Kristeva, “Women’s Time”

Kristeva, Julia. “Women’s Time,” Signs 7.1, 1981.

“…this memory or symbolic common denominator concerns the response that human groupings, united in space and time, have given not to the problems of the production of material goods (i.e. the domain of the economy and of the human relationships it implies, politics, etc.) but, rather, to those of reproduction, survival of the species, life and death, the body, sex, and symbol” (14).

” ‘Father’s time, mother’s species,’ as Joyce put it; and, indeed, when evoking the name and destiny of women, one thinks more of the space generating and forming the human species than of time, becoming, or history…. Freud, listening to the dreams and fantasies of his patients, thought that ‘hysteria was linked to place'” (15).

“…the problematic of space, which innumerable religions of matriarchal (re)appearance attribute to ‘woman,’ and which Plato, recapitulating in his own system the atomists of antiquity, designated by the aporia of the chora, matrix space, nourishing, unnameable, anterior to the One, to God and, consequently, defying metaphysics. As for time, female subjectivity would seem to provide a specific measure that essentially retains repetition and eternity from among the multiple modalities of time known through the history of civilizations” (16).

“…the various myths of resurrection which, in all religious beliefs, perpetuate the vestige of an anterior or concomitant maternal cult, right up to its most recent elaboration, Christianity, in which the body of the Virgin Mother does not die but moves from one spatiality to another within the same time via dormition…or via assumption” (17).

“A psychoanalyst would call this ‘obsessional time,’ recognizing in the mastery of time the true structure of the slave. The hysteric (either male or female) who suffers from reminiscences would, rather, recognize his or her self in the anterior temporal modalities: cyclical or monumental” (17).

“…by demanding recognition of an irreducible identity, without equal in the opposite sex and, as such, exploded, plural, fluid, in a certain way nonidentical, [recent] feminism situates itself outside the linear time of identities which communicate through projection and revindication. Such a feminism rejoins, on the one hand, the archaic (mythical) memory, and, on the other, the cyclical or monumental temporality of marginal movements” (20).

The “logical operation of seperation” from a presumed “state of nature” and of “pleasure fused with nature,” is “the common destiny of the two sexes, men and women. That certain biofamilial conditions and relationships cause women (and notably hysterics) to deny this separation and the language which ensues from it, whereas men (notably obsessionals) magnify both and, terrified, attempt to master them–this is what Freud’s discovery has to tell us on this issue” (23).

“Lacan’s scandalous sentence ‘There is no such thing as Woman’ [in “Dieu et la jouissance de la femme,” 1975, Encore]. Indeed, she does not exist with a capital ‘W,’ possessor of some mythical unity – a supreme power, on which is based the terror of power and terrorism as the desire for power. But what an unbelievable force for subversion in the modern world! And, at the same time, what playing with fire!” (30).

If not to the desire for the phallus, “what does th[e] desire for motherhood correspond to” in modern women? (31).

“If Freud’s affirmation – that the desire for a child is the desire for a penis and, in this sense, a substitute for phallic and symbolic dominion – can only be partially accepted, what modern women have to say about this experience should nonetheless be listened to attentively. Pregnancy seems to be experienced as the radical ordeal of the splitting of the subject: redoubling up of the body, separation and coexistence of the self and of an other, of nature and consciousness, of physiology and speech. This fundamental challenge to identity is then accompanied by a fantasy of totality–narcissistic completeness–a sort of instituted, socialized, natural psychosis. The arrival of the child, on the other hand, leads the mother into the labyrinths of an experience that, without the child, she would only rarely encounter: love for an other” (31).

“The ability to succeed in this path without masochism and without annihilating one’s affective, intellectual, and professional personality – such would seem to be the stakes to be won through guiltless maternity. It them becomes a creation in the strong sense of the term. For this moment, utopian? On the other hand, it is in the aspiration toward artistic and, in particular, literary creation that woman’s desire for affirmation now manifests itself” (31).

Kristeva is suspicious of the “pens” of the “female writers” who write “in the name of a semi-aphonic corporality whose truth can only be found in that which is ‘gestural’ or ‘tonal'” (32).

The role of “aesthetic practices” such as literature must “demystify the identity of the symbolic bond itself, to demystify, therefore, the community of language as a universal and unifying tool, one which totalizes and equalizes. In order to bring out – along with the singularity of each person and, even more, along with the multiplicity of every person’s possible identifications (with atoms, e.g., stretching from the family to the stars)–the relativity of his/her symbolic as well as biological existence, according to the variation in his/her specific symbolic capacities” (35).

spinoza’s question: are women subject to ethics? “The answer to Spinoza’s question can be affirmative only at the cost of considering feminism as but a moment in the thought of that anthropomorphic identity which currently blocks the horizon of the discursive and scientific adventure of our species” (35). In other words, women are only subject to male ethics if we have established that male ethics are indeed worth being subject to.


Andre Green, “The Dead Mother”

Green, Andre. “The Dead Mother,” in On Private Madness. Trans Katherine Aubertin. 1980.

“I wish to make it clear that I shall not be discussing here the psychical consequences of the real death of the mother, but rather that of an imago which has been constituted in the child’s mind, following maternal depression, brutally transforming a living object, which was a source of vitality for the child, into a distant figure, toneless, practically inanimate…” (142). In other words, exploring the absence of the maternal function rather than the mother herself.

“Thus, the dead mother, contrary to what one might think, is a mother who remains alive but who is, so to speak, psychically dead in the eyes of the young child in her care” (142).

Central question: “What is the relation that one can establish between object-loss and the depressive position” (143)

Psychoanalytic philosophy allows “a major role to the concept of a dead father,” (144) see Oedipus complex

“…on the other hand, we never hear of the dead mother from a structural point of view” (144).

“Matricide does not involve the dead mother as a concept” (144).

In Freudian psychoanalysis, the structural function of the father as both object of the patient’s erotic wishes and castrator “implies a constitutive conception of the psychical order – that constitutes a symbolical organization – which is programmed by the primal fantasies” (145).

In some ways, the Freudian tradition’s fixation on “castration as a model” has obliged later psychoanalysts to “castrasize…all other forms of anxiety… one speaks of anal or narcissistic castration, for example” (145).


“Castration anxiety can be legitimately described as subsuming the group of anxieties linked by the ‘little one’ detachable part of the body, whether it be penis, faeces, or baby” (145). The “class unity” is here maintained by “the context of a bodily wound associated with this bloody act.” On the contrary, while “to be sure, all forms of anxiety are accompanied by destructiveness,” loss seems to “have nothing to do with a bloody mutilation” (146).

“I defend the hypothesis that the sinister black of depression, which we can legitimately relate to the hatred we observe in the psychoanalysis of depressed subjects, is only a secondary product, a consequence rather than a cause, of a ‘blank’ anxiety which expresses a loss that has been experienced on a narcissistic level” (146).

“On the side of the child, everything which introduces the anticipation of a third person, each time that the mother is not wholly present and her devotion to the child is neither total nor absolute… will be, retrospectively, attributable to the father” (147). This is why the “metaphoric loss of the breast” is related to the prohibition of incest – the primal scene “takes place outside the subject,” and the subject necessarily “excludes himself and constitutes himself” despite his absence from this scene, “which gives birth to fantasy, which is a production of the subject’s ‘madness'” (147).

“The recourse to metaphor, which holds good for every essential element of psychoanalytic theory, is particularly necessary here” (147).

“One must retain the metaphor of the breast, for the breast, like the penis, can only be symbolic. However intense the pleasure of sucking linked to the nipple, or the teat, might be, erogenous pleasure has the power to concentrate within itself everything of the mother that is not the breast: her smell, her skin, her look and the thousand other components that ‘make up’ the mother. The metonymical object has become metaphor to the object” (148)

“…by going more deeply into the problems relating to the dead mother, I refer to them as to a metaphor, independent of the bereavement of a real object” (148). Therefore, metaphor is a way to distance theory from real objects

The “dead mother complex” does not concern “the loss of a real object” (149).Instead, it is the transformation in the infant’s psyche when the mother for some reason, through some bereavement, stops loving him in the way to which he was accustomed.

“…as one says, ‘her heart is not in it'” (151). The mother doesn’t have to be dead in order for the child to experience the dead mother complex. But her function is dead, insofar as her function is giving and loving with her whole heart

“He thinks the primary object no longer counts for him. In truth, he will encounter the inability to love, not only because of ambivalence, but because his love is still mortgaged to the dead mother” (156). “Arrested in their capacity to love, subjects who are under the empire of the dead mother can only aspire to autonomy” (156).

“The dead mother refuses to die a second death…. It is because she is a thousand-headed hydra whom one believes one has beheaded with each blow; whereas in fact only one of its heads has been struck off” (157).

“The relation to the breast is the object of a radical reinterpretation… it is less a question of a bad breast, which is ungiving, than a breast which, even when it does give, is an absent breast (and not lost), absorbed with nostalgia for a relation that is grieved for; a breast which can neither be full nor filling” (160).

“‘I have never been loved’ becomes a new outcry which the subject will cling to and which he strives to confirm in his subsequent love-life” (160-1).

“The subject’s entire structure aims at a fundamental fantasy: to nourish the dead mother, to maintain her perpetually embalmed. This is what the analysand does to the analyst… For the subject wants to be the mother’s polar star, the ideal child, who takes the place of an ideal dead object, who is necessarily invincible, because not living, which is to be imperfect, limited, finite” (161).

“Behind the manifest situation there is an inverted vampiric fantasy. The patient spends his life nourishing his dead, as thought he alone has charge of it. Keeper of the tomb, sole possessor of the key of the vault, he fulfils his function of foster-parent in secret. He keeps the dead mother prisoner, and she remains his personal property. The mother has become the infant of the child. It is for him to repair her narcissistic wound” (164). A paradox arises here, however: if he succeeds in arousing or awakening her, he will lose her again, for she will go about her own affairs without him as polar star. “Hence the extreme ambivalence concerning the desire to bring the dead mother back to life” (164).


End of the essay:

“…it is a question of ‘meaning,’ otherwise it would not have been able to be recorded in the psyche. But this meaning-in-waiting is only truly significant when it is reawakened by a recathexis which takes place in an absolutely different context. What meaning is this? A lost meaning, refound?… Potential meaning which only lacks the analytic – or poetic? – experience to become a veridical experience” (172-3).



E. M. Forster, Where Angels Fear to Tread

Forster, E. M. Where Angels Fear to Tread. Knopf: 1920, 1943. 

As Lilia is leaving for Europe she after-thought “caught sight of her little daughter Irma, and felt that a touch of maternal solemnity was required. ‘Goodbye, darling. Mind you’re always good, and do what Granny tells you'” (8).

“Romance only dies with life. No pair of pincers will ever pull it out of us. But there is a spurious sentiment which cannot resist the unexpected and the incongruous and the grotesque. A touch will loosen it, and the sooner it goes from us the better” (42). (Philip’s Romance disappears when he learns that his sister has married the son of a dentist… “A Dentist in fairyland!” It ruins Italy for him.)

“Italy is such a delightful place to live in if you happen to be a man. There one may enjoy that exquisite luxury of Socialism – that true Socialism which is based not on equality of income or character, but on the equality of manners. In the democracy of the caffe or the street the great question of our live has been solved, and the brotherhood of man is a reality. But it is accomplished at the expense of the sisterhood of women” (73).

Gino’s friends determine that it is impossible that Lilia is “simpatico.” “There are such men, I know…and I have heard it said of children. But where will you find such a woman?… Sono poco simpatiche le donne. And the time we waste over them is much” (80). He does admit, however, that Miss Abbott was more simpatico than most. (note the masculine word ending.)

Lilia dies giving birth. This is in many ways exactly what her husband wanted; it is convenient; her death serves an important function. No one really cares about her, not her husband nor her family-in-law. But they all care about the function of the baby the way they only cared about the function of her.

Mrs. Herriton argues that It is important that Irma not know about her mother’s disgrace because “All a child’s life depends on the ideal it has of its parents. Destroy that and everything goes… Absolute trust in some one else is the essence of education” (109-110).

Philip hates the “petty selfishness” of Swansea, but Miss Abbott hates the “petty unselfishness”: “I had got an idea that every one here spent their lives in making little sacrifices for objects they didn’t care for, to please people they didn’t love; that they never learnt to be sincere – and, what’s as bad, never learnt how to enjoy themselves” (118). This is what drives her to encourage Lilia’s marriage with Gino.

