A thousand-pointed star



Commentary on the book “A Hora da Estrela”, by Clarice Lispector

“Sprawl wildly and yet behind everything beats an inflexible geometry” (Clarice Lispector, The Hour of the Star)

There is a matrix device in Clarice Lispector's literature that consists of the dissolution of the character's imaginary unit when put in contact with the limit of her self-representation, generally in the form of formlessness and the materiality of the organic, figured according to the imaginary of a free freedom that lack in the human (dis)order. The device is rigorous and hurts, as it is a technique of depersonalizing the generality of the “human” in inhumanity: constructed as below or beyond it, bestiality or sanctity.

As in Guimarães Rosa, he stages a utopia of the body; as in him, it corrodes the sensible form that mediates the representation, makes the background emerge as a symbolic and non-symbolic effect; unlike him, it is an ablative technique, it transposes, extracts and subtracts, so that the insignificance of the residue also shows the primacy of the reason that operates it, never mind the kind disdain of Lispector's narrators for his creatures dizzy with so much matter, all nostalgic of the impossible truth of the real and incapable, finally, of the decisive leap that would dissolve them in the hell of the insipidity of the myth.

Just as in the romantic, the noble savage and his robinsonada are not merely a regression to a mythical natural life, as his freedom in the bush is also a future, allegorizing the principle of free competition by which each one represents himself abstractly autonomous in the administered world, Also in Lispector the seduction of the characters by the organic is not merely romantic, psychological, intimate and regressive. In her, the thingness also allegorizes, and in a double register: the absolute muteness and insignificance of the organic figure the constructed non-autonomy of the character and her world and also signify, in the imminence of becoming another of the contact, the refusal to um world - not necessarily do world – which implies the relativization of the rationality that orders it as narrative reason.

Pure exteriority, in Lispector the organic is deep matter that realizes reality; metaphor, becoming another in the order of the imaginary and writing, regressively forms one of the poles of an opposition that the character feels as not yet fully tamed: the thematic core of her experience is, invariably, that of an objectless perception, translated as the imminence of a decisive event, freedom. That is why the Author's domestic animals, vaguely sentimental and oedipal, are also stupid, the delivery men, who at some point in their obscure lives allowed themselves to be captured in the ambiguous nets of gregariousness; the more the jungle growls, behold the lioness, the more intensifies the allegorical freedom that the character's daily practice denies, experienced by her as an absence of reference that constitutes her unity in the savagery.

Along these lines, Lispector's texts on witchcraft, such as those by Where have you been at night, dating from a time of fear, are the impoverished mockery thanks to and parodic of this allegorical animality: mimicry of the exception, depicting the frustrated freedom that lives on small daily rations; of consented marginality as the field of a secret personal power. Ventriloquism of a mute desire, these chickens and mice and cockroaches and buffaloes and witches are disappointingly utopian ectoplasms, anyway. Mediums with a radical lack of voice mean that the wild heart has its reason: the Garden is here and now and the character must learn, in Way of the Cross that takes it to itself in the experience of the organic, that the Spirit will not come because it never came. The rule is unavoidable, even in its degraded forms, because in Lispector the character is also the symbolic animal, the radical non-animal.

Lispector has a very powerful will, here is also the extreme monotony of her texts and certainly the quality of this repetition that scandalizes the ablations of her device: many times thanks to and watery – read, for example, The Via Crucis of the Body –, are extremely abstract texts, bordering on music, as an evanescent structure is enacted in them, which is that of the precarious relationship of the character with the houses of the imaginary and the figures that institutionally fill it as a body. Abstract texts, they dramatize the inscription and the passages from one to the other, complementing them with reason outlined in the indetermination that goes along, in the movement from one to the other, as a mimesis of a concept that flees.

Stuttering on the fringe that separates culture/nature and other oppositions – man/woman, adult/child – and contradictions – class/class –, the writing removes them from the character’s body of paper, shifting their categories to make them experience other syntheses imaginary while taking her to an apparent end of the transformations, the disappointment of being another and, more, the other. Regressing to this side of herself in the allegory, the character recovers on this side of this, in the imminence of the myth: somehow broken and defeated, below her desire, but humanized in the failure of the cupio dissolve. This is Lispector's anti-organicism, so to speak, his effective anti-romanticism, even in melodrama, in refusing the myth and signifying the unavoidable rule.

It follows that the problem always faced by its narrators is not, at all, that of defining essences, determining what the organic is, but that of determining the perspective through which the organic allegory is formulated. Always moving according to an unequal relationship with what he narrates and with his self-representation in the act, the narrator produces indetermination with an operative function, which contrasts with the will of narrative reason – in other words, the solution to the problem consists in the self-application of the device. Incorporeal lines of flight are traced as the ever evanescent of speech in the text, secreting the legible residue as silence of the form in which something never ceases to not be written, as a psychoanalyst would say, the body and its relativized fictions.

