Years ago, in a shrewd and puzzling sentence that has been much bandied
about, Roland Barthes advanced that literary texts had human form and
were always a figure, an anagram, of our erotic body (Pleasure of the Text,
8). As Barthes saw it, writing is both a physical and mental process
because the intellectual exercise it requires concerns itself with dramatiz-
ing behavior and behavior is naturally expressed through the body. Shad-
owing forth how characters follow a given trajectory brings with it a
consideration of the body even when such figuration is an entelechy. This
entelechy must not be seen as a total abstraction, however, because the
body is dramatized through the imagination which is shaped, in turn, by
personal experience, by what Peter Brooks terms ‘‘the complex conscious
desires and interdictions that shape humans’ conditions of themselves as
desiring creatures’’ (Body Work, 6).
The desires and interdictions Brooks refers to are the sequel to experi-
ences—such as birth—shared by everyone. Shared, these experiences also
vary in terms of our perception and recollection of them. In other words,
the ingredients shaping our selves as thinking, feeling individuals are
comparable, but the resulting image we have of the world di√ers accord-
ing to how experience is perceived. Recast in writing, these perceptions
result in unique projections. Because writing is the brainchild of the
imagination and each imagination is di√erent, the world each writer
conceives is as unique as the characters that inhabit it. This is why the
hand of Lautréamont or of Julio Cortázar should be as readily recogniz-
able as that of El Greco or of Fernando Botero.
Curiously, although we often speak of a hand when studying painting,
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