All I know: I could only encounter you, my oasis, coming out of a desert. Deserted myself. This is all right. My futureless and solitary self. When suddenly I hear the voice of the springs-Right away you made me want to sing. To cry. Then to drink. But after the desert, the merest trickle of water sounds like a storm. And ever since, Promethea's every murmur shakes my life like an earthquake. I was asleep. I was not thirsty. It would have been possible for me not to hear the first three tears. Ever since I never sleep. I listen.
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If one proceeds philosophically before proceeding poetically, and this is central to the philosopher, pleasure is crushed, But if one begins by having pleasure, it is like knowing how to swim: one never forgets it [Clarice Lispector, The Stream of Life, trans Elizabeth Lowe & Earl Fitz, Foreword by Hele¨ne Cixous trans Verena Conley, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989].
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This is what's happening: together we are descending the stairs of the heart, which lead to the sources. (It is a secret staircase. I knew it existed. Which is why I avoided it. Because it leads to the other-life, deep, underground, the fluvial, the painful.) We are in the process of descending into the depths of the heart. To where bodies communicate with each other.
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What is the use of the colon? What is a colon? Generally it opens onto an explanation, but it is always done with the help of an interruption. It can be said that the colon is not the period, it is the period of the period, the canceling of the period. It is a moment mute and marked; it is the most delicate tattoo of the text. It is also in place of, instead of, everything that would be causal. For example, when we read: "It's simply that: secret." "Secret, " is a sentence, it is the shortest sentence perhaps. But it is a sentence in one word. It is a sentence that is secret and that at the same time says its name. One could invert and say: "Secret: it is simply that." This is secret, the secret is the secret of this, it is a word which makes infinite sense all by itself, it is a sentence which performs the secret itself [Clarice Lispector, The Stream of Life, trans Elizabeth Lowe and Earl Fitz, Foreword by Hele¨ne Cixous trans Verena Conley, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989]
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We should write as we dream; we should even try and write, we should all do it for ourselves, it's very healthy, because it's the only place where we never lie. At night we don't lie. Now if we think that our whole lives are built on lying-they are strange buildings-we should try and write as our dreams teach us; shamelessly, fearlessly, and by facing what is inside very human being-sheer violence, disgust, terror, shit, invention, poetry. In our dreams we are criminals; we kill, and we kill with a lot of enjoyment. But we are also the happiest people on earth; we make love as we never make love in life.
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And why don't you write? Write! Writing is for you, you are for you; your body is yours, take it. I know why you haven't written. (And why I didn't write before the age of twenty-seven.) Because writing is at once too high, too great for you, it's reserved for the great-that is for "great men"; and it's "silly." Besides, you've written a little, but in secret. And it wasn't good, because it was in secret, and because you punished yourself for writing, because you didn't go all the way, or because you wrote, irresistibly, as when we would masturbate in secret, not to go further, but to attenuate the tension a bit, just enough to take the edge off. And then as soon as we come, we go and make ourselves feel guilty-so as to be forgiven; or to forget, to bury it until the next time.
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It is because of this sea between us. The earth has never, up to now, separated us. But, ever since yesterday, there has been something in this nonetheless real, perfectly Atlantic, salty, slightly rough sea that has cast a spell on me. And every time I think about Promethea, I see her crossing this great expanse by boat and soon, alas, a storm comes up, my memory clouds over, in a flash there are shipwrecks, I cannot even cry out, my mouth is full of saltwater sobs. I am flooded with vague, deceptive recollections, I am drowning in my imagination in tears borrowed from the most familiar tragedies, I wish I had never read certain books whose poison is working in me. Has this Friday, perhaps, thrown a spell on me? But spells only work if you catch them. I have caught the Tragic illness. If only Promethea would make me some tea I know I would find some relief. But that is exactly what is impossible. And so, today, I am sinning. I am sinking beneath reality. I am weighted down with literature. That is my fate. Yet I had the presence of mind to start this parenthesis, the only healthy moment in these damp, feverish hours. All this to try to come back to the surface of our book... Phone me quickly, Promethea, get me out of this parenthesis fast!)