Here, then, the self-application of the device by the narrator figures the ineptitude, which creases the Author's texts making them stutter with stupidity as a condition of their verisimilitude, as it explains their reason. The reason is that in Lispector the narrator's rationality is determined as an imaginary whose particularity is known to be differential, as well as the convention of the characters, and does not want, just as the characters cannot empty themselves into it, to be filled with nature. In other words, the greatest difficulty he faces is, lucidly, a presupposed problem in elocution: the act of representing the organic and its insignificant variations in its autonomy of rational non-autonomy belongs to a world in which its reference is already dominated. beforehand. How to formulate the allegorical insignificant without excluding it, that is, without including it in a purely regressive and non-free formula? Generally, the choice is based on the relative discourse devoted to the failure staged in the performance itself, parallel to the failure effected by the characters, and which marks the superior quality of this art.

The narrator narrates himself by dissolving himself, whether he was a dead man, by indeterminating himself, to prevent a speech full of nature from reproducing the institutional pattern of the materials – speeches – of its Author's transformations. It is precisely the device that implies the impossibility, apparent or not, that Lispector always has to maintain the continuity of the action several times pointed out by the critic attached to the classic doctrine of the smooth and clear sequence.

Here, it is more opportune to postulate that the impossibility of a continuous and long text does not belong to Lispector, but to the staged will of its narrators through abstract action, in addition to being, as said, an impossibility evidenced as a refusal to naturalize the ways in which the Author intervenes when he dramatizes them in his texts. Election of lucid ideas appropriate to the act, no matter here the good or bad taste also conventional of dramatic situations and characterizations, it is a matter of letting yourself become everything that is organic without the organicism of horror without the object of thinking of another, chicken, mouse, sweet fruit that rots – in short, an applied convention of self-dissolution. How to talk about these things? Opaque mirroring, the insignificant signifies the great other of the narrator and, certainly, of the real Author and his readers: the historicity of reason that refracts them as failures in the text as a partiality of the practical division, which is what really matters.

Em The Hour of the Star, written in counterpoint with A Breath of Life, also last, the character Macabea hyperbolically realizes the device: she is a beast. With the term, a radical blindness is meant, and radical because it blinds itself, which makes it full of itself without si, without want, without lack, and other terms of deprivation. What he says coincides absurdly with what he says; he doesn't have what would be called “happiness”, because he doesn't have a memory, except that of the actuality of the narrator's atavistic hunger, and thus he doesn't have what is meant by a “project”; dies allegorically, moreover, when the future points.

His perception of character is not formulated in a successive order, appearing as a frozen temporality in the duration in which the perceived is the body. Current like a cat, it has no distance, being timeless; without reflection, it is exteriority and thus immediately depth. He experiences something impossible: it is the imaginary minus the symbolic: a crude piece of matter that, in contemporary Brazilian literature, is only similar in the adynata of Hermógenes, of Great Sertão: Footpaths. In Lispector's work, it is the intensified – and finally realized – metaphor, which is now personalized in the superb impersonality of the botanical world of the Botanical Garden, the animals on the Ark and the innumerable silly Evas who distractedly wait for the name that disenchants them for the rites of transitive love.

She is impossible, although not far-fetched, and she is of the lineage of Joana, of Close to the Wild Heart; from Virginia, from the chandelier; of Lucrezia, of The City Besieged; by Martim, from the first part of The Apple in the Dark; from Loreley, from An Apprenticeship or The Book of Pleasures of GH, The Passion According to G.H; by Miss Algrave, by The Via Crucis of the body. Difference in this similarity: Macabea is from another class, she who is a downgraded one, unlike the other “middle class” characters typical of Lispector, and represented living as everyday what for them is allegorical vertigo and, for critics, analytical vertigo existential anguish. For this reason, she also cannot have recourse to theoretical, metaphorically philosophical or scientific discourse, which, in the same way as it motivates the verisimilitude of the characters with their explanatory comforts, could make her accessible to herself by defining her role. nonsense of experience (such as philosophy, for example, for Joana, Loreley, GH; or science, for engineer Martim).

She lacks even the common sense of mothers in Lispector, dealing with exploding stoves, children at school, husbands, like Ana in “Amor”. In her allegorical freedom, Macabea only finds an image in the stupidity of the chicken in the belt. Family relationships and some echoes in the lovingly criminal marginality of “Minerinho” or in the poignant helplessness of Mocinha, the old woman in “Passeio a Petrópolis”, by The Foreign Legion.

Macabea, however, is not a saint, nor an animal, nor even a beast: she is constituted as such in an unequal relationship with the narrator's rationality. In other words, her constitution as external to herself and to everything makes it clear to the reader that she is only stupid, animal or holy due to the unequal relationship with what is thought “freely” as non-stupid, non-animal, non-holy. , and which is articulated as self-full positivity as the first term of the South/Northeast oppositions; literature/illiteracy; critical/alienated; rational/irrational etc. And that, through the institutional apparatus that produces and reproduces it as inclusive exclusion, domination, Macabea's reference stupidity is formlessness, silence of indetermination; one cannot say it, just as it cannot enunciate itself as such.

