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I. Mitosis

. . . And when I say "dying of love," -- Qfwfq went on, -- I mean something you have no idea of, because you think falling in love has to signify falling in love with another person, or thing, or what have you, in other words I'm here and what I'm in love with is there, in short a relationship connected to the life of relationships, whereas I'm talking about the times before I had established any relationships between myself and anything else, there was a cell and the cell was me, and that was that. Now we needn't wonder whether there were other cells around too, it doesn't matter, there was the cell that was me and it was already quite an achievement, such a thing is more than enough to fill one's life, and it's this very sense of fullness I want to talk to you about. I don't mean fullness because of the protoplasm I had, because even if it had increased to a considerable degree it wasn't anything exceptional, cells of course are full of protoplasm, what else could they be full of; no, I'm talking about a sense of fullness that was, if you'll allow the expression, quote spiritual unquote, namely, the awareness that this cell was me, this sense of fullness, this fullness of being aware was something that kept me awake nights, something that made me beside myself, in other words the situation I mentioned before, I was "dying of love."

Now I know all of you will raise a flock of objections because being in love presupposes not only self-awareness but also awareness of the other, etc., etc., and all I can answer is thanks a lot I know that much myself but if you aren't going to be patient there's no use in my trying to explain, and above all you have to forget for a minute the way you fall in love nowadays, the way I do too now, if you'll permit me confidences of this sort, I say confidences because I know if I told you about my falling in love at present you could accuse me of being indiscreet, whereas I can talk without any scruples about the time when I was a unicellular organism, that is I can talk about it objectively as the saying goes, because it's all water under the bridge now, and it's a feat on my part even to remember it, and yet what I do remember is still enough to disturb me from head to foot, so when I use the word "objectively" it's a figure of speech, as it always is when you start out saying you're objective and then what with one thing and another you end up being subjective, and so this business I want to tell you about is difficult for me precisely because it keeps slipping into the subjective, in my subjective state of those days, which though I recall it only partially still disturbs me from head to foot like my subjective of the present, and that's why I've used expressions that have the disadvantage of creating confusion with what is different nowadays while they have the advantage of bringing to light what is common between the two times.

First of all I must be more specific about what little I remember, or rather I should warn you that if certain parts of my story are narrated less fully than others it doesn't mean they're less important but only that they are less firm in my memory, since what I remember well is my love story's initial phase if you want to call it that, I would almost say the preceding phase; at the climax of the love story my memory dissolves, frays, goes to pieces, and there's no way for me to remember then what happens afterward. I say this not to ward off objections that I'm trying to make you listen to a love story I don't even remember, but to clarify the fact that not remembering it is at a certain point necessary to make the story this one and not another, in other words while a story usually consists in the memory you have of it, here not remembering the story becomes the very story itself.

So I am speaking then of the initial phase of a love story which afterward is probably repeated in an interminable multiplication of initial phases just like the first and identified with the first, a multiplication or rather a squaring, an exponential growth of stories which is always tantamount to the first story, but it isn't as if I were so very sure of all this, I assume it as you can also assume it. I'm referring to an initial phase that precedes the other initial phases, a first phase which must surely have existed, because it's logical to expect it to exist, and also because I remember it very well, and when I say it's the first I don't in the least mean first in the absolute sense, that's what you'd like me to mean but I don't; I mean first in the sense that we can consider any of these identical initial phases the first, and the one I refer to is the one I remember, the one I remember as first in the sense that before it I don't remember anything. And as for the first in the absolute sense, your guess is as good as mine, I'm not interested.

