On the “dehors garde”: some thoughts

Outside is inside, I once misread Bachelard’s French. In terms of notions of the poetics of space, that misreading was imaginary, an impossible dream of ease of belonging.  But to what, exactly? I’ve been asking myself of late.  What has been in the center that could conflate with—be–the ex-centric? Nothing occurs to me, and as those outside the center have always been told by those inside, Nothing will come of nothing.  But I digress.  What Bachelard actually wrote, “dehors et dedans,” means “outside and inside.”  He retained the separateness and clarity of the two spaces.  To have an outside, there must be an inside (or vice versa).  To be part of a Society of Outsiders, as Virginia Woolf theorized furiously in Three Guineas as World War II loomed, is to acknowledge the fact of the patriarchal (now-clearly white supremacist) Inside, which excludes the Outsiders.  But this Outsider Society—in aesthetic terms, this “dehors garde”—isn’t defined or determined by the Inside, the mapped-out domain of white male dominance, for the Outside functions differently in relation to power. Consider that the Outside surrounds the Inside.  Imagine this: the “dehors garde” can dance circles around the Inside, make it dizzy and fearful of all that lies Outside, which it doesn’t understand because the Outside is different, motley, myriad, marginal, but less from lack of access to privilege than by creative choice.  Sometimes, the “dehors garde” strategically draws the Inside out, which con/fuses the Inside so it cannot think clearly and repeats itself silly, in public, for all to see.  Sometimes the “dehors garde” crosses what have always been clear, discrete borders, thereby reforming them.  The “dehors garde” is part of the cultural forces of resistance to the power of the Inside.  The “dehors garde” can enter the common space, the shared and liminal Between, discovering the rich creative indeterminacy of being “betwixt” Inside and Outside. The “dehors garde” exists imaginatively in the space-time continuum of language, seeking to enact language’s expeditionary and visionary functions.  The “dehors garde” forgoes the reproduction of subjugation, as Rachel Blau DuPlessis once described feminist poetic innovation in “For the Etruscans,” and undertakes an “exploration not in service of reconciling self to world.”  The “dehors garde” is not conciliatory and will not reconcile its words to things as they are.  It refuses nothing, placing itself at the borders of possibility, touching the Inside, putting the Possible into imaginative, trans/formative play.