Arts & DesignEssaysPsycheSex & Gender

“All My Life I Have Been a Woman” and Other Excerpts

About language, our society, madness…

With Amelia Parenteau, Leslie Kaplanread the following excerpts from her plays after she gave the eighth William Phillips lecture on November 5, 2013 at Theresa Lang Student and Community Center/Arnhold Hall of The New School.

All my life I’ve been a woman

 

all my life I’ve been a woman

a woman

all my life

does that sentence seem

odd to me

no

sometimes

sometimes it seems odd to me

all my life

I’ve been

a woman

 

how can you talk that way

all your life you’ve been a woman

how can you say that

 

I’m saying it, that’s all

 

but you don’t realize

how can you say that

calmly

 

it’s not sure I’m saying it calmly

 

you’re saying it

calmly

if not you’d be climbing up a wall

 

a wall ?

 

yes a wall

you can’t say that

« all my life I’ve been a woman »

 

I can’t say it ? I can’t say it ?

I’m saying it

all my life I’ve been a woman

I’m saying it

 

if you say it

if you say it

 

O.K., then if I say it

 

if you say it

nobody will understand you

 

it’s impossible to understand ?

 

I said One cannot understand you

 

I don’t understand

 

what don’t you understand

 

what you are saying

I don’t understand what you are saying

 

I think you don’t understand

yourself

 

true

I don’t understand myself

all my life I’ve been a woman

what a huge sentence

 

huge ?

huge ?

what do you mean, huge ?

 

that sentence has such potential

so many possibilities

that sentence includes

I’m saying : includes

so many other sentences

 

O.K.

but

a blender

liberates a woman

 

oh no

not that

no

 

yes yes yes

a blender

liberates a woman

 

I’m saying all my life I’ve been a woman

that sentence is huge

huge

huge

and you

your answer is

a blender

 

yes

a blender

that’s right

a blender

 

I’m leaving

you’re too limited

 

you’re leaving me ?

why ?

 

I’m leaving you

you’re too limited

I am in front of a huge sentence

huge

all my life I’ve been a woman

 

I just wanted to talk to you about blenders

 

blender

schmender

 

don’t you think household items

are important ?

 

I’m in front of that sentence

all my life I’ve been a woman

I’m in front of it

got it ?

in front ?

 

aren’t you interested

in carrot scrapers ?

carrot scrapers

have changed my life

 

have they changed your life

or have they changed life ?

 

they have changed my life

the vegetables are perfectly scraped

I save money

I save time

 

I’m talking about a huge

sentence

in front of which I am

all my life I’ve been a woman

 

all the little vegetables are respected in their diversity

potatoes

carrots

leeks

fenel

egg plants

zucchinis

turnips

all those little veggies

 

you’re the vegetable

 

the blender also changed my life

a simple purée is much more

than just a simple purée

 

you’re really limited

purée

 

to blend

to crunch

to cut

to slice

to press

and juices

ah juices

 

what about juices

 

they are infinite

 

trivial

you are trivial

I talk to you about a huge sentence

all my life I’ve been a woman

and you answer with the infinity

of juices

 

apples

pears

bananas

strawberries

ah strawberries

citrus fruits

oranges

lemons

fruits

vegetables

mixtures

infinite

infinite

infinite

 

trivial

trivial

trivial

all my life I’ve been a woman

that’s something else for infinity

that’s something else

 

and soups

 

what about soups

 

broth and soup

soup and broth

in the singular

in the plural

infinite liquid

liquid infinite

the liquid penetrates you

fills you up

flows into your intestines

flows in your veins

becomes your blood

your identity

tell me which soup you eat

and I’ll tell you who you are

it warms you up

that soup

it cools you too

sometimes

gaspacho

cucumber soup

eat your soup

I’m enthusiastic

soup is total

 

is it sexual ?

 

of course it’s sexual

it’s total

it’s sexual

proof being

when you don’t like soup

you’ve got a problem

and

who says problem

says sex

all problems

are sexual

at bottom

 

everything is sexual

even masturbation

is sexual

 

masturbation

or mastication ?

 

masturbation

is sexual

mastication as well

fellatio

sodomy

sexual

to go in

to go out

to go up

to go down

to run

to stop

to pant

to dream

to dream is totally sexual

when you say, I’m dreaming

or : Pinch me, I’m dreaming

it’s totally sexual

to pinch

to shake

to tickle

to hit

to tremble

to shiver

to die

***

Louise, she is crazy (translated by Amelia Parenteau)

 

There are those days when everything seems flat

flattened

a puddle

 

everybody feels that

 

I don’t care about everybody

I’m talking about myself

there are those days

when I feel so insignificant

nearly nothing

 

everybody feels that

 

I don’t care about everybody

I’m talking about myself

for me, there are those days

where I say to myself, the proof

that a women doesn’t amount to much

is that God isn’t married

 

what do you mean? what do you mean?

 

the proof that a women doesn’t amount to much

is that God isn’t married

 

nonsense

you are really depressed

 

of course I’m depressed

how can you not be depressed

is God married

yes or no?

 

maybe He’s married

maybe He’s not married

God does what He wants

 

God-is-not-married

if God were married everybody would know about it

God is not married

 

He isn’t?

 

God is self-reliant

 

if you get married

you aren’t self-reliant?