Let's begin this way, then: there is a cell, and this cell is a unicellular organism, and this unicellular organism is me, and I know it, and I'm pleased about it. Nothing special so far. Now let's try to represent this situation for ourselves in space and time. Time passes, and I, more and more pleased with being in it and with being me, am also more and more pleased that there is time, and that I am in time, or rather that time passes and I pass time and time passes me, or rather I am pleased to be contained in time, to be the content of time, or the container, in short, to mark by being me the passing of time. Now you must admit this begins to arouse a sense of expectation, a happy and hopeful waiting, a happy youthful impatience, and also an anxiety, a youthful excited anxiety also basically painful, a painful unbearable tension and impatience. In addition you must keep in mind that existing also means being in space, and in fact I was dished out into space to my full width, with space all around, and even though I had no knowledge it obviously continued on all sides. There's no point in bothering now about what else this space contained, I was closed in myself and I minded my own business, and I didn't even have a nose so I couldn't stick my nose out, or an eye to take an interest in outside, in what was and what wasn't; however, I had the sense of occupying space within space, of wallowing in it, of growing with my protoplasm in various directions, but as I said, I don't want to insist on this quantitative and material aspect, I want to talk above all about the satisfaction and the burning desire to do something with space, to have time to extract enjoyment from space, to have space to make something in the passing of time.

Up until now I've kept time and space separated to help you to understand me better, or rather so that I could understand better what I should make you understand, but in those days I didn't really distinguish too clearly what one of them was from what the other was: there was me, in that point and at that moment -- right? -- and then there was an outside which seemed to me a void I might occupy in another moment or point, in a series of other points or moments, in short a potential projection of me where, however, I wasn't present, and therefore a void which was actually the world and the future, but I didn't know that yet; it was void because perception was still denied me, and as for imagination I was even further behind, and when it came to mental categories I was a total loss, but I had this contentment because outside of me there was this void that wasn't me, which perhaps could become me because "me" was the only word I knew, the only word I could have declined, a void that could become me, however, wasn't me at that moment and basically never would be: it was the discovery of something else that wasn't yet something but anyhow wasn't me, or rather wasn't me at that moment and in that point and therefore was something else, and this discovery aroused an exhilarating enthusiasm in me, no, a torment, a dizzying torture, the dizziness of a void which represented everything possible, the complement of that fullness that was for me all, and there I was brimming over with love for this elsewhere, this other time, this otherwise, silent and void.

So you see that when I spoke of being "in love" I wasn't saying something so far-fetched, and you were always on the point of interrupting me to say: "In love with yourself, um-hum, in love with yourself," and I was wise to pay no attention and not use or let you use that expression; there, you see that being in love was even then searing passion for what was outside me, it was the writhing of one who yearns to escape outside himself as I then went rolling around in time and space, dying of love.

To tell properly the way things proceeded I must remind you of how I was made, a mass of protoplasm like a kind of pulpy dumpling with a nucleus in the middle. Now I'm not just trying to make myself sound interesting, but I must say that in that nucleus I led a very intense life. Physically I was an individual in his full flowering, all right, on this point I feel it would be indiscreet to insist: I was young, healthy, at the peak of my strength, but by that I don't certainly want to deny that another who might have been in worse shape, with his cytoplasm fragile or watery, could have revealed even greater talents. What's important to my story is how much of this physical life of mine was reflected in the nucleus; I say physical not because there was a distinction between physical life and some other kind of life, but to allow you to understand how physical life had, in the nucleus, its point of greatest concentration, sensitivity, and tension, so that while all around it I was perhaps calm and blissful in my whitish pulp, the nucleus shared in this cytoplasmic calm and bliss in its nucleic way, that is, accentuating and thickening the tangled grain and speckling that adorned it, and so I concealed in myself an intense nucleic labor which then corresponded only to my exterior well-being, so that, we might say, the more I was happy to be me, the more my nucleus became charged with this thick impatience, and everything I was and everything I was gradually becoming ended up being nucleus, absorbed there and registered and accumulated in a serpentine twisting of spirals, in the gradually different way that they were forming a skein and unraveling, so I would say that everything I knew I knew in the nucleus, if that wouldn't involve the danger of making you believe in a separate or perhaps even opposing function of the nucleus with respect to the rest, whereas if there's an agile and impulsive organism where you can't make all these distinctions that is the unicellular organism. However, I don't want to exaggerate in the other direction either, as if to give you the idea of a chemical homogeneity like an inorganic drop spilled there; you know better than I how many differentiations there are within the cell, and even within the nucleus, and mine was in fact all speckled, freckled, dotted with filaments or strokes or lines, and each of these filaments or strokes or lines or chromosomes had a specific relationship to some characteristic of the cell that was me. Now I might attempt a somewhat risky assertion and say I was nothing but the sum of those filaments or lines or strokes, an assertion which can be disputed because of the fact that I was I entirely and not a part of myself, but one that can also be sustained by explaining that those strokes were myself translated into strokes, to then be retranslated back into me. And therefore when I speak of the intense life of the nucleus I don't mean so much the rustle or scraping of all those lines inside the nucleus as the nervousness of an individual who knows he has all those lines, he is all those lines, but also knows there's something that can't be represented with those lines, a void of which those lines succeed only in feeling the emptiness. Or rather the tension toward the outside, the elsewhere, the otherwise, which is what is then called a state of desire.

