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CROSSING READINGS ON MYSTICISM: ALEJANDRA PIZARNIK,

ANTONIN ARTAUD, MIGUEL DE MOLINOS, SIMONE WEIL AND


GEORGES BATAILLE

Carolina Depetris

Klincksieck | Revue de littrature compare

2013/3 - n347
pages 283 303

ISSN 0035-1466
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Depetris Carolina, Crossing readings on mysticism: Alejandra Pizarnik, Antonin Artaud, Miguel de Molinos, Simone
Weil and Georges Bataille,
Revue de littrature compare, 2013/3 n347, p. 283-303.
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Crossing readings on mysticism:
Alejandra Pizarnik, Antonin Artaud,
Miguel de Molinos, Simone Weil
and Georges Bataille
In 1968, four years after her stay in Paris, Alejandra Pizarnik writes on
her diary: Lo que ms me asusta desde que volv a este pas extrao: la
distancia, o la voluntad de distancia, entre la palabra y el acto. Esto parece
literario en el peor sentido del trmino, pero se puede morir de distancia. On
meurt moins (What scares me most since I returned to this strange coun-
try: distance, or the want for distance, between word and act. This seems lit-
erary in the worst meaning of the term, but one can die of distance. On meurt
moins).
1
To strive for the union of act and poetry that at some point por no
s qu error (through some kind of error), says Pizarnik, were separated,
is a constant problem in the writings of this author: it appears insistently
throughout her work, and it not only consolidates in her a system of ethics,
it also regulates, in practice, her poetic exercise. And I say this is, actually,
a problem in the lexical and epistemic meaning of the term, because it
implies a poetic difculty of extremely hard concessions even improbable
ones, which solution can only be searched and maybe found through poetic
methods. This unitive search that determines Pizarniks poetics appears as
intimately assimilated to an exercise of the Absolute acknowledging its spe-
cic background in postulates of modern poetics such as the Romantic, the
Damned and Surrealism experiences.
2
But there is a line of inuence, in my
opinion of utmost relevance in Pizarnik, that has not yet been explored in
1. Alejandra Pizarnik, Diarios, Barcelona, Lumen, 2003, p. 439.The bibliography used in
this paper has been mainly consulted in the Spanish language. The translation of the
citations into English, unless otherwise specied, are of my own authorship with the
support of the translator Zulai Fuentes.
2. Cristina Pia (Alejandra Pizarnik. Una biografa, Buenos Aires, Corregidor, 1999), Csar
Aira (Alejandra Pizarnik, Barcelona, Omega, 2001), Francisco Lasarte (Ms all del
surrealismo: la poesa de Alejandra Pizarnik, Revista Iberoamericana XLIX, 125, 1983,
p. 867-877) y Jason Wilson (Alejandra Pizarnik, Surrealism and Reading. rbol
de Diana. Pizarnik reassessed. Ed. Fiona J. Mackintosh y Karl Posso, Woodbridge,
Tamesis, 2007 p. 77-90) are some of the critics who have worked over this topic.
Revue
de Littrature compare
3-2013
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Carolina Depetris
284
detail by critics as of today, and that I consider sheds a lot of light upon the
sense of the poetic conception of her texts after Extraccin de la piedra de la
locura, which is the period of time on which we shall concentrate our efforts.
The clue is offered by Marcel Raymond in De Baudelaire au surralisme, a
book thoroughly used by Pizarnik. The question is why does poetry hold this
power of transcendence, of union of the opposites? Raymonds answer is
that, as from preromanticism, poetry occupied an empty space left by reli-
gious mysticism in metaphysical exploration.
3
The aim of this article is to
review how the search for Absolute is assimilated by Pizarnik as from 1968,
to the idea of poetic annihilation understood as the most fullled extreme of
expressive possibility; and thus I shall resort to postulates used by Catholic
mysticism, as well as converted Jewish and lay mysticism as exposed by
three referential authors for Pizarnik: Miguel de Molinos, Simone Weil and
Georges Bataille.
I have already argued in the past, and criticism in general agrees with
such statements, that Pizarniks writing goes through quite an important
transformation after Extraccin de la piedra de la locura. This change seems
to be apparently directed by a certain lack of control in her works and thus
translated into low poetic quality. In her diary of 1969 she writes: El inerno
musical. Quedan pocos poemas salvables. Prosas de El inerno musical.
revoir. Hay fragmentos all que parecen apuntar a un objetivo que desconozco
(Musical Inferno. There are few poems worthy of being rescued. Prose pieces
in El inerno musical. (u) revoir. There are fragments in there which seem
to have an aim that I ignore).
4
A month later she leaves evidence that she
is writing Los triciclos, a sort of theater of the absurd that we know contains
some unltered parts of El inerno musical, maybe some those fragments
that follow the poetic trace of a new unknown objective: Fragmentos de
Los..., primera pieza teatral de A. P., quien cree que esos fragmentos, adems
de serlo, son poemas o, mejor, aproximaciones a la poesa ms profunda que
el resto del librito (Fragments of Los, rst play by A.P. who believes that
such fragments besides being so, are poems or, furthermore, approximations
to more profound poetry than the rest of the little book).
5
On the 2
nd
June,
1970 she writes referring to La bucanera de Pernambuco o Hilda la polgrafa:
Vrtigo y nuseas. Advert que el texto de humor me hace mal, me des-
centra, me dispersa, me arrebata fuera de m a diferencia, par ex., de
los instantes frente al pizarrn, en que me reno (o al menos me parece).
3. Marcel Raymon, De Baudelaire al surrealismo, Madrid, F. C. E., 1983, p. 9: Further
on poetry tends to become an ethic system or I dont know what irregular instrument
of metaphysical knowledge []. Here the new is not so much the fact but the inten-
tion which unravels little by little from unconsciousness, of grasping the dark forces
in trying to overcome dualism of self and universe. For Albert Bguin, in his book
Lme romantique et le rve, also analyzed by Pizarnik, the poetic search for unity has
its sources in inner and actually religious experience (El alma romntica y el sueo,
Madrid, F. C. E. 1978, p. 99).
4. Pizarnik, Diarios, p. 482.
5. Ibid., p. 485.
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Crossing readings on mysticism
285
Sin embargo, ninguno de los poemas por rescribir me enfervoriza. El
texto de humor, por el contrario, es la tentacin perpetua.
(Giddiness and nausea. I noticed that the humorous text makes me sick,
it distracts me, it disperses me, it snatches me out of myself, in contrast,
par ex, with instants when I face the blackboard, time in which I reunite
myself (or at least so it seems to me).
However, none of the poems to be rewritten inames me. The humorous
text, on the contrary, is the perpetual temptation).
6
These two texts, Los posedos entre lilas and La bucanera, together with
other brief writings between 1968 and 1972 such as La conversadera,
El hombre del antifaz azul, A tiempo y no, Sala de psicopatologa,
Solamente las noches, Recuerdos de la pequea casa del canto, Escrito
en el crepsculo, Historia del to Jacinto, Textos, that Pizarnik got pub-
lished in fragments by important journals of cultural life in Argentina and
Spain such as Sur, Testigo y Papeles de San Armadans, absurd, obscene writ-
ings, extremely alliterated and of frantic rhythm, totally opposed to poems
in, for example, rbol de Diana, even Extraccin de la piedra de la locura, fore-
tell of an extreme poetic search, more profound for poetry and more harm-
ful for the poetess. Notwithstanding, it is important here to retain the double
semantic load it entailing, in Pizarnik, the harm that this new poetics pro-
duces in her: the loss of self and fervidness.
