Monthly Archives: February 2011


So I kind of put myself in a trance, and nobody could get through to me for hours on end. I’d just sit there staring into the distance and they gave me a Seconal and put me in a private cell that night, and the next day I was transferred to the neuro-psychiatric ward. So it was kind of a tricky business, trying to keep from getting the shock treatment and at the same time getting what I wanted, which was out.

Chet Baker

Life-giving death

Will I have to have the courage to use an undefended heart and go on speaking to nothing and no one? as when a child thinks about nothingness. And to run the risk of being crushed by chance. I don’t understand what I saw. I don’t even know if I saw it, since my eyes ended up not being separate from what I saw. Only in an unexpected rippling of the lines, only in an anomaly of in the uninterrupted continuity of my culture did I for an instant experience life-giving death. That purified death that made me sort through the forbidden weft of life. Saying the name of life is forbidden. And I almost said it. I almost couldn’t disentangle myself from its weft, which would have been the destruction of my age inside me.

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

Do you really hate your own novels?

Q. Do you really hate your own novels?

A. Yes! I hate them. I mean that. Nobody believes me, but it’s true. They’re an embarrassment and a deep source of shame. They’re better than everybody else’s, of course, but not good enough for me. There is a great deal more pain than pleasure in writing fiction. It’s only now and then, maybe once every three or four days, that I manage to write a sentence in which I hear that wonderful harmonic chime that you get when, say, you flick the edge of a wine glass with a fingernail.

John Banville

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)