It's just that saying it is already stupid in itself, as an empty mimetic gesture absurdly imitating an absence of form. Gesture that becomes parodic, but not of stupidity which, by its very assumption, is not a form to be replaced, but of its very movement of gesture, intentionality or possibility as mimesis. Parodic, therefore, of the rational determination of its possibility, it is immediately comic, derisive, pretentiously solipsistic: it is enough to dare to begin. And the narrator of The Hour of the Star he dares, knowing: for this reason he also repeatedly claims to want the “facts” that would exempt him from narrating. Now, speaking of stupidity – and here the allegory always conforms to the character's class refracting itself in the narrator's stupidity – implies doing so in the dimension of its possibility, not in that of its effective reality, after all. To do so is to produce a discourse as a language of fiction whose inept inflections dramatize the fiction of language in which the narrator's rationality shatters into a thousand points even before it begins.

Considered the tradition of modernity that naturalized low imitative modes as credible privileged to vampirize the detritus of the Grand Costume, the staging is banal: it reads star hour with the supposed familiarity of a thousand and one similar experiments, exercised with greater or lesser efficiency as an allegory of the promise of utopian happiness, as a crisis and gnashing of teeth, as deconstruction and metalanguage homework of the heroes of positivized negativity – in short, as a tradition of the new today's classic at the museum of everything from conformism and opera buffa. In star hour, however, the contradiction is irreducible: as a narrative extension of the division of practical banality, the continuous dramatization of “inflexible geometry” is complementary to the stupidity of the character and narrator, in such a way that the fiction of the uniqueness of the text as a work implies its very impossibility. like the ax Posthumous Memoirs from Bras Cubas in the rose of Great Sertão: Veredas, is a piece of non-work, fractured, and only works when it gets stuck.

An experiment reminiscent of the technique of distancing exposition in epic theater, the text presents itself as the gesture of its implicit author, who offers himself as a recipient of his practical impossibility of narrating, unfolding in the voice of a narrated narrator, Rodrigo SM; in another articulation, the character's indeterminacies are juxtaposed. Seemingly autonomous from meanings of the implied author's and narrator's imaginary class position, Macabea is their creature. Its relative autonomy of non-autonomy is implied by its allegorical constitution, in fact, which unfolds it: generality of abstraction and individualized character. In the end, the figurative meaning superimposes itself on time itself, seen as a project by the character, abstracting the future in his death – which, weights and measures, is a loss that is a gain, partial, in terms of the contradiction that remains irreducible.

Writing to write not to die, represented in the sharing of Lights, the narrator, from the beginning, confirms the unfeasibility of the implicit author's project: to give literary form to what eludes literary representation as an autonomous voice of non-autonomy, since the project is that of making him act not through the mediation of the lights that clarify the intellectual's letters, but in his particularity produced in the unequal relationship as illiterate, stupid, mediately autonomous: “Oh, I'm so scared to start and I still don't even know the girl's name. Not to mention that the story despairs me for being too much. What I propose to tell seems easy and at everyone's fingertips. But its elaboration is very difficult. Because I have to make clear what is erased and I barely see. With hands with muddy hard fingers, feel the invisible in the mud itself”.[I]

Invited to indeterminate himself at this theoretically prior point of the work's scaffolding, the reader can assume narrative choices opened by the specularity procedure: either an author in search of his character or a character in search of his author. The second is properly dramatic; the first is epic, in the generic sense of “fabulation”, and crucial to understanding the contradictory relationship that unites, that is, separates Macabea, Rodrigo, author, reader. The continuous stripping of the process as ineptitude has here precisely the function of highlighting the limits of the narrator's practice, showing him the convention of literate competence while showing the incompetence of his convention. Allegorical stupidity cannot be said in a non-stupid discourse, consistent according to the rules of the dominant rationality, which is that of the narrator: his discourse can only metaphorize his pathos, gesticulate impotence, pretending to be real ineptitude, break up or propose a sublime style, which in this equally sublime society can only be a cliché, melodrama, the blood and saccharin of the kitsch.

Therefore, the narrator becomes melodramatic, metaphorizing the practical impossibility and, although he is not a woman, as he claims, he also weeps a lot, becomes mushy. Obviously, melodrama is not feminine, its convention is that sometimes it is, and Rodrigo can only order himself in the discourse as disorder, loss of meaning, vertigo that evidences in the non-meaning effected by his practice as a narrator the practical sense of the Maccabean inconsistencies, nonsense which speculatively replaces the nonsense of his situation as a narrator. Therefore, the very violent reduction of Macabea's humanity to the animal insignificance below her does not merely mean the assumption of an external perspective, privileged and always dominant, by which her produced uselessness and ignorance could be taken as uselessness and ignorance in fact and, thus constituted from the dominant perspective, remain dominated even if the discourse about it is empathetic, as it usually is in indignation, commotion, etc.