Poetically, the formula created by Pizarnik best condensing the excess
characterizing these texts written after 1968, appears in La bucanera de
Pernambuco o Hilda la polgrafa:
Lector, soy rigidsima en cuanto atae a la etiqueta. Es el buen tono, pre-
cisamente, lo que me insta a la precisin de un estado de profusa vague-
dad.
Estas razones, que obran a modo de palabras liminares o de introito a la
vagina de Dios, tienen por nalidad abrir una brecha en mi flgido cere-
monial. Tal un nadador lanzndose de cabeza y de culo en una piscina
-con o sin agua, poco importa esto que escribo para la mierda.
(Reader, I am most rigid as far as etiquette goes. It is elegance, exactly,
what moves me to need a state of profuse vagueness. These reasons
that work as a means of preliminary words or introitus to Gods vagina
have the nal purpose of opening a gap in my ceremonial glittering. Like
a swimmer who dives on his head and ass into a poolwith or without
water, little does it matter as I write this like shit).
7
For an Argentinean speaker, to do something like shit does not have
the value of a predicative phrase where shit would act as a dative noun but
as an adverbial word where excrement is a modal circumstantial comple-
ment; thus, the exact meaning in English would be to write or do some-
thing in an extremely careless and shitty manner. Let us then review some
of the traits of this bad writing. To begin with, Pizarnik declares in a letter
6. Ibid., p. 495.
7. Alejandra PIzarnik, Prosa Completa, Barcelona, Lumen, 2002, p. 154.
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Carolina Depetris
286
addressed to Bordelois she has lost full control of her writing: el domingo
pasado (se) escrib() un dilogo entre marionetas [...] (se me) escribe/
escribo (last Sunday I wrote (was written) a dialogue between puppets
[] (its been) written/I write).
8
This writing that barely touches autonomy is
made of linguistic signs semiotically broken, that have broken the link arbi-
trarily established but conventionally used between signied and signier.
Poetic in extreme, these signs overvalue their formal load: they conform a
language made up of signiers aesthetics strictu sensu, where a phoneme
calls for another of similar kind decomposing in each case the concept that
closes the sign. I take an example of the many there are: Coja que medra
no mierdajactse la jacto. Jicorar con un buen coro, humoro; pero jibir
bajo un jibarita, es divinox. Moraleja: en caja de coja, carcaj al carajo (She
whose sheet does shitbragged the braggartchoric with good choir great;
but singing in Singhalese is swinging. Maxim: In cripples crib quiver quits).
9

Thanks to this frantic and whimsical alliteration, the rhetorical illusion is
produced to mean that no one controls the process of communication that
language entails; simply a form falls into the next and this falls into the fol-
lowing, annihilating the semiotic factum that transmitter and receiver use
language to communicate something and thus such communication takes
place in time. The lack of semiotic means between signied and signier
hinders a likely communication between the poetess and her readers. The
statement of no importance of poetic communication is here (set forward)
evident in numerous occasions: Lectoto o lecteta: mi desasimiento de tu
aprobamierda te har leerme a todo vapor (reador or readess: my unassi-
lability from your shitapproval will make you read me fullstream ahead);
Pedrito se caga en los lectores. Pedrito quiere lo mejor para Pedrito y para
Pizarnik. El resto? A la mierda el resto (Pedrito shits on his readers.
Pedrito wants the best for Pedrito and for Pizarnik. The rest? To shit with
the rest).
10
As to discourse itself, these texts maybe have a formal cohesion because
certain phonemes are repeated and develop themselves in unrefrained allit-
eration that binds them together, but they do not comply with a conceptual
coherence or with referential continuity. Here, there is no linguistic message,
nor a topic, nor a meaning, but this excess of phonic sequence and this semi-
otic lack of control is quite meaningful in its critic assessment, because they
indicate that in this new writing direction the zeal for composition, the search
for each exact word, of the exact poem as it happened in rbol de Diana, are
groundless. It seems that in this new poetic order that Pizarnik is now work-
ing since 1968, to write like shit seems to be the clue to write well. Let us
trace the evidence that supports this statement.
The deviation operating in the linguistic sign that Pizarnik utilizes in
these texts is a symptom that, on one hand, the semantic process is highly
8. Ivonne Bordelois, Correspondencia Pizarnik, Buenos Aires, Seix Barral, 1998, p. 207.
9. Pizarnik, Prosa Completa, p. 105.
10. Ibid., p. 94 and 117.
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Crossing readings on mysticism
287
equivocal because in decomposing each time the signied/signier nexus,
signs always reveal something different of what they usually reveal and, on
the other, this way of writing mixes up form and content as signiers become
signied and vice versa; and this does not occur in linear time as required
by any syntagm, but in an instant game of presence and absence of signs.
This language, discrete in its so very rapid sequence of present tense, nds
in Lautramont a fundamental precedent. The poetic universe of Ducasse in
Les chants de Maldoror, animal and animistic universe is built up by a series of
rapid and violent mutations of forms, and this is attained by what Bacherlard
calls, in his paper on Lautramont, as instant language,
11
a poetic lan-
guage that removes things from what they are in order to create new forms
that, at the very instant they are born, already point to their extinction into
something else. What is interesting here is that this semiotic handling of the
sign/referent relationship is assimilated by Bachelard as poetic primitivism:
New primitive poetry which must create its language, which must always
be contemporaneous to the creation of a language, may be hindered by the
already learnt language []. One must free oneself of books and of teachers
as well as to nd poetic primitiveness.
12
Poetic primitivism has an enormous inuence on that which I call poetic
cruelty, practice that Pizarnik adopts from Artauds theater of cruelty, and
that gives to us an explanation of the dispersion, of self the estrangement
that she feels when writing La bucanera.
13
In 1965 Pizarnik publishes in Sur
El verbo encarnado, article in which she analyses the need to recompose
the lively condition of language that entails Artauds writing, and the concept
of metaphysics in activity as means to attain the union of life and logos.
Three years later, Pizarnik makes reference in her diary to the reading of Le
thtre et son double. On the 9
th
August she writes: [...] Lectura peligrosa
puesto que mi estado psquico degradado deriva de mis pretensiones pare-
cidas a las de A. ([] Dangerous reading since my degraded psychic state
derives from pretensions resembling those of A.).
14
Six days later she wrote:
El teatro y su doble. Esa necesidad de una disonancia paroxstica es el
colmo de la belleza ms intolerable. Esa necesidad de vida convulsiva
y trepidante a falta de toda posibilidad de vida inmediata. Una vida que
sea lo que las ideas sobre el teatro de Artaud. Lo imposible materiali-
zado con su doble o posible o reejo miserable de lo otro, los grandes
deseos investidos de realidad viva, tangible, audible, visible (Le thtre
et son double. The need for a paroxistic dissonance is the height of the
most intolerable beauty. That need for convulsive and trembling life for
want of every possibility of immediate life. A life that is about ideas on
Artauds theater. The impossible materialized with its double or likely or
11. Gaston Bachelard, Lautramont, Mxico, F. C. E., 1997, p. 88.
12. Ibid., p. 49.
13. See Carolina Depetris, Alejandra Pizarnik despus de 1968: la palabra instantnea y la
crueldad potica, Iberoamericana, VIII, 31, 2008, p. 61-7
14. Pizarnik, Diarios, p. 455.
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Carolina Depetris
288
miserable reection of the other, the great desires endowed with live,
tangible, audible, visible reality).
