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Authors: Clarice Lispector

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BOOK: Agua Viva
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To remake myself and remake you I return to my
state of garden and shadow, cool reality, I barely exist and if I exist it’s
with delicate caution. Around the shadow is a heat of abundant sweat. I’m alive.
But I feel that I have yet to reach my limits, borders with what? without
borders, the adventure of dangerous freedom. But I take risks, I live taking
risks. I’m full of acacias swaying yellow, and I who have barely started my
journey, I start it with a sense of tragedy, guessing toward which lost ocean my
steps of life are leading. And madly I take control of the recesses of myself,
my ravings suffocate me with so much beauty. I am before, I am almost, I am
never. And all of this I won when I stopped loving you.

I write to you as an exercise in sketching before
painting. I see words. What I say is pure present and this book is a straight
line in space. It’s always current, and a camera’s photometer opens and
immediately closes, but keeping within it the flash. Even if I say “I lived” or
“I shall live” it’s present because I’m saying them now.

I also started these pages with the goal of preparing
myself for painting. But now I’m overwhelmed by the taste of words, and almost
free myself from the dominion of paint; I feel a voluptuousness in going along
creating something to tell you. I’m living the initiation ceremony of the word
and my gestures are hieratic and triangular.

Yes, this is life seen by life. But suddenly I
forget how to capture whatever is happening, I don’t know how to capture
whatever exists except by living here each thing that arises and no matter what
it is: I am almost free of my errors. I let the free horse run fiery. I, who
trot nervously and only reality delimits me.

And when the day reaches its end I hear the crickets and
become entirely replete and unintelligible. Then I live the blue daybreak that
comes with its bulge full of little birds—I wonder if I’m giving you an idea
of what a person goes through in life? And every thing that occurs to me I note
to pin it down. For I want to feel in my hands the quivering and lively nerve of
the now and may that nerve resist me like a restless vein. And may it rebel,
that nerve of life, and may it contort and throb. And may sapphires, amethysts
and emeralds spill into the dark eroticism of abundant life: because in my
darkness quakes at last the great topaz, word that has its own light.

I am now listening to a sylvan music, almost just
drumming and rhythm that comes from a neighboring house where young junkies live
the present. Another instant of incessant, incessant rhythm, and something
terrible happens to me.

It’s that I shall pass because of the rhythm into its
paroxysm—I shall pass to the other side of life. How can I tell you this? It’s
terrible and threatens me. I feel that I can no longer stop and I’m scared. I
try to distract myself from the fear. But the real hammering stopped long ago:
I’m being the incessant hammering in me. From which I must free myself. But I
can’t: the other side of me calls me. The footsteps I hear are my own.

As if ripping from the depths of the earth the knotted
roots of a rare tree, that’s how I write to you, and those roots as if they were
powerful tentacles like voluminous naked bodies of strong women entwined by
serpents and by carnal desires for fulfilment, and all this is the prayer of a
black mass, and a creeping plea for amen: because the bad is unprotected and
needs the approval of God: that is creation.

Could I have gone without feeling it to the other side?
The other side is a throbbingly hellish life. But there is the transfiguration
of my terror: so I give myself over to a heavy life all in symbols heavy as ripe
fruits. I choose mistaken resemblances but that drag me through the tangle. A
trace memory of the common sense of my past keeps me brushing against this side
here. Help me because something is coming toward me and laughing at me. Quick,
save me.

But no one can give me their hand to help me out: I must
use great strength—and in the nightmare, with a sudden wrench, I finally fall
face-down on this side here. I let myself lie tossed upon the rustic earth,
exhausted, heart still beating madly, breathing in great retchings. Am I safe? I
wipe my damp brow. I get up slowly, try to take the first steps of a weak
convalescence. I’m managing to get my balance.

No, all this isn’t happening in real facts but in the
domain of—of an art? yes, of an artifice through which a most delicate reality
arises which comes to exist in me: the transfiguration happened to me.

But the other side, from which I barely escaped, became
sacred and I confide my secret to no one. It seems to me that in a dream I swore
a pledge on the other side, a blood oath. No one will know anything: what I know
is so volatile and nearly inexistent that it is between me and I.

