Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Lyn Hejinian

". . .Why (asks Kristeva). . . ?"

"Why (asks Kristeva) does Virginia WooIf "not dissect language as Joyce does?" A question which makes me immediately defensive can be translated into a series of other questions that makes this language a question. Why must Kristeva affirm that Woolf does not dissect language as Joyce does? Why does V.W. not choose to "dissect language as Joyce does?" Why must Joyce be the standard for such activities in language, Woolf not up to that norm? What is the precise level and kind of rupturing practices that must occur for it to be said that "language is dissected?" Would Stein's be "too much"? What is the place of Woman, static, iconic Woman in Joyce's writing practice? How might that Woman function by virtue of her iconic Otherness? How can I (a woman) read my our their his her semiotic: What is a woman writer's negotiation with the semiotic to produce poetic language?

--Rachel Blau DuPlessis,
from "Language Acquisition," p. 257, The Iowa Review,
H.D. Centennial Issue, v.16, no.3, 1986

Comments on Vice, (a letter excerpt)

As for Carla's book, I think it is a triumph. . . . The compositional mode (disordering invention) suggests that the Self is not the organizational focus or center of experience and not a principle of order. Perhaps there is no single organizing force, but multiple forces always undergoing metamorphoses and transformations. These forces are only loosely contained by one's life, a sort of skin around perception and experience.

But maybe it is more accurate to say there is a person and it contains forces (which is triumphant) than that there are forces but they are contained. Vice seems to me to be about the forces and counterforces that are the construction of an imaginable life, especially that of a woman--with her incredibly compelling domestic entanglements and her involvement in the completely unlikely parallel syntax of the workplace (museum).

Carla told me the other day that she had read an essay by John Updike comparing a woman to a museum. He finds them very similar--things to look at, a passive relationship to culture, sensitive and removed from commerce, etc. Which is to say, he completely misunderstands woman and museums.

--Lyn Hejinian
Vice by Carla Harryman, Potes & Poets Inc.,
181 Edgemont Ave., Elmwood, Connecticut 06110

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