Lispector's operation is subtle because it is absolutely raw, consisting of an allegorical transposition procedure that, by stripping the character of her humanity, fixing her as an emblem of the stupidity of things, retains the emptied formulation of what, only human, she effectively is: employed in commerce, labor force. The operation implies, therefore, the staging of the practical condition of the contemporary Brazilian intellectual, which the text includes asymmetrically and dissonantly, and that of the materials – discourses – available for “critical” artistic intervention.

The Hour of the Star it does not settle the question, of course, nor could it do so, except allegorically, when the implied author makes the narrator take a stand. The virtue of the text, so to speak Christianly, is that it re-proposes the practical question as its limit and does so in a radical way, which also implies the refusal of the “Christianity” and of all imaginary conciliation, prohibiting all hope for the character, as refusal and denial. In this sense, writing deviates from what is institutional: speaking aboutie talk by, as any conscience giver would. Refusal has a price and the first, obviously, is the dispersion of speech. Allegorically, therefore, the issue of literary representation is also staged as homologous to that of other discursive practices, such as philosophy or psychoanalysis when they propose “how to speak madness” – not da, or about, or from, or around – but, impossibly, how to say it without the same discourse being simultaneously crazy, assuming its rationality supposed as determination.

Lispector's rigor, a question unanswered by his text that only answers it when he conforms it to the metaphor of the formless, in a first effort that always returns and fails, the narrator's discourse is a becoming-Maccabean, making itself a technique of the negative. Here, the religious metaphor appears as a figuration of the emptied and empty meaning of his gesture: “For now I want to walk around naked and in rags, I want to experience at least once the lack of taste that the host is said to have. To eat the host would be to feel the insipidity of the world and to bathe without it”.[ii] Recurring theme, incidentally, remember GH and his cockroach. Lispector is materialistic, however, and it is not about “religion”, which is the comfortable metaphorical reverse of the superb depersonalization of its device.

The narrator's ineptitude, that is, his technical ability to produce ineptitude such as displacement, delay, tautology, anticlimax, humor, indeterminacy, etc. it is determined by the practical impossibility of the implied author, as has already been said, who cannot give a unitary form to the contradiction. For this reason, while writing, Rodrigo empties the meaning of what he writes and of the act, interposing himself as an obstacle to the act and the meaning; as he empties them, he fills pages that effect him as an object in his staged agonistic for the addressee. This one is always on the verge of something typical of the comic genre, farce or mockery: someone who says he is incapable of writing writes very well.

The reader, neither serious nor frivolous, may perhaps ask about the functionality of the procedure that dramatizes it in the figure of the addressee like this and here in ineptness, continually proposing to him the experience of fracture and jamming. A plausible answer is to say that it implies urging him to participate in the ineptitude without the ineptitude – immediately, an astute reason is explained to stage the particularity of his practice, explaining its limits, which implies the emergence of the referred background, when the form dissolves. Simultaneously – and this is more opportune – it also implies the limits of the constitution of such a background that, given the (un)reading as an emotional expression, psychology of the intimate Clarice, or as an ineffable unexpressed, thing or God of the mystical-Heideggerian- metaphysics, it is absolutely the surface of the letter, a symbolic and non-symbolic effect produced in a dated practice as a dated practice, a calculating Lispector of rigor.

The ineptitude is reflected, therefore, in the author's narrative options. Unifying the division would be basically implausible, as it would propose true melodrama in the false conciliation of the character's happy destiny and, furthermore, the narrator's impossible epic naivety. For example, making Macabea marry Hans, the gringo riding the Mercedes Benz micro-allegory, or even making her cherish hopes “about the future”. By ricochet, it would be to revalidate the sadness of Rua do Acre, the career path of Olímpico, the satisfaction of Glória, the sublime of the boss who reads Humiliated and Offended, the Machado-transposed manifestation of Madama Carlota, represented living the fiction of institutional normality in relation to which Macabea is exotic and abnormal.

The text thus opens up to another staged fracture: the effect allows itself to be apprehended by the addressee as a unified representation of a writer's life in crisis that indeterminates him in ineptness; and the procedure stages itself as a highly literate practice that borders on the non-literate, its contradictory pole. Thus, the implicit author, evidently disguised in the musical biographeme at the beginning of the book and, in several senses, effectively at the end of the “Dedication of the Author (actually Clarice Lispector)”, objectifies the despair in this bad conscience Rodrigo SM, grows in him. a beard, hang bags under his eyes, deprive him of sex, ride him like person apt to quickly theorize the ineptitude of the mistakenly marginal marginality of the Brazilian intellectual of the writing specialty, represented as an “exception” who, very distractedly, just like anyone who lives, writes a book in the same way that all ham is made, Clarice Lispector “sociologist” – by a short time, happily: “Yes, I have no social class, marginalized that I am. The upper class sees me as a freaky monster, the middle class suspects that I might unbalance them, the lower class never comes to me.”[iii] And again: “(If the reader has some wealth and a comfortable life, he will go out of his way to see how the other is sometimes. If he is poor, he will not be reading me because reading me is superfluous for someone who has a slight permanent hunger. Here I play the role of your escape valve and the crushing life of the middle bourgeoisie”.[iv]

