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338 pages, Paperback
First published January 20, 2006
Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex.Stridsberg's novel was originally published in 2006 winning the highly prestigious 2007 Nordic Counsel's Literature Prize (other winners in the 2000s include novels from Per Petterson, Lars Saabye Christensen, Sjón, Sofi Oksanen, Naja Marie Aidt and Jan Kjærstad.) This essay sets the novel in the context of Stridsberg's work: https://nordicwomensliterature.net/20...
It is now technically feasible to reproduce without the aid of males (or, for that matter, females) and to produce only females. We must begin immediately to do so. Retaining the male has not even the dubious purpose of reproduction. The male is a biological accident: the Y (male) gene is an incomplete X (female) gene, that is, it has an incomplete set of chromosomes. In other words, the male is an incomplete female, a walking abortion, aborted at the gene stage. To be male is to be deficient, emotionally limited; maleness is a deficiency disease and males are emotional cripples.
The novel is not the genre of answers, but that of questions: writing a novel consists of posing a complex question in order to formulate it in the most complex way possible, not to answer it, or not to answer it in a clear and unequivocal way; it consists of immersing oneself in an enigma to render it insoluble, not to decipher it (unless rendering it insoluble is, precisely, the only way to decipher it). That enigma is the blind spot, and the best things these novels have to say they say by way of it: by way of that silence bursting with meaning, that visionary blindness, that radiant darkness, that ambiguity without solution.
"....but being unloved is an act of terror."
"Valerie. Marilyn. Roslyn. Ulrike. Sylvia. Dorothy. Cosmogirl. A kind of insane genius. She has lost her marbles. That means we will wipe out her memories. Electroshock, injections, straitjackets, Elmhurst."
"Retaining the male has not even the dubious purpose of reproduction. The male is a biological accident: the Y gene is an incomplete X gene, that is, it has an incomplete set of chromosomes. In other words, the male is an incomplete female, a walking abortion, aborted at the gene stage. To be male is to be deficient, emotionally limited; maleness is a deficiency disease and males are emotional cripples."
"Why doesn’t she shoot? Why in hell’s name doesn’t she shoot? All her rights were under attack. A state of raped she-babies and raped she-animals. And why don’t they shoot? I don’t actually know, Dr Cooper. If I knew, we wouldn’t be sitting here. Half a civilization on its knees and an arms industry that turns over more every month than the third world’s combined debt to the corrupt world. And that’s not including the porn industry."
"My condition is not a medical condition. It’s more a condition of extreme clarity, of stark white operating lights illuminating all words, things, bodies and identities. Within a stroke or a shout of you, Dr Cooper, everything looks different. Your so-called diagnosis is an exact description of woman’s place in the system of mass psychosis. Schizophrenia, paranoia, depression and the potential for destructive acts. Every girl in patriarchy knows that schizophrenia, paranoia and depression are in no way a description of an individual medical condition. It is a definitive diagnosis of a social structure and a form of government based on constant insults to the brain capacity of half the population, founded on rape."
"You’re no woman, Valerie. You’re a disease."
"The blood flows so slowly through your body. You claw at your breasts, weep and cry out, fumble with the bedding. The hotel sheets are dirty, gray with age, and foul-smelling, urine and vomit and vaginal blood and tears, a golden cloud of pain floating through your mind and gut. Blinding streaks of light in the room, explosions of agony in your skin and lungs, pitching, plunging, blazing. Heat in your arms, fever, abandonment, the stench of dying. Slivers and shards of light still flickering; your hands searching for Dorothy. I hate myself but I do not want to die. I do not want to disappear. I want to go back. I long for someone’s hands, my mother’s hands, a girl’s arms. Or a voice of any kind. Anything but this eclipse of the sun.
"Besides, she has a serious tendency to mistake tears for laughter. Foundation course in psychiatry and linguistics. Laughing is a substitute for weeping in the same way that words are a substitute for screams."
"Up to now the history of all societies has been the history of silence. Rebel, psychoanalyst, experimental writer, woman’s potential as dissident. Language has become increasingly a physical substance whose only function is to underline my loneliness."
"NARRATOR: My faculty of dreams—
VALERIE: —and no sentimental young women or sham authors playing at writing a novel about me dying. You don’t have my permission to go through my material."
"NARRATOR: I don’t want to live in a world where you die. There must be other endings, other stories.
VALERIE: Death is the end of all stories. There are no happy endings."