Paying attention


Philosophy from Plato up into our time has been trying to “save” art from emotions. But one has to remember: The mind is not floating in space but connected to a body.

Is the process of theorization nothing but the old trick of masculinity trying to trump femininity – order to repress chaos, logic to master feelings?

Francesca Woodman, On Being an Angel, 1977
Francesca Woodman, On Being an Angel, 1977

Maybe the solution, maybe the best way to write better on art, is to be found in écriture féminine …

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Harold Rhenisch says:

    Mind you, Lacan presents these ideas in a theory. 🙂

    Still, this is an important discussion, and I think you are absolutely on a wonderful track here. What this kind of art writing might look like, well, I hope you are discovering it, and I hope to see examples of it from you. It will, I think, be inspiring.

    And, beautiful stuff:

    ” She describes l’ecriture feminine through a variety of metaphors, including milk, orgasm, honey, and the ocean; she claims that l’ecriture feminine serves as a disruptive and deconstructive force, shaking the security and stability of the phallogocentric Symbolic Order, and therefore allowing more play—in gender, writing, and sexuality—for all language-using subjects.”

    I wonder, though. This seems “off” for example:

    “One of the consequences, in Freud’s view, of the female lack of a penis is that the female unconscious is less repressed, less radically separated from the consciousness (since the threat of castration, which creates repression, has already been carried out).”

    What? “Lack?” Why don’t we say that men have the “addition” of a penis? Why does the statement suggest that women are castrated men? How silly. An argument that celebrates feminine power that does so by describing women as amputated men? ie that starts from men and works backwards? Na. That’s cultural, only.

    This is off-kilter, too:

    “Feminine writing is associated with the Lacanian Real, with the maternal body, which is barred from the Symbolic Order; she associates representational writing with the Symbolic, and non-representational writing with the female and maternal bodies. Feminine writing does not belong exclusively to females, however; Cixous argues that anyone can occupy the marginalized position of “woman” within the Symbolic, and write in l’ecriture feminine from that position.”

    Wise stuff, especially the second sentence. I applaud. That’s the space I write from. However, I also write from a theoretical space. Balancing them, somehow, is an ongoing project.

    Still, there are quite a few jumps in that, which don’t connect. For example, feminine writing is barred from the Symbolic Order? Barred? That means that there is an authority, greater than feminine writing, which bars it. Really? Who? Seemingly, this is a kind of masonic order called The Symbolic Order. If it exists, however, surely it is no more or less authoritative than feminine writing. It might, let’s say, control social order in symbolically ordered societies, but if women accepted that without question there would have been no feminine revolution in the first place, and it’s a darned good thing there was and continues to be. Another, for example, is this odd binary: representational writing is symbolic and non-representational writing is associated with female and maternal bodies? Surely, the opposite could be argued as well (nonrepresentational writing is symbolic and representational writing is associated with female and maternal bodies), given that representational writing purports to give portraits of “real” objects, yet “milk” and “babies” are very real. I’d say that a definition of “real” has not been quite realized here, that the crossover between hemispheres remains undefined, and that the dichotomy is a false one, although, of course, there is great wisdom within the statement, just problematically divided between what might be inappropriately-conceived binaries.

    This, too, is troubling:

    “Refusing to define or encode l’ecriture feminine—because to define it would be to limit and imprison it within the logic of Western phallogocentric rationalism—”

    Absolutely! Celebrate being!

    Still, so what about this Western thing? What about all the writing and painting that come from alternate logical or identity systems? Like trickster work? Or shamanic work? Or spellcraft? As well, there is the question: how does anyone know that to define l’ecriture feminine would be to imprison it? I really doubt it would, IF it developed its own terms and methods, and accepted the feminine body as primary, and accepted the male body into it, rather than this castration idea. Some 20 years ago, Erin Mouré demonstrated that by writing using participles (going instead of go, etc), a poet could sidestep these difficulties, without foregoing intellectual or logical rigour.

    Still, to ground it all out, don’t heterosexual women accept male bodies into themselves while love making? Is that not the way of things, too? Is there not coming together as much as going apart? Is that not called coitus?

    Say, there’s a wonderful book of poems from Quebec on this theme:

    Highly recommended! And if you ever get the chance to have her read the poems, or any of her poems, jump at it. She is amazing and wonderful and inspiring, and with your interest in this topic, I bet doubly so for you.

    1. Sigrun says:

      Thank you!
      I posted only a link, and not a quote, because, as you say, this stuff is EXTREMELY THEORETICAL, and my intention is to go in a different direction … more body – less brain?
      Which obviously isn’t easy, for one getting caught up in other peoples intentions.
      Maybe the opposition between Apollo and Dionysus is a better metaphor for what I’m searching for – .

    2. Wow, very interesting reply! I’m learning a lot (and checking out links now…).

    3. Sigrun says:

      Here is another apropos on L’ecriture feminin
      The challenge is to do it, instead of reflecting endlessly over what it would/could have looked like if one did it – .

      In my library I know of two authors whom in part write L’ecriture feminin; they are Virginia Woolf & Samuel Beckett.

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