Corresponding to the narrator's ineptitude, the book's incompleteness is imposed here as an effect of a defect capable of representing practical inadequacy. In other words, the novel goes beyond the mimetic effect of the unification of the narrator and his character in the uniqueness of the work, dramatizing, through the crossed and simultaneous ineptitudes, the existing division between, at least, two imaginary formations, also being effected by her, which is socially determined and determinant of the office practice. The represented real ineptitude of the implied author, emissary of the real Author who puts titles that deny his impotence – “Let her fix herself”, “It’s my fault”, “I can’t do anything”, “Discreet exit through the back door” – implies the ineptitude of the narrated narrator, in short, apt to figure Macabea's ineptitude, to a certain extent, as a dysfunction in the effect of predetermined reception by the rules of imaginary unification of the reading. Their groping speech is homologous to the muteness of the character's represented insignificance, and in this they touch each other as they separate as partialities of division.

The device works by transposition and structure, to quote a magnificent inept e your little manly reason. with the term structure, what is meant here, very simply, is the exact calculation of the correlation of the elements and fits of ineptness, to the point of producing the general effect of the referred to incompleteness, of a poorly executed and tasteless text (“História Lachrímogenic de Cordel”), according to standards of reception that prescribe the decorum of taste. For example, through the systematic dramatization of clichés, petrified pieces of already anonymous speeches, mainly in situations of dialogue between Macabea and Olímpico, Macabea and Glória, empowered with Macabea and Madama Carlota – the latter, all cliché, potentiated in mercantile allegory.

Rewriting seriously what is mystified to be serious is evidently ironic, not as a postulation of an external and superior truth of good taste, incidentally also thanks to in the affectation of his Haute Couture but as an inclusive distance: after all, the narrator constantly affirms his desire for crap, in which he also dramatizes the addressee in the usual Brazilian scene, as he says “[...] obliged to use the words that you sustain”.[v] It is, therefore, a technique of cold hyperbole which, very common in Lispector, in the hyperamplification of the thanks to operates the allegorical figuration emphasizing the humanity of Macabea, the only free being in a world of self-sufficient commodities in her everyday fiction: “[…] grass is so easy and simple. He had free and loose thoughts because although idly he had a lot of inner freedom ”.[vi]

By transposition it means a technique – recurrent in the Author's texts – of systematic blurring or mistaken attribution of indices and events, in a kind of generalized pun like sometimes black humor, in the appropriate measure of rigor. Rhetorically, it is a technique of catachresis, like inappropriate naming or “misuse”. For example, maliciously making Macabea hear her future spoken by the fortune teller, being run over, as a prophecy narrated to another anonymous girl, who leaves the appointment with red eyes; or, in extremely dark humor, calculatedly timely, having the character run over by the yellow Mercedes Benz as she leaves expecting to meet Hans, the blond gringo. Blurring also occurs as incongruent microactions:

Macabea looks at herself in the office bathroom mirror and doesn't see herself; she swears by her dead mother telling Olímpico that she wishes her mother dead if she is lying; it reads "assign", corrects to "unassign"; she speaks of “elgebra”, of “ephimyrids”; she fears that in a future life she will be a member of Olímpico, because the word sounds like an ugly thing; and, hyperbole, just measure for a time of result-oriented unionism, she apologizes to her boss for being fired. The general effect of the technique is that of a kind myopia, to borrow here from the optical metaphor of Gilda de Mello e Souza, in “O Vertiginoso Relance”, not its implicit normative character (myopia x normal vision), rather that of pretense of pretense as a technique of counterfeiting that is given to the reader as the representationally myopic look of someone who sees clearly, distinctly and cruelly, and who uses – pretends to use – deforming lenses so that in the deformation the information is formed and, in the relationship asymmetrical, correct the very obvious thing that cannot be seen: the myopia of so-called normal vision. That of the reader, for example, invited from the start to act out the general effect of ineptitude without her. Which, once again, blurs and blurs, because the reader, who is very normally myopic, now has to pretend to fake myopia in order to see clearly what his normal vision does not see, since it is institutionally formless, insignificant, invisible – and other blurring of the negative prefix. Macabea, in short: she, who is damned.

In its constructed stupidity, Macabea is homologous to the narrator's rationality, as has been said; the signs are reversed, however, because here rationality confesses itself to be irrational and inept and stupidity is the allegory of general rationality. It's just that, not being a substantive idiot in the sense that institutional medical practice rationalizes the dominant normativity, Macabea is the idiotic metaphor, because nonsense and inept, and therefore extremely efficient as a literary achievement that makes a lot of sense and goes beyond the “literary” of real idiocy, its reference and condition: normal everyday relationships and the rationality that orders them. Its theme – suppose one – is therefore that of the insipidity typical of the Author's animals, but that of a narrative insipidity, realized not as a substance of insipidity, rather as an allegory of emptiness in the contradictory relationship of incompossible discourses.