Am I one of the weak? a weak woman possessed by
incessant and mad rhythm? if I were solid and strong would I even have heard the
rhythm? I find no answer: I am. This is all that comes to me from life. But what
am I? the answer is just: what am I. Though I sometimes scream: I no longer want
to be I! but I stick to myself and inextricably there forms a tessitura of life.

May whoever comes along with me come along: the
journey is long, it is tough, but lived. Because now I am speaking to you
seriously: I am not playing with words. I incarnate myself in the voluptuous and
unintelligible phrases that tangle up beyond the words. And a silence rises
subtly from the knock of the phrases.

So writing is the method of using the word as bait: the
word fishing for whatever is not word. When this non-word—between the lines—
takes the bait, something has been written. Once whatever is between the lines
is caught, the word can be tossed away in relief. But that’s where the analogy
ends: the non-word, taking the bait, incorporates it. So what saves you is
writing absentmindedly.

I don’t want to have the terrible limitation of those who
live merely from what can make sense. Not I: I want an invented truth.

What shall I tell you? I shall tell you the instants. I
go too far and only then do I exist and in a feverish way. What a fever—will I
one day manage to stop living? woe is me, who dies so much. I follow the
tortuous path of roots bursting the earth, I have a gift for passion, in the
bonfire of a dry trunk I contort in the blaze. To the span of my existence I
give an occult meaning that goes beyond me. I’m a concomitant being: I gather in
me time past, the present and the future, the time that pulses in the tick-tock
of the clocks.

To interpret myself and formulate me I need new signs and
new articulations in shapes found on this side and beyond my human story. I
transfigure reality and then another dreaming and sleepwalking reality, creates
me. And all of me rolls and as I roll on the ground I add to myself in leaves,
I, anonymous work of an anonymous reality only justifiable as long as my life
lasts. And then? then all that I lived will be a poor superfluity.

But for the time being I am in the centre of everything
that screams and teems. And it’s subtle as the most intangible reality. For now
time is the duration of a thought.

This contact with the invisible nucleus of reality
is of such purity.

I know what I am doing here: I am telling of the instants
that drip and are thick with blood.

I know what I am doing here: I’m improvising. But what’s
wrong with that? improvising as in jazz they improvise music, jazz in fury,
improvising in front of the crowd.

It’s so odd to have exchanged my paints for this strange
thing that is the word. Words—I move cautiously among them as they can turn
threatening; I can have the freedom to write this: “pilgrims, merchants and
shepherds led their caravans toward Tibet and the roads were difficult and
primitive.” With that phrase I made a scene be born, as in a photographic

What does this jazz that is improvisation say? it
says arms tangled with legs and the flames rising and I passive like meat that
is devoured by the sharp hook of an eagle that interrupts its blind flight. I
express to me and to you my most hidden desires and achieve an orgiastic
confused beauty. I tremble with pleasure amidst the novelty of using words that
form an intense thicket. I struggle to conquer more deeply my freedom of
sensations and thoughts, without any utilitarian meaning: I am alone, I and my
freedom. Such is my freedom that it could scandalize a primitive but I know that
you are not scandalized by the fullness I achieve and that is without
perceptible borders. This capacity of mine to live whatever is rounded and ample
—I surround myself with carnivorous plants and legendary animals, all bathed in
the coarse and twisted oblique light of a mythical sex. I proceed in an
intuitive way and without seeking an idea: I am organic. And I don’t question
myself about my motives. I plunge into the almost pain of an intense happiness—
and to adorn me leaves and branches spring up in my hair.

I don’t know what I’m writing about: I am obscure to
myself. I only had initially a lunar and lucid vision, and so I plucked for
myself the instant before it died and perpetually dies. This is not a message of
ideas that I am transmitting to you but an instinctive ecstasy of whatever is
hidden in nature and that I foretell. And this is a feast of words. I write in
signs that are more a gesture than voice. All this is what I got used to
painting, delving into the intimate nature of things. But now the time to stop
painting has come in order to remake myself, I remake myself in these lines. I
have a voice. As I throw myself into the line of my drawing, this is an exercise
in life without planning. The world has no visible order and all I have is the
order of my breath. I let myself happen.

