Sunday, 20 December 2009

Cixous Says

Outside, the snow lies thick enough to keep me at home. I am reading Helene Cixous, again. I keep returning to her Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing. Every time I think I've escaped the book, something happens to take me back to it. A friend told me recently that it was the kind of book that could kill you. I can see what she meant. I also think it's the kind of book that could save your life.

Snow forces us to change our plans, Cixous encourages us to change our writing:

How can we keep our mixture of innocence and crime sufficiently alive and open to live and write? How can we proceed to the burning point, reach that last hour, when we'll be able to write or say everything we have never dared say out of love and cowardice?

In my last post, I touched upon my sense of holding so much back here and I wonder whether I want to use this space to say what I dare not say. Perhaps I feel the urge to say something strong or shocking, secure in a certain anonymity, although I also suspect that saying what I dare not say would take me into the realm of the confessional blog. I don't much like confessional blogs, their overt exhibitionism makes me feel uncomfortable.

I don't think I will use this space to write to the burning point, that can happen elsewhere. However, by way of taking a small step towards it, I would like to say a few things that I haven't said before. They aren't particularly important things, they may not even be interesting, but I will say them nonetheless.

I am writing in a room with pale yellow walls. There is wallpaper beneath the paint and in places I can see where the paint ends and the old colour still shows. The wallpaper is textured, wrinkled above the radiator and where one piece joins the next. There are many cobwebs and candle smudges.

There is a Christmas tree in the window. Sunlight catches on the baubles and is reflected on the walls and ceiling. There are small dashes of sunlight all over the room.

I can smell either diesel, rolled down the hill from the main road in the very still, snow-bound air, or marzipan from my airing-before-I-ice Christmas cake.

My feet are cold.

My husband is sitting beside me, working on his laptop. He is breathing loudly and there are clicks from his computer. I don't think he has touched the cup of tea I made a while ago. I look towards him and he asks in our domestic language, 'Urda?' It translates roughly as, 'Why are you looking at me? Are you alright? What are you thinking about? Why are you disturbing me?' I look away and he returns to his work.

There, that's it. A very long way from the burning point, but for the moment, it's enough.

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