Determinants of Macabea, which in the text is the metaphor to be filled and simultaneously emptied, is the great atavistic hunger and its holes, limits of the narrative. The indexes are very reiterated: the egg; the cold coffee; the guava paste with cheese; coffee dripped with a lot of sugar, of which Olímpico generously threatens to pay only half; the heady butchery experience; the chocolate, the cake, the theft of biscuits at Gloria's house: the long-standing request to her aunt for cod liver oil; the stupid conversation with the stupid doctor about pasta; bonbons with liqueur by Madama Carlota; the always very economical impossibility of vomiting, knowing only from experience done. Of these, the main one is the repeated affirmation of fear of blood, which works as a denial of hunger, Macabea who at night goes hallucinating thinking about cow leg. In the face of hunger, evidently, all art ceases to be evidence: in the articulation of the theme, what the text does with the reader is to read him the criteria of readability, re-proposing them as ridiculously inept.

In their spectral effect, the cynic of elaborate literary detritus, the violent hunger-ideas of the implied author will still have, he wants to believe, some affirmative power in the face of the cynicism of hunger in his world. He claims “the right to scream” – and the Author writes, as one of the titles, “I can't do anything” – as an articulation of the disarticulation of the intellectual of the writing specialty. Literature can do nothing but affirm a strong idea such as Macabea's hunger, in short, which determines, in this case, the lucid ideas, among which the first is to avoid any idealization that makes the character or the narrator sympathetic, in your hunger and at your limit.

Em The Hour of the Star there is a microfiguration of this fracture and of the narrative that is made. It makes Macabea homologous to any writer, from the most able to the most inept. It is functional that she does not speak, almost, and that at the same time she is an absolutely incompetent typist. The disjunction that, once again, enacts the contradiction is amusingly ironic: as a typist, she writes in the register of writing mediated by the technology of productive efficiency the discourse of the commercial world, of which she is dispensable, easily replenishable, unproductive that she is: “useless screw in a technical society”, says the narrator in the mirror. One reads what Macabea writes from within her represented situation, but also what the real Author of whom she is the inverted metaphor, Clarice Macabea, can read.

Point by point, they rebut: ineptitude, uselessness, alienation. As the rule that institutionalizes incompetence is merely provisional, however, its staging in the text also makes its limits explicit: after all, the technical society in which Macabea is an expendable screw is not an indispensable society. It remains for the Author, as a procedure, the artifice of making the typing error a programmatic option, re-proposing the current classifications and dissolving the Universality of forms. For that, it remains, as rationality, the stupid being, experimenting with languages ​​that, in the continuous attrition and damming, point to a residue whose meaning is determined in the reading as a divided real. For this very reason, Macabea's stupidity astounds and moves us: what can it mean that she interrogates us with a mute question about our position and the rationality implied in it as a violent contradiction that Lispector leaves open without an answer, since in the novel the solution it only solves the romance.

Here we find the representation of a flaw, which makes Rodrigo SM sound out of place and self-conscious in the measure of his very naturalness, and which, in the staging of his practice as a writer, results in an allegorically programmatic defect, that is, a virtue. The flaw is that Macabea does not have autonomy as a non-autonomous character, being sometimes perspectived by the narrator's situation, sometimes by his position. His non-autonomy, his non-knowledge, his exteriority and his stupidity, in short, are dramatized as constitutive moments of the narrator's thought, at least as a partiality of the unequal relationship.

This is due, for example, to the technique of constructing it as an exposition of dramatic situations that are little or not linked together as a result, almost by juxtaposing frames whose discontinuity is only unified in the narrator's divided voice. It is a defect, because even his narrative freedom to be stupid, to act freely as a non-autonomous animal, is expropriated. Thus, even the narrator's declared love for her is only declared, unequal and external love, despite his efforts to destroy the relationship when, for example, he narrates the contemporary present of her death as if he were an impartial observer at the mercy of the chance of others. events that could still save her. However, it was written, the contradiction fractures the text from end to end: making the puppet's strings evident was perhaps the solution that was imposed on Lispector in terms of the composition of the unfinished piece. In other words, making use of inadequacy in which the artifice stands out operatively, in view of a superior adequacy of ineptitude in terms of contradiction.

Here, therefore, the narrator's represented class position collides with the data of his situation: it is that, due to his position, even if vaguely "critical", he effectively wants Macabea's autonomy, or in the form of a "project ” of what, precisely because of his position, he has to postulate as autonomy of action, or even in the form of his non-autonomy as stupidity. His represented situation as an intellectual, however, is external, since in the unequal relationship he can only speak about the character, with the means that the situation gives him, no matter how relativized. The alternation, in her enunciation, of more or less “critical” representations of her position and of dominant representations in her situation leads Macabea to be, thus, autonomous and non-autonomous. Endowed with its own life as a particularizing designation that, however, ignores itself, it is, in this autonomy, non-autonomous.