15
The third reference of the 18
th
August is meaningful for us because there
she relates Artauds thinking with strange books that she begins to write
that year:
Importante la anotacin del 15/ VIII. Se aproxima a lo que deseo escri-
bir, si bien me gustara, como Artaud, escribir sobre la disonancia con
la mayor belleza posible. [...]. La importancia del fragm[ento] del 15/ VIII
consiste en que nombra mi herida. Creo que mis lecturas debieran orien-
tarse hacia eso torcido acerca de lo cual quiero escribir. Pero no quiero
que el lenguaje con que hable de l lo sea tambin.
El problema es el de siempre: cmo podra yo atreverme a escribir en
una lengua que no conozco? El error consiste en alimentar la esperanza
de un da nuevo en el que escribir cosas nuevas: objetos externos, hechos
objetivos, etc. O, tal vez, quiero dar un visado especial a mis textos raros.
Puesto que son incomprensibles, que los salve, aunque sea, la magia ver-
bal (Important annotation of the 15 / VIII. Its close to what I wish to write;
in any case Id like to write, just like Artaud, on dissonance as beautiful as
I could. []. The importance of the 15/VIII frag [ment] consists of the fact
that it names my wound. I believe my readings should be focused on that
which is twisted about what I wish to write about. But I do not want that
language with what I write about it be twisted as well.
The problem is the same as usual: How would I dare write in a language
that I dont know? The error consists in feeding the hope of a new day
when I shall write new things: external objects, objective facts, etcetera.
Or, perhaps, I wish to give a special visa to my strange texts. And, given
they are incomprehensible, let verbal magic save them, at least).
16
Two options of writing are confronted by Pizarnik at the end of this quo-
tation. Artaud, in Le thtre et son double, follows the Nietzchean mandate
of metaphysics of grammatical foundation that must be demolished and,
because of that, with its theatrical proposal, it removes logos from perfor-
mance and it places it within its limits of possibility. If The Theater and Its
Double is behind these reections by Pizarnik, she does nothing but to tackle
a fake dilemma because she knows, as Artaud knew, that mimesis is the
most nave form of representation.
17
Artaud understands that theater must detach itself from the exclu-
sive regulation of logos to return to its physical gesture-like condition.
Consequently, he confronts western theater to eastern theater, specically,
Balinese. Western theater, so attached to dialogues and to words, has lost
precisely its theatricality condition that is indeed found in the gesture and
material load of eastern theater. In order to easternalize theater, Artaud
proposes a semiotic break in signs used in a given mise-en-scene a rupture
15. Idem.
16. Ibid., p. 456.
17. Jacques Derrida, Writing and Difference, London, Routledge Classics, 2002, p. 320.
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Crossing readings on mysticism
289
of identical nature as that practiced by Pizarnik in Los posedos and in La
bucanera: to incline the semantic function towards signiers and not towards
the signied so as to replace a theater of words by a theater of space, out
of linguistic order. This is attained through cruelty, cruelty for the same
theater consisting in action that is extreme, radical of transcending the word:
Du point de vue de lesprit cruaut signie rigueur, application et dcision
implacable, dtermination irrversible, absolue.
18
In this anarchic action,
theater resorts to poetry, a poetry understood in the exactly same line used
by Pizarnik, in continuous search of the word in its initial point, in constant
direction to the moment in which it is found between thought and gesture; a
poetry that unlearns the dense history of lexemes to arrive to the rst instant
of stammering, to the raw, savage, physical moment of language:
[] cest sen servir dune faon nouvelle, exceptionnelle et inaccoutume,
cest lui rendre ses possibilits dbranlement physique, cest prendre les
intonations dune manire concrte absolue et leur restituer le pouvoir
quelles auraient de dchirer et de manifester rellement quelque chose,
cest se retourner contre le langage et ses sources bassement utilitaires,
on pourrait dire alimentaires, contre ses origines de bte traque, cest
enn considrer le langage sous la forme de lIncantation.
19
This poetization of theater that is implied in cruaut means, reectively,
a theatricalization of poetry, to abandon the logical and discursive aspects
of words in favor of their physical condition. The fourth letter regarding lan-
guage, dated 1933, is most important to this respect:
Mais que lon en revienne si peu que ce soit aux sources respiratoires,
plastiques, actives du langage, que lon rattache les mots aux mouve-
ments physiques qui leur ont donn naissance, et que le ct logique et
discursif de la parole disparaisse sous son ct physique et affectif, cest-
-dire que les mots au lieu dtre pris uniquement pour ce quils veulent
dire grammaticalement parlant soient entendus sour leur angle sonore,
soient perus comme des mouvements [] et voici que le langage de la
littrature se recompose, devient vivant; et ct de cela [] les objets se
mettent eux-mmes parler.
20
Artaud assimilates this physical condition of language to a metaphysics
not of the logos but one of the skin, of esh, a metaphysics that he calls in
activity because, he argues, cest par la peau quon fera rentrer la mtaphy-
sique dans les esprits.
21
Poetry, for Artaud, as well as for Pizarnik, is always
metaphysical or even better, meta-physical because in itself the word lies
beside, between, after its organic circumstance. A theater and a poetry sub-
dued to cruelty implied in metaphysics in activity reach the point where life
18. Antonin Artaud, Le thtre et son double, Paris, Gallimard, 2000, p. 158.
19. Ibid., p. 69.
20. Ibid., p. 153.
21. Ibid., p. 153.
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Carolina Depetris
290
and theater, thing and word, body and spirit are not differentiated. Derrida
says that in Artaud and his theater one can nd
[] an existence that refuses to signify, [] an art without works, a lan-
guage without a trace. That is to say, without difference [] a manifesta-
tion which would not be an expression but a pure creation of life, which
would not fall far from the body then to decline into a sign or a work, an
object.
22
An identical problem is underlined by Pizarnik in El deseo de la palabra
and she reiterates it in her interview with Martha Isabel Moia:
M. I. M. Por ltimo, te pregunto si alguna vez te formulaste la pregunta
que se plantea Octavio Paz en el prlogo de El arco y la lira: no sera mejor
transformar la vida en poesa que hacer poesa con la vida?
A. P. Respondo desde uno de mis ltimos poemas: Ojal pudiera vivir
solamente en xtasis, haciendo el cuerpo del poema con mi cuerpo, resca-
tando cada frase con mis das y con mis semanas, infundindole al poema mi
soplo a medida que cada letra de cada palabra haya sido sacricada en las
ceremonias del vivir.
(M.I.M- And last, I ask you if at any given moment you asked yourself
Octavio Pazs question in The Bow and the Lyre: Wouldnt it be better to
transform life into poetry instead of making poetry out of life?
A.P. I answer from one of my last poems: I wish I could live only in ecstasy,
doing the body of the poem with my body, rescuing each phrase with my days
and with my weeks, instilling my breath into the poem as if each letter of each
word had been scaried in ceremonies of the act of living).
23
Body is here the symbol of the material, basic, primary side of words
which is being erased from the semantic potency of logos and that poetry
submitted to cruelty must recompose. The use of the linguistic sign in texts
such as La bucanera has this primitive, cruel, meta-physical poetic mark
which is the only means for reaching the essential form of language and to
unite poetry and act.