I am inside the great dreams of the night: for the
right-now is by night. And I sing the passage of time: I am still the queen of
the Medes and of the Persians and am also my slow evolution that throws itself
like a drawbridge into a future whose milky fogs I already breathe today. My
aura is mystery of life. I surpass myself abdicating myself and am therefore the
world: I follow the voice of the world, I myself suddenly with a unique

The world: a tangle of bristling telephone wires. And the
brightness however is still dark: that is I facing the world.

A dangerous balance, mine, mortal danger for the soul.
The night of today looks at me with torpor, verdigris and lime. I want inside
this night that is longer than life, I want, inside this night, life raw and
bloody and full of saliva. I want this word: splendidness, splendidness is the
fruit in its succulence, fruit without sadness. I want distances. My wild
intuition about myself. But my main thing is always hidden. I am implicit. And
when I make myself explicit I lose the humid intimacy.

What color is the spatial infinity? it is the color of

We—faced with the scandal of death.

Listen only superficially to what I say and from the lack
of meaning a meaning will be born as from me a high and light life is
inexplicably born. The dense jungle of words thickly envelops what I feel and
live, and transforms everything I am into some thing of mine that remains
outside me. Nature is enveloping: it entangles me entirely and is sexually
alive, just that: alive. I too am ferociously alive—and I lick my snout like a
tiger who has just devoured a deer.

I write to you now, at the very moment itself. I
unfold only in the now. I speak today—not yesterday or tomorrow—but today
and at this actual perishable instant. My small and boxed-in freedom joins me to
the freedom of the world—but what is a window if not the air framed by right
angles? I am rudely alive. I am leaving—says death without adding that he’s
taking me along. And I shiver in panting breath because I must go with him. I am
death. Death takes place in my very being—how can I explain to you? It’s a
sensual death. Like a dead person I walk through the high grass in the greenish
light of its blades: I am Diana the Huntress of gold and all I can find are
heaps of bones. I live from an underlying layer of feelings: I am barely

But these high summer days of damnation whisper to
me the need for renunciation. I renounce having a meaning, and then the sweet
and painful weakness grips me. Round and round shapes cross in the air. It’s a
summer heat. I navigate in my galley that braves the winds of a bewitched
summer. Crushed leaves remind me of the ground of my childhood. The green hand
and the golden breasts—that is how I paint the mark of Satan. They who fear us
and our alchemy stripped witches and sorcerers in search of the hidden mark that
was almost always found though it could only be known on sight for that mark was
indescribable and unpronounceable even in the darkness of the Middle Ages—
Middle Ages, thou art my dark subjacency and in the glare of the bonfires the
marked ones dance in circles riding branches and foliage which are the phallic
symbol of fertility: even in the white mass blood is used and there it is

Listen: I let you be, therefore let me be.

But eternally is a very hard word: it has a granitic “t”
in the middle. Eternity: for everything that is never began. My small ever so
limited head bursts when thinking about something that doesn’t begin and doesn’t
end—for that is the eternal. Fortunately that feeling doesn’t last long
because I can’t bear it to stay and if it did it would lead to madness. But my
head also bursts when imagining the opposite: something that has begun—because
where would it begin? And that has ended—but what comes after ending? As you
see, it’s impossible for me to deepen and take possession of life, which is
aerial, is my light breath. But I do know what I want here: I want the
inconclusive. I want the profound organic disorder that nevertheless hints at an
underlying order. The great potency of potentiality. These babbled phrases of
mine are made the very moment they’re being written and are so new and green
they crackle. They are the now. I want the experience of a lack of construction.
Though this text of mine is crossed from end to end by a fragile connecting
thread—which? that of a plunge into the matter of the word? of passion? A
lustful thread, breath that heats the passing of syllables. Life really just
barely escapes me though the certainty comes to me that life is other and has a
hidden style.

BOOK: Agua Viva
10.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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