I don’t see God as single

 

you don’t?

if you get married, you depend on someone

God doesn’t depend on anyone

 

God is love

 

of course

God is love

 

God is love

He depends on those He loves

 

on those He loves

or on those who love Him?

 

on those who love Him

and on those He loves

God needs us

 

He needs us?

He is all-powerful

He doesn’t need anybody

 

God is all-powerful

but He isn’t crazy

 

God isn’t crazy?

maybe He’s crazy

maybe He’s not crazy

God does what He wants

 

do you give Him

a capital H?

 

of course

I give Him

a capital H

 

God isn’t crazy

God speaks to me

 

He speaks to you? He speaks to you?

sure He does

 

God does speak to me

I hear Him

 

what do you hear?

in what language does He speak to you?

 

He speaks to me in a very beautiful language

with exquisite words

 

exquisite words? exquisite words?

you make me laugh

you give me a good laugh

in what language does He speak to you?

 

a better language than yours, in any case

 

God speaks Latin

everybody knows that

 

He speaks to me

He speaks to me specifically

He says, My little chicken, My chickie

***

Move the sky

 

I am in love but I prefer breaking our relationship

That way he’s not the one who leaves

 

I prefer staying with some one I don’t love

That way I don’t suffer if he goes away

 

I prefer living with someone I despise

That way I’m not afraid he doesn’t love me

 

I prefer ruining my life

That way I don’t regret anything

 

I prefer fretting my heart out

That way I accuse no one

 

I prefer saying nothing

That way I stay with my longing

 

I prefer failing

That way I don’t make anyone jealous

 

I prefer looking awful

That way I have my revenge

 

I prefer being ugly

That way my mother hates me

 

I prefer being stupid

That way I disappoint

 

I prefer making mistakes

That way I reassure every one

 

I prefer being stupid

That way, it’s over, I’m stupid

 

I prefer living with a sick person

That way I know I’m in good health

 

I prefer working with fools

That way you can see where the ideas come from

 

I prefer hiding

That way nobody can find me

 

I prefer breaking every thing

that way there is nothing left

 

I prefer living on nothing

that way I keep every thing

 

I prefer giving orders

That way I am sure I am free

 

I prefer hurting

That way I can see hate in the other

 

I prefer humiliating

That way I am the queen

 

I prefer destroying the other

That way I am safe

 

I prefer nothing goes on

That way I’m not afraid something will happen

 

***

people always say monkeys look like human beings

I think it’s silly

 

yes but

frankly

frankly

 

what, frankly

 

that little monkey

he is the exact copy of my brother

 

you exaggerate

 

not at all

I don’t exaggerate at all

 

how can you say that

a monkey is a monkey

O.K., he’s cute

but nevertheless, he’s a monkey

 

do you see his ears?

 

how could I not see them?

that’s all you can see

 

well, my brother has the same

 

the same?

 

the same ears

I’m telling you

 

it’s not because you think

I’m saying because you think

they have the same ears

that there is a real likeness

a true likeness

a deep likeness

 

the face is the same, too

all creased, crumpled, worn

when my brother was a baby

my mother left him with me all the time

I was so annoyed

he was all creased?

yes all creased

all crumpled

he looked like a little old guy

the monkey looks just like that

 

no, it’s not the same thing

we are human beings

absolutely not the same thing

 

That might not be true

 

of course it’s true

you can’t compare

 

of course you can compare

every body compares

 

to compare is not scientific

a monkey is limited, a limited being

 

limited? limited?

you make me laugh

have you seen Nenette

the way she wipes the widow

crr crr crr

she takes a Kleenex, she wipes the window

crr crr crr

and that little monkey

look at him

look how delicate he is

how graceful

he plays

he hides

 

You ‘re talking rubbish

You say “he plays”, “he hides”

You are projecting, projecting

 

I am not projecting

I am watching

He is very concentrated

he plays he hides

he wants to find out

he explores

his forehead is all creased from paying attention

 

bullshit

he has creases, his skin is creased, that’s all

you know there are nations

and not just any

the great Chinese nation for example

who eat monkeys

 

that’s disgusting

 

why disgusting?

they are animals

 

it’s disgusting

it’s as if you were eating

I don’t know

it’s as if you were eating

an ancestor

 

an ancestor?

an ancestor?

 

do we go back to monkeys, yes or no

you are not going to repudiate Darwin, evolution

science, progress

I will never eat a monkey

 

don’t say a monkey

you should say : eat some monkey

use a partitive, a partitive preposition

some cake, some pie

it’s not a personal problem

between you and the monkey

 

look, a monkey is too near

you cant’ t eat it

 

no

you have to eat it

it’s obvious

you have to

you have to eat monkey

otherwise

 

otherwise

 

otherwise you are going to mix every thing up

you are going to lose your marks

 

we are in times of confusion

where marks…

where marks….

 

Where marks?

 

Marks are unsteady

Wobbly

They disappear

Nobody knows where they stand

 

In any case

A monkey is a monkey

 

Have you seen his hands?

 

Of course I’ve seen his hands

 

He has a thumb

 

Yes, it’s true

He has a thumb

 

And his feet

 

What about his feet

 

You’re not going to call them paws

Paws are coarse

Thick

Animal

 

O.K, OK. They look like feet

 

So?

 

So what?

 

Come on, doesn’t it make you feel nervous?

Dizzy?

Do you see a difference?

 

I see little difference

Very little difference

That’s why you have to eat him

Also for you:

Leslie Kaplan

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