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I am working on a novel, which takes the form of a collection of interrelated stories. In each story, the narrative is framed by the idiosyncrasies, and prejudices, of a different first-person voice. There are gaps in narrative time, and there is disparity between the narrators’ voices. The result is a ‘discontinuous narrative’; this term describes the early work of Frank Moorhouse: ‘an innovative narrative method using interconnected stories’ (Griffith University 2011). This paper explores Derrida’s concept of alterity: specifically the ‘trace’ of ‘otherness’, as it corresponds to presence (Rivkin & Ryan 2004, p.278). I call this trace of otherness: The Trace Dance, because of the way alterity operates in discontinuous narrative. The playoff between the narrators’ voices occurs in the shadowy place: in the realm of alterity. Derrida’s concept of alterity explicates the gaps and disparity in discontinuous narrative: the process whereby reverberations simulate presence. I compare the act of narrative representation with the process of remembering. In particular, I compare the relationship between the historical event of the memory, and the rememberer’s sense of that event. Idiosyncratic associations determine the shape of the memory and, crucially, these associations need not be either consciously determined or logical. I argue that remembering is an act of Experiential Representation; I formulate this concept to clarify the metaphorical manoeuvre that occurs in remembering: the attempt to capture the meaning of one thing in terms of the other. This metaphorical manoeuvre connects memory with narrative: which is the attempt to capture an idea in the context of a story. The concept of alterity allows for a new way of looking at discontinuous narrative, because it reconfigures gaps in narrative time, and disparity in narrative voice, as crucial rhythmic forces that give the narrative its shape.
Recommended CitationPrendergast, Julia, Discontinuous Narrative : The Trace Dance, Current Narratives, 3, 2011, 25-34.