We did a first tentative performance of most of our talk this evening. It was instructive. We are making some urgent cuts, including a section about Lady Di as a cardigan which Alex can’t read, and I can’t hear, without laughing uncontrollably.

And I want to rewrite some of my parts because I tend to keep my points too obscure and make people work think more slowly about them than they reasonably can during a talk. Or a performance. Or a play. I want to try to make things more clear, and part of that is going to involve actually pragmatically stating the points I’m trying to make in clear language. There’s an element of gathering things into a noun here, but it’s a necessary compromise if I want to get across some of the things that really delight me, given the fractious nature of what we’re writing and the way we’re delivering it.

The lovely thing about the way this is working is that it’s necessary to work on my text and her text at once. We only edit our own writing, but neither of us can usefully edit something of our own without being mindful of the whole thing. Often we quote one another, sometimes before the other one of us has got to that bit yet, so we’re preempting the original before it’s even been read out yet. I can be a bit (too) causal about ownership (having said that, there are actual footnotes at the bottom of this post), so I’m enjoying the prospect of people not knowing who’s who and whose is whose. This – together with the mess of the scissors and pritt stick and crossing out and pencilling in that happens when we have to cue up our paragraphs – reminds me of part of my Afterward, which I keep returning to lately:

Written by distraction in fits and starts, never exceeding the moment of approach and conceding only to the promise that keeps the secrets of the text inside, the flattened text ‘is written from all over at once’[1]. There is more gap than substance to the flattened text: it is nothing but edge, through which the reader is launched uninitiated into the middle of the writing to negotiate between the ‘extreme familiarity [and] extreme strangeness’[2] of a language of which she is both a guest and the only native speaker.

[…] The ‘hundred windows’[3] of the text afford infinite exchanges between reader and writer, the unification of their practice inscribing in the act of reading a constant play of ‘anonymous, untraceable’[4] authors, of texts, of languages: ‘quotations without inverted commas’[5].

1 Cixous, (1996) p.145, cited in Blythe, I. & Sellers, S. (2004) Hélène Cixous: Live Theory, Cornwall: Continuum pp. 85-6
2 Cixous, (1993) p. 81, cited in Blythe, I. & Sellers, S. (2004) p. 80. Cixous makes an analogy between the familiarity and strangeness of the dream and the text: ‘In the text, as in dreams, there is no entrance […] In the text, as in the dream, you’re right there.’)
3 Cixous, H. (1996) p.145, cited in Blythe, I. & Sellers, S. (2004) pp. 86
4 Barthes, R. (1971) “From Work To Text”, in Barthes, R. (1997) Image Music Text, London: Flamingo Press p. 160 
5 ibid., p. 160