Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Working with Words

When writing it, comes again the certainty, only apparently paradoxical, that what hinders [atrapalha] writing is having to use words. It is troublesome [incômodo]. If I could write by [por intermédio de] drawing on wood or caressing a boy's head or taking a walk in the the countryside, I would never have entered the way of the word. I would do what so many people who don't write do, and exactly with the same joy and the same torment of one who writes, and with the same profound, inconsolable disappointments: I wouldn't use words.
Clarice Lispector in Para não esquecer (3 ed.), 100. My translation.
(in English, translation of Giovanni Pontiero, in The Foreign Legion, 211)

This is just a sample, a small sample of writing (in a slightly awkward translation, but I prefer to translate it myself than to use the existing translation) by this amazing woman who is Clarice Lispector. And I have the privilege to be working with her, reading her words. Not only that, but writing about her.

I'd rather not have to use words at all, like she said. I love words, but writing is so hard for me, I just don't have a way with words at times. And academic writing is even harder. But I continue, hoping that this woman's words can be read by more people, wishing I could do something to make Brazilian literature better known. Someday I may. Meanwhile I'm throwing words out there, in the dark, hermetic void that is academic writing. A writing that is so useless in life's practical terms because it will only be read by other academics, many of whom already know all about what one's writing because we get so specialized that we only read stuff in our areas. I think that is very sad, and limiting, and... well... perhaps is the only way science and knowledge can "advance." Who am I to complain about it? What do I know?

And I just work. And thankfully I have the pleasure of "interacting" with Lispector in the process and being just dazzled by her words.


Anjali said...

Lilian, I wholeheartedly disagree. You have a wonderful way with words! (And I'm sure your other blog readers will agree.)

Cloudscome said...

I love this post. Beautiful passage there that you have translated. I love the thought: "If I could write by [por intermédio de] drawing on wood or caressing a boy's head or taking a walk in the the countryside..." That's how I feel about photography.