Hélène Cixous


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

Author Quotes

The more I anoint the more my mind adheres physically to the mysterious fabric of love. I am decutie. Worn thin. You know that word?

We are going toward the sea. I have swollen. I am carried away. Sometimes at night love comes up so quickly and so high, and if we have no little boat perhaps it is because we want to roll breathless under the ocean floor.

Wouldn't the worst be, isn't the worst, in truth, that women aren't castrated, that they have only to stop listening to the Sirens (for the Sirens were men) for history to change its meaning? You only have to look at the Medusa straight on to see her. And she's not deadly. She's beautiful and she's laughing.

And I? I drink, I burn, I gather dreams. And sometimes I tell a story. Because Promethea asks me for a bowl of words before she goes to sleep.

I am sick of death and worst of all this sickness feeds on itself, the more afraid I am the more I am afraid the more I flee the more I am afraid the more I am haunted.

It was the first play we were ever involved in together... and, because it was concerned with the condition of French convicts, we performed it - we began to perform it - in front of a French prison. It lasted for precisely four minutes because the police arrived and closed it down.

Only when you are lost can love find itself in you without losing its way.

The natural characters in the drama are not supposed to be philosophical, nor are they people with any refined kind of knowledge. They may be particularly blind or they may be suffering from the heaviness of the law, exactly as people have been suffering for 5000 years.

We must kill the false woman who is preventing the live one from breathing.

Writing is only interested in the experience of evil.

And so when you have lost everything, no more roads, no direction, no fixed signs, no ground, no thoughts able to resist other thoughts, when you are lost, beside yourself, and you continue getting lost, when you become the panicky movement of getting lost, then, that?s when, where you are unwoven weft, flesh that lets strangeness come through, defenseless being, without resistance, without batten, without skin, inundated with otherness, it?s in these breathless times that writings traverse you, songs of an unheard-of purity flow through you, addressed to no one, they well up, surge forth, from the throats of your unknown inhabitants, these are the cries that death and life hurl in their combat.

I did not even know this existed...this world, I did not know. I thought it existed only in one's head, and in dreams... And now: here I am.

It's this human porosity that bothers me and that I can't escape since it is the faith of my skin, the extra sense which is everywhere in my being, this lack of eyelids on the face of the soul, or perhaps this imaginary lack of imaginary lids, this excessive facility I have for catching others, I am caught by persons or things animated or unanimated that I don't even frequent, and even the verb catch I catch or rather I am caught by it, for, note this please, it's not I who wish to change, it's the other who gets his hooks in me for lack of armor. All it takes is for me to be plunged for an hour or less into surroundings where the inevitable occurs--cafe, bus, hair salon, train carriage, recording studio--there must be confinement and envelopment, and there I am stained intoxicated, practically any speaker can appropriate my mental cells and poison my sinuses, shit, idiocies, cruelties, vulgar spite, trash, innumerable particles of human hostility inflame the windows of my brain and I get off the transport sick for days. It isn't the fault of one Eichmann or another. I admit to being guilty of excessive receptivity to mental miasma. The rumor of a word poisons me for a long time. Should I read or hear such and such a turn of phrase or figure of speech, right away I can't breathe my mucous membranes swell up, my lips go dry, I am asthmaticked, sometimes I lose my balance and crash to the ground, or on a chair if perchance one is there, in the incapacity of breathing the unbreathable.

People either know or don't know that I have four or five forms of written expression: poetic fiction, chamber theater or theater on a world scale, criticism, essays -- without counting the notebooks I write only to myself and which no one will ever read, where I exercise a different style.

The only book that is worth writing is the one we don?t have the courage or strength to write. The book that hurts us (we who are writing), that makes us tremble, redden, bleed

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.

Writing leaves nothing it touches intact. Touch it. he says. and the concept is done for. Should one desire to catch the truth by surprise or caress it or draw it close or spit it out. at that instant the writing. a born seductress. leads you down the garden path. Too beautiful to make true. What to do?

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.

I do believe in poetry. I believe that there are creatures endowed with the power to put things together and bring them back to life.

Knowledge from experience: the heart goes blind because the need is stronger than anything else. Your ego is blind, your id is eager. It will get to the point of smashing everything. When there is a danger from outside, you bolt, but when the danger comes from inside, how can you bolt? The danger from inside is that complicated thing, the love of the wolf, the complicity that attaches us to that which threatens us.

Perhaps what I do not manage to operate rapidly enough is the passage between the outside and the inside.

The refugees leave a refuge, enter a refuge run to the windows, what they see makes them move on, they move, refuge means move, move moves on into madness, my book I say is on the move, we are moving each other.

We then spend our lives not seeing what we saw. The picture is there: what we know when we?re small; when we are small, we know everything in a childlike way.

Writing, in its noblest function, is the attempt to unerase, to unearth, to find the primitive picture again, ours, the one that frightens us.

Are you sure you put your sex on properly this morning?

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