[en] Still largely unexplored, Janet Frame’s deep interest in eastern philosophies provides an illuminating point of entry into her sixth novel, A State of Siege. Questing for a New View, an amateur-painter constantly harps back to the kind of fossilized aesthetic that draws a clear line between the perceiver and the perceived. However, step by step, trial after trial, the main protagonist is made to discard her cherished sense of apartness to embrace instead a state of utter non-distinction. In contrast to most commentators of the novel, my aim in this essay is to suggest that, in Frame as in Buddhism, nothingness of identity is not meant to translate into something – be it the solid shape of memory or any ontology beyond dissolution – for, unless the knower retains “nothing, not even a scrap of identity” from what s/he is trying to perceive, true knowledge, unadulterated memories and an unmediated apprehension of the real are seen to be altogether impossible.
CEREP (Centre d'Enseignement et de Recherche en Etudes Postcoloniales)