Agua Viva by Clarice Lispector and how music has impacted on her writing

| May 28, 2019

How music has an impact on Clarice Lispector’s writing (Agua Viva)

With respect to his introductory essay to Clarice Lispector’s Agua Viva, Benjamin Moser writes that “Clarice pushes her language as far as it could go without risking incoherence”. This book was particularly written in fragments, and the Olga Borellis editorial methods she was able to write was “breathing together, it’s breathing together.” With respect to Agua Viva Clarice appears to shun conventional narrative structure and as a consequence, adopts a fragmentary form which to a larger extent, appears more known and friendly to readers of Beckett (Carrera et al., 89). Even though Lispector seems to be demonstrating a Beckettian influence, her writing style exhibits less bleak and therefore appears to be taking the minimal risk of a complete collapse in terms of meaning.

During the first fragment, Clarice writes, “Hallelujah, I shout hallelujah merging with the darkest howl of the pain of separation but a shout of diabolic joy.” Besides its impactful expression of worship, hallelujah is considered a musical composition specifically based on the world itself. It is important to point out that the actual essence, as well as the shape of Agua Viva, is largely atonal music which strives to describe an arc using difference and repetition. Lispector further writes, “You don’t understand music: you hear it. So hear me with your whole body.”

It is, however, worth noting that Agua Viva’s narrator is a painter who opted to turn to writing. She employs the use of language to help her in pinning downtime and in one of the segments she writes, “I want to put into words but without description, the existence of the cave that some time ago I painted and I don’t know how.”  Fundamentally, the absence of description, and with clear and plain prose, her imagery has the likelihood of attempting to create a depth of mood evocative with respect to an ably painted canvas (Carrera et al., 87). To a significant number of readers, Agua Viva can possibly be viewed as an epic prose poem which simmers with lines such as, “the day seems like the smooth stretched skin of a fruit that in a small catastrophe the teeth tear, its liquor drains. I’m afraid of the accursed Sunday that liquidifies me”. Similarly, Lispector in her book writes, “My unbalanced words are the wealth of my silence”.

The music

Apparently, there is a new book full stories which have been written by Clarice Lispector, a Brazilian writer (1920-19770) which was recently featured in the New York Times Book Review. A significant number of people do not seem to know much about her, even though they may have heard a certain song that was sung by Caetano Veloso called “Clarice”, which was written by Capinam.

At first, many thought that the song was talking about Lispector, however, as it turned out, Clarice is a common name and that there are a number of Clarices in Brazil. Therefore, the song is not about Lispector. These two artists, however, have a number of things in common. Caetano, together with Gilberto Gil was able to create Tropicalia, a music movement from 1968 which besides being able to divert music further from political bossa nova, scandalized the dictatorship and subsequently saw him thrown out of the country. He has since written and also recorded a substantial number of songs as well as dozens of album since that time. Caetano appears to love surrealism, which is automatic writing as well as concrete poetry and he is always experimenting and inventing with language. This was however true with Clarice Lispector. Clarice was particularly unique in her visionary writing style sometimes, yet only became recognized and appreciated later on after her demise at 55 in 1977.

The life of Lispector, as well as her writing, largely mirrored the anguish, sadness as well as alienation of a famous Jewish writer by the name Franz Kafka. In Ukraine, particularly during the anti-semitic programs, following the Russian revolution, family members were brutally killed and her mother was raped by soldiers from Russia who infected her with syphilis. During this time, her father lost his work as well as social standing, and the family ended up losing all the money they had (Pessanha, et al., 185). Her family made a rather harrowing escape via Moldova and Balkans and managed to arrive in Recife, Brazil. Her mother could die, later on, a few years from the impacts of the venereal malady she had contracted from the rape she encountered. Her father on the other hand never found his footing thereafter.

