“How these papers have been placed in sequence will be made manifest in the reading of them. All needless matters have been eliminated, so that a history almost at variance with the possibilities of later-day belief may stand forth as simple fact. There is throughout no statement of past things wherein memory may err, for all the records chosen are exactly contemporary, given from the standpoints and within the range of knowledge of those who made them.”
In this dense network of passive verb constructions -- the first text the reader encounters in Bram Stoker's Dracula -- the editor-narrator performs three translations: first, the individual reader unifies the text's fragments in the act of reading; then this unity, a seemingly impossible fiction presented in the form of a novel, becomes the "simple fact" of history; finally, the narrator flips the novel's totality over, exposing the individual standpoints that compose it. Thus we might diagram these translations:
READER → unifies FRAGMENTS
NOVELISTIC FRAGMENTS → become HISTORY
HISTORY, RECORDS → composed of INDIVIDUALS
However, the moment a singular translation folds into a circuit, the diagram – acting as a critical interpretation, a surrogate for the text itself – imposes a unity that Stoker's dizzyingly complex syntax resists. I draw arrows, then erase them; I close circles, then open them into dashes, uncertain how to insert myself into the network of papers, standpoints, beliefs, characters and ranges of knowledge. While the unnamed editor asks me as a reader to unify the novel's texts into a coherent history "made manifest," the text's own language denies the possibility of an easy distinction between the single reader and the many papers she reads or (pointing in the opposite direction) the many characters' standpoints and the single novel they compose.
Inspired by this strange paragraph, the present work gestures toward a way of reading Dracula as a multiplicity – as neither a "numerical fragment of a lost Unity" nor "the organic element of a Unity or Totality yet to come" but what Deleuze and Guattari define as "the multiple in the pure state" (Deleuze and Guattari 32). Rather than ordering the novel by extrinsic logics like "history," the concept of multiplicity links together the characters, their standpoints and the narrative internally, forming a constellated pack that reconfigures itself across time. In this way, Dracula does not represent or "stage' a particular fabula in toto but is itself productive, operating as a assemblage of mediated moments that signify in and through the process of reading.
The preface begins by decomposing the book --
-- and, with it, the reader's expections, →
← pulling the novel apart into smaller texts,
then weaving these fragments back together into a "history." →
Once presented as history, the book-qua-novel – converted from its material to its generic form – comes back in contact with its reader, whose own beliefs may be "at variance" with what the editor now presents as the text's "simple fact."
Like the editor of the novel's opening paragraph, we tend to conceive of books as conduits of information to be repurposed by their readers in an endless cycle of production, transmission, absorption and reproduction. In this model, the material book and and the imaginative novel it “contains” are one and the same thing, both objects received as a unified whole.
Yet novels do not represent a given totality, the way a painting might, but unfold over time through a reader's unique contact with its material instantiation. In short, they are transformative and durational; thus any given point in their narration must be understood as a slice of time in the reader's experience, representing only one configuration in a pack of knowledge that is moving, changing, growing.
In this way, Dracula does not negate the notion of an individual Enlightenment subject or mass culture so much as produce its own unique theory of narrative multiplicities and packish media – a theory that begins, and therefore must end, with its reader.
To be a reader of Dracula then – as the novel argues, to be a reader of any book – is to be bitten, drawn into its epistemology.
Importantly, Dracula does not simply show these changes within its internal narration but enacts a similar transformation on its reader. Like the pack of wolves accompanying Jonathan Harker's coach “as though they were following in a moving circle” (19), the book's physical totality presents its textual content one page, one sentence, one word at a time. With each new addition – with each new blue flame, each new point of intensity – previously-known elements of this pack reconfigure themselves to reflect the reader's new position along the novel's temporal axis.
Thus more than mass culture, the media technologies of Dracula (or indeed media technologies in general) create pack culture, pack media: a network of of self-interested units moving together to the same temporal rhythms “in the changing constellation of the pack” (Canetti 93). In the final move from a story to a “mass of typewriting,” the novel does not simply conclude its narrative but conscripts the reader into its pack, pulling her and the book she holds into the constellation of meaning that reconfigures itself across time.
