Wild Pleasure

June 17, 2020

I will destroy you with wild pleasure.

Hélène Cixous
The Perjured City
The Selected Plays of Hélène Cixous

born from a tomb

December 12, 2019

People like Clarice Lispector or Marina Tsvetayeva were born from a tomb. Their relation to their mothers, to birth, are failed, so they are painful. For both, the question of the maternal is raised in a strong sense, since they were both daughters of sick mothers. The questions remain: ‘What is it to be born? For what am I born? Of what? Why? And who looked over my cradle?’”

Hélène Cixous
on being born from the womb-tomb of the sick mother,
Readings: the poetics of Blanchot, Joyce, Kafka, Kleist, Lispector, and Tsvetayeva

The story of torment itself

September 21, 2019

For us, eating and being eaten belong to the terrible secret of love. We love only the person we can eat. The person we hate we ‘can’t swallow.’ That one makes us vomit. Even our friends are inedible. If we were asked to dig into our friend’s flesh we would be disgusted. The person we love we dream only of eating. That is, we slide down that razor’s edge of ambivalence. The story of torment itself is a very beautiful one. Because loving is wanting and being able to eat up and yet to stop at the boundary. And there, at the tiniest beat between springing and stopping, in rushes fear. The spring is already in mid-air. The heart stops. The heart takes off again. Everything in love is oriented towards this absorption. At the same time real love is a don’t-touch, yet still an almost-touching. Tact itself: a phantom touching. Eat me up, my love, or else I’m going to eat you up. Fear of eating, fear of the edible, fear on the part of the one of them who feels loved, desired, who wants to be loved, desired, who desires to be desired, who knows there is no greater proof of love than the other’s appetite, who is dying to be eaten up, who says or doesn’t say, but who signifies: I beg you, eat me up. Want me down to the marrow. And yet manage it so as to keep me alive. But I often turn about or compromise, because I know that you won’t eat me up, in the end, and I urge you: bite me. Sign my death with your teeth.

Helene Cixous
The Love of the Wolf

texts of despair

September 5, 2019

Many poets develop a sense of positive loss, like Clarice Lispector, or Anna Akhmatova, in whose poetry we read of something never lost at the very bottom of loss, or Marina Tsvetayeva, in whose texts the stakes are something that she never had. Theirs are all texts of despair, that is, of hope. Elsewhere I have shown how the same happened in a much more novelistic way, fleshed out in the work of someone such as Karen Blixen.

Helene Cixous
Poetry passion and history: Marina Tsvetayeva
The Inscription of passion in writing (Chapter four)

As in the tales of Grimm and Perrault [Tsvetaeva] suggests that it is the fear, the delight in our fear, we enjoy, a delight we cannot enjoy in reality since we fear for our skin. Conversely, Tsvetaeva tells us, a fairy tale that doesn’t frighten is not a fairy tale. It is terror that transports us to the place where Dostoyevsky was transported when he was condemned to death, this most precious place, the most alive, where you tell yourself you are going to receive the axe’s blow, and where you discover, by the axe’s light, what Kafka made Moses say: How beautiful the world is even in its ugliness. It’s at this moment, as Blanchot would say, that “we see the light.” It’s at this moment, in extremis, that we are born and enjoy the strange things that can happen during such a dangerous, magnificent, and cruel experience as losing a relative while still in the freshness of childhood or youth. We feel, to our unspeakable horror, something that is incredibly odd: on the one hand an infinitely greater loss than the one we feel when we are of a mature age, and on the other, an unavowable joy – difficult to perceive – that is simply the joy of being alive. The pure joy of feeling that I am not the one who is dying.”