When Miss Abbott meets the baby: “She had thought so much about this baby, of its welfare, its soul, its morals, its probably defects. But, like most unmarried people, she had only thought of it as a word – just as the healthy man only thinks of the word death, not of death itself. The real thing, lying asleep on a dirty rug, disconcerted her. It did not stand for a principle any longer… now that she saw this baby, lying asleep on a dirty rug, she had a great disposition not to dictate one of them, and to exert no more influence than there may be in a kiss or in the vaguest of the heartfelt prayers” (201).

“It is the strongest desire that can come to a man – if it comes to him at all – stronger even than love or the desire for personal immortality. All men vaunt it, and declare that it is theirs; but the hearts of most are set elsewhere. It is the exception who comprehends that physical and spiritual life may stream out of him for ever… when Gino pointed first to himself and then to his baby and said ‘father – son,’ she still took it as a piece of nursery prattle” (212).

“Do you want the child to stop with his father, who loves him and will bring him up badly, or do you want him to come to Sawston, where no one loves him, but where he will be brought up well? There is the question put dispassionately enough even for you Settle it” (231).

Harriet kidnaps the baby, ignores its silent cries (his father knows that a loud cry is not serious but silent cries are very serious), and the baby is killed when the carriage topples and they are all thrown. Harriet is upset or “ill” for a while, but then she gets over it and considers the matter settled. The function of the child has been settled. The real child doesn’t matter.


Ted Hughes

The Hawk in the Rain (1957)

“The Thought-Fox”

“A Modest Proposal”


Crow (from 1970)

“King of Carrion”

“Crow’s First Lesson”


“Crow and Mama”

“Crow’s Theology”

“Oedipus Crow”

“Crow’s Undersong”

“Crow Blacker than Ever”

“Song for a Phallus”

“Apple Tragedy”


The Birthday Letters (1998)

“The Shot”

“The Owl” (v. Hawk, Fox)


“The Earthenware Head”


“Child’s Park” (re-write of Child’s Park Stones)


“Epiphany” (re-write of Thought Fox)

“The Minotaur”


“The Rag Rug” (– oddly a re-write of the scene in The Bell Jar with Buddy’s Mom)

“The Rabbit Catcher” (rewrite of The Rabbit Catcher)

“The Bee God” (rewrite of the Bee poems)

“Night Ride on Ariel” (rewrite of Ariel)

“The Dogs are Eating Your Mother”

Gwendolyn Brooks, Selected Poems

“A Street in Bronzeville” (esp. kitchenette building, the mother, a song in the front yard)

“The Womanhood” (the children of the poor)

“Old Mary”

“A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi”

“Jessie Mitchell’s Mother”

“The Crazy Woman”

“The Empty Woman”

Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider

Lorde, Audre. Sister, Outsider. Berkeley: Crossing Press, 1984, 2007.

“Poetry is Not a Luxury”

“The quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives has direct bearing upon the product which we live, and upon the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives… This is poetry as illumination, for it is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are – until the poem – nameless and formless, about to be birthed, but already felt. That distillation of experience from which true poetry springs births thought as dream births concept, as feeling births idea, as knowledge births (precedes) understanding”  (36). This reminds me of H.D.’s discussion of vision as a pregnant experience: poetry is an experience of birth, which means an experience grounded in the feminine, if not female, experience.

“I speak here of poetry as a revelatory distillation of experience, not the sterile word play that, too often, the white fathers distorted the word poetry to mean – in order to cover a desperate wish for imagination without insight” (37). Without those births she mentioned earlier, in other words.

For Lorde, poetry is “the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought” (37). Vs. La Mystérique, for whom there is a nameless but no name that can be given to it.

“Sometimes we drug ourselves with dreams of new ideas. the head will save us. The brain alone will set us free. But there are no new ideas still waiting in the wings to save us as women, as human. There are only old and forgotten ones… And there are no new pains” (38-9).

“There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt – of examining what those ideas feel like being lived on Sunday morning at 7 a.m., after brunch, during wild love, making war, giving birth, mourning our dead – while we suffer the old longings, battle the old warnings and fears of being silent and impotent and alone, while we taste new possibilities and strengths” (39). Those are all very primal scenes, that need new expression by women in a new way: perhaps through feminine language.

“Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power”

“The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling” (53).

“We have been taught to suspect this resource…we have come to distrust that power which rises from our deepest and nonrational knowledge. We have been warned against it all our lives by the male world…” (53).

“the aim of each thing which we do is to make our lives and the lives of our children richer and more possible” (55). Our lives –> the lives of our children. Traditional justification, but the juxtaposition of sexuality and children is startling)

“…satisfaction is possible, and does not have to be called marriage, nor god, nor an afterlife” (57).

Audre Lorde writes an open letter to Mary Daly after reading GynEcology (67)

“The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House”

“They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master’s house as their only source of support” (112).


Gertrude Stein, Three Lives

Stein, Gertrude. Three Lives. Vintage Books: Random House, 1909. 

Begins with quote from Jules Laforgue: “Donc je suis un malheureux et ce n’est ni ma faute ni celle de la vie.”

In his Gertrude Stein: A Biography of her work, Donald Sutherland situates Stein in the “naturalist” tradition, using common words to express complicated things.

In some ways, this strategy dislocates the naturalist tradition’s ease of viewpoint: not only do these naturalist stories view women, they view women’s particular troubles in ways sympathetic to these women. They also treat concerns like childbirth, while ignoring or skirting things like sex: naturalism has a viewpoint and is not as objective as it purports to be.

Also, beginning with Laforgue situates her in some ways in the symbolist tradition which seems at odds with the naturalist positioning

“The Good Anna”

Anna’s dogs stand in for any children she might have: her dog is even named “Baby.” She really wants to skip the child-bearing stage and move straight to the state of controlling mother-in-law.

Despite her own lack of husband and children, she is very strict in the propriety of others. She breaks with the midwife and widow Mrs. Lehman, for example, because Mrs. Lehman adopted the foundling boy-child of one of the girls she helped.


By far the longest section of the book – as if Anna sets up Melanctha, and Lena follows her up.

The section begins with a discussion of Rose Johnson’s difficult birth: “Rose Johnson made it very hard to bring her baby to birth…. the sullen, childish, cowardly, black Rosie grumbled and fussed and howled and made herself to be an abomination and like a simple beast.

The child thought it was healthy after it was born, did not live long. Rose Johnson was careless and negligent and selfish, and when Melanctha had to leave for a few days, the baby died…. these things came so often in the negro world in Bridgepoint, that they neither of them thought about it very long” (85).

Melanctha is never quite sure what she wants, but it is related to the power she is able to hold over men as a woman.

Dr. Campbell: “No Miss Melanctha I certainly do only know just two kinds of ways of loving. One kind of loving seems to me, is like one has a good quiet feeling in a family when one does his work, and is always living good and being regular, and then the other way of loving is just like having it like any animal that’s low in the streets together, and that don’t seem to me very good Miss Melanctha” (124).

“Melanctha was too many for him” (175).

After breaking with Dr. Campbell, and after being abandoned by her gambling fiance Jem, Melanctha clings to Rose Johnson, whose “simple, selfish” nature she sees as a kind of salvation: “The baby though it was healthy after it was born did not live long. Rose Johnson was careless and negligent and selfish and when Melanctha had to leave for a few days the baby died. Rose Johnson had liked her baby well enough and perhaps she just forgot it for a while, anyway the child was dead and Rose and Sam were very sorry, but then these things came so often in the negro world in Bridgepoint that they neither of them thought about it very long…” (225). “Rose guessed perhaps Melanctha better go home now, Rose don’t need nobody to help her now, she is feeling real strong, not like just after she had all that trouble with the baby, and then Sam, when he comes home for his dinner he likes it when Rose is all alone there just to give him his dinner” (230).

“Melanctha needed Rose always to let her cling to her, Melanctha wanted badly to have somebody who could make her always feel a little safe inside her, and now Rose had sent her from her” (232). Melanctha wants to be a fetus; to be inside Rose and be safe; Rose is a bad mother.

“The Gentle Lena”

Lena is pressured into a marriage with Herman Kreder, a solid respectable German tailor who lives with his parents, by the aunt who brought her to America from Germany. Lena has always seemed “lifeless” and “far-away” and a little “dull,” but marriage makes her life hell.

“These were really bad days for poor Lena. Herman always was real good to her and now he even sometimes tried to stop his mother from scolding Lena. ‘she ain’t well now mama, you let her be now you hear me. You tell me what it is you want she should be doing, I tell her. I see she does it right just the way you want it mama… Herman was getting really strong to struggle, for he could see that Lena with that baby working hard inside her, really could not stand it any longer with his mother and the awful ways she always scolded” (275).

“It was new for Herman Kreder really to be wanting something, but Herman wanted strongly now to be a father, and he wanted badly that his baby should be a boy and healthy” (275). He is willing to even struggle against his mother for the baby’s sake.

“Poor Lena was not feeling any joy to have a baby. She was scared… Before very long, Lena had her baby. He as a good, healthy little boy, the baby. Herman cared very much to have the baby. When Lena was a little stronger he took a house next door to the old couple, so he and his own family could eat and sleep and do the way they wanted. This did not seem to make much change now for Lena” (276).

“By and by LEna had two more little babies. Lena was not so much scared now when she had the babies. She did not seem to notice much when they hurt her, and she never seemed to feel very much now about anything that happened to her.

They were very nice babies, all these three that Lena had, and Herman took good care of them always. Herman never really cared much about his wife, Lena. The only things Herman ever really cared for were his babies” (278).

“Then there was to come to them, a fourth baby… When the baby was come out at last, it was like its mother lifeless. While it was coming, Lena had grown very pale and sicker. when it was all over Lena had died, too, and nobody knew just how it had happened to her” (279).

“Herman Kreder now always lived very happy, very gentle, very quiet, very well content alone with his three children. He never had a woman any more to be all the time around him” (279). Just want he wanted: a wife as pure vessel for children, who then dies and is no longer a bother to him.

Helen Vendler, Part of Nature, Part of Us: Modern American Poets

Vendler, Helen. Part of Nature, Part of Us: Modern American Poets. Harvard University Press: 1980.

Wallace Stevens

“The preeminent question life asked of Stevens was whether the sublime was livable” (1).

“To propose an American sublime, for Stevens, was to liberate an old notion: the sublime had so long evoked vastness and grandeur of conception, nobility of diction and a vehemence of passion, a sizable awe and a posture of ecstatic reverence, that a brief remark defining it as ‘the empty spirit in vacant space’ was the boldest of manifestos. Stevens’ proposal of a denuded sublime frightened even himself, and instead of pursuing it, he ended ‘The American Sublime’ with a hopeless set of questions…” (2).

“The sexual body cannot, for Stevens, be the source of value, however much he wishes it were. Later, when he has given up on the sexual body, he tries (prompted by the Second World War) to find a source of the sublime in the larger-than-life heroic body” (5).

For Stevens, the sublime is “necessarily contingent upon suffering” (8). His “lady of fictive music had never suffered, and even his woman in ‘Sunday Morning’ seems untouched by any ‘moods’ she has experienced or any ‘grievings’ she has undergone, so reflective and ripe is her tone” (8-9).

While Perkins’ History of Modern Poetry chastises Mrs. Stevens for not reading Wallace’s later work, Vendler kindly informs us that this is because “Mrs. Stevens was angry that Stevens published poems originally addressed to her” (19).

“The impotence he characteristically evokes in misery is ‘cured’ in [“The Men That Are Falling’] by the dangerous example of the hero, always a seductive icon for Stevens…. the discrepancy between the irresitible yearnings of desire and irreversible misery at its failure” (51).

“It is one of Stevens’ claims to greatness tha the went on to invent a new style – the style of parts as parts. of words refusing to form a single word, of the many truths not part of ‘a’ truth… For Stevens, one theoretical problem in inventing such a style lay in calling what we call metaphor into question. Metaphor implies analogy and resemblence, neither of which can be stable in a world of nonce effects” (52).


Marianne Moore

In his 1923 review of her Poems, Eliot praised her rhythm without being able to define it (65)

“her distrust of emotions made her increasingly submissive to fact…and the war caused her flexible ethical meditations to rigidify into moral outcries. Animals became an end in themselves, as human beings became more remote or more repellent: (70).

Elizabeth Bishop

Her work “vibrates” between two “frequencies”: the “domestic and the strange” (97).


Paul de Man, “Lyric and Modernity”

De Man, Paul. “Lyric and Modernity.” In Blindness and Insight, 166-186.University of Minnesota Press, 1983.

