly menacing, as awfully pristine, and as elementally and irrevocably lost. Nevertheless, it is presented to the reader as a possibility, and as virtually existing. Just as all the other rooms in interluding chapters, the reader is tricked into believing this room is being designed in Seattle. What the Jungle Room actually shows, however, is something quite different. It is depicted as being “strangely familiar” from a time “before childhood’s childhood” (PtD 67). This is to say that the room is preexistent, independent from anything that is known to the actual world before our eyes.

It becomes clear that the interludes do not mirror the Cavern’s state in Seattle but show what the finished rooms would look like, or in Aristotle’s sense virtually do look like. At the same time, the level of perfection these rooms have attained, which is fortified by the way they are described, suggests that the completion of the rooms in the Seattle project will never, not even remotely, approximate their virtual existence since this virtual existence cannot be signified. The rooms in the Cavern exist merely on a template level, the rough frames are given, but the form has not yet been completed. They may be regarded as signifiers that are posed in substitution for the real thing whereby they also symbolize the elemental loss of the room they try to (re)create. Hereby, they express both the absence of the real thing and a deep desire to recover that very thing.

“The Purloined Letter”

When turning to the character of the prelude’s chamber and the interludes’ chambers, Lacan’s reading of Poe’s “The Purloined Letter” offers a viable means of comparison although Poe’s short story and Powers’s novel thematically do not have much in common. So far, the chamber as well as the Cavern have been defined as virtual rooms. The prelude’s chamber and the rooms described in interludes bear traits of impossible perfection, of virtual existence that can never be achieved. The Cavern is a virtual room insofar as one can create a multitude of rooms inside it that might actually gain material existence, for example, when one of the programmers returns from the Cavern with a black eye after he was hit inside one of the virtual demonstration rooms. As in Aristotle’s conception, virtual existence is existence. The chamber and the Cavern are signifiers whose signification changes constantly.

Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Purloined Letter” deals with the attempt to recover a letter that has been stolen from the Queen before she could finish reading it. The theft has been politically motivated; the thief is known to be the Minister who understands that the letter will reveal delicate information about the Queen. Although the thief is known to both the Queen and the Prefect of the Police, the letter cannot easily be retrieved because the Queen has to keep her face. In the end, it is only through the help of private detective Monsieur Dupin that the matter can be solved satisfactorily.

In his “Seminar on ‘The Purloined Letter’” (1966), Lacan identifies the letter, which has been stolen and whose contents are neither revealed nor communicated, as a “pure signifier” (10). John Lechte comments on the stolen letter as “pure signifier” by writing that

the letter has no content (for the reader of the story), and so stands for, is sign of, desire in general. The implication is that the letter could be substituted for any desired object—a diamond, perhaps—and the same circuit of events could be played out. A diamond, however, has a content; it is not a virtual object like a letter which can function as a sign of desire, as a signifier of signification. (41; my emphasis)

Lechte further informs the reader that, regarded psychoanalytically, “every object of desire is a substitute for the real thing […]” (42). Since the contents of the letter are never revealed, they could be anything and can thus be compared to both the chamber in the prelude and the Cavern, which can take the shape of every desired object (or place or space). Moreover, the purloined letter and the Cavern owe their existence to language. Like the purloined letter, the Cavern and the chamber unite a “plurality of significations, not successively but simultaneously” (Lechte42). The complication arises when considering the completed rooms, which are portrayed in interludes since they have not yet been completed in the actual realization lab in Seattle. Their existence is purely virtual3 and, because of their virtuality, they symbolize pure desire. The desired object, a perfectly completed demonstration room, is unattainable and its content is only vaguely known. In this sense, the virtual chambers described in interluding chapters, epitomized in the prelude’s chamber, share the characteristics with Poe’s purloined letter as far as the modifying part of the title is concerned: they are “pure signifier[s]” (Lacan, “Seminar on the ‘The Purloined Letter’” 10) that prolong their true contents. When pointing to the choice of diction in Poe’s title, “The Purloined Letter” (my emphasis), Lacan notices “the English title containing a word rare enough for us to find it easier to define its etymology than its usage” (21). He closes his etymological detour, stating that

to purloin is thus mettre de côté (to set aside) or, to resort to a colloquialism which plays off the two meanings, mettre à gauche (to put to the left side [literally] and to tuck away).
Our detour is thus validated by the very object which leads us into it: for we are quite simply dealing with a letter which has been detoured, one whose trajectory has been prolonged (this is literally the English word in the title), or, to resort to the language of the post office, a letter en souffrance (awaiting delivery or unclaimed). (21)

The idea of the letter being prolonged and thus awaiting delivery ties in with the virtual character of Michelangelo’s sculpture: it is already there, it only has to be (re)claimed.

