Quaternion is a novel made up of three books; Quaternion, Les Cahiers of I.V.A Sumac and The Index of First Lines, approximately fifty seven thousand words in length. The novel mixes prose poems, ekphrasis, diary entries and lines of poetry. These methods cut across the three narrative streams. Essentially, in the first section the narrator describes his memories and relates his difficulties in curating an exhibition of the life of Caribbean poet, I.V.A Sumac. The second section is the journals of Sumac and includes personal entries, aphorisms and his works in progress. The third section is the first lines of an unwritten anthology that Sumac was editing at the time his death.
In the exegesis the writer begins by defining and discussing the process of katabasis/descent into the fictional terrain, and describes how he searches for the originary image that begins the novel. He then engages with Blanchot’s essay “The Gaze of Orpheus” to describe how the text accrues consciousness as it is written and introduces and defines new terminologies such as textum, texture, the transient imaginary and enigma to explain this process. He engages with the work of Heidegger, Barthes, Pamuk, Shklovsky, Todorov, Atwood and Wood to ground these terms and then focuses on how via processes of métissage and creolization the structural and poetic decisions of the novel were made. He also discusses how the exegesis and the creative connected and grew from within each other, citing academics such as Kroll and Krauth. He then concludes by engaging with Heidegger’s concept of the “dasein” to describe the paradox/parallax dichotomy of the work in progress and how exile and ekphrasis became entwined in the writing.