Cynthia: you look nice today
Me: Cynthia, don’t even start with me. We all know that the cookies you “baked” for the PTA bake sale were actually store bought, and guess what? They tasted like trash. You’re always late to Yoga class on Tuesdays at 3:00-4:00 PM and you look like a flailing turtle when you go in Standing Tree position. You dress like a teen girl who just discovered Claire’s and your son is bad at soccer, so don’t even go there, Cynthia.
Helene Cixous’ Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing
Let us go to the school of writing, where we’ll spend three school days initiating ourselves in the strange science of writing, which is a science of farewells. Of reunitings.
I will begin with:
This is what writing is.
I’m not sure how I came across the book. Maybe I saw it displayed in a small bookshop in the city and fell in love with the cover. I’m not sure. It is as if, by magic, or, more probably, as though my own terrible need for guidance, for a mentor, conjured the book into my life. However it appeared, it appeared in my life around ten years ago, perhaps longer. In any case, Cixous’ voice, her words, the power of her intellect fused with her passion drew me in immediately. I began teaching from the book as soon as I found it.
When I write, I am speaking. I am saying, “I exist. I am alive. I am not dead yet.” When I write, I am neither here nor there, I have vanished into a dead zone, a crawlspace all my own. I am speaking into a long tunnel. Each word I write is a mark, is a weight. I am saying, “I have a voice. It was not smudged out.”
The words create a delicious kingdom. I want to enter this kingdom, with such desperation, I am willing to die for it. And to enter a book, to let my life coarse out and stream past me, is to, in a small way, die. And I quite happily exit one world to the next each time I vanish into a book.
So deep into this other world do I drop, I no longer notice, nor do I care, what’s happening outside the book, in the “real” world. Like a drug, the book seduces me. I can’t resist. And is this not a small simulation of death, of suicide?… Reading is a kind of death. One exits one’s life, is gone from the world. If my telephone rings, if my beloved calls out my name, I am no longer here. I don’t exist. Dead to the world. And reading erases the world. When I am deep in a book, my life no longer exists. The city I live in, the people I love, it all vanishes just as soon as I open a book and begin to read….
It takes time to recover from the end of a book. The only antidote I know of is to quickly pick up another…. With each book I read, I was transformed. Each book held the promise that I could become someone else, someone smarter, better…. And it was the vanishing aspect that I prized the most. Once I opened a book and began to read, I slid back into the parallel universe….
It is the promise of the otherworld that lures me into buying more books than I can possibly keep up with. I knew I had hit a new low in my addiction when, this past week, I brought home thirty-five new books, which brings us back to the topic of death. Collecting, or should I say, compulsive collecting, is a desperate means to ward off the inevitability of death…. And like all good addictions, one’s life is removed. When I am no longer aware of my life, I am left in a stupor. The same sweet stupor that opiates or sugar or infatuation can bring. And, of course, reading.
I wouldn’t say its sexual but I would say it comes close. The desire, the wanting to enter the other world, the pining, the ruminating for days. What will it be like? Look like? How will I change? And then the anxiety over how and when. I collect lists of books I want to own, I save the books in lists near my desk. Should I wait until my next paycheck or should I just go ahead now and buy one, and go without coffee and sweets for the next week? It’s worth it, of course, as any bookphile will tell you: entering the world of the book is always so much more fulfilling than entering the world itself.
‘On Reading’ by Cynthia Cruz (aka: a blog post about my life ♥)
Our childhood was a science lab, A brackish, incubating underworld. An all-night pharmacy of bright pink Pills. And the military doctor with his Throne of medicine, an ossuary of bones. That dead room of books and sun-bleached Skulls. No one could protect us. Death Lurked around the corner, a wild white Pulse. Incessant drone, sweet hum Of the animal. Compass with no needle, We grew old on that waste riddled junk, With no pilot, no anchor, no map. Just the warm current of death Steering us nowhere.