We become the murderer, the victim and ultimately the detective.

In Gorg, the reader is “drawn” into the story (in both senses of the word) through the twists and turns of a detective narrative. As the poem unfolds the text leads the reader to inhabit each of the characters in the story. We become the murderer, the victim, and ultimately the detective.

I can only be identified by the instance of discourse that contains it and by that alone – Émile Benveniste

Gorg highlights the action of pronouns in the text by putting the reader in the position of completing the identities of the characters in the story. The act of reading “draws” the “I” into the story. Émile Benveniste discusses this action in language. “’I’ can only be identified by the instance of discourse that contains it and by that alone.” “I” signifies the identity of the speaking subject, or in this case, the reading subject in the moment of reading.


We don’t just observe the cartoon, we become it
-Scott McCloud

The language and tone of Gorg recall the comic book. As Scott McCloud puts it, “the cartoon is a vacuum into which our identity and awareness are pulled […] We don’t just observe the cartoon, we become it.”

Gorg complicates this “becoming” of the cartoon by making us aware of our position as reader. To paraphrase Charles Bernstein’s description, Gorg creates a tension between the absorptive qualities that make the text appear transparent by drawing the reader into the story and the anti-absorptive qualities that foreground the materiality of the text, the mechanics of the poem and the role of the reader in creating the story. Nichol accomplishes this by drawing our attention to the “artifice of absorption.”