“The term ‘modernity’ is not used in a simple chronological sense as an approximate synonym for ‘recent’ or ‘contemporary’ with a positive or negative value-emphasis added. It designates more generally the problematical possibility of all literature;s existing in the present, of being considered, or read, from a point of view that claims to share with it its own sense of a temporal present. In theory, the question of modernity could therefore be asked of any literature at any time…” (166).

“…the definition of poetry as the first language gives it an archaic, ancient quality that is the opposite of modern, whereas the deliberate, cold, and rational character of discursive prose, which can only imitate or represent the original impulse if it does not ignore it altogether, would be the true language of modernity” (168).

“Within this perspective, it would be an absurdity to speak of the modernity of lyric poetry, since the lyric is precisely the antithesis of modernity. Yet, in our twentieth century, the social projection of modernity known as the avant-garde consisted predominately of poets rather than of prose writers” (168-9).

“…truly modern poetry is a poetry that has become aware of the incessant conflict that opposes a self, still engaged in the daylight world of reality, of representation, and of life, to what Yeats calls the soul… modern poetry uses an imagery that is both symbol and allegory, that represents objects in nature but is actually taken from purely literary sources… Modern poetry is described by Yeats as the conscious expression of a conflict within the function of language as representation and within the conception of language as the act of an autonomous self” (171). Self v. soul; representation v. soul. Conflict when self tries to use language or representation to describe soul (Yeats)

For Yeats, “a loss of the representational function of poetry that goes parallel with the loss of a sense of selfhood” (172).

To claim that modernity “is a form of obscurity is to call the oldest, most ingrained characteristics of poetry modern. To claim that the loss of representation is modern is to make us again aware of an allegorical element in the lyric that had never ceased to be present, but that itself is necessarily dependent on the existence of an earlier allegory and so is the negation of modernity. The worst mystification is to believe that one can move from representation to allegory, or vice versa, as one moves from the old to the new, from father to son, from history to modernity” (186).

“The less we understand a poet, the more he is compulsively misinterpreted and oversimplified and and made to say the opposite of what he actually said, the better the chances are that he is truly modern; that is, different from what we–mistakenly–think we are ourselves” (186).


Alette Olin Hill, Mother Tongue, Father Time

Hill, Alette Olin. Mother Tongue, Father Time. Indiana University Press: 1986.

Dedicated “For Boyd, Buck, and Michael, without whose relentless chauvinism this book might not have been written


“Why is our native language called ‘Mother’ whereas Time is called ‘Father’? One easy answer to the first is that most infants learn to speak from their mother…Father Time, on the other hand, has a more mysterious and perhaps sinister history” (xi).

New Year: “Father Time gives birth? Well, not exactly. This is but one instance of the unaccountable absence of the female at the scene of the action” (xi).

“It is noteworthy that Mother Tongue, meaning native language, belongs to human anatomy, whereas Father Time cannot be pinned down to a part of the body” (xi).

“I define ‘women’s language’ as the language spoken by women and ‘sexist language’ as the language spoken to and about women (the speaker’s sex is irrelevant) if that language degrades, disparages, or otherwise criticizes women” (xiv).

Woman’s approach to speech is, through linguistic as well as philosophical criticism, “wrong by definition” (4).

the right to vote was predicated on pronouns (61)

“The imperative mood governs the language of myth….myth is substituted for rational discourse whenever conservatives wish to keep women in their ‘place'” (112). (citing Phyllis Schafly)

Women are often warned in the “mythic imperative mood” to “follow nature, or else” (114).

women are often presented with a false choice between “courtesy and citizenship” (128).

linguistic “hedges” vs. la mysterique’s refusal to say anything definitely



W. B. Yeats, Essays and Introductions

Yeats, W. B. Essays and Introductions. Macmillan: 1961.

“Magic” (28)

“I beleive in the practice and philosophy of what we have agreed to call magic, in what I must call the evocation of spirits, though I do not know what they are, in the power of creating magical illusions, in the visions of truth in the depths of the mind when the eyes are closed” (28).

His three doctrines:

“1) That the borders of our mind are ever shifting, and that many minds can flow into one another, as it were, and create or reveal a single mind, a single energy.

2) That the borders of our memories are as shifting, and that our memories are a part of one great memory, the memory of Nature herself.

3) That this great mind and great memory can be evoked by symbols” (28).

“There is a memory of Nature that reveals events and symbols of distant centuries. Mystics of many countries and many centuries have spoken of this memory; and the honest men and charlatans, who keep the magical traditions which will some day be studied as a part of folk-lore, base most that is of importance in their claims upon this memory” (46).

“I cannot now think symbols less than the greatest of all powers whether they are used consciously by the masters of magic, or half unconsciously by their successors, the poet, the musician and the artist. At first I tried to distinguish between symbols and symbols, between what I called inherent symbols and arbitrary symbols, but the distinction has come to mean little or nothing. Whether their power has arisen out of themselves or whether it has an arbitrary origin, matters little, for they act, as I believe, because the Great Memory associates them with certain events and moods and persons” (50).

“The Symbolism of Poetry” (153)

“We may call this metaphorical writing, but it is better to call it symbolical writing, because metaphors are not profound enough to be moving, when they are not symbols, and when they are symbols they are the most perfect of all, because the most subtle, outside of pure sound, and through them one can best found out what symbols are” (156).

“Because an emotion does not exist, or does not become perceptible and active among us, till it has found its expression, in colour or in sound or in form, or in all of these, and because no two modulations or arrangements of these evoke the same emotion, poets and painters and musicians… are continually making and remaking mankind. It is indeed only those things which seem useless or very feeble that have any power, and all those things that seem useful or strong, armies, moving wheels, modes of architecture, modes of government, speculations of the reason, would have been a little different if some mind long ago had not given itself to some emotion, as a woman gives herself to her lover...” (157).

“The purpose of rhythm, it has always seemed to me, is to prolong the moment of contemplation, the moment we are both asleep and awake, which is the one moment of creation… to keep us in that state of perhaps real trance…” (159).

emotional symbols “evoke emotion alone,” but intellectual symbols “evoke ideas alone”

“if one is moved by Dante, or by the myth of Demeter, one is mixed into the shadow of God or goddess… So, too, one is furthest from symbols when one is busy doing this or that” (162).

“We should come to understand that the beryl stone was enchanted by our fathers so that it might unfold the pictures in its heart, and not to mirror our own excited faces, or the boughs waving outside the window” (163).

When your words are not well chosen, you cannot give a body to something that moves beyond the senses, unless your words are as subtle, as complex, as full of mysterious life, as the body of a flower or of a woman.” (164).

“The Celtic Element in Literature” (173)

“The Celtic passion for Nature comes almost more from a sense of her ‘mystery’ than of her ‘beauty,’ and it adds ‘charm and magic’ to Nature…” (173).

“Certainly a thirst for unbounded emotion and a wild melancholy are troublesome things in the world, and do not make its life more easy or orderly, but it may be the arts are founded on the life beyond the world, and that they must cry in the ears of our penury until the world has been consumed and become a vision” (184).


Poetry and Tradition” (246)

“All movements are held together more by what they hate than what they love, for love separates and individualises and quiets, but the nobler movements, the only movements on which literature can found itself, hate great and lasting things” (250).

“The Holy Mountain” (448)

“Modern Poetry” (491)

“My generation, because it disliked Victorian rhetorical moral fervour, came to dislike all rhetoric” (497).

“We older writers disliked this new poetry, but were forced to admit its satiric intensity. It was in Eliot that certain revolutionary War poets, young men who felt they had been dragged away from their studies, from their pleasant life, by the blundering frenzy of old men, found the greater part of their style” (500).

“A General Introduction for My Work” (509)

A Vision, its harsh geometry an incomplete interpretation” (518).


W. B. Yeats, A Vision

Yeats, W.V. A Vision. Macmillan, 1978.

Yeats describes his Vision as “a system of thought that would leave my imagination free to create as it chose and yet make all that it created, or could create, part of the one history, and that the soul’s” (xi).

Conversation between Aherne and Robartes:

Robartes: All thought becomes an image and the soul

Becomes a body: that body and that soul

Too perfect at the full to lie in a cradle,

Too lonely for the traffic of the world :

Body and soul cast out and cast away

Beyond the visible world.


Aherne: All dreams of the soul

End in a beautiful man or woman’s body. (5).

“Incarnate man has four faculties… the Will, the Creative Mind, the body of fate, and the Mask. The will and mask are predominately Lunar or antithetical, the Creative Mind and the Body of Fate predominately Solar or Primary” (14).

Mask = “the image of what we wish to become, or of that to which we give our reverence” (15)

Body of fate = “the physical and mental environment, the changing human body, the stream of phenomena as this affects a particular individual, all that is forced upon us from without…” (15)

will = “looks into a painted picture”

creative mind “looks into a photograph, but both look into something which is the opposite of themselves” (15).

Makes sense that the first two are lunar/feminine and the last masculine/solar.

Emotional opposition between Will and Mask; intellection opposition between Creative Mind and Body of Fate

Discord between Will and Creative Mind; Creative mind and mask; mask and body of fate; body of fate and will

“Discord is always the enforced understanding of the unlikeness of will and mask or or creative mind and bod of fate. There is an enforced attraction between opposites…” (24)

“Man’s daimon therefore has her energy and bias, in man’s Mask, and her constructive power in man’s fate, and man and Daimon face each other in a perpetual conflict or embrace. This relation (the Daimon being the oposite sex to that of man) may create a passion like that of sexual love. The relation of man and woman, in so far as it is passionate, reproduces the relation of man and Daimon, and becomes an element where man and daimon sport, pursue one another, and do one another good and evil…. every man is, in the right of his sex, a wheel, or a group of Four Faculties, and everyone is, in the right of her sex, a wheel which reverses the masculine wheel” (27).

Daimon is a “dark mind,” and the “object of the Daimon” is to “create a very personal form of heroism or of poetry.” The Daimon “herself” is “passionless and has a form of thought, which has no need of premise and deduction, nor of any language, for it apprehends the truth by a faculty which is analogos to sight, and hearing, and taste, and touch, and smell, though without organs” (28).

Phase of beauty: p 48, phase 15

Phases 1 and 15 mirror each other: “the more perfect be the soul, the more indifferent the mind, the more dough-like the body” (116).

“Finished… in a time of Civil War” (117) (i.e., this is meant to impose some sort of order)

in What the Caliph Refused to Learn 

“Was it she that spoke or some great Djinn?

I say that a djinn spoke. A live-long hour

she seemed the learned man and I the child;

Truths without father came…” (125)

(and later)

“All, all those gyres and cubes and midnight things

Are but a new expression of her body

Drunk with the bitter-sweetness of her youth.

And now my utmost mystery is out:

A woman’s beauty is a storm-tossed banner;

Under it all wisdom stands, and I alone –” (127).

Discussing the gyres in the context of Blake’s gyres: “The woman and the man are two competing gyres growing at one another’s expense… the existence of the one depends on the existence of the other” (134).

“The system constantly compels us to consider beauty an accompaniment of war, and wisdom of decay” (139).

“The cycles of human rebirth, unlike those of the Eternal Man, are measured upon the Lunar cone” (169). Eternal birth = masculine; human = feminine

Invocation of “Leda” poem on 179, at the beginning of the discussion of the historical cones: she will happen over and over and over again.

“Each age unwinds the thread another age had wound, and it amuses one to remember that before Phidias, and his westward moving art, Persia fell…. all things dying each other’s life, living each other’s death” (183).

XV : The Herring Fishers

“Much of this book is abstract, because it has not yet been lived, for no man can dip into life more than a moiety of any system. When a child, I went out with herring fishers one dark night, and the dropping of their nets into the luminous sea and the drawing of them up has remained with me as a dominant image. Have I found a good net for a herring fisher?” (251).

“That we may believe that all men possess the super-natural faculties I would restore to the philosopher his mythology” (252).


Yeats, Mythologies

Yeats, W.B. Mythologies. Macmillan: 1959, 1977.

Of the faeries: “He saw them for about half an hour, and then the old man he and those about him were working for took up a whip and said, ‘Get on, get on, or we will have no work done!’ I asked if he saw the faeries too. ‘O yes, but he did not want work he was paying wages for to be neglected.’ He made everybody work so hard that nobody saw what happened to the faeries” (10). Capitalism thwarts the mystic economy; perhaps mysticism is a way to try to weasel out of capitalism.

In “Dust Hath Closed Helen’s Eye,” a girl’s beauty causes her to be taken by the faeries (29).

Rosa Alchemica:

Mystical doctrines “swept the commands on the Father away…and displaced the commandments of the Son by the commandments of the Holy Spirit” (298). Displacement of Father/Son analogue for Holy Spirit. Defined against it but co-existent with it.

the Holy Spirit is still a “father” to those who have visions (300).