I had better be more precise about this state of desire business: a state of desire takes place when from a state of satisfaction one passes to a state of mounting satisfaction and then, immediately thereafter, to a state of dissatisfying satisfaction, namely, of desire. It isn't true that the state of desire takes place when something is missing; if something is missing, too bad, you do without it, and if the something is indispensable, in doing without it you do without some vital function, and therefore you proceed rapidly toward certain extinction. I mean that from a pure and simple state of lack nothing can be born, nothing good and nothing bad, only other lacks including finally the lack of life, a condition notoriously neither good nor bad. But a state of lack pure and simple doesn't exist, as far as I know, in nature: the state of lack is experienced always in contrast with a previous state of satisfaction, and it is from the state of satisfaction that everything which can grow, grows. And it isn't true that a state of desire presupposes necessarily a desired something; the desired something begins to exist only when there is the state of desire; not because before that something wasn't desired but because before who knew it existed? So once there's the state of desire it's precisely that something which begins to be, something which if all goes well will be the desired something but which could also remain just a something through lack of the desirer who in desiring might also cease to be, as in the present case of "dying of love," which we still don't know the end of. Then, to go back to the point where we were before, I must tell you that my state of desire tended simply toward an elsewhere, another time, an otherwise that might contain something (or, let's say, the world) or contain only me, or me in relation to something (or to the world), or something (the world) without me any more.

To make this point clear, I realize now, I have gone back to talking in general terms, losing the ground gained with my previous clarifications; this often happens in love stories. I was becoming aware of what was happening around me through what was happening to the nucleus and especially to the chromosomes of the nucleus; through them I gained the awareness of a void beyond me and beyond them, the fitful awareness that through them forced me to something, a state of desire which, however little we can move, becomes immediately a movement of desire. This movement of desire remained basically a desire for movement, as usually happens when you can't move toward some place because the world doesn't exist or you don't know it exists, and in these cases desire moves you to want to do, to do something, or rather to do anything. But when you can do nothing because of the lack of an outside world, the only doing you can allow yourself with the scant means at your disposal is that special kind of doing that is saying. In short, I was moved to express: my state of desire, my state-motion-desire of motion-desire-love moved me to say, and since the only thing I had to say was myself, I was moved to say myself, to express myself. I'll be more precise: before, when I said that very few means suffice for expressing I wasn't telling the exact truth, and therefore I'll correct myself: for expressing you need a language, and that's no trifle. As language I had all those specks or twigs called chromosomes, and therefore all I had to do was repeat those specks or twigs and I was repeating myself, obviously repeating myself insofar as language was concerned, which as you will see is the first step toward repeating myself as such, which as you will also see isn't repetition at all. But you'd better see what you're going to see when the right time comes, because if I keep making clarifications within other clarifications I'll never find my way out again.