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You make me thirsty, Promethea, my river, you make me eternally thirsty, my water. As if I had spent my life in an old house of dried mud, so dry myself that I could not even thirst, until yesterday. And suddenly yesterday, the dusty floor of my old house burst open and while I was still dozing away my parched existence, drop by drop I heard the music of coolness awaken the thirst under my dry soul. And leaning over the dark shaft of my life, I saw my childhood springs unearthed. Is that always how (by accident) we rediscover Magdalenian riches?
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Women must write through their bodies, they must invent the impregnable language that will wreck partitions, classes, and rhetorics, regulations and codes, they must submerge, cut through, get beyond the ultimate reverse-discourse, including the one that laughs at the very idea of pronouncing the word "silence"... In one another we will never be lacking.
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Almost every day I can feel myself suffering mainly in the head, I can explain the pain to myself but knowing it comes from an inflammation of my imagination doesn't prevent it being reality itself. What's more I'd be crazy not to go crazy. We don't know what an illness is. On awful hurts we plaster little old words, as if we could think hell with a paper bandage.
That is the definition of truth, it is the thing you must not say. 'The miracle into which the child and the poet walk' [Tsvetaeva] as if walking home, and home is there... The thing that is both known and unknown, this is what we are looking for when we write. We go toward the most unknown and the best unknown, this is what we are looking for when we write. We go toward the best known unknown thing, where knowing and not knowing touch, where we hope we will know what is unknown. Where we hope we will not be afraid of understanding the incomprehensible, facing invisible, hearing the inaudible, thinking the unthinkable, which is of course: thinking. Thinking is trying to think the unthinkable: thinking the thinkable is not worth the effort. Painting is trying to paint what you cannot paint and writing is writing what you cannot know before you have written: it is preknowing and not knowing, blindly, with words. It occurs at the point where blindness and light meet. Kafka says-one very small line lost in his writing-'to the depths, to the depths.
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If ever again we happened to lose our balance, just when sleepwalking through the same dream on the brink of hell's valley, if ever the magical mare (whom I ride through the night air hollowed out into caverns and caves where wild animals live) in a crazy fit of anger over some word I might have said without the perfect sweetness that works on her like a charm, if ever the magic Mare looks over her shoulder and whinnies: 'So! You don't love me!' and bucks me off, sends me flying to the hyenas, if ever the paper ladder that I climb so easily to go pick stars for Promethea-at the very instant that I reach out my hand and it smells like fresh new moon, so good, it makes you believe in god's genius-if ever at that very instant my ladder catches fire-because it is so fragile, all it would take is someone's brushing against it tactlessly and all that would be left is ashes-if ever I had the dreadful luck again to find myself falling screaming down into the cruel guts of separation, and emptying all my being of hope, down to the last milligram of hope, until I am able to melt into the pure blackness of the abyss and be no more than night and a death rattle, I would really rather not be tumbling around without my pencil and paper.
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- Losing is all that's left, I say. - Losing is all we've got left to lose, you say The impossibility of not telling, I cannot do otherwise, one can only tell otherwise, with always the same need to make sense of what you've lost, the need not to lose this feeling of losing, the need to feel yourself not losing this feeling that you are still losing the irreplaceable.
I, too, overflow; my desires have invented new desires, my body knows unheard-of songs. Time and again I, too, have felt so full of luminous torrents that I could burst-burst with forms much more beautiful than those which are put up in frames and sold for a fortune. And I, too, said nothing, showed nothing; I didn't open my mouth, I didn't repaint my half of the world. I was ashamed. I was afraid, and I swallowed my shame and my fear. I said to myself: You are mad! What's the meaning of these waves, these floods, these outbursts? Where is the ebullient infinite woman who... hasn't been ashamed of her strength? Who, surprised and horrified by the fantastic tumult of her drives (for she was made to believe that a well-adjusted normal woman has a... divine composure), hasn't accused herself of being a monster? Who, feeling a funny desire stirring inside her (to sing, to write, to dare to speak, in short, to bring out something new), hasn't thought that she was sick? Well, her shameful sickness is that she resists death, that she makes trouble.
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But I am just a woman who thinks her duty is not to forget. And this duty, which I believe I must fulfill, is: "as a woman" living now I must repeat again and again "I am a woman, " because we exist in an epoch still so ancient and ignorant and slow that there is still always the danger of gynocide.