While in Brazil, Lispector met and married a young lawyer who later on became a diplomat. Her life would later become one of privilege as she could globe-bottle the world on his numerous postings. She eventually became the dutiful socialite a charming hostess of different parties as well as other social affairs. However, her writing tends to reflect a different side to this. She later deemed it fit to leave this life as well as her husband and went back to Brazil. Part of her later sadness revolved around fading beauty as well as the eventual loss of her allure. Addiction, particularly to sleeping pills, became part of her life and at some point, she fell asleep in bed while she tried to smoke. The resultant fire disfigured a significant portion of her body.

Scholarly articles about Lispector’s writing in relation to her music and the way it is described in the book

“Mary Ruefle on Clarice Lispector for Music & Literature 4” by Harriet Staff

In the article, “Mary Ruefle on Clarice Lispector for Music & Literature 4” Harriet says that when she thinks of Clarice Lispector, she probably thinks of her years as a wife of a diplomat In Washington DC., alongside some of the many rounds of dinner and cocktail parties which are relevant and important part of that kind of life alongside her existence particularly as a writer should have been relegated to a certain place that was so inner and was perhaps at risk of vanishing. Harriet says that towards the very last, no particular individual that was sitting next to her was able to recognize it. The inner place according to this author, represented the inner life and one that cannot disappear. The author adds that in the event that it was to disappear, then literature itself would disappear with it.

Consequently, the author states that the preference for reading writing from other people is for a number of reasons. One such reason is that they are so much better than the author’s own, and another reason is that there are inadequate poetry readings in relation to the great poems which have been written by some of the great masters from the past and who have since died.

The True Glamour of Clarice Lispector by Benjamin Moser

According to this article, the legendarily beautiful Clarice Lispector, blond and tall clad in the outspoken sunglasses and chunky jewelry met the current definition of glamour. Benjamin states that Clarice spent many years working as a fashion journalist. The author adds that she knew very well on how to look the part. Benjamin in relation to this article says that the existing connection between witchcraft and literature has for a long time been a vital part of the Lispector’s mythology. That mythology with a relatively strong boost from the internet and one that has the potential of transforming rumors into facts has since brought about consequences which are very baroque to an extent that it could today be termed as a minor branch of Brazilian literature. Circulating unceasingly online is a complete shadow oeuvre, failing and generally trying to sound profound as well as the breathing of passion (Moser, 2014). With respect to what is happening online, this article states that Lispector has since obtained a posthumous shadow body as numerous pictures regarding actresses which seems to portray her are consistently reproduced particularly in a lieu of the original.

Furthermore, in the event that technology has changed its forms, then according to Benjamin, the mythologizing itself cannot be treated as new. The author says that Clarice Lispector became very well-known when, towards at the end of 1943, she was able to publish “Near to the Wild Heart.” Clarice was a student, only 23, and who came from a poor immigrant background (Moser, 2014). The very first novel that she published according to this article, had such a tremendous effect that, one journalist decided to write, “We have no memory of a more sensational debut, which lifted to such prominence a name that, until shortly before, had been completely unknown.” Yet barely a few weeks after that name was increasingly becoming known, Lispector decided to leave Rio de Janeiro alongside her husband who was a diplomat at the time. They lived abroad for close to two decades.

Music and communication-how music is a huge part of living and another part of communicating

Currently, English is a commonly used language around the globe, yet for a substantial number of centuries, people from varied areas around the world have since made contact without necessarily having to share much or simply any common language and that is still the case.  It is however quite puzzling to think about how people used to communicate long ago before formal languages could actually come into existence. Essentially, this makes us start thinking about various ways in which individuals are able to communicate now, even at the point of not being able to share a common language (Chaffee et al., 419).  With respect to the early stages of human life, music was perhaps employed more in terms of communication as opposed to pleasure as it is the case now. For instance, horns, drums as well as bells alongside human voice were pitched to carry many miles. Fundamentally, a number of researchers have a belief that early forms of human language were able to particularly develop from communication with the help of music, and this goes to show that indeed, music continues to fulfill more functions in various cultures today.