To this poetic primitivism the notion of dpense in Bataille is added: to be
guided by a positive sense of the loss. This concept truly revealing, if applied
to the reading of Pizarniks last texts, was dened by Bataille in an article he
called La notion de dpense published in issue no. 7 of La critique sociale
and later in La part maudite. Bataille begins denouncing the sufciency of
the classic principle of usefulness, criticizing, in concrete, the denition of
what is useful for human beings. Socially, and in every respect, every human
activity is valid, as long as it depends on two fundamental needs: produc-
tion and preservation. Thus, the most important part of life is considered
to be formed by conditionsometimes even painfulof productive social
activity.
24
This productivity excludes, in terms of accountancy (acquisi-
22. Derrida, op. cit., p. 219.
23. Pizarnik, Prosa Completa, p. 315.
24. Georges Bataille, La parte maldita, Madrid, Icaria, 1987, p. 26
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Crossing readings on mysticism
291
tion, preservation, rational consumption), what Bataille calls unproductive
expense. Human activity is not reducible, then, to only the production and
preservation principles; consumption also exists, which may be double-
faced beyond the accounting order: a consumption necessary for lifes pres-
ervation and for the continuity of productive activity; and an unproductive
consumption where Bataille places luxury, warfare, duels, construction of
luxurious monuments, games, spectacles, perverse sexual activity, arts and,
amongst them, poetry. All of these activities have in common a purpose in
themselves and to be subdued to the principle of loss, that is, the uncon-
ditional expense, as opposed to the economic principle of accountancy
(the expense regularly compensated through acquisition.
25
Poetry, in this
respect, is for Bataille one of the least degraded expressions (in the sense
of intellectualized) within a state of loss; it means, actually, in its most
exact way, creation through loss.
26
Further on in the article, the loss princi-
ple is duly opposed by Bataille to bourgeoisie, attentive opponent to all futil-
ity and to all expense. Poetry, paradigmatic activity of unconditional expense,
understood as counter face of a utilitarian bourgeois sense, is a constant in
Pizarniks intimate writings, and it reects the opposite life/poetry that we
mentioned at the beginning of this paper.
Bataille nds the model for characterizing the positive property of loss
in what is known as potlatch. The potlatch is for Indians of the Northeast
of United States, a system of exchange consisting of endowing richness in
an ostensible form so as to humiliate, defy and force a rival.
27
However,
and this is what this system is interested in, not only can a rival be deed
and forced through exaggerated endowments, but also through spectac-
ular richness destructions. Bataille gives as example a Tlingit chief who,
in front of his rival, beheaded some of his slaves and this destruction had
to be returned by beheading a larger number of slaves. Richness appears
here as power, just as it appears in a mercantile system, but the difference
is that in this system power is guided by loss; it is denitely the power to
lose. The ideal, in this positive property entailing loss, would be in a potlatch
that would not be returned because then the unconditional expense princi-
ple of mere expense would be really crystallized. It is important to focus on
three consequences of this transgression of the sense of usefulness to think
in association with Pizarnik that: rst, the positive sense of loss conveyed
through unconditional expense is radically opposed to the preservation prin-
ciple: secondly, Bataille points out, whoever follows this principle is exposed
to the need of unrestrained loss;
28
and thirdly, subdued to a mere expense
ethics the arranged and pondered forces are liberated in aims that may
not be subject to anything on which it is possible to make calculations;
29
its
state is of pure excitement understood as rejection of useful goods (material
25. Ibid., p. 28.
26. Ibid., p. 30.
27. Ibid., p. 32.
28. Idem.
29. Ibid., p. 42.
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Carolina Depetris
292
and moral) through illogical and irresistible pulsations. And Bataille adds
emblematically: Together with ruin, glory [].
30
The notion of expense is taken once more by Barthes in Fragments dun
discours amoureux during his reections on Werther, under the meaningful
name of The Exuberance. He argues there that expense is the gure that
places love in a mere expense, loss for nothing economy. He argues that
in Werther there are two opposed economies, and thus, in this opposition he
summarizes what is stated by Bataille:
On one hand, there is the young man in love who lavishes, regardless of
his time, his faculties, his fortune; on the other, there is the philistine (the
ofcer) who teaches him a lesson: Distribute your timeCalculate your
fortune appropriately, etc.On one side there is the Werther in love who
spends his love each day, without reservation or hope for compensation
and, on the other, there is Alberto the husband who looks after his well-
being, his happiness. In one case, a middle-class fullness economy; in the
second, a perverse economy of dispersion, of waste, of fury, (Wertherinus
fury).
31

This notion of expense suggests that, without transmissible message,
without communication, the excess running throughout Los posedos and
La bucanera is devoid of useful poetic purpose: to write good poems, to
say something, to transcend, nally. In 1972 Pizarnik publishes En esta
noche, en este mundo, and on the last stanza she refers to this mere
expense poetics: hoy aydame a escribir el poema ms prescindible/ el que
no sirva ni para/ ser inservible (today help me write the most unneces-
sary poem/the one that is no good/not even for being useless).
32
After 1968,
Pizarnik writes, under the lens of nothing for nothing, apart from a rational
economy of the usefulness, sunk in sterility and fruitless literary expense.
In texts pointing to this poetic direction, there is a prevalence of prodigal-
ity understood as non preservation; the excess and excitement adopting the
form of dispersion, wastefulness and rage; and the power to write while los-
ing, a power that as we shall see, is an arrogance condition. This power to
lose is what Artaud calls, in his letters to J. Rivire, the unpower, which is,
as Derrida holds, the radical irresponsibility of speech, irresponsibility as
potency and origin of speech.
33
Hence, we can now extract two fundamental traits of this new poetic
direction that Pizarnik tackles since the composition of El inerno musical
condensed in clause to write like shit: on one hand it is primitive poetics
because it aims to unlearn the linguistic memory of each word and the daily
use and, on the other hand, it is a kind of poetics devoid of the notion of use-
fulness (there is no poetic message, there is not communication, there isnt
30. Idem.
31. Roland Barthes, Fragmentos del discurso amoroso, Mxico, Siglo XXI, 2001, p. 142.
32. Alejandra Pizarnik, Poesa Completa, Barcelona, Lumen, 2000, p. 400.
33. Derrida, op. cit. p. 242.
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Crossing readings on mysticism
293
even formal concern based upon the notion of fruitless expense). This poet-
ics, Pizarnik declares, removes her off the center, dispersing her because it
is a vertiginous exercise but also one that is pure, that is, without dened
poetic objective, to do for nothing, to do for the sake of doing. And this dis-
possession of self and this absence of a teleological poetics, this annihilation
of well-doing that nd in bad writing their means of fulllment would take
Pizarnik, according to her own statements, to the most profound of poetry.
To reach a unitive, absolute instance, where opposites cease to exist
through poetry is a moral duty that Pizarnik assumes, as we said already,
of modern poetry that continues with the metaphysical mandate religious
mysticism has been concerned with before. Many attempts to overcome the
separation of opposites follow in her the trail of the French Damned poets
and those of Surrealism, but absolute annihilation of herself as poet and of
her poetry, the abandonment of her work for the sake of writing like shit
that Pizarnik works after 1968, bring her very close to mysticism. The con-
cept here of annihilation is most signicant: only in mysticism annihilation
of oneself is a necessary practice to know a deeper, unitive reality.
