Maria Essunger


In the wake of the Holocaust, and in a transnational context, the French- -Algerian philosopher Hélène Cixous (1937–) makes her Jewish voice heard by crossing borders and asking questions. Like an existential rumination she writes back and forth on what it means to be alive, to be different, amongst other (different) creatures. She acts through novels, theoretical essays, dramas and critical poetry when she, as I would like to put it, continuously imagines what it means to be human. Imagine is a proper word for describing her political and poetical philosophy as it is permeated by tentative thinking, acknowledged dreams and critical belief. To Cixous, writing is a way of existing, a way of repelling death – even if death is what makes us remember the richness and complexity of life – writing is good, it’s “what never ends”. However, writing is not painless, nor self-evident. There are constrains that may forbid you to write and for Cixous herself there were many: her sex, her origin, history (being a Jewish female foreigner in Algeria as well as in France). Nevertheless, the desire to write is dreadful, or as the literary critic Susan Rubin Suleiman puts it with reference to Cixous’ way of writing, “desire is precisely what does not ask whether it has a ‘right’ to exist”. In this article, I would like to introduce Cixous’ way of writing as a way of imagining human difference anew. A way of making people think on their own, a way of being part of a continuous creation where dominant borders are crossed, hierarchical patterns are questioned and new forms of communication beyond words are envisioned. I do it through samples from the text universe of Cixous and in conversation with Friedrich Nietzsche and Walter Benjamin.

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