Monthly Archives: February 2011

It’s hard to lose oneself

Am I disorganised because I have lost something I didn’t even need? In this new cowardice of mine – cowardice is what has happened to me most recently, my greatest adventure, it is so wide a field that only great courage enables me to accept it – in my new cowardice, which is like waking up in the morning in a stranger’s house, I don’t know if I’ll have the courage simply to set out. It’s hard to lose oneself. So hard that I’ll probably soon work out a way to find myself, even if finding myself is again the lie that I live on.

— Lispector, The Passion According to G.H. (tr. Sousa)


When I started reading I found I couldn’t read properly: the sound of a car outside made me imagine the driver and where he or she was going, an overheard word made me think of some old conversation, which returned me to the words on the page and made me turn the page back and forth. When I started writing I found I couldn’t write properly: I’d get distracted by the movements of the pen in my hand and the ink marks on the page, or the cooing of a pigeon, which made me turn the page back and forth. Reading and writing themselves became distractions, as I suppose they had been from the beginning, parts of the long, drawn-out distraction that was my life.


I keep looking, looking. Trying to understand. Trying to give what I have gone through to someone else, and I don’t know who, but I don’t want to be alone with that experience. I don’t know what to do with it. I’m terrified of that profound disorganisation. I’m not sure I even believe in what happened to me. Did something happen, and did I, because I didn’t know how to experience it, end up experiencing something else instead? It’s that something that I’d like to call disorganisation, and then I’d have the confidence to venture forth because I would know where to come back to: to the prior organisation. I prefer to call it disorganisation because I don’t want to ground myself in what I experienced – in that grounding I would lose the world as it was for me before, and I know that I don’t have the capacity for another one.

— Lispector, The Passion According to G.H. (tr. Sousa)