“Constant Craving Has Always Been”

Liminal Love in Sarah Kane’s Crave
  • Thomas Phillips


In the confines of his prison cell, Gailly’s narrator is left with only his memories and language (or “literary time”) to communicate those memories, to sculpt a narrative that touches the sublime in the confluence of its extreme violence and its depiction of our common implication in the characteristically rupturing and decentering forces of desire. As limited as language is in its capacity to represent the immediacy and power of lived experience, the disarray of its time nevertheless offers a “rendition,” to use DeLillo’s term, that interrogates the reader by extracting an investment in its translation of the real. “The true life” may ultimately elude the efforts of literary (or any form of) discourse, but the latter may still operate as a “cure” for the “terror” of the everyday, which at its core is a consequence of both the fulfillment and unfulfillment of desire, sexual and otherwise. The “cure” resides, I would argue, not only in the languishing confessions of a Robert Smith (a brooding poet, a Werther figure who falls just outside the status quo but who fails to transcend the somehow compelling persona of his melancholy), but also in the performative quality of such rendition, especially when the text pushes beyond formula; it performs in a manner similar to how the unconscious evokes what the self would prefer to keep hidden. The nonformulaic narrative is an entry point into the liminal, its performance a reflection of both the history of a self and “the shadowy need of an entire nation,” two points that dovetail, more often than not, in common neuroses or fanatical violence that must be rendered to consciousness, and conscience, one way or another.


Extreme Violence Prison Cell Final Beat Productive Absence Psychic Identity 
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© Thomas Phillips 2015

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  • Thomas Phillips

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