All entries for Tuesday 21 November 2006

November 21, 2006

The Origin of The Two Fridas by Frida Kahlo

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Frida Kahlo - The Two Fridas

I must have been six years old when I had an intense experience of an imaginary friendship with a little girl .. roughly my own age. On the window of my old room, facing Allende Street, I used to breathe on one of the top panes. And with my finger I would draw

a “door”........

Through that “door” I would come out, in my imagination, and hurriedly with immense happiness, I would cross all the field I could see until I reached… (245)

a dairy store called PINZON… Through the “O” in PINZON I entered and descended impetuously to the entrails of the earth, where “my imaginary friend” always waited for me. I don’t remember her appearance or her color [sic]. But I do remember her joyfulness – she laughed a lot. Soundlessly. She was agile and danced as if she were weightless. I followed her in every movement and while she danced, I told her my secret problems, Which ones? I can’t remember. But…

from my voice she knew all about my affairs. When I came back to the window, I would enter through the same door I had drawn on the glass. When? How long had I been with “her”? I don’t know. It could have been a second or thousands of years… I was happy. I would erase the “door” with my hand and it would “disappear”. I ran with my secret and my joy to the farthest corner of the patio of my house, and always to the same place, under a cedron tree, I would shout and laugh Amazed to be… (246)

Alone with my great happiness with the very vivid memory of the little girl. It has been 34 years since I lived that magical friendship and every time I remember it it comes alive and grows more and more inside my world.

PINZON, 1950. Frida Kahlo. (247)

Frida Kahlo

Letter to Diego Rivera from Frida Kahlo

Truth is, so great, that I wouldn’t like to speak, or sleep, or love.
To feel myself trapped, with no fear of blood, outside time and magic, within your own fear, and your anguish, and within the very beating of your heart.
All this madness if I asked it of you, I know, in your silence, there would be only confusion.
I ask you for violence, in the nonsense, and you, you give me grace, your light and your warmth.
I’d like to paint you, but there are no colors [sic], because there are so many, in my confusion, the tangible form of my great love.


Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo. The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait. Trans,. Sarah M. Lowe. London: Bloomsbury, 1995. 205/42.

Extracts from the Diary of Frida Kahlo

I was lying – flaccid – running – revelry / without story reason / great haste mirrorlike / cardboard doll (204)

My skirts with their lace flounces and the antique blouse I always wore (...) paint the absent portrait of only one person. (209)

I don’t know what my mocking dream thinks. The ink, the stain. the shape. the color (sic). I’m a bird. I’m everything. without any more confusion. All the bells. the rules. the lands. the big grove. the greatest tenderness. the immense tide. grabage. water jar, cardboard cards. dice digits duets vain hope of constructing the cloths, the kings. so nails. the thread and the hair. the bantering nerve I’m going with myself. (213)

Only one mountain can know the core of another mountain. (216)

The day, or the hour, or the minute that I lived would be mine and everyone else’s (242).

ourselves – / variety of the one / incapable of escap- / ing to the two – to the three – / to the usual – to return to the one . / Yet not the _ sum_ / (sometimes called God (...)) (250).

I have been sick for a year now. Seven operations on my spinal column. Doctor Farill saved me. He brought me back the joy of life. I am still in a wheelchair, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to walk again soon. I have a plaster corset even though it is a frightful nuisance, it helps my spine. I don’t feel any pain. Only this … bloody tiredness, and naturally, quite often despair. A despair which no words can describe. I’m still eager to live. I’ve started to paint again. (252)

The quiet life.. / giver of worlds.. / Wounded deer / Tehuanas / Lightning, grief suns / hidden rhythms (272)

Frida Kahlo. The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait. Trans,. Sarah M. Lowe. London: Bloomsbury, 1995.

Paul de Man on ‘Autobiography as Defacement’

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Paul de Man’s essay on ‘Autobiography as Defacement’ focuses mainly on Wordsworth, but he also makes some interesting general points about autobiography.

de Man begins by suggesting that the treatment of autobiography is ‘confining’ and that it makes many problematic assumptions. One problem is ‘the attempt to define and treat autobiography as if it were a literary genre among others’ and the difficulty in it being a genre that supposedly brings together history and the aesthetic (919). Autobiography may seem whimsical and indulgent in comparison to other genres of art

Can autobiography be written in verse? Even some of the most recent theoreticians of autobiography categorically deny the possibility though without giving reasons why this is so. Thus it becomes irrelevant to consider Wordsworth’s The Prelude within the context of a study of autobiography, an exclusion that anyone working in the English tradition will find hard to condone. (920)

de Man concludes that it is redundant to define autobiography as a ‘generic definition’ (920). Perhaps a comparison of fiction and autobiography might be more fruitful, since autobiography depends on ‘actual and potentially verifiable events’, doesn’t it (920)? Could it be ‘a simpler mode of referentiality, of representation, and of diegesis’ which is ‘rooted in a single subject as in Rousseau’s Confessions? de Man is unconvinced.

We assume that life produces the autobiography as an act produces its consequences, but can we not suggest, with equal justice, that the autobiographical project may itself produce and determine the life and that whatever the writer does is in fact governed by the technical demands of self-portraiture and thus determined in all its aspects, by the resources of his medium? (920)

Proust quotes Gérard Genette’s analysis of Proust, which suggests that Proust’s writings are ‘an endless discussion between a reading of the novel as fiction and a reading of the same novel as autobiography’ (921). de Man concludes that autobiography is ‘a figure of reading or of understanding that occurs, to some degree, in all texts’ (921). This is not to say though that all texts are autobiographical, but rather the importance of autobiography ‘is not that it reveals reliable self-knowledge—it does not—but that it demonstrates in a striking way the impossibility of closure and of totalization (that is the impossibility of coming into being) of all textual systems made up of tropological substiutions’ (922).

de Man, Paul. ‘Autobiography as Defacement’. MLN. Vol 94, no. 5, Comparative Literature. (Dec., 1979), pp. 919-930.


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