Lacan’s reading of Poe’s short story offers yet another clue to this article’s argument when he plays with the ambiguous meaning of the title’s noun: ‘letter.’ On a first literal level, the purloined letter is of course the stolen piece of paper that contains a written message. On another level, though, the letter refers to Lacan’s idiosyncratic use of the word that denotes “the material basis of language itself” (Evans 100). As such, the letter stands before language and “insists in inscribing itself in the subject’s life” (Evans 100). The letter in Poe’s story is purloined in the sense of being prolonged, but it insists on returning as the substance to which the signifier refers back to, as will become clearer later.

The Purloined Chamber

In the case of Plowing the Dark and its descriptions of obscure rooms that cannot be possibly created because they represent “a place that passes all understanding” (PtD 3), the comparison to Poe’s “The Purloined Letter” and Lacan’s interpretation of this story still misses out on a crucial point: the purloined letter is something material, but the chambers in Plowing the Dark are not quite so. The ambition the programmers in Seattle share is the “dream that a new tool might put us closer to the thing that we are sure lies just beyond us, just outside the scale of our being” (Powers, “Being and Seeming” n.pag.). One of the tools that makes the creation of virtual reality possible is (programming) language. One of the programmers, Steve Spiegel, tells Adie:

He’s [Pygmalion] in there somewhere. Orpheus might be closer. I’m telling you, writing my first subroutine was … like causing huge chunks of unravished bride to rise up, just by singing to her. A good, polished program was everything I thought poetry was supposed to be. […] I was going to get inside of reality and extract its essence, write down on paper the magic metrical words that, read aloud, would do their open sesame. (PtD 215)

In Lacanian thought, language—i.e., an individual language (langue) or language in intersubjective usage(discours)—belongs mainly to the Symbolic order in which language and signification act as a substitution for the real thing(s). Language and signification here refer to an ‘absence,’ or to a ‘lack’ of something that one desires (Lechte 42). Besides the Symbolic order, Lacan identifies two more orders (or registers) in which the psychoanalytic experience happens: the Imaginary and the Real. The three orders cannot exist independently because they are intertwined like the Borromean Knot, “a group of three rings which are interlinked in such a way that if any one of them is severed, all three become separate” (Evans 18). Each order has to be understood as a structure or a realm that is constitutive for certain aspects of the human psyche, and due to their interdependence the orders work on each other, disrupt each other at times and are responsible for the complex interrelations of psychological experiences and problems. It is from within the Symbolic, which is “essentially a linguistic dimension” (Evans 201), that we can try to understand and think about the other two orders. Most of an adult’s conscious and unconscious life is confined to the Symbolic order, though not exclusively. The same holds for language. Both the Imaginary4 and the Real are involved in different aspects of language. Evans summarizes that “the symbolic dimension of language is that of the signifier; a dimension in which elements have no positive existence but which are constitutive purely by virtue of their mutual differences” (201-02). While this conception of language is clearly based on Saussure’s analysis of language, Lacan develops his own system of how language works and introduces the ‘letter’ into the system. The letter is “the material basis of language itself; ‘By letter I designate that material support that concrete discourse borrows from language5’” (Lacan qtd. in Evans 100).  Evans comprehensively sums up the relation between language and the letter, the order of the Symbolic and the Real:

The letter is thus connected with the real, a material substrate that underpins the symbolic order. The concept of materiality implies, for Lacan, both the idea of invisibility and the idea of locality; the letter is therefore ‘the essentiality localised structure of the signifier.’ (100)

