Sunday, October 25, 2009
Bathsheba or The Interior Bible
Helene Cixous writes with the force of torrents, unleashed unstoppable rapids, like we imagine angels should if they could, with music, loud and deeply touching, fast, furious, like a poet. There, in the painting above by Rembrandt, she approaches it with twenty-four steps. She who is percieved from afar, the non-nude nudity. Without a man.
It would be the last thing I do, write about the painting above, but I write about this halting stuttering poetry of Cixous', this chant, this prose, music that fills, that leaves leaving us longing, a cadence, some steps, a bit more, less, again, again, the same want, then the considerable erudition, insights, darkness, insights, her wandering, her Jewish-wandering, a flash, then loneliness. However, I am interested in certain aspects of how she reads this painting; what follows is just a paraphrase of her reading, which I intend to complete in three posts.
The background she warns is black; blackness isn't black, it is the last degree of reds. The secret blood of reds. Then the expression on Bathsheba's face: the passivity, the despondency, the imminence, drooping. We don't know where we are, what time, what age? Our own country, a foreign land, our hearts, that foreign country? No, this is interior land, the interior Bible.
We see some light on her, we see her servant now. Asks Cixious: Of what secret lights are we made? What lives do we live, this light takes us inside, down the stairs we never take, to the interior land. The entire room is flesh. Sex. Then again:
She does not look at us. She is of those who do not look at us. I mean to say: Bathsheba, Mary, don't look at us, don't stop living, in order to look at us. And when we look at them, thoughts take leave.
What is she thinking about?
Then we see the older woman, at the bottom. Says Cixous: the older woman is Bathsheba's foreignness, her exoticism, Asia. And the woman's coif is oriental. The body is Bathsheba's, the coif is the older woman's.
The servant gazes towards the East, Bathsheba towards the occidental future. The two gazes don't see each other. They are on two parallel planes. And then we see the letter.
I daresay that this is only half the movement, half of her approach. What interests me is the Occidental gaze. The coiffured servant, at her feet stands no chance. Though she too has partaken something from her. But the gazes are different, even if they are day dreaming. They are not of this world, they are parallel to each other. I don't know why I feel a pang for Bathsheba's servant.
from Stigmata, Cixous