Anima Hominis

“We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.” (331).

“Sexual love” is “founded upon spiritual hate,” and this is “an image of the warfare of man and Daimon” (336).

“I am persuaded that a logical process, or a series of related images, has body and period, and I think of anima mundi as a great pool or garden where it moves through its allotted growth like a great water-plant or fragrantly branches in the air” (352).

(re: HD’s jellyfish)


Yeats, The Autobiography of W.B. Yeats

Yeats, William Butler. The Biography of W. B. Yeats. Macmillan: 1916, 1993. 

Reveries over childhood and youth 

“I think I confused my grandfather with God, for I remember in one of my attacks of melancholy praying that he might punish me for my sins” (3).

As a child, the voice of his conscious was mixed with his aunt’s voice and faery voices (6).

“My father’s unbelief had set me thinking about the evidences of religion and I weighed the matter perpetually with great anxiety, for I did not think I could live without religion… One day I got a decisive argument for belief. A cow was about to calve, and I went to the field where the cow was with some farm-hands who carried a lantern, and next day I heard the cow had calved in the early morning. I asked everybody how calves were born, and because nobody would tell me, made up my mind that nobody knew. They were the gift of God, that much was certain, but it was plain that nobody had ever dared to see them come, and children must come in the same way. I made up my mind that when I was a man, I would wait up till calf or child had come. I was certain there would be a cloud and a burst of light and God would bring the calf in the cloud out of the light” (16). When another boy explains the “mechanism of sex” to Yeats, “his description, give as I can see now, as if he were telling of any other fact of physical life, made me miserable for weeks” (16).

Mysticism shrouds not only what we don’t know but also what we refuse to discuss: that which we do not understand and do not want to understand we shroud in magic. Yeats is disappointed and disturbed at the unmystical unmasking of birth as something banal, as a physical process.

“The only lessons I had ever learned were those my father taught me, for he terrified me by descriptions of my moral degradation and he humiliated me by my likeness to disagreeable people” (19). God the father is a bad teacher

“I was vexed and bewildered, and am still bewildered and still vexed, finding it a poor and crazy thing that we who have imagined so many noble persons cannot bring our flesh to heel” (25).

The Lay of the Last Minstrel gave me a wish to turn magician that competed for years with the dream of being killed upon the seashore” (30). magic, death

“I fished for pike…and shot at birds with a muzzle-loading pistol until somebody shot a rabbit and I heard it squeal. From that on I would kill nothing but the dumb fish” (35). (like Aldington… but it gets beaten out of him. Generational difference bc of the war.)

“The great event of a boy’s life is the awakening of sex” (40).

:Somnambulistic country girls, when it is upon them, throw plates about or pull them with long hairs in simulation of the polter-geist, or become mediums for some genuine spirit-mischief, surrendering to their desire for the marvelous…. My interest in science began to fade, and presently I said to myself, ‘It has all been a misunderstanding'” (40-1). Sex and the marvelous are intimately related: sexual passion drives us to the marvelous and away from science. (The passion of sex overwhelms the science of sex, as above with the calf)

“When I thought of women they were modelled on those in my favourite poets and loved in brief tragedy, or like the girl in The Revolt of Islam, accompanied their lovers through all manner of wild places, lawless women without homes and without children” (42).

His uncle had a female servant. “She could neither read nor write and her mind, which answered his gloom with its merriment, was rammed with every sort of old history and strange belief. Much of my Celtic Twilight is but her daily speech” (46).

“I did not care for mere reality and believed that creation should be deliberate, and yet I could only imitate my father” (55). Analogue v. “deliberate” creation.

Yeat’s declaration that he was “in all things pre-Raphaelite” expresses the desire to escape the present moment for another. Youth’s quarrel is not, Yeats argues, with the past, “but with the present, where its elders are so obviously powerful and no cause seems lost if it seem to threaten that power” (77).

“I wished for a world” (77).

“I wanted the strongest passions, passions that had nothing to do with observation” (83).

“I was full of thought, often very abstract thought, longing all the while to be full of images” (112).

In Yeats’s first seance, “Sight came slowly….as if the darkness had been cut with a knife, for that miracle is mostly a woman’s privilege…” (125).

“Have not all races had their first unity from a mythology, that marries them to rock and hill?” (131).

The “chief temptation of the artist” is “creation without toil” (135).

“When we loathe ourselves or our world, if that loathing but turn to intellect, we see self or world and its anti-self as in one vision; when loathing remains but loathing, world or self consumes itself away, and we turn to its mechanical opposite” (157).

“The fascination of what’s difficult

Has dried the sap out of my veins, and rent

Spontaneous joy and natural content

Out of my heart” (236).

One striking instance of his visionary encounter with myth: a “naked woman of incredible beauty, standing upon a pedestal and shooting an arrow at a star. I still remember the tint of that marvellous flesh which makes all human flesh seem unhealthy” (248).

“Logic is a machine, one can leave it to itself…” (311).


Elaine Showalter, A Literature of Their Own

Showalter notes that even in “fantasies of autonomous female communities” such as that of John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor Mill, “there is no theory of female art” (4).

Rather than positing a “female imagination,” Showalter imagines a female literary tradition that “comes from the still-evolving relationships between women writers and their society” (12).

All “literary subcultures” go through three major phases: imitation and internalization; then protest and advocacy; then self-discovery. In the context of women’s writing, Showalter identifies these stages as “Feminine, Feminist, and Female” (13). For the purposes of this book, she identifies the “Feminine” phase “as the period from the appearance of the male pseudonym in the 1840s to the death of George Eliot in 1880; the Feminist phase as 1880 to 1920, or the winning of the vote; and the Female phase as 1920 to the present, but entering a new stage of self-awareness about 1960” (13).

“Women novelists were overwhelmingly the daughters of the upper middle class, the aristocracy, and the professions” (37).

Lewes: maternity is highest function (68)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning referred to her heroine, George Sand, as “thou large-brained woman and large-hearted man” (77).

“Women educated to perceive themselves, in the popular horticultural imagery of the period, as lilies-of-the-valley or violets seeking the shade were understandingly ambivalent about the self-revelation necessary in fiction” (81).

In “The Lady Novelists,” Lewes argues that, in Showalter’s words, “For the philosophical modes he valued most highly, he thought, women substituted documentation, a copious circumstantial descriptiveness” (88), also defining Dickens as a “feminine writer” (88).

“…it was with the sense that future generations were endangered that women took up the righteous battle to change and elevate the sexual morality of men. They were going to administer maternal love unto the world, and the maternal instinct…became for them a mighty fortress” (188).

The feminists, according to Showalter, “knew very clearly what they were against, but only vaguely what they were for. The feminist writers were engaged in the kind of quarrel that, according to yeats, leads to rhetoric but not poetry” (193).

Schreiner’s novels present a sort of “femaleness grown monstrous in confinement” (197) – and Sheila Rowbothan describes Schreiner’s feminism as “a mystical connection to other women with whom she cold communicate only through the common experience of pain” qtd here 195). Rowbotham, Women, Resistance and Revolution, 1973

“Schreiner made an important contribution to the female tradition. Her use of female symbolism, her commitment to feminist theory, and her harshly physical allegories, which the suffragettes read to each other in Holloway Prison, were part of her effort to articulate the tense, indirect perceptions of a new womanhood. Even her insistent and sometimes nagging narrative voice takes us to the reality of female experience. That voice, soft, heavy, continuous, is a genuine accent of womanhood, one of the chorus of secret voices speaking out of our bones, dreadful and irritating but instantly recognizable. Other women whom she influenced–Virginia Woolf, Dorothy Richardson, and Doris LEssing–were to make much better use of it, but Schreiner hits upon it first. It is the fitful, fretful rhythm of women’s daily lives, a Beckett monologue without a beginning or an end” (198).

“Both Woolf and Mansfield see women as artists whose creative energy has gone chiefly into the maintenance of myths about themselves and about those they love. To become aware of the creation of a myth is to lose faith in it” (247).

Woolf herself is the “Angel” of 20th century writers (265)

“Refined to its essences, abstracted from its physicality and anger, denied any action, Woolf’s vision of womanhood is as deadly as it is disembodied. The ultimate room of one’s own is the grave” (297).



Ernest Hemingway, The Garden of Eden

Hemingway, Ernest. The Garden of Eden. Charles Scribner’s Sons: New York, 1986. (Published Posthumously.)

The first word of the first chapter is “they,” referring to David and Catherine. Only several pages into the novel do we hear David’s name, and then, later, Catherine’s. In some ways it doesn’t matter what their names are – they are archetypal man and woman, the first. Their situation in the Garden of Eden appears to situate them as Adam and Eve, but it eventually becomes evident that this is not Christianity’s canonical origin story at all – it’s a retelling of a heretical variant, that of Adam and Lilith.

Discussing their daily plans – lunching and napping on the Riviera – David declares, “I have these flashes of intuition… I’m the inventive type” (5). Catherine replies, “OI’m the destructive type…And I’m going to destroy you” (5).

Much like Faulkner’s novel, the story begins with the celebration of the murder of a beautiful fish so big that no one is quite sure what to do with him. David catches the fish in the water, and Catherine responds, “He was so beautiful in the water… I couldn’t believe it” (10). Out of water, however, he is dead, and will be, as Addie was by her husband and as Catherine will be by hers, “cooked and et.”

“Now when they had made love they would eat and drink and make love again. It was a very simple world and he had never been truly happy in any other” (14).

Catherine almost immediately begins alarming her husband with a series of “surprises” that distance her farther and farther from the feminine archetype that David married. In the first, she chops her hair startlingly short, “as short as a boy’s” (14).

“That’s the surprise. I’m a girl. But now I’m a boy too and I can do anything and anything and anything.”

“Sit here by me,” he said. “What do you want, brother.”

[…] “I’ll take what you’re having. You see why it’s dangerous, don’t you?” (15). She becomes androgynous, and this is dangerous. Original sin is that woman loses her femininity in an attempt to take on the man’s power.

This desire for androgyny is based in pride: “Stupid people will think it is strange. But we must be proud. I love to be proud,” (16) Catherine declares. This somehow seems more sinful than David’s “So do I” (16).

She quickly decides that she wants to usurp David’s sexual power as the active sexual partner, asking, “will you change and be my girl and let me take you?” (16). This is our first clue that she’s Lilith and much more dangerous than she appears.

He worries at first, but consoles himself: “You’re lucky to have a wife like her and a sin is what you feel bad after and you don’t feel bad. Not with the wine you don’t feel bad…” (20).

“You don’t really mind being brothers do you?” “No.” (21). Men like brothers. But they will later choose the woman.

They fight over alcohol – the real snake / culprit here is booze as well as powerhunger

Bad things happen when woman is alone and unsupervised – she dresses as a boy, tans too dark, shortens and dyes her hair.

The real subject of the story, though, is the writer writing.

She doesn’t like him to touch her breasts (47)

She likes her new hair because “it feels like an animal” (47).

“I’m a god damned woman. I thought if I’d be a girl and stay a girl I’d have a baby at least. Not even that.” (71). 

Maternity is the only perceived salvation in girlhood (woman shall be saved through childbearing). Children are always a question of salvation, and therefore of epistemology.

He begins to call her “Devil” as a cute nickname – We wonder now if she’s the snake and he’s Eve. She’s tempting him. (77).

“So that’s how it is… You’ve done that to your hair and had it cut the same as you’re girl’s and how do you feel?… How do you feel? Say it. You like it, he said…. All right. You like it… Now go through with the rest of it whatever it is and don’t ever say anyone tempted you or that anyone bitched you” (84). He knows that gender is bullshit but he wants someone feminine anyway.

“She was a bitch,” Catherine said. “But then I think almost everyone is a bitch” (96). Almost everyone is a bitch. Predicated by “she” so this makes me think “almost all women,” but the later pronoun is “one,” which could include men (including David, who reminds himself that “[no]one ever bitched” him. Almost everyone could let herself through exculpated: it’s possible that David is a bitch and she isn’t here.

What is a bitch? A breeder, mostly sub-human, and knows it.

“The hell with her, David thought. Fuck her.” (97. hell=fucking=hell

She makes him a present of Marita, the “Eve” figure, who will take her place (103)

“I wish I could remember what it was we lost. But it doesn’t matter does it? You said it doesn’t matter” (118). What they lost was “we” – it doesn’t matter very much to Adam because he gets an Eve. Lilith gets…..? –> “It was what I wanted to do all my life and now I’ve done it and I loved it” (120). That’s what she gets.

