Reading Recommendation, Or; The Unveiling of the Emotional Rollercoaster

by rooswijnants


Not sure if it’s an coincidence or not, but again a sunny day to talk about the same sunny person as the previous post. Even though the word ‘talk’ might indicate yet another long, dense if not excruciating post. But do not fear, my comrades, since this post is dedicated to share with you the text that I am now reading. Since, as you all may know by now, I am looking into Cixous, and how her texts can help us in unveiling Fanon by adding to his text the ever-lacking notion of (embodied) agency. The ‘signification, interpretation and (re)appropriating’ of the veil is focal in this deconstruction; how can we relate the body, écriture féminine, agency and the veil and form it into a strong, solid theoretical framework? While Googling (Scholar, obviously…) for some additional texts that I could use in my research, I almost cried when I found the book entitled Veils, written by Cixous and Derrida (who is also ‘one of the Francophone Algerians’). According to the Publisher’s site, Stanford University Press, Veils entails

Something of a historical event, this book combines loosely “autobiographical” texts by two of the most influential French intellectuals of our time. “Savoir,” by Hélène Cixous, is a brief but densely layered account of her experience of recovered sight after a lifetime of severe myopia, an experience that ends with the unexpected turn of grieving for what is lost. Her literary inventiveness mines the coincidence in French between the two verbs savoir (to know) and voir (to see). Jacques Derrida’s “A Silkworm of One’s Own” complexly muses on a host of autobiographical, philosophical, and religious motifs—including his varied responses to “Savoir.” The two texts are accompanied by six beautiful and evocative drawings that play on the theme of drapery over portions of the body.

Veils suspends sexual difference between two homonyms: la voile (sail) and le voile (veil). A whole history of sexual difference is enveloped, sometimes dissimulated here—in the folds of sails and veils and in the turns, journeys, and returns of their metaphors and metonymies.

One may suspect why finding this book was perhaps too much for me; it was a true emotional rollercoaster indeed. Whereas I am still in the process of carefully and critically reading this book (with a focus on Cixous’ contribution to the book, whereas I am aware that the book should be read as a whole), I am particularly struck with the connection that Cixous makes between ‘to know’ and to see (as paraphrased in the latter quote by SUP). To be knowledgeable and visible, to make visible and to see, to un-see and to be invisible. Are you joining me in this rollercoaster? If so, I would be happy to hear your opinions on this book, or, if you are already familiar with this book, some previous experiences that you had while reading Veils? Did a sudden myopia hit you, causing you to doubt what you know and what you don’t? Either way, feel free to share your enthusiasm, curiosity, chagrin, anger, happiness, tears, sweat or blood.

Click here for the PDF of Derrida’s and Cixous’ Veils