Hélène Cixous

Hélène
Cixous
1937

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

Author Quotes

I give myself a poet's right, otherwise I would not dare to speak.

Language is a country in which scenes comparable to what is happening, for example, at this moment in France, in the domain of the opening or the closing of borders, are played out in the linguistic and poetic mode.

Perhaps within me the desire to put off that which I most in the world desire of late keeps watch, I mean, to write a book but a wounded book, a contentious, broken book, a book not pleased to be a book, to be only a book, to be born in the absence of my friend, a book incapable of acting as if the last times were not upon us, but which at the same time cannot act as if it were only a book hence a being unaware of the end, unaware what time it is.

The writer is a secret criminal. How? First because writing tries to undertake the journey toward strange sources of art that are foreign to us. The thing does not happen here, it happens somewhere else, in a strange and foreign country. The writer has a foreign origin; we do not know the particular nature of these foreigners, but we feel they feel there is an appeal, that someone is calling them back.

What had reached me, so powerfully cast from a human body, was Beauty: there was a face with all the mystery prescribed and preserved on it; I was before it, I sensed that there was a beyond, to which I did not have access, an unlimited place ... a desire was seeking its home.

Writing: as if I had the urge to go on enjoying, to feel full, to push, to feel the force of my muscles, and my harmony, to be pregnant and at the same time to give myself the joys of parturition, the joys of both the mother and the child. To give birth to myself and to nurse myself, too. Life summons life. Pleasure seeks renewal.

A heartbreaking paradox: if only I can finish my work so that it will live. Yet if it is finished, completed, a part of me but departed from me, I lost it alive, living but separate; and if it does not leave me, it is incomplete, insufficient, and half-dead that I keep it.

At the end of a more or less conscious computation, she finds not her sum but her differences. I am for you what you want me to be at the moment you look at me in a way you?ve never seen me before: at every instant. When I write, it?s everything we don?t know we can be that is written out of me, without exclusions, without stipulation, and everything we will be calls us to the unflagging, intoxicating, unappeasable search for love. In one another we will never be lacking.

I will talk about truth again, without which (without the word truth, without the mystery truth) there would be no writing. It is what writing wants. But it (the truth) is totally down below and a long way off. And all the people I love and whom I have mentioned are beings who are bent on directing their writing toward this truth-over-there, with unbelievable labor; they are fighting against the elements and principally against the innumerable immediate exterior and interior enemies.

Let us not speak ill of evil it's too easy. And let us follow the wise advice of Jacques Derrida in Circumfession and take an interest in the experience of evil.

Philosophically speaking, the whole show deals with different aspects of the paradoxes of hospitality,

There is no decisive "shift" between theatre and fiction, in any case relative to an engagement, something that is on the order of a responsibility of writing.

What happens: events interiors, snatch them from the cradle, from the source. I want to watch watching arrive. I want to watch arrivances. I want to find the root of needing to eat. And taste it: work of sweat / sleep.

Yet it is the whole that makes sense. That which cannot be met on one path, and which I cannot say in one of my languages, I seek to say through another form of expression.

Above all, one could hold onto everything: the suffering to the quick and its whims, the sticky shadows, somber viscosity of the veil drawn taut around cities, everything could be borne, since legal outings of a few hours might take place, I told myself. Of course, I thought, no point pretending one wasn't dead. But on the other hand, rather than yield to the maneuvers of the conservation instinct, strategies that make us flee the pain within by hiding from ourselves within ourselves from whom we flee, its poppies, its hypnotic operations that the powerful currents of day-to-day life reinforce with a thousand vulgar, pressing duties which turn us from our hearts. Do everything, I thought, on the contrary, whatever you can to resist the ingenious temptations of compromises, cling to the suffering, stir up the dread, for the monsters are also the benevolent guardians of the survivor's presence within me

Because Jonah?s real story is the one never told: never was he as stupendously happy as during those three days and three nights of eternity. He was granted an experience that women dream of: he lived when he was mature in the adored whale?s belly. In real paradise. How does one get there? By disobedience. By passion. Running away.

I would say that I am so afraid of being afraid that I am not afraid. Now clearly, if I wanted to stay in the domain of austerity and humility, I would say that, like all human beings, I fear seeing the people I love die.

Listen to a woman speak at a public gathering (if she hasn't painfully lost her wind). She doesn't speak, she throws her trembling body forward; she lets go of herself, she flies; all of her passes into her voice, and it's with her body that she vitally sup- ports the logic of her speech. Her flesh speaks true. She lays herself bare. In fact, she physically materializes what she's thinking; she signifies it with her body. In a certain way she inscribes what she's saying, because she doesn't deny her drives the intractable and impassioned part they have in speaking. Her speech, even when theoretical or political, is never simple or linear or objectified, generalized: she draws her story into history.

Promethea has awakened in my dreams extinguished for thousands of years; sometimes one catches on fire even through so many icy layers. Promethea has rekindled dreams of fire in me, dreams of abysses, they are terribly dangerous dreams: as long as they are dreams alone, as long as one dreams alone, one can fool around with dreaming, because afterward one forgets. But now, ever since I learned how Promethea brings the fire of all dreams up into reality, how she climbs back up through the shaft of the Red Cows, bearing the first fire, how she crosses the Chamber of the Mares, how she goes through every epoch of existence reawakening along the walls memories of times so fragile and so inflammable, and comes out in 1982 still carrying in her hands the primitive spark, I feel myself wavering between exultation and terror. Formerly, I too sucked satiny coals. Once I burned my tongue. (That only happens if someone makes you lose faith.) Ever since I have no longer dared suck real fire; for a long time I lived on electricity. But I have never forgotten the fiery taste of eternity. I just was sure that I could live with my tongue extinguished until the end of my days. I was not even tempted. I was calm. I had firm definitions. I called happiness the absence of unhappiness. I wrote in ink and I dedicated my dreams to the Moons.

There is no greater love than the love the wolf feels for the lamb-it-doesn?t-eat.

What I'd saved: lost. Worse: I lost it. Can't even tell myself that I sort of lost it that lost I keep it still. I lost the saved. I've lost. I'm lost. This is pain, one dies of or kills. Kill it and one kills oneself. Splashes of bloody skin all over my notebooks. I haven't forgotten a dream, as it is written happens in the realm of dreams. One forgets a dream, then one forgets one has forgotten, nothing dies of this. I've lost The Dream. I cannot tell a soul. I will not enter alive into the beyond. I search for an explanation. To the labyrinth I descend with the chapeau. Maleficent remains but remains, therefore blessed. If I could ask my friend. No one else. He and only he knows the extraordinary value of what is lost, greater by far that the value of what one keeps. Suddenly I'm only this torch consuming itself. What to do? I had the papers, I took them from myself, I threw them in the Trash, I threw out my own being, I had the memory of the future at the window I broke me, I tore up the secret into a thousand pieces, I tweezed the sublime out of me, I had god I squashed him with a hat, this is not the first time I take myself to the labyrinth but this is the first time I go down into the labyrinth. I went right by the very trash bin of my being, how can you do away with your own eyes, I did it, who knows how.

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?

Admit! But how, why? ... Oh this word of admission, this avowel, this morsel of ver-(dict), this wormwood. it is (the porter or) the usher or the useless, vicious key which would make the famous great Tor of the law swing back on its hinges. If we knew how to turn the avowal would we go in? In where?

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 genocide.

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.

Author Picture
First Name
Hélène
Last Name
Cixous
Birth Date
1937
Bio

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