“I’m trying to study his needs” (122). (Marita = Eve is built to care for Adam.)

Equilibrium in the novel, for a while at least, seems to be a male and female pair with a jealous female onlooker. Later, the onlooker replaces the female of the pair. This is very Animal.

“You knew it too. You just wouldn’t look. And we’re damned now. I as and now you are. Look at me and see how much you like it.

David looked at her eyes that he loved…and at how happy she looked and he began to realize what a completely stupid thing he had permitted” (178). Things that cased the Fall: foremost, woman. Also: gender dysphoria, woman taking male sex position, lesbian / bisexuality / excess female sexual energy, polygamy, and, oddly, hair coloring, specifically that which makes male and female the same

“I don’t run around with women. You know that.”

“They are new all the time,” Marita said. “There are new ones every day. No one can ever be sufficiently warned. You most of all” (245). What comes after Eve?



Q. D. Leavis, Fiction and the Reading Public

Leavis believes that the reading public is in a state of disintegration due to the influence of lowbrow, and, more insidiously, middlebrow literary works available on the market.


“It is not an exaggeration to say that for most people ‘a book’ means a novel” (6).

Capitalism and lending-libraries dilute good literature in favor of “popular” literature (11).

The function of reading has changedL it is now “to provide reading fodder for odd moments,” so it is essential that the content be “short, snappy, and crudely arresting” (28).

There is a difference between Literature and “clean relaxation for cleanly-minded virile sort of people” (53).

“The reader of the great bestsellers goes to them … to be confirmed in his prejudices and ‘uplifted'” (69) It should not offer “refuge from actual life but help the reader to deal less inadequately with it” (73-4)

This sort of reading reinforces “herd values” (197)


Glenn Hughes, Imagism & the Imagists

Hughes, Glenn. Imagism & the Imagists. The Humanities Press, 1960.

“T.E. Hulme, an aesthetic philosopher who quite reasonably may be called the father of imagism” (9).

Pound declared, “It is better to present one Image in a lifetime than to produce voluminous works.” (29.)

The imagist poets combined with The New Freewoman to create The Egoist

Pound then developed a “new -ism” even more “startling than imagism” (34) Pound “defected” from the imagist ideal, in no small part due to his disenchantment with Amy Lowell’s overtake of it

Lowell “set herself the task of selling the new poetry to the world…” (36). populist v. radical -isms

Pound himself said, “Imagism was a point on the curve of my development. Some people remained at that point. I moved on.” …… “It is patently impossible for him to play second fiddle to anyone, and Amy Lowell had planted herself firmly in the first fiddler’s chair” (38).

Ms. Lowell defined vers libre as follows:

“The definition of vers libre is: a verse-form based on cadence.

To understand vers libre, one must abandon all desire to find in it the even rhythm of metrical feet. One must allow the lines to flow as they will when read aloud by an intelligent reader.

Free verse within its own law of cadence has no absolute rules; it would not be ‘free’ if it had.

The unit of vers libre is not the foot, the number of the syllables, the quantity, or the line. The unit is the strophe, which may be the whole poem, or may be only a part. Each strophe is a complete circle” (71).

T.S. Eliot later criticized that “vers libre does not exist; for there is only good verse, bad verse, and chaos” (73).

Later, John Gould Fletcher wrote in the preface to his volume Goblins and Pagodas “In prose, the emotions expressed are those that are capable of development in a straight line. In so far as prose is pure, it confines itself to the direct orderly progression of a thought or conception or situation from point to point of a flat surface. The sentences, as they develop this conception from its beginning to conclusion, move on, and do not return upon themselves….. In poetry we have a succession of curves. The direction of the thought is not in straight lines, but wavy and spiral. IT rises and falls on gusts of strong emotion. Most often it creates strongly marked loops and circles. Depth is obtained by making one sphere contain a number of concentric or overlapping spheres” (80).

Herbert Read wrote in the introduction to his study English Prose Style, “Poetry is creative expression; Prose is constructive expression. … By creative I mean original. In Poetry the words are born or reborn in the act of thinking” (82). Generated rather than constructed from ready-made materials


Of H.D. “A handful of greek dust may seem more precious to her than it does to most of us, but that is because in her hands it turns to something more than dust – to flowers or to flame” (124).


Susan Stanford Friedman, Penelope’s Web

Friedman, Susan Stanford. Penelope’s Web. Cambridge University Press, 1990.


In Advent, H.D. writes of her novel-writing process, “It must be Penelope’s web I’m weaving” (qtd in Friedman 1). Friedman reads H.D.’s entire poetic process as a reconfiguration of the Penelope myth– “ever aware of her position in men’s texts as a signifier of the desired,” Friedman argues, “H.D.-as-Penelope wove herself into the design as another kind of signify-er, that is, as the one who signifies, who signs her own desire within and against an economy that would deny her that agency” (1-2).


It’s interesting that critics of H.D.’s work continually turn her into one of the figures of Greek mythology that she writes about – she’s Psyche; she’s Penelope. In her own work, however, H.D. maintains a strong distinction between the writer and the myth. The myth is a function of the writer, perhaps, insofar as both the writer and the myth are feminine, and the writer is a function of the myth, perhaps, insofar as both are mutually imbricated in the project of reformulating a set of historical dicta, but a distinction between the two is necessary in order for the work of “diving into the wreck” to be complete. The diver/writer is in the wreck; she is even of the wreck; but in order to “dive,” she cannot be the wreck.


Alice A. Jardine theorizes that “(male) modernity posits woman as signifier of its characteristic epistemological crisis of the subject, signification, language and writing. Within this perspective, the feminine engendered modernity” (qtd here, 2). Check out Gynesis even though you will disagree with much of it


Bonnie Kime Scott’s The Gender of Modernism


An important, if conservative, question: What happens to the real child in Notes on Thought & Vision? Does the child matter? Is this just a re-focusing of traditional narratives that focus on the child instead of the mother, and is that ok?


Conrad Aiken critiques H.D.’s “feminine writing” in Palimpsest: “There are stylistic oddities – elisions and abruptness – which pull one up, and occasionally carelessness… One would have preferred, in the second section, a little more stiffening – more of the direct narrative… H.D. overdoes a little the interpolative method, with its interjections, qualifications, parenthetic questions, parenthetic reminiscences – one feels, in the midst of this burning subjectivism, this consuming Narcissism, that it would be a relief to often come upon a simple narrative statement…” (qtd here 28).


Definitely read H.D.’s Asphodel


As H.D. wrote to Cournos, “I do not put my personal self into my poems.” (qtd here 50).


“H.D.’s sense of entrapment in the words of her reviewers centered on a word many used about her early imagist lyrics: crystalline, which reflects the sculpted quality of ‘The early H.D.” and suggests poems carved in rock… But in attempting to write herself out of the word that immobilized her, H.D. redefined the word crystalline to mean ‘of crystal,’ a mineral that she called a matrix of concentrated energy: ‘For what is crystal or any gem but the concentrated essence of the rough matrix of the energy, either of the over-intense heat or over-intense cold that projects it? … The energy itself and the matrix itself has not yet been assessed” (H.D. by Delia Alton 184, qtd here 54).


Alfred Kreymborg wrote about her early poetry: “Never the soft, the effeminate, is allowed to intrude, not even among the flowers” (qtd here 59). A too-easy conflation of H.D.’s professed bi-sexual state and the “crystalline” nature of her poems would subsume her authoress-ship into the hard masculinity of the Vorticist poetic strategy. By H.D.’s own account, however, the “crystalline” nature of her poetry is actually an explicitly feminine quality insofar as it is produced by the very “matrix”-ial energy that Notes later argues is essential to the production of Vision.


Perhaps she needs a hard, crystalline maternity after her issues with Aldington, her stillbirth, and her ambivalence about the child Perdita


An essay called “Autogynography”


Can maternity be both “crystalline” and “excess” ? Can it be both “crystalline” and “abject”? what does it mean to deem the abject “crystalline” or to “crystalize” the abject? Means it’s untranscendable


Kloepfer, “Flesh Made Word”

Susan Rubin Suleiman, “Rewriting the Body”


In Her: her=object, she=subject (subject and object circle each other in a gyre of birthing)


“Pound’s words in Hilda’s Book are literally – literarily – H.D.’s ‘plague.’ …Trapped as a ‘tree’ in Pound’s text, H.D. freed herself by reclaiming ‘treeness’ for Hermoine in her own text. Gradually, trees become the motif of Hermoine’s autonomous inner self” (118). Is woman’s only freedom to ‘claim’ for herself what man has already penned her in with? Can we call it “reclaiming” if the cow identifies the fence-posts with her innermost self? This seems both insidious and depressing.


Hermoine is literally the “HER” of Pound’s text, but she makes HER speak. This is complicated beautifully by the grammatical subject/object problem of her name



Check out Nancy Huston’s “The Matrix of War: Mothers and Heroes” in which she suggests that “the fundamental binary of civilization is not men and women, but heroes and mothers. Men express their virility through aggression while women express their power through birth” (186).

What happens to the creative matrix once birth is over? Perdita wrote of her mother, “H.D. was hardly an archetypal mother… she was intensely maternal–on an esoteric plane. She venerated the concept of motherhood, but was unprepared for its disruptions. She flinched at sudden noise, and fled from chaois. Mercifully for her, she was well-buffered” (Perdita Schaeffer, “The Egyptian Cat,” 143). Pregnancy is not a “self-contained experience” (226) in that it produces a mother as well as a child, but pregnancy does end. The maternal function is important to H.D.; the child maybe not


“H.D. wanted motherhood on her own terms, in her own time and place, ones that did not include the primary responsibility for caretaking and discipline” (227). That’s great. But someone has to be the real mother and do the work of motherhood. Someone has to be the body in order for you to have the vision.


H.D.’s abortion 231


Alicia Ostriker, “The Open Poetics of H.D.”


Miranda B. Hickman, The Geometry of Modernism

Hickman, Miranda B. The Geometry of Modernism. University of Austin Press:2005.

“In the inaugural issue of Blast, Pound publically associated H.D. with Vorticism by featuring her poem “Oread” – he quoted the poem without supplying the title – as his sole exemplar of Vorticist Poetic technique. Despite this, and despite her close association with Pound and acquaintance with other Vorticists and their work, H.D. never explicitly acknowledged what she thought of Vorticisim. Given H.D.’s comments in an unpublished review of Yeats’s Responsibilities written during the First World War, however, many critical accounts have emphasized H.D.’s stated antipathy to, if not the Vorticist movement per se, at least the values and practices she associated with Vorticism” (35).


In this review, H.D. used geometric images “to represent the aesthetic programs of Vorticism and Futurism, which she condemned for cooperating with forces that brought about the bleakness of mechanized modernity and the violence of war” (135).


Look up H.D., “Poetics Out of War”


T.E. Hulme in Speculations: “Why make use of the human body in this art” if it is inimical to the “geometric character” of modernism – why “make it look like a machine”? (142). “The interest in living flesh as such… is entirely absent” (Hulme 106).


Hulme notes that rather than show an ‘interest’ in ‘living flesh as such’, artists who produce ‘geometrical art’ want to ‘translate’ flesh – i.e. what is ‘changing and limited,’ frail and mortal – into something ‘unlimited and necessary,’ to trans mute the organic into something ‘hard and durable.’ Modern artists such as Lewis focus on the body, he suggests, because the desire for abstraction is best fulfilled when a nonabstract object (one that is ‘organic’) such as the human body, is subjected to the process of abstraction” (142).


Look up Ortega y Gasset, “The Dehumanization of Art” : in it he says, “to paint a man who resembles a man as little as possible” (22) is the object of art. (Yeats & myth vs. Pound & geometry)


From Hulme’s Speculations: “generation, which is the very essence of all qualities which we have here called organic, has been turned into soething as hard and durable as a geometrical figure itself” (143). (Is Yeats’s geometrical and mathematical religious system a way to obscure bodies in geometry, despite the apparent differences between his religious mythology and Pound’s geometric mythology?)


In the first issue of Blast, Wyndham Lewis declares that in the Vorticist era “THE ACTUAL HUMAN BODY BECOMES OF LESS IMPORTANCE EVERY DAY” (B1 141). This in fact reveals a troubled preoccupation with the body, and the need to obscure it by fabricating objects of greater importance.


