“Lacan touched on this point when he proposed his ethical maxim: ‘do not give up on your desire’ [‘ne pas ceder sur son desir’]. For desire is constitutive of the subject of the unconscious; it is thus the not-known par excellence, such that ‘do not give up on your desire’ rightly means: ‘do not give up on that part of yourself that you do not know’. We might add that the ordeal of the not-known is the distant effect of the evental supplement, the puncturing [trouee] of ‘some-one’ by a fidelity to this vanished supplement, and that ‘do not give up’ means, in the end: do not give up on your own seizure by a truth-process.

But since the truth-process is fidelity, then if ‘Do not give up’ is the maxim of consistency – and thus of the ethic of a truth – we might well say that it is a matter, for the ‘some-one’, of being faithful to a fidelity. And he can manage this only by adhering to his own principle of continuity, the perseverance in being of what he is. By linking (for such, precisely, is consistency) the known by the not-known.

It is now an easy matter to spell out the ethic of a truth: ‘Do all that you can to persevere in that which exceeds your perseverance. Persevere in the interruption. Seize in your being that which has seized and broken you’.”

Alain Badiou

“We should write as we dream; we should even try and write, we should all do it for ourselves, it’s very healthy, because it’s the only place where we never lie. At night we don’t lie. Now if we think that our whole lives are built on lying-they are strange buildings-we should try and write as our dreams teach us; shamelessly, fearlessly, and by facing what is inside very human being-sheer violence, disgust, terror, shit, invention, poetry. In our dreams we are criminals; we kill, and we kill with a lot of enjoyment. But we are also the happiest people on earth; we make love as we never make love in life.”

Hélène Cixous

“You know that our breathing is the inhaling and exhaling of air. The organ that serves for this is the lungs that lie round the heart so that the air passing through them thereby envelops the heart. Thus breathing is a natural way to the heart. And so having collected your mind within you lead it into the channel of breathing through which air reaches the heart and together with this inhaled air force your mind to descend into the heart and to remain there.”

Nicephorus the Solitary

“If someone comes along and shoots an arrow into your heart, it’s fruitless to stand there and yell at the person. It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that
there’s an arrow in your heart…”

Pema Chödrön

“For her joyous benefits she is erogenous; she is the erotogeneity of the heterogeneous: airborne swimmer, in flight, she does not cling to herself; she is dispersible, prodigious, stunning, desirous and capable of others, of the other woman that she will be, of the other woman she isn’t, of him, of you.”

Hélène Cixous, from The Newly Born Woman

” I ask of writing what I ask of desire: that it have no relation to the logical which puts desire on the side of possession, of acquisition, or even of that consumption – consummation which, when pushed to its limits with such exultation, links (false) consciousness with death.”

Hélène Cixous

“In Kristeva’s vocabulary, sensual, sexual pleasure is covered by plaisir; jouissance is total joy or ecstasy (without any mystical connotation); also through the working of the signifier, this implies the presence of meaning (jouissance = j’ouis sens = I heard meaning), requiring it by going beyond it.”

[Leon Roudiez on Julia Kristeva’s definition of jouissance]. Julia Kristeva, Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art.

“There is a tame, and also a wild, side to the human mind. The tame side, like a farmer’s field, has been disciplined and cultivated to produce a desired yield. It is useful but limited. The wild side is larger, deeper, more complex, and though it cannot be fully known, it can be explored. The explorers of the wild mind are often writers and artists. The “poetic imagination” of which William Blake so eloquently spoke is the territory of wild mind. It has landscapes and creatures within it that will surprise us; it can refresh us and scare us; it reflects the larger truth of our ancient selves, both animal and spiritual.

The French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss once said something like “Art survives within modern civilization rather like little islands of wilderness saved to show us where we came from.” Someone once said that what makes writing good is the wildness in it. The wildness gives heart, courage, love, spirit, danger, compassion, skill, fierceness, and sweetness—all at once—to language.”

Writers and the War Against Nature, Gary Snyder, Shambhala Sun, November 2007.

“It’s not easy to improvise, it’s the most difficult thing to do. Even when one improvises in front of a camera or microphone, one ventriloquizes or leaves another to speak in one’s place the schemas and languages that are already there. There are already a great number of prescriptions that are prescribed in our memory and in our culture. All the names are already preprogrammed. It’s already the names that inhibit our ability to ever really improvise. One can’t say whatever one wants, one is obliged more or less to reproduce the stereotypical discourse. And so I believe in improvisation and I fight for improvisation.”

Jacques Derrida, unpublished interview, 1982

Bob Dylan’s reply when asked what his songs are ‘about’: “Oh, some are about four minutes; some are about five, and some, believe it or not, are about eleven or twelve.”

Quoted in “I’m Not There” a film by Todd Haynes — Dylan circa 1960s, played by Cate Blanchett, 2007

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