How to Speak about It?
We all know the expression: how to speak to you about it – to talk to you about it: me, to you, about Nedjma?
How to speak about the words – without stifling what Ponge calls ‘le tremblement de la certitude’? Is that not, at the foundation, the very question of criticism?
How to speak about it: about ‘Nedjma’, the mystery of the feminine, good and bad ‘étoile’, a star [‘astre’] and a disaster, desired and thought of as evil, fantasized, invented by all the stories recounted, how to speak about it when one is Kateb Yacine, born in Constantine in 1929, growing up in colonized Algeria resisting ‘la France’, brought up on the French educational system and belonging to a Muslim society where women are veiled and cloistered, between two languages and two cultures and when, as an Algerian man writing in the French language under the colonial regime, one is trying to evoke the most enigmatic figure, light years away, I mean femininity, which has the name ‘Nedjma’?
How to speak about the words and at the same time not forget that it is, as Jabès says, ‘les mots qui élisent le poète’ (1963), and risk not trembling to write Nedjma, how to place onto the page the trembling feminine-of-this-masculine?
I shall begin with the ending. Like Nedjma. (In fact, Nedjma begins again at the end, and at the end it begins, it begins again at the beginning which is the end. I shall come back to this.