In his article, Alcalde Onrubia underlines the specic traits of mystic
language: it is ineffable because it expresses concepts that are alien to the
common language domain; it is creative, or, moreover, more creative than
ordinary language because, given that it must express supernatural reali-
ties, it is continuously forced to nd unusual expressive means; it is gura-
tive because it explores inside symbols, images and gures to discover these
expressive means to name new realities; it relates to personal experience
because it names a mystical experience effectively lived; universal because
it is common to everyone as long as there are common referents; interac-
tive for as in being a particularly rich language it creates multiple concepts
within itself; and, last, it is affective due to its life and personal experience
nature.
34
Beyond the fact that each one of these traits may be applied to, for
instance, poetic language (not to say language, period), Alcalde Onrubia does
not emphasize a condition that indeed is exclusive of mystical language, full
of semantic opposition that asserts through breaking the contradiction prin-
ciple.
35
A paradigmatic example is Saint Therese: Vivo sin vivir en m,/ y tan
alta vida espero,/ que muero porque no muero (Without living in myself I live
/ and so high is life I do expect, / that I die because I do not die). Hence, in
mystical rhetoric two premises are logically excluded, continuously resigni-
fying established values: life is death, death is life, or, following Saint John
of the Cross in Subida al Monte Carmelo, book I, chapter XIII: Para venir a
gustarlo todo,/ no quieras tener gusto en nada;/ para venir a poseerlo todo,/
no quieras poseer algo en nada;/ para venir a serlo todo, / no quieras ser
algo en nada;/ para venir a saberlo todo,/ no quieras saber algo en nada
34. Mara Paz Alcalde Onrubia, El lenguaje mstico en Santa Teresa y en San Francisco
de Sales, Homenaje al Prof. J. Cantera, Madrid, Servicio de Publicaciones Universidad
Complutense, 1997, p. 57-63.
35. The contradiction principle reads: It is impossible that a thing is and is not at the same
time and under the same respect.
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Carolina Depetris
294
(1. That thou mayest have pleasure in everything, seek pleasure in nothing/
2. That thou mayest know everything, seek to know nothing/ 3. That thou
mayest possess all things, seek to possess nothing/ 4. That thou mayest be
everything, seek to be nothing).
36
If Pizarnik follows a poetic line guided by disowning overall poetic prin-
ciple through poetic annihilation, it is likely that to her it is precisely there
where the nest poetic expression or poetic plenitude lies. I am now going
to review the notion of annihilation under the light of the three authors
Pizarnik resorts to, Miguel de Molinos, Simone Weil and Georges Bataille
in order to understand their inuence and derivations on the new and last
poetics written by our author.
In 1964, on returning to Buenos Aires after her stay in Paris, in a letter to
Ana Mara Barrenechea, Pizarnik mentions Miguel de Molinos:
And recordando, cara amiga, en dnde diablos puedo leerquiero decir,
releeral mstico hereje Miguel de Molinosaunque fuese solamente
la Gua Espiritual pues ando en obsesiones XXXXXXX pensando en la
poesa y en el silencio (interno, naturlich) y me gustara releer lo que
cuenta Mickey Molinos al respecto (Now go and try to remember, dearest
friend, where the hell can I readI mean to say, reread heretic Miguel
de Molinos, even if its only the Spiritual Guide, for I am obsessed in
xxxxxxxxxxx thinking in poetry and in silence (internal, naturlich) and Id
like to reread what Mickey Molinos has to say in regards to this).
37
What is it that Pizarnik seeks in silence as seen by Molinos? Let us
remember that Miguel de Molinos published in Rome in 1675 the Gua espir-
itual que desembaraza el alma y la conduce por el interior camino para alcanzar
la perfecta contemplacin y el rico tesoro de la interior paz, a text in the line
of mystic quietism that won him, regardless of his remarkable success,
38
an
inquisitorial condemnation and imprisonment where he died nine years later.
In essence, quietism derives from the confrontation between human will and
divine will, a confrontation that must end in disappearance of the rst into the
latter. The only will of man is to agree in being ruled out as an independent
will. Molinos text is, then, a guide in the practical sense of the term because
it teaches the necessary steps to attain the disappearance of human will as
independent from Gods absolute will. Mystical silence, Pizarniks concern,
is the highest point of this guide, the moment of perfection in the abandon-
ment of will that, in essence, consists of what Molinos calls la verdadera y
perfecta aniquilacin (the perfect and true annihilation).
39
This annihila-
36. San Juan de la Cruz, Obras Completas. Mxico, Porra, 1998, p. 30. Translation: John
of the Cross, The Complete Works of Saint John of the Cross, vol. 1. London, Longman,
Green, Longman, Roberts & Green, 1864, p. 50.
37. Bordelois, Op. Cit., p. 101.
38. Toscano Liria mentions twenty-two editions were made in various languages in only six
years. The number is signicant if we consider it is the sixteenth century.
39. Miguel de Molinos, Gua Espiritual, Madrid, Editora Nacional, 1977, p. 240.
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Crossing readings on mysticism
295
tion implied in mystical silence and abandonment of will is made of silence
of speech, silence of desires and silence of thoughts:
Tres maneras hay de silencio. El primero es de palabras; el segundo,
de deseos, y el tercero, de pensamiento. En el primero, de palabras, se
alcanza la virtud; en el segundo, de deseos, se consigue la quietud; en
el tercero, de pensamientos, el interior recogimiento. No hablando, no
deseando, no pensando, se llega al verdadero y perfecto silencio mstico,
en el cual habla Dios con el nima, se comunica y la ensea en su ms
ntimo fondo la ms perfecta y alta sabidura (There are three forms of
silence. The rst is that of words: the second, that of desires, and the
third one of thoughts, the inner withdrawal into oneself. Not speaking,
not wishing, not thinking is the arrival to perfect and true mystical silence,
where God speaks with the soul, where He communicates and teaches in
its most intimate depth the highest and most perfect wisdom).
40
These three silences leading to mystical silence indicate in essence an
extreme ataraxy, a deep inaction that Molinos describes as santo ocio
(holy leisure), absolute quietness in union with resignation, with offering
to use a term dear to Pizarnik that we make of ourselves in Gods will.
In order to achieve that passive offering, the mystic must undress his soul,
aniquilarse en todo y para todo a s mismo (annihilate himself in and for
everything), die within himself, kill the soul, deny himself, acabar la vida
(nish life).
41
Mysticism, as we see, tackles the same problem that Pizarnik
is concerned about after the writing of Extraccin de la piedra de la locura. Let
us remember that in this book, by means of a series of inversions of seman-
tic values established in her previous poetry books, she begins to live post-
humously, begins to live from within death.
42
The key in one and other case is
how to overcome the aporia of living in death or of dying alive. There are two
ways Molinos points out in order to beat contradiction that I believe Pizarnik
also follows in the poetic work of her last years: Molinos argues that dis-
course must be removed from the soul and that memory must be abstract-
ed.
43
Abandonment of discourse is oriented to the silence of thought. Molinos
borrows this from Saint Thomas when the latter discusses contemplative life
in the second section of part II of De Summa Teologica, question, 180: that it
is a simple, soft and quiet view of eternal truth, without discourse or reec-
tions. Thus, abandoning discourse is actually to remain with no capacity for
reasoning, with no possibility of meditating on what is an object of medita-
tion. If I think, if I reason on what the object of my reasoning is, I irremissibly
lose it. Added to this is the need to olvido de todas las cosas (forsake all
things),
44
to annul, just as Artaud and Pizarnik do with linguistic signs, the
thickness of memory beneath the meditation on some matter, on the reec-
40. Ibid., p. 135.
41. See Molinos 123, 19, 198, 210, 214.
42. Ver Carolina Depetris, Aportica de la muerte. Estudio crtico sobre Alejandra Pizarnik,
Madrid, UAM Ediciones, 2004, chapter III.