“Coexisting with the desire to reform the body geometrically is not only a fascination with it, but also an admiration for its wild potency… an Aristotelian desire to impose a schema upon the untamed hule, a geometric form upon body-as-matter, they do not accordingly disparage the bodily matter as mere potential awaiting actuation; rather, they regard the body as an indispensable element of the process toward revelation” (144). It seems to be a process through which birth is subsumed into the function of birth, or, perhaps more insidiously, into the word “birth.” This is still a far cry from “woman will be redeemed through childbearing.” Neither redemption seems to serve her well, redemption through birth or logos.)


It’s a kind of “ascesis,” or desire to turn the body into something ethereal.


Pound “associates this ideal bodily state with geometry because it transforms the individual’s body into a condition in which its own form becomes evident and which the individual’s sensitivity to the forms of other bodies increases” (147). Indeed, we might shorten this to state that, for Pound, the ideal bodily state simply “transforms the individual’s body into a condition,” a condition of possibility perhaps for ethereal things to occur. Still a function rather than a body.


Pound is interested in “pure form” – back to Plato – form is masculine; matter is feminine.


In H.D.’s review of Yeats’s Responsibilities, she praises him for his “worship of beauty” and “aligns herself with the 1890s from which he emerges, regretting that the present generation, ‘inasmuch as its cubes and angles seem a sort of incantation, a symbol for the forces that brought on this world calamity, seems hardly worthy to compare with the nineties in its helpless stand against the evils of ugliness” (155). (Not all incantations are good ones.) She continues, “The black magic of triangles and broken arcs has conquered and we who are helpless before this force of destruction can only hope for some more powerful magic to set it right” (53, qtd here 155). Will she supply the magic?


Oderman, Pound and the Erotic

H.D.’s Freudian Poetics discusses la mysterique and HD


H.D.’s characters often seem to yearn toward this rarefaction of the body, however much disdain she officially holds for Vorticism’s “cubes and angles.” Her Notes on Thought & Vision, for instance, while putting forth a startling validation of the maternal body, roots this validation in the maternal body’s spiritual potentiality. In other words, as Hickman notes, “the suggestion here is that the body becomes worthy only as it can become spiritualized into a purer form… Notes could be said to indicate an uneasiness with the physical body” (171). The physical body in Notes, “fulfills its highest function when it is being consumed” or “transmuted” through a process of holy burning from the physical form into a “different form, concentrated, ethereal, which we refer to in common speech as spirit” (47-8). The physical body is, in other words, the “coal” that produces the white-hot “heat” of spirit.


H.D.’s text reflects those of her Vorticist contemporaries in its conspicuous genuflection away from fleshy, abject, physical bodies in favor of bodies in the process of rarefaction and “transcendence.” H.D. averts attention from the mother’s physical body in favor of the mother’s body’s function of spiritual potentiality. Compare this to Marder’s maternal function in Mother in the Age


Look up Chisholm “Pornopoeia”


“If the qualities of Vorticism are aimed to counter effeminacy, H.D.’s imagination here, celebrating Vorticist qualities through the construction of the geometric body, may analogously counter weakness and vulnerability” (184).


In Hickman’s argument, “geometric” seems to be the equivalent of the term “form” – which is itself in turn the equivalent of both “bodily form” and “body.” It is important, I think, to distinguish between these terms. For H.D., bodily processes like desire are diffuse rather than formal, and this complicates the relation of the bodily form (or function) to the body. The body’s matter (desire, diffusion) USES the form in a radical reformation of Plato’s matter-form dialectic.


H.D.’s epics narrativize visionary experience in order to “piece togheter the elements of her visionary knowledge in order to promote healing” (191). Like Yeats, she sought to “spend what remained of life explaining and piecing together” what was revealed by mystic visions (191). This seems to be a telos far from Eliot’s Waste Land.


We constantly look to geometry to explain difficult ideas. This is not necessarily correct. (in HD and Yeats)

Alison Light, Forever England: Femininity, Literature and Conservatism Between the Wars

Light, Alison. Forever England. Routledge. 1991.

“Indeed ‘home’ itself, any attachment to indigenous cultures in Britain between the wars, to feelings of belonging rather than exile, are likely to be conspicuously absent in literary histories. It is a legacy of ‘modernism’ that it turns the gaze else, to the writings of those for whom marginality was the only desirable place” (6).

“Since war, whatever its horrors, is manly, there is something both lower-class and effeminate about peace-time… heroes are by definition incapable of domesticity… home was also the place where women were” (7).

“If masculinity and ideas of the nation were being ‘feminised,’ one can discover an equally powerful reaction on the part of many women against the ideologies of home and womanliness which belonged to the virtues and ideals of the pre-war world… a resistance to ‘the feminine’ as it had been thought of in late-Victorian or Edwardian times” (10).

Feminism “must deal with the conservative as well as the radical imagination, and […] it may have been this which held the hearts and minds of generations of women of all classes and all creeds at different times in the past… Above all, the conservative critique of rationalism, its emphasis upon private life and personal feeling, has especial significance for women who have long been seen as the feeling sex; for feminists, half of the battle with socialism has been with its inability to recognise the demands of home and family, the pulls of psychic as well as social structures, all areas which conservatism certainly takes seriously, and for which it frequently has a language” (14).


Janet Montefiore, Feminism and Poetry

Montefiore, Janet. Feminism and Poetry. Harper Collins, 1997.

Montefiore argues that while feminist poetry seems in many ways antithetical to Romantic poetry, it is in fact shaped by many of its tenets. “Romanticism underlies two aspects of the radical feminist aesthetic: its belief that poetry gives us privileged access to the (woman) poet’s own experience, and that poetry is a form of transcendence” (11).

She notes however that “the tendency to privilege the notion of a female experience, and to think of women’s poetry as a magically powerful collective consciousness, can make for a too-easy and uncritical assumption of identity between all women” (12).

It also sometimes draws on the quasi-Romantic assumption that “sexuality is the area where the self is most profoundly known and defined” (14).

“to criticize tradition is not to be disconnected from it” (15). … “tradition appears as determining in the way it defines the symbolic and referential context of the poems, and not necessarily as a product of the poet’s own intention” (19).

“The Romantic conception of the writer alone with her words and thoughts…does not take enough account of the material conditions which it make it possible for women to write” (31). (re: Woolf)

woman as “bearer of significance” in a poem (32). “Bearer” interesting here: bearing as “symbolizing” v. bearing as “birthing” – what is she doing? Is it active?

“Women are conspicuously excluded from Benjamin’s essay on storytelling” (41).

“Revisionary storytelling is… a limited project… the nature of that limitation clarifies women’s difficult relation to literary tradition” (55).

The recasting of myth by women poets seems like the solution to this paradox, but “just because this material is both traditional and powerful, it is resistant to recasting. Political interpretations can deflect but not alter its meanings, which either return to haunt the poem that overtly discards them, or vanish into witty analysis. strategies of storytelling are not, finally, effective in overcoming the paradoxes of exclusion. There is truth as well as optimism in the claim that women need to make their own tradition” (56).

A Women’s tradition, as opposed to the recasting of myth, would serve to “help make a woman’s discourse thinkable” (57).

There is a subtle difference between “Tradition” and strategies for navigating tradition, and even the men who take part in the tradition spend a lot of energy navigating it. Is woman’s language resistant to tradition at all? (Laura Riding Jackson)

Montefiore reminds us that “Subject matter of itself does not make up a poem, much less a tradition” (77).

Recasting myth may be powerful in “the relation they evoke between a mythical past available only to the imagination and all too intrusive hostile present” (78).Not a myth, in other words, but an epistemology. “Not enforcing orthodoxy but suggesting a mythology” (84).

In all but especially patriarchal love poems, “what is at stake is not the success or failure of a courtship, but the establishing of an identity through the dialectic of desire and response” (98).

Also it always exists in an I-thou dyad conflicting with Irigaray’s diffuse multiplicity of desire

Edna Vincent Millay’s poems “do not question their own terms (that is, a commitment to Romantic love matched by an appropriately traditional technique); their adherence to – not parody of – tradition is an implicit claim for unhindered speech, a denial that there is any dissonance between being a woman and being a poet…” (124).

“The classic masculine love-poem is both structured and limited by this mirroring relationship, which defines the boundaries of its meaning, referring only indirectly to the world of social intercourse. The obvious conclusion to be drawn from these arguments is that, being conventionally the means of reflecting masculine identities, women cannot readily reverse the process to create female subjectivities, and therefore cannot find it easy – or even possible – to produce poems in the imaginary mode” (136). What is a female lyric?

“Certainly, it is true that the notion of a specifically female language and identity is utopian, like that of a female tradition of poetry written without reference to any masculine discourse. But the value of utopias is that they enable us to imagine possibilities of difference for the brute, contingent world…” (179).

Susan Stanford Friedman, Psyche Reborn

Friedman, Susan Stanford. Psyche Reborn. 1987: University of Indiana Press.

Psyche Reborn argues that H.D.’s experience as an analysand with Sigmund Freud and her exploration of esoteric tradition provided her with an interrelated framework of quest that nourished the explosion of a new kind of poetry and prose during the forties and fifties” (ix).

“Her poems avoid the vague moralizing and sentimental mythologizing that the imagists deplored in much of the ‘cosmic’ poetry of the late nineteenth century” (2).

“The mythological personae that appear in many of her poems did not represent an escapist attempt to return to ancient Greece, but rather served as personal metaphors or masks that allowed her to distance intense emotion sufficiently for artistic expression” (2).

For H.D., imagism could not “explain the violence of war and the fragmentation of belief systems. Its disdain for philosophies and cosmologies as well as its demand for brevity left both form and content of the imagist poem inadequate before the historical imperatives for a literature based on the search for living mythologies” (4).

In Trilogy, H.D. sought to “discover or create through the ‘Word’ some ordering pattern that could redeem the surrounding ruin” (8). (AD: not “explain,” not “logically”)

She writes in Tribute to Freud that Freud is the “midwife to the soul” (T.F. 116)

Freud told H.D. that she would be the one to “carry on the torch of Freud’s ideas in her own way” (22), but this is problematic insofar as Freud is the “Father” and H.D. is not a phallic “son” – attempting to serve as an analogue to the Father, an impossibility for woman, redirects her attempts to do her own thing

Friedman argues that “H.D.’s mythological masks do not reflect her envy of the phallic self so much as they reflect the paucity of tradition. As analysand, she had to revise tradition to become a hero on her own terms… she identified herself with male heroes as a way of acquiring the strength, objectivity and completeness denied to women by nature” (25).

H.D.’s breakdowns: first, after failing out of Bryn Mawr College, then at the stillbirth at her child. Then, after the birth of Perdita, when Aldington threatened her with a lawsuit if she registered the child as his because he had a lover. First, failure of mind, second, failure of body. Pregnancy and trauma intimately related (27) During the healing process from almost dying while birthing Perdita, she experienced her “visions” and she and her friends associated them with her breakdowns. Visions come from botched maternity; failures of mind and body

The archetype of the “quester” is “overwhelmingly male:” Perseus, Hercules, Jason, Theseus, Lancelot, Percival, and Beowulf overshadow Demeter, Isis, and Psyche. In fact, “complementary assumptions about the nature of the heroine frequently presuppose feminine passivity and helplessness. Patriarchal tradition held out little encouragement for H.D. to develop a woman-centered epic in which woman was the seeker and doer instead of the angelic or evil object of male quest” (11).

“H.D. sought inspiration from one of the greatest legitimizers of patriarchy. Her success as a woman depended upon conflict” (13). (Freud)

She writes in Trib to Freud that Freud is the “midwife of the soul” (116). “But, once reborn, Psyche emerged with a voice distinctly her own. Once having clarified the poles of opposition, her search for synthesis led to a transcendence of their differences in a vision that incorporated the whole. This transformation of Freudian theory simultaneously served as the basis of her mature art and as a brilliant reevaluation of Freud’s significance for the twentieth century” (14).

Gender trouble brings on her miscarriage: Aldington’s affair with Dorothy Yorke as well as her brother’s and father’s deaths and the bombings of London


Check out Magic Mirror 

“War, death, masculine insensitivty and betrayal became completely interwoven in H.D.’s mind” (29).

“Although the nature of her relationships varied greatly,H.D.’s feelings of inadequacy as a woman, especially as a sexual woman, was so central to the breakup of her marriage that her other experiences of rejection were probably colored by this insecurity. Aldington apparently told Yorke that H.D. could not bring him happiness because “she had no body”” (38).

She wrote to Bryher that “I am that all-but-extinct phenomenon, the perfect bi-[sexual]” (47).

Did H.D. seek to identify with Freud’s “phallic power” in order to safeguard against the deficiencies of her androgynous state?