At the same time, without a life of its own, as a generalizing meaning or intellectual construction of the narrator, it is allegorical of his class and of a vaguely utopian desire for his position, so that, in its allegorical non-autonomy, it has some autonomy, unequal and even virtual. In the two simultaneous and complementary registers, Macabea presents a relative autonomy, through the narrator's mediation, practically obliged to her non-autonomy. In this way, a continuous binding is also produced in its constitution, which slides, in the reading, from its non-autonomy or alienation as an autonomous individuality to its autonomy as an allegory of the social non-autonomy of its class: it occurs “between” , in displacements, articulated by this kind of improbability in which the one is double and the double, one.

In this case, the improbability is the verisimilitude appropriated in terms of the contradiction, since the narrative question, in a global economy, cannot be resolved only as a problem of the narrator, the character or the uniqueness of the literary artifact. The text metaphorizes the practical situation and position of the real writer and the readership, in a blurring technique in which the data of the situation are translated by position values ​​and vice versa, with no possible unification, which would indeed be false and unbelievable. .

Macabea's stupidity ends up being received as stupidity because it is, like madness, the non-domain of fiction itself. Opposed, in turn, to the rationality of the mastery that the narrator supposedly has over his fiction in the pretense of ineptitude, it highlights the real ineptitude of the unequal relationship. It is its materiality that makes it moving and painful, therefore, when one observes that the relationship between stupidity and rationality passes precisely through fiction, not as a theme treated representatively, but as a relationship that highlights the precarious place of reason, defined not by what it is said not even for the things about which it is spoken, but always for the practical place where it is enunciated.

Here the narrator has a bad balance, and it could not be otherwise, as he is lucid about his position as an emissary of an implicit author who knows that stupidity is the absence of a work, as Shoshana Felman writes in her La Folie et la Chose Littéraire, giving itself as the continuous unfinishedness of a meaning that does not cease to transform itself while giving itself to the lack of knowledge of itself. Macabea is the very absence of a work, without a project that it is, symmetrically inverse to the narrator, whose project is precisely the work as an absence or incompleteness.

In the end, when you start wanting more hair and become “a person pregnant with the future”,[vii] when he learns that he should wash his head with Aristolino soap, when Madama Carlota prophesies him of the gringo's good catch, it is noticeable that she dies, or rather is killed by the narrator. “This book is a silence. This book is a question”.[viii] But why does it die? Why is the narrator's self-dissolution still the necessary stage of insufficient reason? Because the work is only effectively completed as a dominant imaginary and this is prostituted? Why then does one slide from the stupidity that one does not know to the region of institutional nonsense where one flies lower than the plans for the ascension of Olímpico, of Glória? Why is death, in this horrible story, a “favorite character”?[ix] The dissolution of the character and the narrator is not total, however, because even in his death the text retreats from the mythical conciliation.

Let us return, therefore, to the question raised above about the narrator's procedure for making her shut up or talk. When he makes her speak, it is immediately grotesque, as it parodies, in spite of itself, the criteria that govern the verisimilitude of symbolic exchanges. The thing is evident in the silent relationship with Olímpico de Jesus who, following the motivation of heights implicit in his name, is a winner, the deputy, future: “do you know if we can buy a hole?”[X] Released on stage, the lines are put into his mouth by the narrator's skilfully visible strings and point even more this time to what is socially the convention of the nonsense or non-existence: what is the use or exchange value of a hole?

As a matter of fact, the narrator repeatedly observes, Macabea is attentive to what no one sees: a rusty gate, sparse grass between stones, a rooster crowing, the radio clock ticking… nonsense hers, whose black light rigorously illuminates the lights of common sense: “[…] what does 'electronic' mean?”[xi]; “I like screws and nails so much, and you?”[xii]; “What does 'elgebra' mean?”[xiii]. And, still, a procedure that quotes Lewis Carroll or any soundly astute speech of a Greek sophist: “He: – Yeah. She: - Well, what is it? Him: - I just said yeah! Her: - But. 'because it is' what?”,[xiv] crazy dialogue in which his speech plays with reference and meaning in the old paradox of the infinite regression of the presupposition. Which once again implies that his stupid fullness is not a lack, after all, but that his thought is thought of as the differential of the unequal relationship.

The procedures that make it speak dramatize it, in this way, contrastively: it is grotesque, because of deformation (The term, unfortunately, is classically and negatively determined, as a second in relation to a first position as well-formed, its ideality and rule; it would be opportune to think that Lispector is more skillful and modern, producing immanent deformation, without a model, na character, when he dissolves sensible forms – which is evidently read as da character, due to the rule enacted by the rationality of the narrator). The deformation is also critical, in another register, if Macabea is read in the intertext of pious representations of the exploited, which generally make him an oppressed being of exception in the idealization that begins with that of artistic misery itself. Lispector's text de-idealizes in deformation, re-proposing the brute thing of contradiction, this is also the realism of the intimate writer.

