Claude Lévi-Strauss on writing (1977)

Although I am going to talk about what I have written, my books and papers are so on, unfortunately I forget what I have written practically as soon as it is finished. There is probably going to be some trouble about this. But nevertheless I think there is also something significant about it, in that I don’t have the feeling that I write my books. I have the feeling that my books get written through me and that once they have got across me I feel empty and nothing is left.

You may remember that I have written that myths get thought in man unbeknownst to him. This has been much discussed and even criticised by my English-speaking colleagues, because their feeling is that, from an empirical point of view, it is an utterly meaningless sentence. But for me it describes a lived experience, because it says exactly how I perceive my own relationship to my work. That is, my work gets thought in me unbeknown to me.

Massey radio lectures, 1977, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Myth and Meaning, London: Routledge, 1978, p. 1

Update: there is a recording of the lectures online here.

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