Freud deems dreams and poetry the “Kingdom of the Illogical…where the governing laws of logic have no sway” (53, qdt from Interpretation of Dreams). These non-rational modes of thoughts “create pictographs in which every fragmentary image is weighted with significance and ‘over-determined’ by a wealth of associations” (54). This sounds like imagism. Images are non-rational.

“Freud believed that the objective of analysis was to pierce the disguise, undo the dream-work by decoding the hieroglyphs of the dream, and bring to consciousness the forbidden latent thoughts of the unconscious realm” (54). What is de-code-able? Into an equally problematic language? Is H.D.’s project to de-code? It doesn’t seem so.

Lionel Trilling argues that Freud understands poetic form as “indigenous” to the unconscious mind,” which is a “poetry-making organ” (266-67, “Freud and Literature,” in Psychoanalysis and Literature). The work of the imagination is to distort. 

Images are very different from similes  – similes work in the realm of the analogue, while images present an existence. For example, H.D.’s poem “Oread”

H.D.’s own unconscious, rather than an external female figure, is her Muse (she writes herself as Muse)

Freud argues in Civilization and its Discontents that “mystical experience of the divine reproduces the primal bond of mother and child… the religious experience of Oneness emerges out of the unconscious, re-creating the baby’s subjective fusion with the mother” (72).

H.D. believed that, in the past, “people thought consciousness in the picture-making mode which we use in the dream and which we see as reminders in the ancient hieroglyphic scripts” (92). However insufficient the ancient world’s images to describe the modern world, especially that of a woman, its mode of thought is a good start.

Important to remember that Freud emphatically did not condone the wishes of the unconsciousness, often associating them with “abhorrence” and “evil.” (94). The analyst’s job is to keep the analysand “tied to reality” and to “keep the unconscious in check” (100).

“H.D. approaches external reality in the same way she learned to read the mysterious script of psychical reality from Freud. The rubble contains, she believes, a coded message whose interpretation can reveal an order underlying the surface reality of chaos” (104). So chaotic surface feminine contains masculine logic? Very different from Irigaray

For H.D., like for Yeats, history is “not a progression; it is a processus of recreated essences” (112).

Freud translated H.D.’s occult experiences as “an unresolved attachment to her mother” (130). He translates her writing-on-the-wall Vision as “a sort of display or entertainment for my mother” (TF 176).

H.D. often starts with father-symbols and moves backward to birth (starts with mythology and moves to primal mother.) System of history as “protean” (Yeats’s gyre)

H.D. was very interested in her horoscope. Her Ascendant is Sagittarius, the symbol of which is “an arrow shooting off into the heavens” (185). (re: Plath)

“epiphany” in H.D. v. Joyce: in H.D. it is de-centered from self, related to mysticism

H.D. and tradition: unlike men, she is related to the image of the tradition as well as to the tradition itself

“Initiation or rebirth in H.D.’s symbolic system is not the Gnostic escape from the world of forms, but the soul’s discovery of the esoteric wisdom underlying the hieroglyphs of war” (217). A worm is simultaneously an Ophite serpent… a woman is simultaneously a function, a man

Critics often blandly assert that a female writer “re-writes mythology,” but it’s important to appreciate that this is radical, difficult, unrewarded work

adoration for the function of woman is often rooted in hatred for the real woman who the function seeks to eclipse

H.D.’s strategy v. confessional poet strategies like Plath & Sexton

H.D. “offers a vision of power based on life instead of death.” (265). Is it effective in a masculine world? Well, it helped her. If the alternative is focusing on war



William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. Originally 1930. New York: Vintage International Edition, 1990. 

[Cora] “Someone comes through the hall. It is Darl. He does not look in as he passes the door. Eula watches him as he goes on and passes from sight again toward the back. Her hand rises and touches her beads lightly, then her hair. When she finds me watching her, her eyes go blank” (9). (AD: sexual attraction in the same room as Addie’s death. Waiting to consume her role as “female” in Darl’s life.)

Cora describes Dewey Dell as “that near-naked girl always standing over Addie with a fan” (24).

Dewey Dell describes obliquely how she came to be pregnant:

“The first time me and Lafe picked on down the row… picking on into the secret shade with my sack and Lafe’s sack. Because I said will I or wont I when the sack was half full because I said if the sack is full when we get to the woods it won’t be me. I said if I will turn up the next row but if the sack is full, I cannot help it. It will be that I had to do it all the time and I cannot help it. And we picked on toward the secret shade and our eyes would drown together touching on his hands and my hands and I didn’t say anything. I said ‘What are you doing?’ and he said ‘I am picking into your sack.’ And so it was full when we came to the end of the row and I could not help it” (27). (AD: feminine feeling of helplessness regarding her own fertility. Pandora’s box metaphor of woman as container that man literally puts his seed into: interesting here that it isn’t actually his seed, it’s just generic “seed,” as if it’s so archetypical that it doesn’t really belong to either of them. Whose seed is this anyway?)


[Tull] “It’s a hard life on women, for a fact. Some women. I mind my mammy lived to be seventy and more. Worked every day, rain or shine; never a sick day since her last chap was born until one day she kind of looked around her and then she went and taken that lace-trimmed night gown she had had for forty-five years and never wore out of the chest and put it on and laid down on the bed and pulled the covers up and shut her eyes. ‘You will all have to look out for pa the best you can,’ she said. ‘I’m tired.'” (30).

Anse keeps saying “the Lord giveth” but not finishing the verse with the Lord taketh away (30). Perhaps because, as we find when he obtains a new wife at the end, for him the Lord does keep giving women – Addie herself being “taken” doesn’t really matter; she is a maternal function , as Marder would say. As Kate says at the end of the chapter, “he’ll get another one before cotton-picking” (34).

Darl “It takes two people to make you, and one people to die. That’s how the world is going to end.” (39).

Peabody the doctor “She has been dead for ten days. I suppose it’s having been a part of Anse for so long that she cannot even make that change, if change it be. I can remember when I was young I believed death to be a phenomenon of the body; now I know it to be merely a function of the mind – and that of the minds of the ones who suffer the bereavement…. she is no more than a bundle of rotton sticks” (44).

“That’s the one trouble with this country: everything, weather, all, hangs on too long” (45). (AD: Addie = weather)

“I have seen it before in women. Seen them drive from the room them coming with sympathy and pity, with actual help, and clinging to some trifling animal to whom they never were more than pack-horses. That’s what they mean by the love that passeth understanding: that pride, that furious desire to hide that abject nakedness which we bring here with us, carry with us into operating rooms, carry stubbornly and furiously with us into the earth again” (46).

Her last look is at Vardaman: she ignores Anse completely (48). Darl wasn’t there for her death, but is narrating the death-story. Why? Is Addie the narrator and her experience conjured through her children?

The sexual cow: Vardaman narrates “The cow is standing in the barn door, chewing. When she sees me come into the lot she lows, her mouth full of flopping green, her tongue flopping.

‘I ain’t a-goin to milk you. I aint a-goin to do nothing for her.’

I hear her turn when I pass. When I turn she is just behind me with her sweet, hot, hard breath.

‘Didn’t I tell you I wouldn’t?’

She nudges me, snuffing She moans deep inside, her mouth closed. I jerk my hand, cursing her like Jewel does.” (55). (AD: conflation of mother, fish, cow; maternity, sexuality. Milking the cow is somehow a service “for them” that killed his mother: he knows that reproduction is in service of the type of machine by which his mother is killed and eaten and replaced. Also knows that the cow’s milk is no substitute for his mother’s milk that he has lost.)

“Cooked and et. Cooked and et.” (of the fish – but also of Addie. They kill and consume her like the fish. Children and family milk you dry, kill you and consume you. Vardaman knows this on some childish, primal level. Also, perhaps he is a fish-man to pair with Freud’s wolf-man – he knows that his father’s power to castrate killed his mother in the same way that he killed the fish. He has this power in himself, as a male, and this is terrifying.)

Dewey Dell “He is his guts and I am my guts. And I am Lafe’s guts. That’s it.” (AD: description of fertility. Having a baby = being; having someone’s baby = being their guts.)

“Pa helps himself and pushes the dish on… He looks like right after the maul hits the steer and is no longer alive and don’t yet know that it is dead” (61). (AD: because he was Addie’s guts too, in DD’s narration at least)

“The cow lows at the foot of the bluff. She nuzzles at me, snuffing, blowing her breath in a sweet, hot blast, through my dress, against my hot nakedness, moaning. ‘You got to wait a little while. Then I’ll tend to you.’ She follows me into the barn where I set the bucket down. She breathes into the bucket, moaning. ‘I told you. You just got to wait, now. I got more to do than I can tend to.’ The barn is dark. When I pass, he kicks the wall a single blow. I go on… The cow in silhouette against the door nuzzles at the silhouette of the bucket, moaning” (61). (AD: this cow is ghostly. Is it Addie? Mother who has been milked lowing? Or Anti-Addie: please milk me? Warning DD. Feminine milk, fertility, cow sniffing her like a dog sniffs blood, familiarity, like for like. Cow’s milk is stolen from her. Is female fertility? Both want it anyway, and need some sort of relief from it.)

“What you got in you aint nothing to what I got in me, even if you are a woman, too. …The cow breathes upon my hips and back, her breath warm, sweet, stertorous, moaning” (63). femininity = sweet, stertorous, nature, warm, colonized/colonizable)

“I feel like a wet seed wild in the hot blind earth” (64). (AD: one problem of female fertility is that the woman still perceives herself as the seed rather than the box: she sees herself as more than the maternal function.)

Vardaman: “It was not her. I was there, looking. I saw. I thought it was her, but it was not. It was not my mother. She went away when the other one laid down in her bed and drew the quilt up. She went away” (66). (AD: (M)other = literally other/not herself: mother is not a body that is useless to a child. Usefulness to a child makes her the Mother rather than the other.)

“It was not her because it was laying right yonder in the dirt. And ow it is all chopped up. I chopped it up. It’s laying in the kitchen in the bleeding pan, waiting to be cooked and et. Then it wasn’t and she was, and now it is and she wasn’t. And tomorrow it will be cooked and et and she will be him and pa and Cash and Dewey Dell and there won’t be anything in the box so she can breathe” (67). (AD: Vardaman knows that he, as a male child, has contributed to his mother’s death.)

Tull: “I reckon Cora’s right when she says the reason the Lord had to create women is because man don’t know his own good when he sees it” (71).

Darl’s obsessive confusion of “is” and “is not” : “Yet the wagon is, because when the wagon was, Addie Bundren will not be. And Jewel is, so Addie Bundren must be. And then I must be, or I could not empty myself for sleep in a strange room. And so if I am not emptied yet, I am is” (80-1). (AD: Addie Bundren’s being as dependent on her offspring as theirs is on her: is = not having emptied yourself. Offspring = fullness of self.)

Vardaman: “My mother is a fish.” (AD:What does fishiness mean for maternity? Vardaman is also a fish. Neither can breathe or survive in the Bundren household. Abject when out of place. Killed and et.)

Addie is buried in her wedding dress (88). Not even in death can we inconvenience patriarchal institutions – she’s defined by her relationship to men

Darl : “I cannot love my mother because I have no mother. Jewel’s mother is a horse.” (95). (AD: since the children don’t add up, is it possible that Darl doesn’t exist? Miscarriage? Addie’s spirit? Since Jewel’s father isn’t Vardaman’s father, is Jewel’s mother Vardaman’s mother? Does paternity change the mother? Is Addie a fish or a horse or a wife or Addie?)

Vardaman: “I am. Darl is my Brother.

But you are, Darl, I said.

I know it, Darl said. That’s why I am not isAre is too many for one woman to foal.” (101). (AD: A little phenomenology for a funeral. What is the difference between are and is? A matter of number, of perception, of the speaking subject.)


Samson: “Who’s talking about him?” she said. “Who cares about him?” she says, crying. “I just wish that you and him and all the men in the world that torture us alive and flout us dead, dragging us up and down the country–”

“Now, now,” I says. “You’re upset.”

“Don’t you touch me!” she says. “Don’t you touch me!”

A man can’t tell nothing about them. I lived with the same one fifteen years and I be durn if I can” (117). (AD: She realizes that this is about Anse rather than Addie, and that it is always about the patriarch rather than the woman. She realizes that man’s touch is the thing that cooks and eats her.)

His wife’s name is Rachel: “I could still hear her crying even after she was asleep…” (118). (AD: Biblical Rachel weeping or her children. For women’s reproductivity.)

Dewey Dell: “That’s what they mean by the womb of time: the agony and despair of spreading bones, the hard girdle in which lie the outraged entrails of events” (121).

