especially the Pentateuch, along with her formative experiences of
anti-Semitism, cannot be underestimated. Surely they too are profound influences on the formation of what I am here arguing is an essential aspect of all her writing, her desire for a loving, non-exclusionary, love of the other. While I think the question of the relationship between
Cixous’ ideas on love and difference as they bear specifically on the influences of Judaism would
be an important and revealing study, it is not one with which I am engaged here. Specifically,
and to reiterate, my interest is
encyclopaedic account and retrieval of hope as manifested in the surplus
desires of past cultures, movements, and wish-images.
Yet despite maintaining an enduring, militant hope at its core, most evaluations of critical theory, and of its place within the history of leftist thought,
point to a profound and debilitating sense of loss, defeat, pessimism, and
hopelessness. The Frankfurt School’s gloomiest remarks are often invoked
simply to reproduce tired caricatures of ‘radicals in despair’,3 an aloof group
of cultural mandarins offering precious little support for the
’s affinity with desire made it an obvious target for
anxieties about self-interest in a dualistic world that had already separated mind
and body. Thus, in many respects, interpretations of Plato which rely on and
emphasise this dualistic vision of human beingness mark a significant shift on
the path of foreclosing on the possibility of understanding the body as the site
of generous love. Cupid’s arrows, particularly as they relate to the body, are the
symbols of that which must be overcome.
In the terms of early Greek philosophy, the body was understood as the
site of a
which form the raw material of her published work.124
Throughout the body of the text of Rootprints, the pages are punctuated by boxed
extracts from those notebooks and journals. At times the content of these boxes
appear like a narrator, offering a glimpse of what we as readers, either consciously
or unconsciously, desire to be the ‘truth of the text’, the ‘truth of Hélène’. Thus,
Cixous’ notebooks have since been edited and translated by Susan Sellers and published in
a bilingual edition entitled simply Writing Notebooks (2006c).
for her new inquiry in ‘Grace and Innocence’. Her
earlier reflections on love opened onto a new way of thinking about divinity
in the light of her developing understanding of a feminine economy of desire.
What is at stake continues to be a reconfiguration of the oppositional structure
of self/other relations that has seen difference subordinated to sameness, in favour
of a way of thinking about relations of difference that open on to life.
Perhaps in this context, then, it is no surprise that Cixous finds herself beginning ‘Grace and Innocence’ by turning to an
antithesis of the
masculine subject of modernity whose self-conscious agency is revealed in the
desire to be in possession of a knowledge that functions to affirm his possession
of himself. ‘He’ is the subject who wants and desires; ‘he’ is the subject of whom
Cixous wrote in ‘Sorties’, the masculine subject who precedes himself and the
world and who returns to himself the profit of his encounters with the world
Divine Promethean love
Against this background, Cixous’ work on feminine subjectivity in
feminist philosopher Edith Wyschogrod on self/other relations.
In her groundbreaking book Saints and Postmodernism (1990), Wyschogrod proposed
an ethics of intersubjectivity – her postmodern sainthood – wherein an excessive
desire for the other is based on an excessive desire for what the other desires for
herself or himself. What is at stake in Wyschogrod’s work, like that of Hélène
Cixous, is a critique of social relations that are predicated on the negation or appropriation of difference, and it is this aspect of her work rather than her affirmation of excessive love
, Music and Language (New York:
Garland, 1987); Michael O’Dea, Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Music, Illusion, and
Desire (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995); and Thomas M. Kavanagh, Writing
the Truth. Authority and Desire in Rousseau (Berkeley, University of California
2 Rousseau’s enmity towards Rameau was not surprising. In 1745 Rousseau
had revised Rameau and Voltaire’s opera Les Fêtes de Ramire, which became
a success. Yet Rousseau did not receive credit for the work.
Hearne’s loneness, drinking, and Existential freedom once the sense of
God’s abandonment comes to the fore.
The first thing to note is the title. ‘Passion’ most obviously refers to
Hearne’s romantic desires, but it also, given the religious context for
much of what happens in the novel, refers to ‘passion’ as in ‘Christ’s
passion’. The meaning of ‘passion’ in relation to Christ is ‘suffering’, so
Moore neatly fuses the idea of Hearne as both romantically unfulfilled
and as existing in a manner that parallels that of Jesus in his final days.
To ask the reader to
the achievements of Paradise is the persuasive nature of its protagonist, Hannah Luckraft. She is fully aware of how she is perceived by
others, and how her behaviour is selfish, harming others as much as herself. Her desire for a reciprocal, loving relationship is achingly present
throughout, and while the reader may root for a happy ending in the
conventional sense, there is the constant foreboding that something will
go terribly wrong. This anxiety is communicated in part by Hannah’s
own make-up, because whenever things are going well she senses it is