Reconfiguration, from SeaMother, or the Bitteroded Chapter

Nicole Brossard

Now the struggle. The book. Fiction begins suspended mobile between words and the body plausible as mother devouring and devoured.

Fiction theory: only in the final embrace will words have been of use. The first word lips and gummy slobber on her breasts. Theory starts the moment either breast or child is held at bay. Strategic wound or sense suspended.


The figure is as real as politics intent on making her submit to the plural in front of everyone’s eyes, or singularly power. The realist figure is thus the most submissive face there is. She grammatically agrees, end of story. That’s why she’s generalized in the singular (in the home): woman or image of wet nurse. The figure turns, her double-face speeding up, lunges into the eyes, these acts, once more, a last-ditch effort against being struck blind: grab hold of her. But the figure is on the move. At full speed the figure is unrecognizable. Intense unreadable. In sequence. The figure is migratory.


She dissolves the contract that binds her to figuration. In ancient theatre where nostalgias are rampant, she is simultaneously alone and with all women in producing the effect of the body. Not mythic as in the doubled bodies sacrificed on the stage. Shock-body or body of the nerve impulse that girds itself for action without alibi, a body that turns out to be alone. Body cut off from retreat. Girl-body manifest precisely in the sense of conflict. The arc, out of delirium: did anyone note how passion riddled the eyes during the scene, like the insertion of woman in a context dislodged? It’s just that in her interpretation of figuration, of tangible form, she visibly altered the dream.


A few clues to undoing or rendering unrecognizable. Because if distant or in drop-jawed deprivation how to proceed word by word in the figure: which is to say: in a state of nature civilized like a gap or multiple marginals. In transformative laughter. Write it down so well that hatred can’t be written, or death, like a politics of anguish: in the stories of children the ogre’s life explodes fragmenting food, bodies; girls leave home as if abandoning the context. In the forest, heads will be bounced on pensive knees. The abyss or in the chasm by pulling them apart. Creating distance as if for fiction.


Out from throats circles spheres spirals: butterflies or the effect of emotion. Figures stir: over surfaces, refracted, pauses of intimacy. Attempt to give space a reprieve unlined unwritten but for the struggle of limbs of wild arms or damp hands. Projected: a fantasy of gill-slits of water of tresses—in space the eyes are meant to falter, acting on fresh perceptions. Let them close shut like mouths sealed all day at the height of the season in the languid view of premonitory pusses.

Of Intention

Among her many intentions, there’s one more that’s always veiled: her body like a paradox of substance seeing as she’s waited patiently with ovaries over many intensive centuries of survival-intension at the corner of her eye, day after day the replica. The replay. The shadow widens. It’s in contrast then that the figure (or like a reflex) draws a new configuration expressly able to alter the usual meaning. Pressed to end up in a dimension other than the symbolic. But the figure fulfills itself: pushes through the forbidden or a male’s transitory hip. Beyond terrorism. Along the way, holding fast to their materiality, the other passions dare this different form of fold.

Caught in the Figurative

In the flow that carries meaning or utters concisely—who is she as represented morals and suitable as if presumed victim, who is she, knows it, ellipse or sometimes when she creates, it displaces shadow and the effect of long nights begins to make itself felt on her surface or intensely. Her thirst like trying to outwit the desert, inevitably: caught in the figurative and proliferation. When profiles shift gathering themselves to speak. It’s the shiver or maybe rustle of paper. Is an apple on the desk enough to provide meaning. Or to turn the stomach.

The Figurine

Stalked steps but in my hand can she stop me dying what business of hers is my tomb (astride) ochre terra cotta, stone, her breasts where is her mouth then let her revive that eroded part of the body. Here they are, millennium and silence. Will have been consigned to the museum, callipygous. No matter how I try . . . but slowing down often makes me converge on the source. It’s her belly. How fecund she was and trenchant sex. It’s via the eyes of the figurine, her mouth occasionally, that a distant realm, in my hand, the salt, the breast.

Une Figure

Just say it: reality collar halter harness—we’ve seen it all, tied down, held all day every day, or white she-dogs in the morning. Reality? It doesn’t exist. Try waiting for five o’clock. It doesn’t exist, it’s still light. It’s elsewhere. Reality? I don’t believe it. Same goes for appearance. It’s to be expected. But to have access. Or start again. It doesn’t exist. Did you find your Utopia in the drawer in mommy’s room? It’s just a fact of life, reality’s an illusion. White arms in the snow. Once and for all it doesn’t exist. Long before I tremble. Afraid it just doesn’t exist. Or how about at sea the wave within the folds the troughs. In fact what’s real is the intense body far from her eyes in the right spot for knowledge. Nothing to do with it. But check out the figure alert, upright and in history. In shereality.


To underpin muscle like an enterprise, domestic. Nervous figure, of arms of fragments of vaginas within her always transforming bread or breast. Fictive, let her be an ideal because the dust I can't seem to grasp is as cluttered as a junk room. Moving so that her body coincides with a few familiar phrases. Her symptoms then moved on to weigh on morning. Fact is, she feels much better with the allergy gone. The figure really is a girl who examines her childhoods, supposedly a woman, but in fact, a girl. At all times: overcoming all obstacles to synthesis. To her living her own fiction hem holler heave ho pronto. 

Go Figure

She’s constrained, remember: that clandestine space in which all laws are subject to the imagination or if infiltrating it like a reality are just nullified. Water murky on the surface but below it the tissues know where to go figure. All in all, it’s a question of practice. The flowing of that other passion. The same. To put it another way: when the imagination catches fire, it ends up in cahoots and political. A trajectory of the body, fertile and suffering. A last fantasy in reality. Womb-less, torso-less so no head’s involved, so as to remember.

translated from the French by Robert Majzels and Erín Moure

From L’Amèr ou Le chapitre effrité, by Nicole Brossard, first published by Quinze, Montréal (1977), reissued by L’Hexagone, Montréal in their TYPO collection (1988, 2013). Reproduced with the kind permission of the author and the publisher. Translations published with the permission of Majzels and Moure.

Click here for Nicole’s Brossard “Soft Links,” translated by Bronwyn Haslam, from our Winter 2016 issue.