In this instance, we can have a look at nature as an example of how music is basically employed as a form of communication. Birds, for instance, are a superb example depicting one of the many living creatures who are able to communicate in the sense that they can make meaningful, yet musical sounds. Essentially, birds are able to talk to one another in more complex ways despite the fact that they do not have the kind of teeth or tongue that one specifically requires in forming words. In relation to the early morning birdsong, referring to music to the human ear that specifically employed for courtship, establishing territories as well as mating, to the call that there are no making mistakes, especially when one bird is literally warning others of the pending danger as a result of the snake or cat (Chaffee et al., 421). Therefore, before you think of saying that that belongs to the birds community, it is imperative to point out that a number of cultures are still using languages, that to uninitiated may simply sound like tweeting and whistling, for instance, “El Silbo”, a whistled language which is spoken particularly by the inhabitants of La Gomera in the Canary Islands, it was specifically developed to facilitate communication around the deep ravines as well as the narrow valleys which radiate via the islands and the best thing is that one does not get an “out of range” message when using it.

With regards to what is specifically happening today, music is one of the very limited ways with which people are able to connect with one another without language. Most importantly, it is one of the ways in which a number of cultures can besides being able to identify themselves, are also able to communicate with one another and subsequently find common ground. At this point in time, think of a certain culture which is very different from your own, and probably one that you have been able to notice for some reason or another but have little knowledge about. You will more likely find an instant mental picture of the people pertaining to that culture and perhaps develop certain impressions regarding their language, music, and art, too. Therefore, some of these sights, as well as sounds, have a way of leaving a deep impression on us. The sounds and sights of a given culture could impact us without our complete understanding of the implication of their significance within that culture.

Consequently, even though we seldom have the opportunity or time for exploring the subtleties of the music of other cultures, most of the time there is an underlying meaning which is behind the sounds. Often times, that very meaning is somewhat basic, at other times, the meaning could be very sophisticated and strongly associated with the beliefs as well as practices regarding that particular culture. For instance, there is no mistaking with respect to a soothing lullaby or there could be an ice cream van within the neighborhood which is seeking to announce its presence using a familiar tune. In addition, there are church bells which employ the use of music while calling for people to worship, or in celebrating or conveying important information regarding other crucial events. Similarly, during these events, be it deaths or marriages, specific music will be played. At sporting events such as the opening and closing ceremonies, at the Olympics, a good number of national anthems are sung. Each one of such songs has a way of reflecting something in relation to the culture of that individual country. In the event that you still do not find it necessary to believe that music can indeed be employed in conveying a particular message, then try to watch a relatively scary film or a romance with the sound literally turned off. During the era of silent films, music was employed in setting the scene and was instrumental in conveying emotion and even more important that the tradition carries on with that practice today.

It is worth pointing out that music is now an integral part of the commercial world, implying that we tend to put great significance on today’s musical stars, to an extent that they may reflect or try changing the public views. Often times, music is employed as a way in which people express protest. Markedly, it played an enormous role with respect to the anti-Vietnam war movement. Regarding what is happening today, it is important to mention that there is no disaster in the world which does not specifically find its own song in raising awareness or money. Truth be told, we are at it (Chaffee et al., 422).  Every other time we send a close friend or loved one a link to any given song with the help of the internet, or even make attempt to make a compilation of CD for someone we dearly cherish, we are basically using music as a way or form of communication. Apparently, you can learn much from someone, based on the kind of music that they listen to. One of the vital sections with regards to profiles on social websites is “favorite music”.

Fundamentally, there is something extremely important within humans as well as other animals which is able to recognize and subsequently responds to sound that has been arranged as music. Probably, music is much more important in comparison to the language particularly in assisting people from various cultures in connecting with and understanding each other.

