Indeterminacy is a term that has been asked to do a lot of work for literary and cultural criticism. For strictly formalist critics, it might be the quality of a text or artwork that both preserves useful ambiguity and invites participation from respondents. For criticism that challenges the status quos of social and political life, it is often the interpretive condition that can unsettle existing patterns of recognition and judgment. What this essay finds in the work of Lisa Robertson is a more situated notion of indeterminacy, one that relates indeterminacies of speech, form, and affect to the destabilizing effects that postindustrial capitalism can have and has had on cities and their inhabitants. Following a brief overview of indeterminacy as a critical concept, from New Criticism to poststructuralist theory, the essay closely reads Robertson's Occasional Work and Seven Walks from the Office for Soft Architecture (2003) as a multi-genre study in Vancouver becoming “money” and the effects of this process on work characterized as temporary or feminine. Indeterminacy becomes a double bind for the speakers of her “Office,” in that freedoms of expression, feeling, or movement fold into occasions for speculation and displacement. Finally, the essay relates Robertson's indeterminacies to recent debates about the character of avant-garde writing, arguing for a more socially and historically contingent notion of aesthetic experimentation.

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