Dewey Dell is always looking at people… “that gal watching me like I had made to touch her” (125). She’s afraid of men touching her because she knows that’s what happens to women.

Giving makes Addie sick. “Jewel,” ma said, looking at him. “I’ll give – I’ll give –– give ––” Then she began to cry…. a little sick looking” (135). (AD: giving makes her sick – they kill and eat her. Communion loaf. Then they drink her drained fish-blood.)

Darl: “It is as though the space between us were time: an irrevocable quality. It is as though time, no longer running straight before us in a diminishing line, now runs parallel between us like a looping string, the distance being the doubling accretion of the thread and not the interval between” (146). (AD: this is what the narrative structure says about abject time – if Addie narrates, maybe this is “dead time”)

“together we shove Addie forward, wedging her between the tools and the wagon bed” (147). (not her body – but her. Addie.)

Cora tells Addie that “God gave you children to comfort your hard human lot and for a token of his own suffering and love, for in love you conceived and bore them,” but Addie considers them a punishment rather than a salvation” (167). She also believes though that Jewel rather than Jesus will save her “from the water and the fire” (168). Literal interpretation of the verse “woman will be saved through childbearing.” Children will save her in mortal rather than immortal way.

Addie’s chapter

“I would go down the hill to the spring where I could be quiet and hate them… And when I would have to look after them day after day, each with his and her secret and selfish thought, and blood strange to each other blood and strange to mine, and think that this seemed to be the only way I could get ready to stay dead, I would hate my father for ever having planted me” (170). These children seem to be her siblings, but it’s unclear: children are kind of interchangeable. Children = a never ending cycle; Plath’s “immortality she never wanted”

Anse comes to her because he has no “womenfolk”: “I ain’t got none…That’s what I come to see you about.” (171). She is a commodity, she is the function of “womenfolk.”

“So I took Anse. And when I knew that I had Cash, I knew that living was terrible and that this was the answer to it” (171). (Anse is also a commodity, a paternal function. Living is terrible and children are the answer to it.)

“When he was born I knew that motherhood was invented by someone who had to have a word for it because the ones that had the children didn’t care whether there was a word for it or not. I knew that fear was invented by someone that had never had the fear; pride who never had the pride… i knew that it had been, not that my aloneness had to be violated over and over each day, but that it had never been violated until Cash came. Not even by Anse in the nights.” (172). (AD: Maternity is extra-lingual, it escapes language. Words don’t work in motherhood. Mothers don’t need words.

“He had a word, too. Love, he called it. But I had been used to words for a long time. I knew that that word was like the others: just a shape to fill a lack; that when the right time came, you wouldn’t need a word for that anymore than for pride or fear” (172).

Anse “tricked” her into having Darl… “but then I realized that I had been tricked by words older than Anse or love, and that the same word had tricked Anse too, and that my revenge would be that he would never know I was taking revenge” (173). (man = the words she’s tricked with; sex=being tricked)

After Darl “I was three now.” (173). She’s three people now.

Cora told Addie “what I owed to my children and to Anse and to God. I gave Anse the children. I did not ask for them. I did not even ask him for what he could have given me: not-Anse” (174).

“My children were of me alone, of the wild blood boiling along the earth, of me and of all that lived; of none and of all. Then I found that I had Jewel. When I waked to remember to discover it, he was two months gone” (175).

“I gave Anse Dewey Dell to negative Jewel. Then I gave him Vardaman to replace the child I had robbed him of. And now he has three children that are his and not mine. And then I could get ready to die.” (176). Woman has children as fidelity pawns on the marriage market. The imprint of her soul stays around long enough to tell her story – or she’s narrating it all, since her children ARE her.)

they know something is up with Jewel’s parentage (195)

Dewey Dell tries to buy an abortion pill and the doctor says “The Lord gave you what you have, even if He did use the devil to do it; you let Him take it away from you if it’s His will to do so” (203). (AD: Wait on a man or a male god to determine your fertility.)

Cash: some are more kin to each other than others (234)

“Dewey Dell” sounds pastoral

Pa takes Dewey Dell’s abortion money: male manipulates female fertility again. He uses it to buy teeth so he can obtain a new wife.

Cash: “It’s Cash and JEwel and Vardaman and Dewey Dell,” pa says, kind of hangdog and proud too, with his teeth and all, even if he wouldn’t look at us. “Meet Mrs Bundren,” he says.” (261).

vs. Addie, she has no name. Women are replacable and buyable insofar as they are a “womenfolk” function. He uses’s DD’s money to buy a new wife. Like at the end of Hemingway’s Garden of Eden, the female protagonist’s fate is always to be replaced immediately by a new, and more appropriate (here because alive) wife. All this happens As Addie Lays Dying – man must always have a woman.


Deborah Tannen, Gender and Discourse

Tannen, Deborah. Gender and Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Much of the literature suggests that “approaches to gender and language fall into two categories: the ‘cultural difference’ approach, as opposed to a ‘power’ or ‘dominance’ approach… I have come to feel that [this dichotomy] obfuscates more than it clarifies” (9).

“Many of those who believe – in my view, wish – the differences to be purely biological in origin assume that if this is the case, then women must be subordinate and there is no point in trying to effect social change. Many of those who believe (or wish) the differences to be purely cultural in origin assume that if this is so, they can easily change whatever they don’t like in the social order. Neither of these assumptions seems justified to me. Nothing is more human than to go against nature, and cultural patterns are extremely resistant to change” (13). She later notes in a footnote that the former are usually men and the latter women (15).

“That men dominate women is not in question…. the same linguistic means can be used for different, even opposite, purposes and can have different, even opposite, effects in different contexts” (21).

She proposes the relativity of five linguistic strategies: indirectness, interruption, silence versus volubility, topic raising and adversativeness

Words and acts can be “polysemous” in containing both dominance- and solidarity-strategies (24). Tannen makes the distinction between “ambiguous” and “polysemous” strategies – some are indeed polysemous.

“Communication is a double bind in the sense that anything we say to honor our similarity violates our difference, and anything we say to honor our difference violates our sameness” (29). The tension between “similarity” and “difference” is one basic to human communication, and “may be the one most basic to language” (29).

What has been seen as “interruption” might be seen instead as a “conversational duet” (61). Women often interject as a way to show support, which is not always “interruption”

In one test group, “there was no interruption, only supportive satisfying speaking together” (62). (AD: re: quand nos levres se parlent)

Reisman coined the term “contrapuntal conversations” (69).

Edelsky’s study found that “women are more comfortable talking when there is more than one voice going at once” (70).

“The organization of coherence in conversation must not be a preexisting structure, but an emergent one, much as Hopper (1988) shows grammar to be emergent. In other words, conversation is not flesh shaped by a preformed skeleton, but a shape which is renegotiated in interaction, created anew by participants in accordance with shared expectations…” (86). (AD: in other words, female conversation is emergent rather than analogic.)

In one study of sixth-graders, “whereas ‘man’ is the characteristic discourse marker of the six-grade boys, the discourse marker that peppers Julia’s talk…is ‘god’ or ‘oh god'” (108).



Elissa Marder, The Mother in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Marder, Elissa. The Mother in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: Psychoanalysis, Photography, Deconstruction. New York, 2012. Fordham University Press. 

(Introduction: Pandora’s Legacy)

“Sigmund Freud famously derives the psychoanalytic notion of the uncanny (the disturbing convergence of what is most familiar and most strange) from the etymology of the german word “Unheimlich” (or “unhomelike”) and associates this figure with the passage through the mother’s body in the event of being born” (1).

“…the uncanny maternal body is itself a conceptual matrix that demands to be read” (1).

Marder distinguishes between the physical act of childbearing undergone by real human mothers and the “maternal function,” which is “anything but natural” (2).

The “maternal function operates at the very outer limits of the human” (2).

“…the ‘mother’ is often the philosophical name given to that which cannot be thought philosophically” (3). (like Nature.)

The event of birth is “not our own, even if it is profoundly and uniquely addressed to us…birth is both shared and not shared with the mother who makes it possible” (4-5).

“Literature…has the capacity to give birth to forms of life for which the distinction between life and death does not hold” (8).

“According to the legend that comes to us from an ancient Greek text by Hesiod, Pandora, the first woman, was artificailly produced rather than naturally born from any mother or mother figure. Commissioned by Zeus and fabricated by Hephaestus out of clay and water, this first woman, first of the race of all future ‘human’ women, is a manufactured product” (9). (AD: re: H.D. and Pandora myth in Friedman)

“…the story of Pandora marks the culmination or endpoint of a larger narrative that provides an account for how ‘man’ became human in the first place. As the story goes, in the golden age before the invention of woman, there were already men, and those men lived openly together with the gods. Those early men were born of the (Mother) Earth rather than from any woman. In those happy days before woman was made, there was no illness, no misery, no toil, no death, hence no birth, and no children. The invention of the first artificial woman puts an end to that prehistorical era and inaugurates the dawn of human time and human history. Human history, therefore, begins with Pandora’s arrival into the world of men; she brings ‘death,’ ‘birth’ and sexual difference with her in addition to all the other ‘ills’ associated with mortal life” (10).

Marder cites Nicole Loraux that in this myth Pandora has no “body,” but is instead an “image, the mere appearance of a woman” (11). In other words, she is a function rather than an individual.

The single gift famously in Pandora’s box is “hope.” Marder notes that although elpis has traditionally been translated as “hope,” other scholars have noted that it can mean “fear,” hope,” “futurity,” and “anticipation” as well (13). Both Pandora and her jar are “beautiful on the outside while being disgusting, evil and debased on the inside. In both cases, the alluring external attributes conceal internal destructiveness. This scene has also often been read as an allegory of childbearing in which the jar…represents the female womb that receives man’s ‘seeds'” (13).


Of Freud’s Totem and Taboo: “totemism itself comes into being in response to a radical confusion about how babies are born” (31).

(in T&T) “Freud clearly states that the source of them power given to totemic animals is conceived of by women” (31).

Review Freud’s “Medusa’s Head” & “On Femininity”

Birth and death are related because “the presumed incontestable ‘reality’ of our birth is, in its own way, as remote and inconceivable to us as our future death” (33).

“At its most basic level, the psychoanalytic term ‘primal scene’ generally refers to an early, traumatic, formative event during which a young child witnesses his parents copulating at an age when he is too young to understand what he has seen” (57). (AD: emphasis on “he”)

The question of the “primal scene” is this: “How, why, and when does the animal-like substratum of the human psyche, sexuality, give birth to human subjectivity?” (59). And what do women have to do with it?

The primal scene is the basis for establishing the “distinction between ‘animal’ instinct and ‘human’ drive” (60).

Freud’s case is “predicated upon the idea that only animal like sex (or sex in the manner of animals) renders the genitals visible enough for the infant to perceive the evidence of sexual difference” (65). This involves, in Freud’s words, “the man upright, and the woman bent down like an animal” (qtd in Marder, 66). For Freud, this invokes the fear of castration by the father.

When animal figures are present, “the female figures apparently disappear from the scene” (69), perhaps because they are interchangeable.

Freud points out that the “Critical element in the phobia is not the figure of the wolf itself, but its ‘erect posture'” (70). In other words, the critical element in the phobia is not the father himself but the father function, represented here by the father’s characteristic penetrating erectness.

“the animal figure comes to stand in for something in the human sexual experience that cannot be translated, transferred, or communicated at all” (73).


“Freud suggests that to be born is to be born into anxiety. To be born into anxiety is to be torn out of linear time. Thus the very first act of life, the cry that emanates from the heart and lungs, is itself a traumatic repetition of the signal by which anxiety calls us into time… Anxiety is the first sign of life, and it is the most irreducible form of life’s relationship to what lies ‘beyond.’ Anxiety has no proper time” (88).


The photograph has the power to “ope[n] up and extend the field of anamnesis from the time that ‘starts with me’ to the time before me” (181). (AD: does literature have this power? tempting to men.)


In her discussion of Cixous:

“To be born is to be born into language and to be exile from the mother. In this sense, the word ‘mother’ is profoundly meaningless and can be read only as a figure of speech, even as the figure from which speech necessarily springs. How can the word ‘mother’ speak the unaccountable event of our birth, which we can neither remember nor bear to forget? …the mother’s legacy is not the safe haven of prelinguistic plenitude, but rather the strange exile of speech itself” (196). (AD: Mother = anti-language; Language = anti-mother)

“Literature lets me put my death in a matchbox, lets me play with it in secret hidden places close to me. But to play with literature is to play with fire. No way of telling when it might flare up, no way to contain the flames; no accounting for the bits or knowing what remains” (242).