It's true that at this point we must proceed with great care to avoid falling into errors. All this situation I've tried to narrate and which at the beginning I defined as being "in love," explaining then how this phrase must be understood -- all this, in short, had repercussions inside the nucleus in a quantitative and energetic enrichment of the chromosomes, indeed in their joyful doubling, because each of the chromosomes was repeated in a second chromosome. Speaking of the nucleus, I naturally tend to identify it with awareness, which is only a rather crude simplification, but even if things really were like that, it wouldn't imply awareness of possessing a double number of lines, because since each line had a function, each being -- to return to the language metaphor -- a word, the fact that one word was to be found twice didn't change what I was, since I consisted of the assortment or the vocabulary of the different words or functions at my disposal and the fact of having double words was felt in that sense of fullness which I earlier called quote spiritual unquote, and now you see how the quotation marks alluded to the fact that we were dealing with a basically quite material business of filaments or lines or twigs, though none the less joyful and energetic.

So far I remember everything very well, because the memories of the nucleus, awareness or no awareness, retain a greater clarity. But this tension I was telling you about, as time went by, was transmitted to the cytoplasm: I was seized with a need to stretch to my full width, to a kind of intermittent stiffening of the nerves I didn't have: and so the cytoplasm had become more elongated as if the two extremes wanted to run away from each other, in a bundle of fibrous matter which was all trembling no more and no less than the nucleus. In fact, it was now hard to distinguish between nucleus and cytoplasm: the nucleus had so to speak dissolved and the little sticks were poised there halfway along this shaft of tense and fitful fibers, but without scattering, turning upon themselves all together like a merry-go-round.

To tell the truth, I had hardly noticed the explosion of the nucleus: I felt I was all myself in a more total way than ever before, and at the same time that I wasn't myself any longer, that all this me was a place where there was everything except me: what I mean is, I had the sense of being inhabited, no, of inhabiting myself. No, of inhabiting a me inhabited by others. No, I had the sense that another was inhabited by others. Instead, what I realized only then was that fact of redoubling which before as I said I hadn't seen clearly: then and there I found myself with an exorbitant number of chromosomes, all mixed together at the time because the pairs of twin chromosomes had become unstuck and I couldn't make head or tail of anything. In other words: faced by the mute unknown void into which I had gradually and amorously submerged myself I had to say something that would re-establish my presence, but at that moment the words at my disposal seemed so many to me, too many to be arranged into something to say that was still me, my name, my new name.

I remember another thing: how from this state of chaotic congestion I tended to pass, in a vain search for relief, to a more balanced and neat congestion, to have a complete assortment of chromosomes arranged on one side and another on the other side, so the nucleus -- or rather that whirligig of strokes that had taken the place of the exploded nucleus -- at a certain point finally assumed a symmetrical, mirrored appearance, as if divaricating its strength to dominate the challenge of the silent unknown void, so the redoubling which first concerned the individual twigs now involved the nucleus as a whole, or rather what I went on considering a sole nucleus and went on operating as such, though it was simply an eddy of stuff separating into two distinct eddies.

Here I must explain that this separation wasn't a matter of old chromosomes on one side and new chromosomes on the other, because if I haven't already told you I'll tell you now, every twig after thickening had divided lengthwise, so they were all equally old and equally new; this is important because I used before the verb "to repeat," which as always was rather approximate and might give the mistaken idea that there was an original twig and a copy, and also the verb "to say" was a bit out of place, although that expression about saying myself worked out fairly well, out of place in that to say something you have to have someone who says and something that's said, and this wasn't actually the case at that time.

It's difficult, in other words, to define in precise terms the imprecision of amorous moods, which consist in a joyous impatience to possess a void, in a greedy expectation of what might come to me from the void, and also in the pain of being still deprived of what I am impatiently and greedily expecting, in the tormenting pain of feeling myself already potentially doubled to possess potentially something potentially mine, and yet forced not to possess, to consider not mine and therefore potentially another's what I potentially possess. The pain of having to bear the fact that the potentially mine is also potentially another's, or, for all I know, actually another's; this greedy jealous pain is a state of such fullness that it makes you believe being in love consists entirely and only in pain, that the greedy impatience is nothing but jealous desperation, and the emotion of impatience is only the emotion of despair that twists within itself, becoming more and more desperate, with the capacity that each particle of despair has for redoubling and arranging itself symmetrically by the analogous particle and for tending to move from its own state to enter another, perhaps worse state which rends and lacerates the former.

