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PERFORMANCE AND MOLLOY

I would like to start off by pointing out that Diana Taylor’s call to a shift towards “performances [‘] function as vital acts of transfer, transmitting social knowledge, memory, and a sense of identity through reiterated…?(2) serves as an alternative to these hegemonic histories that we have been discussing. Its emphasis on the ‘ephemeral’ forms of knowledge indeed includes those that have been excluded from these documented transmissions of history: women and the indigenous people (in nation building) as discussed by Gutierrez Chong. Without archival material, these two groups have almost been regarded ahistorical, therefore, with Taylor’s ‘additional sites’; their contribution in the making of histories of their nations can be reassessed and acknowledged – as the absences and gaps in the histories are filled.

If Taylor’s emphasis is on performance (eg movements), how then do we talk about Molloy’s text (and other literary texts) as performances? Doesn’t Molloy’s text (as a written performance) betray the very notion of embodiment? Or is writing perhaps a performance of Molloy’s embodied memory?

Taylor writes: “Is performance always and only about embodiment? Or does it call into question the very contours of the body, challenging traditional notions of embodiment?? (4) It appears that Molloy’s writing ‘not so much with her body’ is a way of ‘manipulating, extending and playing with embodiment’ – of defying the traditional notions of embodiment. She challenges the idea of ‘a completely organized system like a whole body’. She describes her body not protected by skin. In fact she has an estranged relationship with her body; “…she does go out every day for a few minutes…to attend to a body that she cares for half-heartedly. She finds IT cigarettes…she takes ITS clothes…? (51) –clearly distancing herself from her body. Thus her body is not central to her writing.

Molloy’s pursuit of a ‘whole self/identity’ is analogous to the complexity of performance which Taylor argues “carries the possibility of challenge…it is indefinable…as a term simultaneously connoting a process…a mode of transmission, an accomplishment, and a means of intervening in the world? (15). Molloy is equally in a process of constructing a ‘unified’ identity which remains fragmented throughout the narrative. She is all the same successful in transmitting her embodied fragmented memory. Just like performance practices that “both bind and fragment the Americas? (16), Molloy’s fragmented body and memory bind her with the women in her life: Clara, Vera and Renata. There need not be one simple and universal definition of performance in the same way there that identity need not be constructed out of a whole and unified self, and does that even exist?