Translated into the terms of the novel, a qualitative multiplicity is vampiric: it transforms conscious individual subjects into bestial, telepathic intensities for whom the lived experience of space becomes the infinite stretch of immortal time. Mina communicates telepathically with Dracula (368); Lucy senses a hypnotic “scratching or flapping” at her window (119); mysterious blue flames mark Harker's journey, which circles pointlessly in space (“it seemed to me that we were simply going over and over the same ground again,” 17) but stretches “endlessly” in time, like a nightmare (19). Whenever he perceives his “Master's” presence, the “zoophagous maniac” Renfield transmogrifies into an animal, “get[ting] excited and sniff[ing] about as a dog does when setting”; he begins to consume life as a way of extending his own (80). In each of these examples, a conscious human subject, internally processing sense data gathered from the external world, changes into an intensity – a boundless body commuting information through an open network of qualitative multiplicities.
Drawing on Bergson's philosophy of perception, Deleuze and Guattari term this a qualitative multiplicity – that is, a multiplicity expressing itself durationally, through changes across time rather than additions within space. As opposed to a grouping of units that are "unifiable, totalizable, organizable," a qualitative multiplicity is:
… libidinal, unconscious, molecular, intensive, multiplicities composed of particles that do not divide without changing in nature, and distances that do not vary without entering another multiplicity and that constantly construct and dismantle themselves in the course of their communications, as they cross over into each other at, beyond, or before a certain threshold. The elements of this second kind of multiplicity are particles; their relations are distances; their movements are Brownian; their quantities are intensities, differences in intensity. (Deleuze and Guattari 33)
Thus reading the novel as a packish multiplicity complicates our understanding of narration as not only perspectival but temporal. Whereas most critical readings of mediation in Dracula treat the text as an inert whole, its components related spatially, the novel is a medium that unfolds over time through singular encounters with its reader. In other words, the book presents itself as a lumpish mass, but the novel is an active, additive phenomenon, expanding as it moves through the reader's mind, her imagination, mingling with already-held beliefs.
Temporally, then, the novel unfolds as a series of discrete units that, as the reader suspends her disbelief in the novel as a mass-produced object, gradually link to one another. When the reader then finally discovers that the book she just read was not “supposed” to be a scrapbook of texts but in fact a reconstructed, remediated mass reproduction of the originals – in other words, that she need no longer suspend her disbelief in the novel as a mass-media object – the text moves from a fiction set in the past to an immediately present reality. Thus the story of Mina's typewritten notes, internal to the narrative, collide with the book itself as a material object, foreclosing the reader's ability to distinguish one mass reproduced artifact from the other held in her hand.
In this way, the media in Dracula are not merely representational within the space of the story but transformative across its time and in contact with a reader, who experiences first a history, then a novel, and finally a media object, consumed and circulated just as the mediated texts within the narrative.
Astute listeners will have already noted an obvious objection to my reading of Dracula as a multiplicity, a wolf-ish pack. Although each journal entry, letter or newspaper clipping may stand independent of all others, the novel as presented is a "mass of material, … nothing but a mass of type-writing" collated by Mina (402). Thus the novel reduces the uniqueness of a wax cylinder or handwritten stenography to yet another mechanically-reproduced bit of mass culture, stripped of its Benjaminian “aura.” In doing so, as Jennifer Wicke argues, Dracula enacts the anxieties of modern life in a mass society, recycling gothic themes as a way of confronting the uncanny “medium” of new communications technologies and the mass culture they produce.
Without wholly discrediting Wicke's influential reading of what she terms “vampiric typewriting,” it is important to note that the reader does not learn Mina has transcribed the novel's various texts into “a mass of type-writing” until the very last page. The paragraph opening the novel (and discussed at the beginning of this paper) describes the texts as “hav[ing] been placed in a sequence,” but does not mention their remediation through typewriting or Mina's role as editor.
As a pack, the novel's member texts form a fluid assemblage operating in conjunction to produce meaning.
