let the post-post-modern era be here now. this is from a review by ingrid wassenaar of helene cixous' memoir hemlock, from the times literary supplement (it doesn't seem to be up on their site; it's from the september 9 issue).
One day, her mother misplaces a precious letter, and in her agitation becomes temporarily unable to read the word for whale (baleine). There follows an extended improvisation on the theme of being at sea. Cixous says that she would like to write about her mother's use of language: "This will be difficult, somewhere between onomatopoeia and epic, maybe we'll call it happ...showing the surprise the pounce of the happnimal upon life, or the sudden dive through the paws of death. Happ! there she goes! That sudden brutal movement of a pounce, that one also finds in the Germanic languages."
Happ, Cixous's comic neologism, goes straight to the heart of one of the tensions in European thought between the bodily and the spiritual. It recalls the sound of animals wolfing other animals, and has echoes in many European languages. Part of Ciixous's radicalism lies precisely in how she fossicks among the Indo-European roots of words that have acquired sedimented readings. Happ sums up in a word that observing her frail mother is not so different from stalking her.
please, please stop.