43. See Molinos, Op. Cit., p. 74 and 75.
44. Ibid., p. 75.
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Carolina Depetris
296
tion about it, and that creates distance from the true object which is quiet-
ness and contemplation of God. Perfection is not attained by thinking about
it, instead, it is by practicing other ways of access that are not habitual, as
a matter of fact. The nal purpose of this attempt rests on the antithetical
logic of mysticism: the farthest away from poetry, the closest to it. Molinos
talks about tiniebla feliz (blissful darkness) that which annuls luminosity
creates a greater light.
45
The most complete meaning of a positive resolu-
tion by means of the negative way is given in Molinos through the concept of
naught: Lo que t has de hacer es no hacer nada [...]. Oh qu grande obra
ser para tu alma estar en la oracin las horas enteras, muda, resignada y
humillada sin hacer, sin saber ni querer nada! (That which you must do is
do nothing [] Ah, what a great deed for your soul will to be able to dwell in
prayer for full hours, mute, resignated and humbled without doing, knowing
or wanting anything).
46
To dwell in naught, as a result of all the fbrica de la aniquilacin
(factory of annihilation)
47
that Molinos constructs, has four important der-
ivations for us. First, to dwell in naught removes every explanation and com-
prehension otherwise there would not be silence in thought nor in speech,
perfect annihilation would not exist. Perfection, therefore, demands ineffa-
bility. Second, and related to attain nothing is to return to a primary, primitive
state that Molinos denes as the dichoso estado de la inocencia, que per-
dieron nuestros primeros padres (joyful state of innocence that our early
parents lost).
48
This is what to abstract memory consists of, according
to Molinos. Third, in naught there is notand cannot beany opposites; in
naught soul nds pleasure in this synthesis, agradndole igualmente la luz
como las tinieblas (for it nds pleasure both in light and darkness).
49
Last,
and this inevitably points out to being beyond all poetic concern in Pizarnik,
naught is the place of the most potent freedom. Si te ests encerrado en la
nada, adonde no llegan los golpes de las adversidades, nada te dar pena,
nada te inquietar [...] slo en la nada reina el verdadero y perfecto dominio
(If you are locked up in naught, where adversities do not strike, nothing
will give you sorrow, nothing will disturb you [], only in naught does true
and perfect dominion have its realm).
50
Resignated only in God, the quietist
reaches absolute freedom from alarming derivations of the humans world
because he is not subject to any power whatsoever on Earth. Ulterior freedom
conned in the perfect annihilation to be beyond all human deontology and
authority will be again considered by the lay mysticism of Bataille through
the concept of sovereignty which we shall see a bit further on in this paper.
What is certain is that extreme freedom naturally menaces orthodoxy, rea-
son why Miguel de Molinos was condemned for heresy and Pizarnik writes in
45. See Molinos, ibid., p. 101.
46. Ibid., p. 104.
47. Ibid., p. 244.
48. Ibid., p. 249.
49. Ibid., p. 251.
50. Ibid., p. 248.
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Crossing readings on mysticism
297
her diary on the 22
nd
July of 1970: Luego la gente. Le gente no quiere saber
nada de mis textos de humor. Par ex: M. A.; par ex. todo el mundo (Then
people. People do not want to know anything about my humorous texts. Par
ex. M.A.; par ex. everyone).
51
The problem of will abandonment is also present in Simone Weils
thought. In 1963, while in Paris, Pizarnik makes reference to the Cahiers.
She declares, among other things:
S. Weil me da miedo. Supongo que algn da la amar y la comprender
porque ningn otro escritor provoca en m tantas reexiones [...]. El miedo
que me produce S. Weil es un miedo como cuando se espera indenida-
mente en un cuarto vaco (blanco). Tal vez porque ha abolido la imagina-
cin o, para decirlo mejor, el arte, para reinstaurar, en su lugar, la moral
(justicia, virtud, amor humano) [...] S. W. es en m la tentacin del salto
de lo esttico a lo tico. Ahora [...] debo decir que la justicia ni la virtud
me interesan entraablemente. En m hay alguien que acepta el mal y el
sufrimiento del desorden si ellos son la condicin de un hermoso poema
[...]. En el poema no hay lugar para la justicia porque el poema nace de la
herida de la injusticia, es decir de la ausencia de justicia. Y quien invoca a
lo ausente no es mesurado ni justo puesto que su materia de canto o de
voz no puede medirse, por el hecho de no estar presente [...] Pero no s
por qu me duele leer a S. W. (S. Weil makes me afraid. I suppose one day
I shall love and understand her because no other writer provokes in me
so many reections []. The fear that S. Weil produces in me is a fear like
when one waits indenitely in an empty room (white). Maybe because she
has abolished imagination or, to say it better, art, to restore in its place
morals (justice, virtue, human love) []. In me, S.W. is temptation to leap
from the aesthetic to the ethic. Now [] I must say that neither justice nor
virtue interest me dearly. In me, there is someone who accepts evil and
pain in disorder if they are the previous condition for a beautiful poem [].
In the poem there is no place for justice because the poem is born out of
the wound of injustice, that is, from the absence of justice. And whoever
invokes the absent is not moderate nor fair given that the substance of
his song or his voice cannot be measured because of the fact that it is not
present []. But I do not know why it hurts to read S.W).
52
We also know, thanks to Ivonne Bordeloiss testimony, that together with
Pizarnik they used to read Attente de Dieu []; Con Alejandra solamos leer y
comentar su libro Espera de Dios [...]; en particular nos fascinaba el extraor-
dinario captulo dedicado a la atencin (in particular we were fascinated
by the extraordinary chapter on attention).
53
It is precisely this topic about
attention which is closely related to the loss of ones own will, not only in
God, as it works in Catholic mysticism, but essentially in all the other of what
is not myself (other men, other beings, other objects). Attention is absolute
orientation, the most extreme act of going of the soul towards the other which
51. Pizarnik, Diarios, p. 496.
52. Ibid., p. 337.
53. Bordelois, op. cit., p. 290.
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Carolina Depetris
298
she is not. This concentration full of the attention on the other is, for Weil, the
true, the beautiful and the good:
The pure and authentic values of the true, the beautiful and the good in a
human beings activity originate from a unique and single act, by a deter-
mined application of plenitude of attention to the object.
54
This determined application makes reference to what Weil calls
method or gymnastics of attention which demands of discretion or
neutralization of the self, or from a state of waiting that is, at the same time,
consent, retrogression and emptiness of thought. Here, the antithetic logic
of mysticism is evidenced again, because it is by moving backwards from
the pursued object that one reaches it, and it is by abandoning every thought
that we reach the thought object: To move backwards from the pursued
object. Only the indirect proves effective. Nothing is within reach if before one
has not moved backwards.
55
Weil assimilates this vacuum of thought that is
implied by waiting, just as Molinos does, into an emptiness of discourse that
reminds of the autonomous poetry by Pizarnik in her last years: there is a
kind of expectancy, when one writes, to the moment when the exact word
arrives on its own to place itself under the pen.
56
Moving backwards, dis-
creation implies an I am that is an I think-I say: without an ego and without
a verb, submerged in a passive expectancy, the self prepares itself to the
unconceivable, Weil states, because attention not only is backwardness
of being, of knowing and of doing, but also no projection, subtraction of all
desire within time. Attention denitely places us in an intense present time:
The capacity to expel a thought once and for all is the mise-en-scene of
eternity. Innite in an instant.
