Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Posts Tagged ‘Simone de Beauvoir

The woman and the muse

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While the male poet, even at his most wretched and alienated, can at least solace himself with his open or secret creativity, his mythmaking power, the female poet must come to terms with the fact that as a female she is that which is mythologized, the incarnation of otherness (to use de Beauvoir’s terminology) and hence the object of anthologies full of male metaphors. Many of her hypotheses about herself are therefore in one way or another replies to prevalent definitions of her femininity, replies expressing either her distress at the disparity between male myths about her and her own sense of herself, or else her triumphant repudiation of those myths. Men tell her that she is a muse. Yet she knows that she is not a muse, she has a muse (and what is its sex?). Men tell her she is the “angel in the house,” yet she doesn’t feel angelic, and wonders, therefore, if she is a devil, a witch, an animal, a criminal. Men tell her that she is Molly Bloom, Mother Earth, Ishtar, a fertility goddess, a thing whose periodicity expresses the divine order (or is it the disorder?) of seasons, skies, stars. They tell her, echoing Archibald MacLeish’s definition of a poem, that she should not mean but be. Yet meanings delight her, along with seemings, games, plays, costumes, and ideas of order, as they delight male poets. But perhaps, she speculates, her rage for order is mistaken, presumptuous?

Sandra M. Gilbert, “My Name is Darkness”

Written by nevalalee

July 29, 2018 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

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[Henri] Bergson…emphasizes that in fulfilling ourselves we lose most of our potentialities. This is not at all the way I see myself. Certainly when I was twelve I was tempted by paleontology, astronomy, history, and every fresh branch of learning I chanced upon; but they all formed part of the larger project of discovering the world, a project that I followed steadily. Very early the idea of writing made my future clear and luminous. To begin with I was amorphous, but I was not manifold. On the contrary, what strikes me is the way the little girl of three lived on, grown calmer, in the child of ten, that child in the young woman of twenty, and so forward. Of course, circumstances have caused me to develop in many respects. But through all my changes I still see myself.

Simone de Beauvoir, All Said and Done

Written by nevalalee

January 11, 2018 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

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Simone de Beauvoir

The present is not a potential past; it is the moment of choice and action; we can not avoid living it through a project; and there is no project which is purely contemplative since one always projects himself toward something, toward the future; to put oneself “outside” is still a way of living the inescapable fact that one is inside.

Simone de Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity

Written by nevalalee

March 1, 2017 at 7:30 am

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