January 10th, 2024
Over much of the past year, I worked with other writers and editors on a folio on the francophone Algerian writer Hélène Cixous, which appeared in our Fall 2023 issue and is now available online. In this moment of spectacular violence and urgent response, this collection feels like a dispatch from another era. A textured exploration of the feminist theorist’s tremendous oeuvre (more than 80 books!), it comprises short essays, music, fiction, illustrations, and an interview with Cixous that I was lucky to conduct. Returning recently to the folio, I found myself reenchanted by Cixous’s commitment to living alongside strangeness rather than attempting to metabolize it into what is knowable (“We meet. We exchange. We guess . . . The Other remains foreign”); by her oracular discussion of Jewishness (“To be Jewish is a permanent firework of enigmas”); and, perhaps most of all, by her own enchantment with language (“Writing and reading are adventures. You don’t try to catch meaning. You let it gallop like wild horses in front of you or beside you, and just enjoy the experience”). For the first time in weeks, I felt held inside shapes of thought that refuse the present’s brutal enclosures, reacquainted with the slow work of charting alternatives to the relentless rhythms of imperial catastrophe. I hope that you, too, find in this gathering a way of turning over the language and images that comprise daily life, shaking off the sedimentations of our calcified common sense—a route toward other ways to be and know.