57
In this line of reection, the instant word of
Pizarnik in La bucanera and in Los posedos is an attentive, dis-created word
without a project, devoid of poetic ethics and, for the same reason, more
poetic.
The renouncement to any act of volition implied by attention is translated
in Weil, just as it happens in Molinos, amidst freedom:
Nothing do we possess in this worldbecause hazard may take it all away
from us, except the power to say I. This is what must be delivered to
God, that is, to destroy. There isnt any other free act whatsoever that is
allowed to us, other than destruction of the self.
58
Weil thinks also about the persistent topic that Pizarnik has dwelled upon:
the union of opposites. Close to the notion of Artauds metaphysics in activity
that, in Pizarnik is translated into poetics of the body, Weil holds that mans
uneasiness lies in distance existing between to look and to eat: The great
54. Simone Weil, La gravedad y la gracia, Madrid, Trotta, 1998, p. 155.
55. Ibid., p. 154.
56. Simone Weil, A la espera de Dios, Madrid, Trotta, 2004, p. 71.
57. Weil, La gravedad y la gracia, p. 155.
58. Ibid., p. 75.
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Crossing readings on mysticism
299
drama of human life is that to look and to eat are two different operations.
59

She insists on the same idea in a note published in La Pesanteur et la Grce
Mans pain, starting already in infancy (childhood) and following until death,
is made up by the fact that to look and to eat are two different operations.
60
Much in the line of Kantian idealism, Weil discovers this human drama
by thinking of beauty. Beauty, which is the only purpose in this world,
61
is
a purpose with no aim, except for itself. Drama lies in that we cannot pass
behind it, nor can we attain it, it is like a mirror that returns our own desire
of good to us, we cannot, denitely, look across and eat beauty so that it
forms part of us and we form part of her: we wish we could feed ourselves
on her, but it can only be part of a glance.
62
This irreducible distance, that
Weil feels in terms of a tremendous contradiction marked by activities of
looking and eating sets the pattern of all of the opposites that torment us.
The contradiction of not being capable of ingesting, incorporating beauty into
my body which is outside of it, being tormented by the contemplative dis-
tance of looking, is laceration, the cross,
63
the wound Pizarnik constantly
talks about. Notwithstanding, Weil points out two attempts in order to unite
opposites: one is beatitude. Weil argues that when attention focused on
something makes it evident when essential contradiction that such thing and
I are different, a sort of take-off is produced leading to unattachment,
a state of eternal beatitude, in which to look is to eat.
64
Here Weil does
not do other than recuperate access to divine truth which is mysticism. The
other, and this is now what I would wish to underline, is crime: Perhaps, in
essence, vices, depravation and crimes are almost always, or even always,
attempts to eat beauty, to eat what should only be seen.
65
Wouldnt it be
by chance that this acting wrongly, this looking for the awed, the deviant,
the unrighteous, this transgressing, this vitiating entailed in vice, deprava-
tion and crime, overall conditions for writing like shit, of Pizarniks poetic
cruelty? Of paramount suggestion is this access to beauty by means of its
destruction. Maybe because of this Pizarnik informs that humorous texts
damage her, and Weil declares that the opposites union is laceration: it is
impossible without an extreme suffering.
66
It is also the abandonment of will together with renouncement to thought
and to a project the duty of Batailles mystical proposal, but this does not
occur due to a renouncement associated to the humiliation of being within
God and to ascesis, as it happens in Molinos and Weil, but due to the full
practice of sovereignty and of excess. Bataille, Molinos and Weil attack the
petulance of Being in knowing itself as the center of the world, but the rst
59. Weil, A la espera de Dios, p. 103.
60. Weil, La gravedad y la gracia, p. 138.
61. Weil, A la espera de Dios, p. 103.
62. Idem.
63. Weil, La gravedad y la gracia, p. 137.
64. Idem.
65. Weil, A la espera de Dios, p. 103.
66. Weil, La gravedad y la gracia, p. 139.
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Carolina Depetris
300
decides not to chastise himself (and with him Being), instead he laughs at it:
human will of wanting to be everything, of wanting to know everything is, to
him, object of great derision.
67
Bataille is, in my opinion, the author who, together with Artaud, had the
most inuence in Pizarniks poetic project in her last years. With Bataille, the
inuence of mysticism in Pizarnik has a fundamental critical relevance that
could even call into question the impression that Surrealism had in her in
Los posedos or La bucanera, texts where, apparently, Bretons school could
seem closer. The non-project, for example, that mysticism has for its duty is
something inapplicable in experiments of clinic type of surrealists.
68
This no-
project of mysticism, implied in Artauds cruelty theater considerations and
by his metaphysics in activity, linked at the same time to the effort in Bataille
for reaching the extreme of possibility through what, we shall see, he calls
sovereign operation or inner experience, allows us to at least conceive
the possibility that behind the supposed formal poetic incoherence of Los
posedos and La bucanera there could be in Pizarnik a great poetic coherence.
To arrive at such end, it is necessary to do a conceptual reading of her: to pay
attention not to the aesthetic consequence of these writings but to concepts
that support them. Pizarnik, then, is on the limits of conceptual art, a reading
she suggests when she begins to write carelessly. This carelessness, from
logic, from antithetic rhetoric of mysticism, leads to a reformulation of an
entire system apparently negative.
We know that Bataille became a fundamental reading for Pizarnik during
her stay in Paris. In a letter to Ivonne Bordelois with no date but presumably
during 1963 or 1964, she declares:
[...] mi lectura de fondo sigue siendo Georges Bataille. Ah, il faut parler
de a... Acaba de salir un texto pstumo de l, sobre el humor y la muerte
que da justsimo en el lugar exactsimo en que la vida se abre para mos-
trar su parte ms vivida, ms vvida, ms aleteante, palpitante [...] ([] my
chief reading continues to be George Bataille. Ah, il faut parler de a. A
posthumous text of his has recently been published on humor and death
that hits at the very exact place in which life opens to show its most vivid,
and most lived, the most uttering, burning part []).
69
The key concept in Bataille, I have already advanced what it is, is one of
sovereign operation or, what he also calls inner experience which means
within his thought system, to take Being into an extreme point of what is
possible within the will of destitution of all will to be, to know and to do. This
extreme point is not, as lexical proximity to the point suprme of surrealism
67. Georges Bataille, La experiencia interior, Madrid, Taurus, 1981, p. 35. There is also an
intertextual link between Molinos, Weil, Bataille and Pizarnik: the four of them make
explicit reference in their work to Saint John of the Cross. Bataille at the same time
makes of Simone Weil the heroine of his novel Le bleu du ciel.
68. Nevertheless, it is important to say that both Artaud and Bataille are dissident
surrealists.
69. Bordelois, op. cit., p. 242.
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Crossing readings on mysticism
301
suggests a moment of achievement of something but, and this should be
clearer as we go on, of non-realization in anything at all. About the extreme
point Bataille says: it is not possible to conceive the possibility of going
beyond.
70
It is a state of radical ontological nakedness that has, in death, its
most fullled denition and, at the same time, the most unfullling.
To begin with, this nakedness demands, as in Molinos and Weil, to make
silence for discourse so as to forget everything and to cease thinking, know-
ing, having cognizance. There, Bataille says, everything crumbles down,
71

there, nonsense is attained. Consequently, a state of brutalization, a primi-
tive state which implies laughter, ecstasy, terrifying proximity of death; it
implies error, nausea, ceaseless agitation of likeliness and of unlikeliness.
