When Enough is Enough: Relational Readings of Narrative Enoughing

Yael Segalovitz, Alex Brostoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


“Enough” is a slippery signifier — it is never clear enough, or else it always means too much. In this inquiry, we investigate the social and psychic work that “enough” performs. We do so by following an associative series of narrative instantiations that demonstrate how enoughness holds the paradoxical capacity to signal both sufficiency and excess simultaneously. By close reading polyvocal, genre-hybrid texts (from Hélène Cixous reading Sigmund Freud and Clarice Lispector to Maggie Nelson reading Eve Sedgwick), we examine the capacity of enoughness to produce and reproduce psychic violence in the same stroke as it opens up a horizon of recuperative potentiality. As we pan across these intertextual dialogues, Donald Winnicott provides a metaphoric figure for the relative and relational nature of enoughness; from the “good enough mother,” we probe the relational prospects of “a good enough language” and its embodied effects and affects. As a threshold and as a speech act, as a gesture and an imaginary, “enough,” we argue, operates against the capitalist imperative “to have,” while setting and transgressing limits between subjects. Ultimately, the dialectic between sufficiency and excess enables “enough” to express both a boundary and the lack thereof, a finite form and its indefinite expanse. “Enough,” as it were, isn’t enough to anticipate or determine the reach of its own relational effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-95
JournalDibur Literary Journal
StatePublished - 2023


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