Because of its disjointed narration, it is tempting to read Stoker's novel in the context of late nineteenth-century theories of mind such as Freudianism or Gestalt psychology, which pieced together the fragments of mental experience to form a coherent image; yet Dracula is no Enlightenment puzzle text. Nor is it another Gothic Frankenstein, stitched together from leftover limbs. Instead, each journal entry, letter or newspaper clipping exists as an independent unit, motivated by its narrator's own fears, assumptions and beliefs.
Moreover, each text is equal in position to every other, a point made in the strange paragraph beginning the novel: “for all the records chosen are exactly contemporary, given from the standpoints and within the range of knowledge of those who made them” (6). Rather than reading Dracula through the framework of Freud or Frankenstein, then, we should look to the pack of wolves roaming its peripheries, punctuating Harker's narration with their howls.
Like the circuit between reader, text and history constructed in the novel's opening paragraph, the wolves do not metaphorize Dracula but metamorphose the narrative, occupying the text's edges in order to squeeze in on the reader's central assumptions.
While critics have dismissed the wolves as peripheral to the central narrative of hunting Dracula, their packish structure shows the futility of delimiting an “inside” from an “outside,” an interior narration from the external structure that orders it; for, though they occupy the story's periphery, they are almost continually present in the narration, entering into and reorienting themselves to each individual text. Importantly, their presence does not form a single thread tying together the novel's fragments but transforms according to the narrator describing them or the texts they rove across.
Just as they travel the Romanian landscape in a moving circle, their howls hovering at the edge of Harker's consciousness and yet central to his experience, the pack moves across the novel's various texts, forming nodes of contact between individual narratives. In Harker's shorthand journal, their shrieks crystallize the terrors outside Dracula's castle, as they quite literally champ their red jaws at the open door (58); for Dr. Van Helsing, they are data points in his effort to understand (and thereby defeat) vampires (255); for Mina, they roam her trances, more of a sensation than an observed object (368). Perhaps most interestingly, in “The Escaped Wolf” from the Pall Mall Gazette, the wolf Bersicker is characterized as an individual, while his human caretaker Bilder himself becomes a “harmless old wolf” by sharing such a close affinity with his dangerous pet (146).
Thus, far from a mass of animalistic automata, merely doing Dracula's bidding, the wolves form a multiplicity, "coexist[ing], interprenetrat[ing], and chang[ing] places" in the text's assemblage in way that no single Enlightenment individual or ideal can (Deleuze and Guattari 36).
Deleuze and Guattari "recognize this as the schizo position, being on the periphery, holding on by a hand or a foot" (A Thousand Plateaus, 33-4). While, contra the pack, the mass subject identifies the "individual with the group, the group with the leader, and the leader with the group," forcing one to "get close to the center, never be at the edge," the ring-shaped pack has no "inside" or "outside," since each point along its surface is wholly equal in relation to every other point and to its surroundings. By arranging itself in this way, the pack can fluidly traverse its environment, molding itself to the topography of the terrain and its inhabitants without its structure hardening into hierarchies of leadership, as happens with the "masses"; for each member is as safe or as vulnerable as the next.
<<In the pack which, from time to time, forms out of the group, and which most strongly expresses its feeling of unity, the individual can never lose himself as completely as modern man can in any crowd today. In the changing constellation of the pack, in its dances and expeditions, he will again and again find himself at its edge. He may be in the center, and then, immediately afterwards, at the edge again; at the edge and then back in the centre. When the pack forms a ring around the fire, each man will have neighbors to the right and left, but no one behind him; his back is naked and exposed to the wilderness. (Canetti 93)>>
Thus the wolves in Dracula accompany Jonathan Harker's coach ride “as though they were following in a moving circle” (Stoker 19), then surround him in a “living ring of terror” that denies any escape, slowly squeezing its victims from all sides (20). In fact, the wolves' pack-like formation overpowers and outlasts both the scientific reasoning of Harker and the vampiric power of Dracula: at the end of the novel, they “withdraw to a safe distance” but, unlike the Count, never disappear completely (401).