Abstract / Synopsis

While “Descartes Comes Out of the Closet” is ostensibly about a young woman’s journey to Paris, the descriptive detail borrows language and images from Cartesian coordinate geometry, dualistic philosophy, neuroanatomy (the pineal), and projections of three dimensions onto planes. This mathematical universe is counterpointed in the natural language of the suppressed love story that locates the real in the human. Thus, at the heart of the story is the tension between competing notions of mathematics, i.e., as either an independent realm apart from history or as a culturally produced and historical set of practices. Of course, the central character proves to suffer from a pineal gland tumor, so the mechanisms of reconciliation aren’t functioning very well.



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