Six Lessons From Clarice Lispector to Disturb Your Universe

Sammi Bassman

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For those of you who have not yet read The Passion According to G.H., published in 1964, put it on the book list immediately. Clarice Lispector is a Brazilian author who wrote a novel of mysticism, somewhere between imprisonment and liberation. Described as a monologue of a woman who takes the name of G.H., this work occurs within the confines of a single house, and only a few moments. Boring, right? Far from it. Lispector draws out the contemplation of life after she kills a cockroach found in her room. Her character remains so thinly drawn as the narrator spends much of her time in this inexplicable, catatonic state of epic nature, while teaching us a few important things along the way.

Here are a few quotes from the book that will surely shake you up:

 

“Maybe disappointment is the fear of no longer belonging to a system.”

We hold on tightly to the things we know, the things we think we love. We hold on to the system out of fear for the unknown. But what if we took a step out of line occasionally? Broke a couple of rules? It’s not about moving to a different system, it’s about not shuffling yourself into one to begin with. Collapse all the expectations you once had of this world.

Revoke. All. Systems.

“A world fully alive has the power of a hell.”

Where do we draw the line between life and death? Is there even one? Some of us go our whole lives without actually living. So if it takes a fire for us to know we are fully alive, then my god let us burn.

“Forgiveness is an attribute of living matter.”

Forgiveness is perhaps the hardest action a human can take. But it is equally the most human action and person can take. Listen carefully to the people you love, even when you hate them. Sometimes it’s okay to lose your pride and fall where it matters most.

“The continual breathing of the world is what we hear and call silence.”

Listen a little more carefully, the language is universal. The earth is a specimen alive and breathing, and even in our pauses and passes we can still feel its surrounding space. The mysticism of this world is constantly asking us questions. Dare to answer them.

“Giving up is a revelation.”

Phew.

Occasionally, when we give up we feel like air. Sometimes the toxicity of the expectation was breaking you, dragging you under the Earth. Perhaps this wasn’t a goal we were meant to achieve. One way to fully know is the sound of the heart, or a beautiful imagination.

“All that is missing is the coup de grace-which is called passion.”

The final blow. The sound the world makes when it’s unstoppable. The nights where you can’t sleep because all you can think about is that moment of success you’ve been chasing. Bliss. Constant craving. Breathing it in like air. Passion. Blink. Passion.

 

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