72

There is not, as in Catholic mysticism, any ascesis nor contemplation, but
instead dramatizing, excess and erotics. Bataille, as it occurs with Pizarnik
and also with Weil and Molinos, is deeply disturbed by the terrible mistake
of discontinuity of Beings, by the excision between life and poetry, between
eating and looking and the thing that language unavoidably establishes.
Hence, Bataille says, in inner experience the statement is the great obstacle:
what counts is not the statement about the wind, but the wind.
73
Bataille assimilates the process of brutalization, primitivism implied in
reaching the extreme point of that which is possible to the notion of sov-
ereignty understood not in a political sense, but in a state contrary to the
servile and subordinate aspect. The sovereign has a condition, he says, com-
parable to the wild animal because he ignores every reserve, because he
cancels every limit, including that of death. He exerts, therefore, a destruc-
tive violence. Violence is a necessary condition in all forms of excess that
seek to recompose the continuity of beings: Could we assume, without
inner violence, a denial leading us to the limit of all that is likely?.
74
In face
of the serf, the sovereign does not fear destruction nor emptiness, spending
without compensation losing: he does not produce wealth, but he consumes
it, does not live the present time in view of the future but the moment itself;
does not preserve his life, but he is above things;
75
denitely, he is quite
far from all usefulness and project. Bataille argues that the beyond of use-
fulness is the sovereignty dominion.
76
This capacity of usefulness to tran-
scend, to live under unproductive expense takes the form, in the sovereign,
of not knowing and of senselessness.
First, Bataille holds that sovereignty is the miraculous realm of not-
knowing.
77
Just as Weill declared, sovereignty demands that thought is not
70. Bataille, La experiencia interior, p. 47.
71. Ibid., p. 48.
72. Idem.
73. Ibid., p. 22.
74. Georges Bataille, El erotismo, Barcelona, Tusquets, 1997, p. 29.
75. Ibid, p. 79.
76. Georges Bataille, Lo que entiendo por soberana, Barcelona, Paids, 1996, p. 64.
77. Bataille, El erotismo, p. 68.
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Carolina Depetris
302
subdued to an expected outcome: to think is, in the sovereigns operations,
to go against the natural process of knowledge:
78
I did no longer expect the moment in which I would obtain the reward of
my effort, in which at last Id know; but instead that in which I wouldnt
know, in which my rst expectation would solve itself in naught. Perhaps
it is a mysticism in the sense that in my thirst to not know one day it stop-
ped being differentiated from an experience that religious men decided to
call mysticism, but I did not have either an assumption nor a God.
79
The sovereign thought, characterized by the positive sense of the content
subtraction of the loss of consciousness, demands not only the not know-
ing in speculative and intellectual sense, but also in practical applied sense:
concretely not knowing to do.
In terms of writing, the destitute being, the naked being which is the sov-
ereign is not subject to wanting to say something: it signies, states nothing,
instead it manipulates the language removing all meaning and all purpose to
represent, breaking in each case, the coined Aristotelian principle of mimesis
in this is that formula for the extreme operation of axiom not this nor that.
80

It prevails in this consideration of language, not the search and construction
of a sense system, but that of senselessness. It is important, however, to
understand that in this respect, even if sovereignty continuously neutralizes in
discourse all oppositions thanks to this apparent indetermination of sentence
not this nor that, it itself is not neuter, but instead, in this paper, it operates
through the positive condition of loss. Senselessness is not one more kind of
sense, nor the opposite of this, but that of losing, brutalizing, primitivizing
sense, if I am allowed to use this term. About this sovereign writing Derrida
says: [...] must assure us of nothing, must give us no certitude, no result, no
prot. It is absolutely adventurous, is a chance and not a technique.
81
We see that in contrast of Catholic mysticism, the extreme destitution
that which the sovereign operation is, consisting of not knowing and of
senselessness, leads to nothing and reveals nothing. The inner experience,
Bataille argues, is unitive, but the only thing it unites is the not-know (the
subject) with the unknown (the object) and this union is resolved in nothing.
This naught is understood not as not-being (as nant) but as lack, as empti-
ness (as rien) that is only given in experience.
Needless to say is that NOTHING [RIEN] has little to do with naught [nant].
Naught (nant) is considered by metaphysics. NAUGHT [RIEN] of which
I am talking is given in experience, it is only considered inasmuch expe-
rience implies it. Indeed, a metaphysician can say that NAUGHT is what
he considers when he speaks of nothing. But all movement of my thought
is opposed to his pretension, it reduces it to NOTHING. At the moment in
which that NAUGHT becomes its object, this movement wishes even to
78. Ibid., p. 74.
79. Idem.
80. See Aristteles, Retrica, Mxico, UNAM, 2002, 1371b.
81. Derrida, op. cit., p. 346.
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303
stop, to stop being, leaving its empty space for the unknowable of instant.
Of course I confess that at the same time I value this NAUGHT, but in
valuing it I make NOTHING of it.
82

NAUGHT is, then, the object of inner experience, demands not being
thought and not having an end. It is outside any project and of the practical
value of the useful or, more precisely, it is always moving away from all project
and from all usefulness. Inner experience is contrary to action, salvation and
satisfaction. It is contrary also to moral: Moral plan is the plan of the project.
The contrary of project is sacrice.
83
This new mystical theology conceived by
Bataille, this negative mysticism is then built upon three given essential axis,
rst, because of an absence of project (there is no salvation, instead there is
NOTHING); second, because of renunciation to overall authority except that
from the same inner experience, leading, likewise, to absence of authority
and, third being [inner experience] a refutation of itself and knowing-not.
84

Lack of project, usefulness, authority, teleology added to the immanence
character of inner experience is translated into total freedom, unassailable
because in it lies the power of assertion as well as self-denial, given at the
extreme point of no reserve of whom does not fear to die, the sovereign: the
sovereigns world is the world where deaths limit is suppressed.
85
If we consider Los posedos and La bucanera under the light of this new mys-
tical theology, we shall see that, in strictly literary terms, Pizarniks adventure
is much more extreme than that of Bataille himself in his erotic novels, even
more extreme than that of Rimbaud, Batailles model of sovereign poetry. And
this is given, I think, by the sense of dying, which is the most extreme point of
possibility, is the farthest beyond we can reach, the ultimate nakedness. The
most extreme point of the extreme, to die for Bataille, something denitely
inaccessible and also ineffable, because we cannot talk about dying while being
dead nor can we die when being alive. We only pretend being dead in sacri-
ces, in erotic ecstasy or poetically when ceasing to write, as did Rimbaud. But
Pizarnik, as from 1968, began to undo, annihilate, lose her writing in an exercise
considerably more conscious than what could ever be imagined: to write badly
is excess, the point of no-reserve needed to arrive at a place that cannot pos-
sibly be reached any further in poetry. The more useless, primitive, careless,
cruelest her poetry is, the closer Pizarnik will be to breaking the unavoidable
distance between word and reality, to reaching the extreme of her expressive
freedom and poetic possibility. In the light of the mystical tradition, to write like
shit becomes the most fullled axiom of perfection.
Carolina DEPETRIS
CEPHCIS Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxico
82. Bataille, Lo que entiendo por soberana, p. 75.
83. Bataille, La experiencia interior, p. 145.
84. Ibid., p. 110.
85. Bataille, El erotismo, p. 86.
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