It is perhaps more opportune, therefore, to think about the procedures that silence her. Only two are mentioned here, which arise once again from the situation and position represented by the narrator. One of them, fully institutionalized, by which Rodrigo SM betrays his situation, consists of classifying it as “neurotic”, a term that occurs both on the part of the narrator and on account of a character, the doctor for the poor. In doing so, they refer Macabea to an instance of abnormality that would justify her muteness by the implicit rule, obliterating the unequal relationship in which “neurosis” is enunciated – thus, it is also symptomatic that the stupid doctor stupidly advises a psychoanalyst. The other procedure – in it several reasons are associated, perhaps full recognition of his impotence and bad conscience as a narrator, perhaps recognition of the narrative unfeasibility of the “I say what I say” of his ineptitude and, certainly, full realization of the device – is to kill her, or rather, kill Macabea, so that the Macabea allegory will survive. Which also implies a choice between possible narratives that are not merely narrative options: the implicit author's admirable coherence, recognition that any other solution would be false, here Clarice Lispector also takes a stand.

The narrator recognizes the act as betrayal and culpability: “Even you, Brutus?!”.[xv] Guilt and betrayal, however, are still effects of the representation of the narrator as an empirical individual, Rodrigo SM, more or less empathetic in his relationship with the individualized character. It's just that, like that of suicides, who kill themselves because they want to live, Macabea's death figures, by the refusal of life that the text represents in degraded forms the utopia of another, yet to come: “Yes”.[xvi]

The device operates, therefore, at one end the narrator's contact with Macabea, the limit of his self-representation that, dissolving while the limit is dissolved, figures silence and the end. However, as a very expensive baroque would say, it is much more to perpetuate Macabea's life in death than to take life in Macabea's death, because to take her life is to make her die in an instant, to perpetuate her is to make her live all the time. life. Is that her death is not the happy end reconciled by the Minister of Education and Culture, obviously, in the preface to “O Grito do Silêncio”: “The 'yellow Mercedes' cannot beat it. When I was caught by him (and I thought you couldn't write more stories with happy ending) he had already assumed impossible happiness forever, in a superhuman effort that consisted of mythologizing the nightmare into a dream. More than a minute of silence, she deserves life.”[xvii]

It certainly deserves it – but not like this, regressive, mythologizing the nightmare into a dream – because the ending is effectively insufficient, monstrous and sad, appearing as the most violent division of this extremely violent text by Clarice Lispector. The book's solution is also just a rhyme, not rich like the Minister's, extremely poor, determined by the materials of the Author's literary intervention. Contrary to what the preface states, Lispector knows that life not a language problem and produces this death as a fracture, a mark of irreducible contradiction that does not admit literary mythification either: “I am not for sale! Woe is me, all in perdition and it is as if the great fault were mine”.[xviii]

Only partially, as a partiality of the division of reason, Macabea remains a virgin and untouched allegory of death in the mystery of her stupidity, she who only begins to have a future in contact with the institutional limits of her uselessness, insignificance and stupidity. Here, the allegory has a name and position: negation and refusal, the narrator's and its Author's disappointingly utopian desire. Only partially, as a partiality of the reason for the division, Macabea also dies, resoundingly defeated by the world in which she is expendable: “The Prince of Darkness will conquer”[xx] –the yellow Mercedez Benz is a perfect example of his efficiency, his triumphalism.

The two partialities do not form a harmonic whole, evidently, since there is no whole. For the last time in this non-masterpiece by Clarice Lispector, here is the device of superb depersonalization that, by affirming the life embedded in the silence of people like Macabea, denies the same depersonalization, making vibrate in the current ineptitude its reason for device that also it must dissolve. By the way, do not forget that for now it is time for strawberries.

*John Adolfo Hansen is a retired senior professor of Brazilian literature at USP. Author, among other books, of Sixteenth-century sharpnesses – Collected work, vol 1 (Edusp).

Originally published in the magazine Language & Literature, No17, 1989.


[I] LISPECTOR, Clarice. star hour. 6th. ed. Rio de Janeiro: José Olympio, 1981, p. 24.

[ii] Ditto, p. 25.

[iii] Ditto, p. 24.

[iv] Ditto, p. 38.

[v] Ditto, p. 17.

[vi] Ditto, p. 86.

[vii] Ditto, p. 25.

[viii] Ditto, p. 21.

[ix] Ditto, p. 101.

[X] Ditto, p. 69.

[xi] Ditto, p. 61.

[xii] Same, p. 54

[xiii] Ditto, p. 61.

[xiv] Ditto, p. 58.

[xv] Ditto, p. 102.

[xvi] Ditto, 104.

[xvii] Ditto, p. 12.

[xviii] Ditto, p. 103.

[xx] Ditto, p. 102.

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