Hélène Cixous
The School of Dreams
Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing

As in the tales of Grimm and Perrault [Tsvetaeva] suggests that it is the fear, the delight in our fear, we enjoy, a delight we cannot enjoy in reality since we fear for our skin. Conversely, Tsvetaeva tells us, a fairy tale that doesn’t frighten is not a fairy tale.  It is terror that transports us to the place where Dostoyevsky was transported when he was condemned to death, this most precious place, the most alive, where you tell yourself you are going to receive the axe’s blow, and where you discover, by the axe’s light, what Kafka made Moses say: How beautiful the world is even in its ugliness. It’s at this moment, as Blanchot would say, that “we see the light.” It’s at this moment, in extremis, that we are born and enjoy the strange things that can happen during such a dangerous, magnificent, and cruel experience as losing a relative while still in the freshness of childhood or youth. We feel,  to our unspeakable horror, something that is incredibly odd: on the one hand an infinitely greater loss than the one we feel when we are of a mature age, and on the other, an unavowable joy – difficult to perceive – that is simply the joy of being alive. The pure joy of feeling that I am not the one who is dying.

Hélène Cixous
The School of Dreams
Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing

Let crazy terror take my head, nobody could fend off an attack more powerful than the idea of power.

It’s not what one thinks it is. It’s not what one doesn’t think it isn’t. It’s not what one thinks it isn’t. What is most unlikely is what’s most probable. The unthinkable trembles my heart, I call it “fear! fear!”

The illness comes into being again, I change it, and all this without the slightest calculation. One day one the next the other. I’m convinced I make myself sick one illness after another without being able to do a thing about it. Thinking I know this is an illusion of the ill. It’s no help at all my knowing it. All the same, no complacency. Each illness makes me doubly ill 1) with the illness 2) with being sick of being ill. Every time I make myself sick, I always make myself sick again but I see perfectly that I do this on the same model, it’s always the end of being, generally it’s at the bottom of the garden this happens, the way the death of my father took place, starting in the garden’s northeast corner which suddenly fills up with this terrifying substance, invisible but substantial, tactile, perceptible perceived as brushing as growling, this colossal quantity of void that one hears sighing if one could hear it (but one doesn’t want to, one is petrified), not breathing but sighing, as if the garden our daily body were suddenly occupied by a body too big diffuse internal and thus hollowing out of our usual compact and limited body bottomless pits of visceral caverns and this content, this monster is a nightmare in broad daylight without a hope of waking, the vanguard of Regret that already fills up all the available space, that spreads out into our eyes our throat our lungs great doses of bitterness and sobs to come. I am perfectly aware that the misfortune is my fault, I call upon no one, but taking advantage of my deficit of vigilance during sleep the illness spreads into every inch of me like a building going up without any estimation of its internal or external resistance and I am its even before I open my eyes. The minute I’m up, I lack everything, daylight, courage, sturdy legs, everything necessary to life: movement, confidence, habit, the solidity of things, the loyalty of vital beings! So far as I can see everything betrays me. No one I can count on. Death is the first to come along. I see it everywhere, far more overwhelming than my mental debility and it picks and chooses, according to probability or improbability.

Nobody can fend off a hurricane, it grinds up and kills at random, that I am at the origin of it doesn’t in the least lessen its impact.

Hélène Cixous
Hyperdream,
Translation Beverley Bie Brahic

Eat me up, my love, or else

December 14, 2018

Everything in love is oriented toward this absorption. At the same time real love is a don’t-touch, yet still an almost-touching. Tact itself: a phantom touching. Eat me up, my love, or else I’m going to eat you up. Fear of eating, fear of the edible, fear on the part of the one of them who feels loved, desired, who wants to be loved, desired, who desires to be desired, who knows that there is no greater proof of love than the other’s appetite, who is dying to be eaten up yet scared to death by the idea of being eaten up, who says or doesn’t say, but who signifies: I beg you, eat me up. Want me down to the marrow. And yet manage it so as to keep me alive. But I often turn about or compromise, because I know that you won’t eat me up, in the end, and I urge you: bite me. Sign my death with your teeth.

Hélène Cixous
Love of the Wolf

Writing

December 8, 2018

Writing is precisely working (in) the in-between, inspecting the process of the same and of the other…not fixed in sequences of struggle and expulsion…but infinitely dynamized by an incessant process of exchange from one subject to another…a multiple and inexhaustible course with millions of encounters and transformations of the same into the other and into the in-between, from which woman takes her forms (and man, in his turn)

Helene Cixous
The Laugh of the Medusa

Eat me

December 2, 2018

I beg you, eat me up. Want me down to the marrow.

Hélène Cixous
The Love of the Wolf