From failure stems lack, desire, backtracking, and renewal. Castro celebrates authenticity in writing as ‘the freedom to fail absolutely’ (‘Lesions’ 201). In his essay ‘Necessary Idiocy…and the Idea of Freedom’, he writes: ‘I prefer to see failure as the x-ray of writing, as that which exists, more than anything else, as the memory of death, as the end of the limit of presence and the beginning of possibility’ (Looking 33). Death, absence, and the possibilities of imagination and language are central concerns of Castro’s writing, and he is aware that language is always an inadequate tool for expressing experience, particularly the melancholic experience of loss.
The relationship between language, nothingness, and death that sits at the heart of Castro’s writing is a relationship described by the French writer Maurice Blanchot when he notes: ‘Language can only begin with the void; no fullness, no certainty can ever speak; something essential is lacking in anyone who expresses himself. Negation is tied to language. When I first begin, I do not speak in order to say something, rather a nothing demands to speak, nothing speaks, nothing finds its being in speech and the being of speech is nothing’ (‘Literature and the Right to Death’ 381). This study uses elements of Blanchot’s theory to unpack some of Castro’s concerns. It also looks to the work of the modernist writers identified at the outset, writers such as Franz Kafka, Marcel Proust, Walter Benjamin, Stephen Mallarmé, Charles Baudelaire, W. G. Sebald, Vladimir Nabokov and theorists such as Wolfgang Iser, Frederick Jameson, Paul de Man, Mark C. Taylor, Gilles Deleuze, and Félix Guattari and discusses how their work may have influenced Castro’s imaginative practice and philosophy. The beauty of Castro’s writing is that it is so densely layered, so multifaceted, that it sustains multiple readings.
This study focuses on the operation of language in Castro’s eight published novels. It is not my intention to identify critical and creative sources in some kind of ‘Aha!’ gesture that would seek to offer a concrete explanation of the texts. Rather this study endeavours to open up rhizomatic connections between Castro’s work and the multitude of texts and theorists that influence it and with whom it converses.