In this tug of war between the two eddies, an interval was being formed, and this was the moment when my state of doubling began to be clear to me, first as a branching of awareness, as a kind of squinting of the sense of presence of all of me, because it wasn't only the nucleus which was affected by these phenomena; as you already know, everything going on there in the little sticks of the nucleus was reflected in what was happening in the extension of my tapering physical person, commanded in fact by those sticks. So my cytoplasm fibers were also becoming concentrated in two opposing directions and were growing thin in the middle until the moment came when I seemed to have two equal bodies, one on one side and one on the other, joined by a bottleneck that was becoming finer and finer until it was only a thread, and at that instant I was for the first time aware of plurality, for the first and last time because it was late by then, I felt the plurality in me as the image and destiny of the world's plurality, and the sense of being part of the world, of being lost in the innumerable world, and at the same time the still-sharp sense of being me; I say "sense" and no longer "awareness" because if we agree to call awareness what I felt in the nucleus, then the nuclei were two, and each was tearing at the last fibers that kept it bound to the other, and by now they were both transmitting on their own, on my own now, on my own in a repeated fashion, each independent, awareness as if stammering ripped away the last fibers of my memory my memories.

I say that the sense of being me no longer came from the nuclei but from that bit of plasma strangled and wrung out there in the middle, and it was still like a filiform zenith of fullness, like a delirium where I saw all the diversities of the plural world filiformly radiating from my former, singular continuity. And at the same moment I realized that my moving out of myself was an exit with no return, without possible restitution of the me that now I realize I'm throwing away without its possible restitution to me ever, and then comes the death agony that precipitates triumphantly because life is already elsewhere, already the dazzling of other's memory redoubled not superimposed of another's cell establishes the relationship of the novice cell, the relationship with its novice self and with the rest.

Everything that came afterward is lost in the memory, shattered and multiplied like the propagation and repetition in the world of unremembering and mortal individuals, but already an instant before that afterward began I understood everything that was to happen, the future or the soldering of the link that now or already then happens or tended desperately to happen, I understood that this picking up and moving out of oneself which is birth-death would make the circuit, would be transformed from strangling and fracture into interpenetration and mingling of asymmetrical cells that add up the messages repeated through trillions of trillions of mortal loves, I saw my mortal love return to seeking the original soldering or the final one, and all the words that weren't exact in the narration of my love story became exact and yet their meaning remained the exact meaning of before, and the loves kindled in the forest of the plurality of the sexes and of the individuals and of the species, the void dizziness filled with forms species and individuals and sexes, and yet there was always the repetition of that wrench of myself, of that picking up and moving out, picking myself up and moving out of myself, the yearning toward that impossible doing which leads to saying, that impossible saying that leads to expressing oneself, even when the self will be divided into a self that says and will surely die and a self that is said and that at times risks living on, in a multicellular and unique self that retains in its cells the one that, repeating itself, repeats the secret words of the vocabulary that we are, and in a unicellular and countlessly plural unicellular self which can be poured out in countless cell-words of which only the one that encounters the complementary cell-word that is its asymmetrical self will try to continue the continuous and fragmentary story, but if it doesn't encounter it, no matter, in fact in the story which I'm about to tell there was no plan for the encounter at all, indeed at the beginning we'll try to avoid its taking place, because what matters is the initial or rather preceding phase which repeats every initial or rather preceding phase, the encounter with oneself loving and mortal, in the best of cases loving and in any case mortal; what matters is the moment when wrenching yourself from yourself you feel in a flash the union of past and future, just as I, in the wrenching from myself which I have just now finished narrating to you, saw what was to happen, finding myself today in love, in a today perhaps in the future perhaps in the past but also surely contemporaneous with that last unicellular and self-contained instant. I saw who was coming forward toward me from the void of the elsewhere, the other time, the otherwise with first and last name address red coat little black boots bangs freckles: Priscilla Langwood, chez Madame Lebras, cent-quatre-vingt-treize Rue Vaugirard, Paris quinzième.