Hélène Cixous


French Feminist Writer, Poet, Playwright, Philosopher, Literary Critic, Rhetorician and Professor

Author Quotes

All the great theorists of destiny or of human history have reproduced the most commonplace logic of desire, the one that keeps the movement toward the other staged in a patriarchal production, under Man's law.

For a week she has been tormented, she burns to write something, gentle warmth emanates from her whole body, but still nothing comes of it. Besides, at the same time she is also busy burning old books, manuals, professional papers, theoretical volumes--because they keep her from doing the one thing that now seems urgent and right to her: shouting her loud hymn of ecstatic pleasure, breaching the tide of the old tongue's hard blare.

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!)

Never has a theory inspired my poetic texts. It is my poetic text that sits down from time to time on a bench or else at a caf‚ table - that's what I am in the process of doing at this moment by the way - to make itself heard in univocal, more immediately audible terms. In other words, it is always a last resort for me. So no, it does not provide an additional ethico-political structure; it is the concession a poet makes in accepting pedagogic responsibility.

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.

Tyrants, despots, dictators, capitalism, all that forms the visible political space for us is only the visible and theatrical, photographable projection of the Self-with-against-the-other. I suggest we add the preposition "withagainst" to the English language.

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 she was sick?

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.

Have the "self" and "liberty" changed? I asked myself.

It is essential to exchange the invisible ring for all that we call survival, survive, survivor.

No one fragment carries the totality of the message, but each text (which is in itself a whole) has a particular urgency, an individual force, a necessity, and yet each text also has a force which comes to it from all the other texts.

The Devil is the soul of Literature. he is its genius its wit.

Ultimately I think that no one can write without the aid of God, but what is it, God? without the aid of writing, God-as-Writing.

Woman must write herself: must write about women and bring women to writing, from which they have been driven away as violently as from their bodies-for the same reasons, by the same law, with the same fatal goal. Woman must put herself into the text-as into the world and into history-by her own movement.

An old cardboard box: you think it but you don't say it. Leftovers, that are swept up and glued together. I am your alipte, I say, I am your personal trainer and masseuse. I oil you. But there's no ointment against the bad thoughts and phantasms.

I am alive, thus I am contracted with terror at the idea that one of those close to me could be killed, could suffer. But I cannot say that it is what one calls fear. All the rest, for me, is anger; I am angry at the spirit of betrayal that dominates individuals and society.

It is totally different from my philosophical work.

Now the fashionable code, these days, holds subjectivity, which is confused (unwittingly or not) with individualism, in suspicion: there is confusion -- and this is a pity for everyone -- between the infinite domain of the human subject, which is, of course, the primary territory of every artist and every creature blessed with the difficult happiness of being alive, and stupid egotistic, restrictive, exclusive behavior which excludes the other.

The devil, it is said, speaks evil, one speaks ill of the devil who introduces such so-called evils as separation, as auto-separation, as fending-ness, as defending.

Voice-cry. Agony--the spoken word exploded, blown to bits by suffering and anger, demolishing discourse: this is how she has always been heard before, ever since the time when masculine society began to push her offstage, expulsing her, plundering her. Ever since Medea, ever since Electra.

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.

And I was afraid. She frightens me because she can knock me down with a word. Because she does not know that writing is walking on a dizzying silence setting one word after the other on emptiness. Writing is miraculous and terrifying like the flight of a bird who has no wings but flings itself out and only gets wings by flying.

I am being killed by what keeps me from dying.

It makes me cry, I want to talk about something I am not sure I can talk about, I want to talk about the inside from the inside, I do not want to leave it. I am so happy in the silky damp dark of the labyrinth and there is no thread.

Old tattered albums. Respect for the tattered-ness. The tattered-ness is the secret: portrait of the family memory. Album, memory, cemetery, abandoned. One goes forward, sowing the stones of grief behind oneself. Album of abandonment. Faithful to the abandonment. Respect the abandonment. To the question: how have these frail objects survived, how have they resisted, will they resist the teeth of time? not to respond.

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French Feminist Writer, Poet, Playwright, Philosopher, Literary Critic, Rhetorician and Professor