Although the Real “underpins” the Symbolic order, it is still inaccessible and incomprehensible. The Real is “that which eludes our shared reality” (Paccaud-Huguet 284) that cannot be grasped from the linguistic position of the Symbolic. The Real prevails as “that which has not yet been symbolized, remains to be symbolized, or even resists symbolization” (Bowie 133). Being located in the Symbolic means to be confined to the realm of absence and presence which forms “the basic difference to the real; ‘There is no absence in the real. There is only presence there where there isn’t one’” (Lacan qtd. in Evans 1). Malcolm Bowie writes that Lacan’s Real is “the irremediable and intractable ‘outside’ of language; the indefinitely receding goal towards which the signifying chain tends; the vanishing point of the Symbolic and the Imaginary alike” (133). Representation is motivated by the desire to claim ‘being’ that is substituted by the signifier, being that is a presence and not an absence. Pure presence can only be found in the order of the Real but, as has been explicated, the order of the Real is beyond symbolization—and so are the prelude’s chamber and the rooms described in the interludes.

Desire and Artificial Eternity

Desire is the factor uniting the programmers in Seattle, desire to find a better place than the actual world they know. Each character has his or her reasons to work on the virtual reality project, be it the technical revolution it brings about (e.g. Ronan O’Reilly), or high hopes that have been disappointed in other fields of interest (e.g. Steve Spiegel). About Adie we learn that it was “desire [that] forced her out into the RL [realization lab]” (Powers, PtD 58). Symbolically, her belief in something better that would soothe her pain is visualized by building the Hagia Sophia. The complex interplay of motives that caused Adie to create the cathedral involve, for instance, the desire to create a room for her ex-husband, who is slowly dying from multiple sclerosis. Her motivation can be summarized by the last two lines of the third stanza of William Butler Yeats’s poem “Sailing to Byzantium” that is very dear to Adie: “It knows not what it is; and gather me / Into the artifice of eternity” (163). The rooms Adie created before were connected to Adie’s past, to her childhood in which she tried to escape her dreadful life, finding refuge in paintings that she claimed as her own. The reproduction of the Hagia Sofia—a monument shaped eclectically by various religious beliefs, erected to build a house worthy of immortal gods—is designed as the crowning glory of Adie’s creational work. In it, she symbolically unites love, hope, creativity, and vigor to build a room for her former husband in which he might live healthily and sanely. She builds an artifice of eternity, knowing that it is beyond her abilities to do more than design a symbol, a signifier, rather than eternity itself. Nevertheless, she is yearning for something that would not only virtually symbolize eternity but actually realize it. The repetitive action of trying to create a room of virtual eternity finally leads to a mystical encounter in the Hagia Sofia that brings together Adie and Taimur. The Cavern has finally, if only for a brief moment, materialized as the one room that both Adie and Taimur have consciously or unconsciously been looking for: The Cavern has taken on the form of the prelude’s chamber.

In consideration of all this, the chamber may well be regarded as the “Platonic Ur-Cave of which the Cavern is but an extension and simulacrum,” as Harris puts it (119). To unfasten the ties that keep us looking at shadows means to bring the realization lab to perfection and to find access to the room beyond representation, i.e., the chamber described in the prelude and the interluding chapters. During the major part of the novel, however, the prelude’s chamber is inaccessible. There is always something missing in the demo rooms, they are never actually what the creators hoped them to be, so that a relative portion of desire, which should have been quenched, always remains. While Monsieur Dupin succeeds in restoring the virtual object of the purloined letter rather easily, Adie and the programmers face the additional complication that their desired object is and will always be virtual: even if it is released into actual existence it still remains virtual in the sense of not being material. The purloined letter only becomes a virtual object by being stolen; its material existence is never at stake; the ‘contents’ of the prelude’s chamber persist as virtual even after they have been revealed.

In Plowing the Dark, the chamber of the prelude and the rooms described in the interludes function in a way similar to the purloined letter while it is prolonging its contents, and similar to the Real: they pre-exist, their true content is prolonged but they still disrupt not only the narration in form of the interludes but also the characters’ lives when Adie and Taimur meet. The programmers’ and Adie’s desire forces its way out of the Real to create a fissure in the Symbolic order. In the “artifice of eternity” (Yeats 163) of Byzantium, the Cavern becomes the stage for a most memorable encounter. This is where the Real finally disrupts the reality of the Symbolic for a brief moment to establish a fusion that “passes all understanding” (PtD 3) which neither Adie nor Taimur can explain. “The artifice of eternity” (Yeats 163)—the desire for a place where “now and forever combine” (PtD 3), where perfection is neither illusion nor simulacrum—is exactly what is returned to Adie and Taimur, if only for a short moment, before it is purloined—prolonged—again.

