HENRI LEFEBVRE

It is reasonable to assume that spatial practice, representations of space and representational spaces contribute in different ways to the production of space according to their qualities and attributes, according to the society or mode of production in question, and according to the historical period. Relations between the three moments of the perceived, the conceived and the lived are never either simple or stable, nor are they ‘positive’ in the sense in which this term might be opposed to ‘negative’, to the indecipherable, the unsaid, the prohibited, or the unconscious. Are these moments and their interconnections in fact conscious? Yes — but at the same time they are disregarded or misconstrued. Can they be described as ‘unconscious’? Yes again, because they are generally unknown, and because analysis is able – though not always without error — to rescue them from obscurity. The fact is, however, that these relationships have always had to be given utterance, which is not the same thing as being known – even ‘unconsciously’.

The Production of Space trans. by Donald Nicholson-Smith (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991) P.46

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TERESA OF AVILA: BRIDE OF SONG

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Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Saint Teresa in Ecstasy, 1647-52. Marble, life-size.

Writing, for Teresa, is to connect with the unknown. The search for a providential interlocutor, one which makes her speak that which she cannot explain; the wait for grace. Grace, an answer to questions we have not even asked ourselves. Such is the mystery of Saint Teresa, the reason we continue reading her with delight five hundred years after her birth. She turns religion into poetry.

Read the rest of Gustavo Martín Garzo’s article at El País

SAID

A poet invites, yes calls for, silence;
because he receives the word,
because he remembers.
Truly grotesque,
but silence belongs to poetry,
ever since there have been dictators.
Because silence
is dictatorship’s weapon against the word,
its archenemy.
So we,
in order that our word might outlive dictatorship,
must master both:
our weapon, language,
and the enemy’s weapon, silence.
Our language must make visible the graveyard’s stillness
that dictatorship has produced;
and our silence must not ignore the screams of those who seek to pierce through this stillness.
This seemingly paradoxical situation forces us
into a hazardous balancing act with no net
into a circus ring, where history is the audience.
If we fall,
we sink into the chasm of oblivion,
accompanied by the audience’s jeers;
Lady History always was cruel.

The opening of a speech by SAID, an Iranian-German writer in exile, at a literary symposium entitled ‘Language and Dictatorship’

SAID, Dann schreie ich, bis Stille ist (Tübingen: Heliopolis, 1990), p. 71 [translation by Joseph Twist].

THEODOR W. ADORNO

Adorno commenting on Arnold Schönberg’s A Survivor of Warsaw (1947):

The so-called artistic rendering of the naked physical pain of those who were beaten down with rifle butts contains, however distantly, the possibility that pleasure can be squeezed from it.  The morality that forbids art to forget this for a second slides off into the abyss of its opposite.   The aesthetic stylistic principle, and even the chorus’s solemn prayer, make the unthinkable appear to have had some meaning; it becomes transfigured, something of its horror is removed.  By this alone an injustice is done the victims, yet no art that avoided the victims could stand up to the demands of justice.

Theodor W. Adorno, ‘Commitment’, in Can One Live after Auschwitz: A Philosophical Reader, ed. by Rolf Tiedemann, trans. by Rodney Livingston and others (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003), pp. 240-58 (p. 252).

CONSUELO RIVERA-FUENTES

Silence can take many shapes. Silence can be touched, sliced, it can be uncomfortable, if experienced for too long,… it can be used as a break to relax and enjoy the company of one’s selves living in one’s body. It very often embodies resistance itself… it can be used as a weapon to break someone’s spirit in a session of torture.

“Torture means severe pain,” they had warned me in our “training sessions” in my political party’s cell… no training session prepared me for this intense pain… my pain… the one I did not choose… all this alienation, this empty vacuum…, my body, my mind, my pain… this is not happening… I am a little speck in the universe… which universe?… the world is not anymore… I am… disintegrating… bit by bit… yell by yell… electrode by electrode…

[…]

You yell, you piss yourself and you are saying “it is hurting so much I cannot put it into f****** words!,” because the pain is deeper than flesh and bones; it travels beyond your physical body, into some space within yourself which cannot make meaning of what is happening outside. You say to yourself: “I am losing the only way I have known until now to describe what is going on inside me, I am losing my tongue, I am losing meaning.”

Political activist Consuelo Rivera-Fuentes on being tortured by the Pinochet regime. From Consuelo Rivera-Fuentes and Lynda Birke, ‘Talking With/In Pain: Reflections on Bodies under Torture’, Women’s Studies International Forum, 24:6 (2001), 653-668, pp. 665 and 661.

EDMUND BURKE

C.D.Friedrich, Der Moench am Meer - C.D.Friedrich / Monk by the Sea / 1808 -

C.D.Friedrich, Der Mönch am Meer, 1808

This idea or this affection caused by a word, which nothing but a word could annex to the others, raises a very great degree of the sublime, and this sublime is raised yet higher by what follows, a “universe of death.” Here are again two ideas not presentable but by language, and a union of them great and amazing beyond conception; if they may properly be called ideas which present no distinct image to the mind; but still it will be difficult to conceive how words can move the passions which belong to real objects, without representing these objects clearly. This is difficult to us, because we do not sufficiently distinguish, in our observations upon language, between a clear expression and a strong expression. These are frequently confounded with each other, though they are in reality extremely different. …

The truth is, all verbal description, merely as naked description, though never so exact, conveys so poor and insufficient an idea of the thing described, that it could scarcely have the smallest effect, if the speaker did not call in to his aid those modes of speech that mark a strong and lively feeling in himself. Then, by the contagion of our passions, we catch a fire already kindled in another, which probably might never have been struck out by the object described. Words, by strongly conveying the passions by those means which we have already mentioned, fully compensate for their weakness in other respects.

A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757)

AUDRE LORDE

Women of Color in America have grown up within a symphony of anger, at being silenced, at being unchosen, at knowing that when we survive, it is in spite of a world that takes for granted our lack of humanness, and which hates our very existence outside of its service. And I say symphony rather than cacophony because we have had to learn to orchestrate those furies so that they do not tear us apart. We have had to learn to move through them and use them for strength and force and insight within our daily lives. Those of us who did not learn this difficult lesson did not survive. And part of my anger is always libation for my fallen sisters.

‘The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism’, in Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press, 1984), p. 129.

JEAN-LUC NANCY

“Literature,” thought of as the interruption of myth, merely communicates – in the sense that what it puts into play, sets to work, and destines to unworking, is nothing but communication itself, the passage from one to another, the sharing of one by the other.  What is at stake in literature is not just literature: in this, it is unlike myth, which communicates only itself, communicating its communion.

[…] literature inscribes being-in-common, being for others and through others.

The Inoperative Community, ed. by Peter Connor, trans. by Peter Conner, Lisa Garbus, Michael Holland, and Simona Sawhney (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991), pp. 65-6.