Effects of music on

The brain

Researchers have since delved into the minds of the players, listeners as well as the singers with an aim of establishing how directly music impacts the brain. To this effect, many reviews as well as studies have been carried out, specifically pointing out how music is viewed, experienced and even felt (Strait, et al., 113). Therefore, these studies have since indicated that listening to, playing and singing music efficiently could greatly help with mild traumatic brain injuries, fine motor challenges, patients with dementia alongside many other physical complications.

Fundamentally, the brain is comprised of over 10 billion neurons (nerve cells) as well as more than 10 trillion synapses (connectors). These neurons are responsible for the selection of what people are able to perceive particularly in an environmental scene (Strait & Kraus, 2011). Strait stated that this specific study was the first of its kind and sought to present “biological evidence for musical training’s impact on neural mechanisms of selective auditory attention within a language context”. The additional studies attempted to explore how non-musicians, as well as musicians, are able to decipher sound through the noise, implying that they managed to explore some of the existing differences between how musicians, as well as non-musicians, could hear a given sound amidst many distractions in the way. The researchers established that musicians pose relatively better attention skills owing to their training musical training. In essence, musicians continue to build their attention skills using their practice regimes coupled with their musical study. Attention skills as learned and obtained through the study of music during childhood could have an effect on how students with multiple disabilities may be taught at the time of their elementary years. Music is able to connect feelings and the human brain. Feelings are always playing a pivotal role in how people are able to react and act to almost everything that is close to them. As clearly observed through dance, music is a facilitator of emotion.


The performance, creation as well as consumption of music and literacy work are preoccupations which exist in nearly all cultures. Literature and music, in its original or initial form of storytelling, have ancient origins and with that that in mind, they besides lying at the heart of cultural as well as religious practices, and narratives, it also offers broadly popular leisure activities in day to day life. Many psychological theories, some of which seem to build on the ideas that date back to classical antiquity, have aimed at accounting for literature and music’s effective capacity independently. Others have chosen to examine the nature of emotion while responding to arts in a general manner (Koger, et al., 11). Furthermore, more accounts maintain that irrespective of any existing differences in terms of propositional content as well as any prevailing notions with respect to evolutionary capacity for emotion, both literacy work and music share a considerable capacity to elicit strong feelings.

Consequently, one of the most crucial qualities which seek to bind music and literacy reading and subsequently differentiate them from many other cultural artifacts such as sculpture and paintings is that both are able to unfold in time thus providing a sort of “narrative” which could be followed. Whereas poetry, such as music might exercise effective impact with the help of its emphasis on repetition as well as temporal stress, a variety of accounts underscore the impact that even non-versed literary forms such as novels and short stories may have. Therefore, bearing in mind the universal appeal of music, the timeless as well as storytelling alongside some of the claims from a wide range of theoretical accounts, it appears relevant to attempt to explore the developing neuroscience research in a bid to establish any existing evidence in terms of an overlap regarding the underlying effective mechanisms (Koger, 9). More importantly, the recent research into literature and music has since looked into a variety of issues which vary in their level of domain specificity as well as a detailed review in terms of all possible links which can potentially be made between the two different art forms could call upon an extended format.

Work Cited

Carrera, Elena. “The reception of Clarice Lispector via Hélène Cixous: reading from the whale’s belly.” Brazilian Feminisms (1999): 85-100.

Chaffee, Steven H. “Popular music and communication research: An editorial epilogue.” Communication Research 12.3 (1985): 413-424.

Koger, Susan M., Kathryn Chapin, and Melissa Brotons. “Is music therapy an effective intervention for dementia? A meta-analytic review of the literature.” Journal of Music Therapy 36.1 (1999): 2-15.

Moser, Benjamin. “The True Glamour of Clarice Lispector.” The New Yorker vom 10 (2014).

Pessanha, José Américo Motta. “Clarice Lispector: o itinerário da paixão.” Remate de males 9 (1989): 181-198.

Strait, Dana L., and Nina Kraus. “Can you hear me now? Musical training shapes functional brain networks for selective auditory attention and hearing speech in noise.” Frontiers in Psychology 2 (2011): 113.

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