1 The reader will find quite a number of doublings in these two strands of narration. To name a few: Adie’s ex-husband, suffering from MS, lives in an asylum in Lebanon, Ohio. Taimur and Adie share personal stories that relate to Vincent van Gogh’s painting A Bedroom at Arles. Adie re-creates the Hagia Sofia, which symbolizes Byzantium as an escape from mortality; Taimur meets his family in Istanbul after he is released.

2 All subsequent references to Plowing the Dark will be given as PtD.

3 Note that the term virtual here is applied to the rooms described in interludes that do not exist in Seattle as such. If at all, they represent the best possible implementation of what the programmers try to design. The rooms in the virtual reality project in Seattle are not referred to here since they have already taken on a particular form which is only virtual in the sense of computer technology. For a discussion of the term virtual, see Welsch, “Wirklich: Bedeutungsvarianten—Modelle—Wirklichkeit und Virtualität” and “Virtual to Begin With?”

4 “The imaginary is the realm of image and imagination, deception and lure. The principal illusions of the imaginary are those of wholeness, synthesis, autonomy, duality and, above all, similarity. The imaginary is thus the order of surface appearances which are deceptive, observable phenomena which hide underlying structure; the affects are such phenomena. […] The imaginary also involves a linguistic dimension. Whereas the signifier is the foundation of the symbolic order, the signified and signification are part of the imaginary order. Thus language has both symbolic and imaginary aspects; in its imaginary aspect, language is the ‘wall of language’ which inverts and distorts the discourse of the Other” (Evans 82-83).

5 ‘Language’ here denotes langage,which is the general structure of language, in contrast to langue, which denotes a particular tongue such as English or French. Lacan’s use of ‘discourse’ may be compared with Saussure’s term parole, stressing the intersubjective character of speech (Evans 44).

Works Cited

Bowie, Malcolm. “Jacques Lacan.” Structuralism and Since: From Lévi-Strauss to Derrida. Ed. John Sturrock. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1979. 116-53. Print.

Derrida, Jacques. “Différance.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden (MA): Blackwell, 2004. 278-99. Print.

Evans, Dylan. An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis. London: Routledge, 1996. Print.

Harris, Charles B. “Technoromanticism and the Limits of Representation: Richard Powers’s Plowing the Dark.” The Holodeck in the Garden: Science and Technology in Contemporary American Fiction. Ed. Peter Freese and Charles B. Harris. Champaign: Dalkey Archive Press, 2004. 110-29. Print.

Lacan, Jacques. Ècrits: The First Complete Edition in English. Transl. Bruce Fink. New York: Norton, 2006. Print.

—. “Seminar on ‘The Purloined Letter’.” Écrits 6-48. Print.

—. “The Instance of the Letter in the Unconscious, or Reason after Freud.” Écrits 412-41. Print.

Lechte, John. Julia Kristeva. London: Routledge, 1990. Print.

Paccaud-Huguet, Josiane. “Psychoanalysis after Freud.” Literary Theory and Criticism: An Oxford Guide. Ed. Patricia Waugh. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006. 280-97. Print.

Powers, Richard. Plowing the Dark. London: Vintage, 2002. Print.

—. “Being and Seeming: The Technology of Representation.” Context 3 (2000): n.pag. Web. 21 March 2007. <>.

Saussure, Ferdinand de. Course in General Linguistics. 1916. Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden (MA): Blackwell, 2004. 59-71. Print.

Welsch, Wolfgang. Unsere postmoderne Moderne. Weinheim: VCH, Acta Humaniora, 1988. Print.

—. “Wirklich: Bedeutungsvarianten—Modelle—Wirklichkeit und Virtualität.” Medien Computer Realität: Wirklichkeitsvorstellungen und neue Medien. Ed. Sybille Krämer. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1998. 169-212. Print.

—. “Virtual to Begin With?” Subjektivität und Öffentlichkeit. Ed. Mike Sandbothe and Winfried Marotzki. Köln: Halem, 2000. 25-60. Print.

Yeats, W.B. “Sailing to Byzantium.” The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats. Hertfordshire: Wordsworth, 2000. 163-64. Print.


  • There are currently no refbacks.