Inspiration of the Woman Void

by on Feb.25, 2012

Here is a link to a great blog piece about Clarice Lispector’s “The Passion According to G.H.” and other stuff by Aaron Apps, my good friend and also author of a forthcoming poetry book from BlazeVox about compost and human mold, all of which flow well with this week’s themes. I’m particularly struck by his description of the dissolving aspect of divinity, it being something that dissolves the self so that it may move:
“Similar to Collaborators there is no option for beauty or redemption in this novel. There is also a similar notion of Hell in this novel—which seems to be a depth within the self when one casts off traditional ethics and aesthetics (the way a female body has to go when it realizes that the structures in place are hopelessly inequitable and patriarchal; ethics and aesthetics being controlled and defined by patriarchal structures). But, beyond Hell, Lispector’s novel also has an idea of God, which functions to dissolve the self such that it can go forward in the world. This move seems different. [ . . . ]…it seems like the character in The Passion According to G.H. seems to push past the voices in both of the novels we read and into a point of reconfiguration (a point where she can’t use many words since most words are infected with what she can no longer say). Even with the mother in Collaborators with her goddess like presence, it is implicit that she learned most of her feminist (goddess) ways from correspondence. The character in Lispector’s novel has an encounter with a cockroach (which might be a kind of sounding board, but it isn’t one that can talk back) and delves into the ooze that is inside of her and then proceeds out into the world with a sense of being oozy.”
He compares this reconfiguration and flattening/atonality of space and language to Blanchot’s “Inspiration” where inspiration occurs at the point at which Orpheus breaks his gaze after turning around to see Eurydice. Every movement after that is shadowed or imprinted by this inspiration, by the shedding of it and also the echo of it, so that thousands of tiny deaths follow Orpheus’s body as he goes forward. Clarice, being a female writer in a patriarchal world, continually molts, sheds, dies, millions of tiny deaths in her plotless device. The “inspiration” seems to be an absent ur-text, the body of the female created by men itself. The beginning continues to be lost and regained.
I’m actually in the middle of reading Lispector’s “The Hour of the Star,” in which the I chews on facts like the I chews on the cockroach ooze in TPATGH. The creation of the wretched girl protagonist (that never is) is a history continually being made and dismantled in rhythmic strokes. A series of yes being said (as Lucas also quoted in a previous post), yet “… before prehistory there was the prehistory of prehistory and there was the never and there was the yes. It was ever so. I don’t know why, but I do know the universe never begun.” And that closing line is the opening of the book, which unfurls into something as rich and noisy as a secret amazon.
The text-voidcontinues to appear on the surfaces. “So I scream.” She begins without even a name. She is in labor. Like Edmond Jabes’s books, the series of Yes is actually a crumpled string of questions, of abandoned answers from prehistory, from tradition, that was ever so and that never begun.
Finally, and also firstly, I just got Don Mee Choi’s translation of Kim Hyesoon’s essay “Princess Abandoned”and it is an amazing iteration of this recursive unravelling. There is a section called “Inspiration” with the subtitle: –the abandoned woman writes the abandoned woman. Here is a quote from its ending:

“…There is always something inside the death or nothing mu [ ] that the woman-poet gazes into. This is akin to the Eastern philosophy’s investigation of nothingness in which the notion of “absolute nothing” does not exist. The cries of the abandoned child echo vividly inside the journey the woman-poet is pulled into by feminine inspiritation. At that moment, the death of ‘I’ transcends death and goes somewhere over there, to meet another ‘I’ of a dead child.

Even now, inside the performance-space of the Abandoned where its text is produced differently, I give birth to another text of the Abandoned that has split off from yet another version, a version among countless versions. Another Paridegi has endured life and death. But the child quickly returns to her place. The days of the white sheets of paper greeting me with nothing written on them persists. I tremble from having met my own absence.
From somewhere far inside me, a child cries.”
5 comments for this entry:
  1. Lucas de Lima

    Love these latest meanderings, M, through full emptiness/negative space.

    I’ve been reading a lot about Velazquez’s “Las meninas” for the course I’m taking on the baroque. The latest analysis I read, by Severo Sarduy, is great but offers a standard Lacanian reading: the painting effects slippages of meaning and remains illegible because of its self-reflexiveness, its status as the ultimate leertext. To look at the painting is to unravel and then become reconstituted, to be subjected to “an irreducible tautology without remainders.”

    Something in me wants to resist the tautology part, which I’ve also tried to resist when thinking about Jabes. Not because I believe in guaranteed epiphanies or anything like that, but because I think something monstrous DOES accrue through the “recursive unraveling,” some kind of queer and sympathetic mutation, like an iridescent roach that only seems unproductive but still oozes and gleams.

    This might also have to do with Lispector’s “secret” that I wrote about way back:

    So glad you guys like her!!!

  2. Lucas de Lima

    It is striking, too, how children always seem to figure into these voids! I mean, dude, not only Hyesoon and Lispector as quoted in my post above but claro, “Las meninas”!

  3. Feng Sun Chen

    Yes, thanks for introducing me to Lispector! My life has accrued another beautiful hole.

    Children are closer to animals, and so they are closer to “the one” that is the nothingness of the divine, or the sublime. I remember reading Djuna Barnes’s “Nightwood” and being exploded at the end when Robin, the unreachable sublime of Nora’s life, collapses and transforms into a dog. Robin is similar to Macabea in her muteness and elusivity, the way she lives without “understanding,” like an animal. This innocence is only destroyed when a future is secured (like when Maca meets the fortune teller and gets a sense of being a person).

  4. Feng Sun Chen

    also I really like and agree with your thoughts on the sympathetic/queer mutations that come from the “futureless” necrotic, or the ruins. Which is why one of my favorite poems is Mushrooms by Sylvia Plath.

  5. adam strauss

    Lovely to see a shoutout to a non Ariel poem! I friggin’ love SP’s early work! Which is not to say Fever 103 etc don’t floor me.