« …Let me insert here a parenthetical remark. I mean it when I speak of male writing. I maintain unequivocally that there is such a thing as marked writing; that, until now, far more extensively and repressively than is ever suspected or admitted, writing has been run by a libidinal and cultural-hence political, typically masculine economy; that this is a locus where the repression of women has been perpetuated, over and over, more or less consciously, and in a manner that’s frightening since it’s often hidden or adorned with the mystifying charms of fiction; that this locus has grossly exaggerated all the signs of sexual opposition (and not sexual difference), where woman has never her turn to speak-this being all the more serious and unpardonable in that writing is precisely the very possibility of change, the space that can serve as a springboard for subversive thought, the precursory movement of a transformation of social and cultural structures.
Nearly the entire history of writing is confounded with the history of reason, of which it is at once the effect, the support, and one of the privileged alibis. It has been one with the phallocentric tradition. It is indeed that same self-admiring, self-stimulating, self-congratulatory phallocentrism.
With some exceptions, for there have been failures-and if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be writing (I-woman, escapee)-in that enormous machine that has been operating and turning out its « truth » for centuries. There have been poets who would go to any lengths to slip something by at odds with tradition-men capable of loving love and hence capable of loving others and of wanting them, of imagining the woman who would hold out against oppression and constitute herself as
a superb, equal, hence « impossible » subject, untenable in a real social framework. Such a woman the poet could desire only by breaking the
codes that negate her. Her appearance would necessarily bring on, if not revolution-for the bastion was supposed to be immutable-at least harrowing explosions. At times it is in the fissure caused by an earthquake, through that radical mutation of things brought on by a material upheaval when every structure is for a moment thrown off balance and an ephemeral wildness sweeps order away, that the poet slips something by, for a brief span, of woman. Thus did Kleist expend himself in his yearning for the existence of sister-lovers, maternal daughters, mother-sisters,
who never hung their heads in shame. Once the palace of magistrates is restored, it’s time to pay: immediate bloody death to the uncontrollable
But only the poets-not the novelists, allies of representationalism. Because poetry involves gaining strength through the unconscious and
because the unconscious, that other limitless country, is the place where the repressed manage to survive: women, or as Hoffmann would say, fairies.
She must write her self, because this is the invention of a new insurgent writing which, when the moment of her liberation has come, will allow her to carry out the indispensable ruptures and transformations in her history, first at two levels that cannot be separated.
a) Individually. By writing her self, woman will return to the body which has been more than confiscated from her, which has been turned into the uncanny stranger on display-the ailing or dead figure, which so often turns out to be the nasty companion, the cause and location of inhibitions. Censor the body and you censor breath and speech at the same time.
Write your self. Your body must be heard. Only then will the immense resources of the unconscious spring forth. Our naphtha will
spread, throughout the world, without dollars-black or gold -nonassessed values that will change the rules of the old game.
To write. An act which will not only « realize » the decensored relation of woman to her sexuality, to her womanly being, giving her access to her native strength; it will give her back her goods, her pleasures, her organs, her immense bodily territories which have been kept under seal; it will tear her away from the superegoized structure in which she has always occupied the place reserved for the guilty (guilty of everything, guilty at every turn: for having desires, for not having any; for being frigid, for being « too hot »; for not being both at once; for being too motherly and not enough; for having children and for not having any; for nursing and for not nursing … )-tear her away by means of this research, this job of analysis and illumination, this emancipation of the marvelous text of her self that she must urgently learn to speak. A woman without a body, dumb, blind, can’t possibly be a good fighter. She is reduced to being the servant of the militant male, his shadow. We must kill the false woman who is preventing the live one from breathing. Inscribe the breath of the whole woman.
b) An act that will also be marked by woman’s seizing the occasion to speak, hence her shattering entry into history, which has always been based on her suppression. To write and thus to forge for herself the antilogos weapon. To become at will the taker and initiator, for her own right, in every symbolic system, in every political process.
It is time for women to start scoring their feats in written and oral language.
Every woman has known the torment of getting up to speak. Her heart racing, at times entirely lost for words, ground and language slipping away-that’s how daring a feat, how great a transgression it is for a woman to speak-even just open her mouth-in public. A double distress, for even if she transgresses, her words fall almost always upon the deaf male ear, which hears in language only that which speaks in the masculine.
It is by writing, from and toward women, and by taking up the challenge of speech which has been governed by the phallus, that women will confirm women in a place other than that which is reserved in and by the symbolic, that is, in a place other than silence. Women should break out of the snare of silence. They shouldn’t be conned into accepting a domain which is the margin or the harem.
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 supports 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…
…Nor is the point to appropriate their instruments, their concepts, their places, or to begrudge them their position of mastery. Just because there’s a risk of identification doesn’t mean that we’ll succumb. Let’s leave it to the worriers, to masculine anxiety and its obsession with how to dominate the way things work-knowing « how it works » in order to « make it work. » For us the point is not to take possession in order to internalize or manipulate, but rather to dash through and to « fly. »
Flying is woman’s gesture-flying in language and making it fly. We have all learned the art of flying and its numerous techniques; for centuries we’ve been able to possess anything only by flying; we’ve lived in flight, stealing away, finding, when desired, narrow passageways, hidden crossovers. It’s no accident that voler has a double meaning, that it plays on each of them and thus throws off the agents of sense. It’s no accident: women take after birds and robbers just as robbers take after women and birds. They (illes) go by, fly the coop, take pleasure in jumbling the order of space, in disorienting it, in changing around the furniture, dislocating things and values, breaking them all up, emptying structures, and turning propriety upside down. »