A little light reading

March 11, 2018

goddesses were by me

March 11, 2018

wicca Priestess

As a child, I grew up surrounded, in my mind, by goddesses. I must have been about nine years old, when I first encountered them in the pages of The Jewish Encyclopaedia. This set of numerous volumes was one of the few reading resources open to me in a strict Orthodox household; the others I remember included biographies of mothers of ‘great Jewish thinkers’ (such thinkers of course were all men). But it was the notion of the existence of goddesses that inspired me, a lonely and ‘difficult ‘ motherless girl who found the God encountered in the pages of the bible and in the synagogue services both frightening and remote. Here in these books, under headings such as Egyptology, Idolatry, etc, I found Isis, Maat, Asherah, Ashtoreth; and, a few years later at school, there were their Greek and Roman sisters, Astarte, Aphrodite, Artemis.

For all my childhood years until I left school and home at the age of sixteen, these goddesses were by me; I was frightened of them, but they were close not distant, and their nearness was a female nearness, and my terrors were of their power, but mediated by their gender. They were like me, of me, but greater by far.

Asphodel P Long
A Brief Autobiography

cat in shades

Before I could write what might be called human words in the English language, I eagerly emulated grown-ups’ handwriting in pencil scribbles. My first “novels” – which I’m afraid my loving parents still have, in a trunk or a drawer on our old farm property in Millersport, N.Y. – were tablets of inspired scribbles illustrated by line drawings of chickens, horses and upright cats. For I had not yet mastered the trickier human form, as I was years from mastering human psychology.

Joyce Carol Oates
To Invigorate Literary Mind, Start Moving Literary Feet
The New York Times 18th July 1999

Older feminine values

March 11, 2018

Tamara De Lempicka - Le Rythme, 1924

Myth is concerned with truth, but not in any historical sense but rather the inner truths about life; as Sallustius, the last great pagan theologian in the 4th century says: ‘These things never happened, but always are.’ * In the secular age in which we live, we lack that deeply held reverence for life or sense of the sacred, and so we see earth – plants, soils, waters, animals and even other people – as if without soul or spirit: as things to be exploited for our own benefit with results which, because all things are related, are beginning to catch up with us and horrify us. Three thousand years of the patriarchy with its Abrahamic concept of man’s separation from nature is mainly responsible for this, and this is why the revival of paganism lays such stress on the Goddess presence in deity. Older feminine values are pressing to come into their own again. The restoration of the dignity of woman in religion is long overdue and absolutely crucial…

* Sallustius, On the Gods and the World

Jo O’Cleirigh
Nemeton and the sacred play of the year
Wood & Water, Spring 1980

reading a book 2

The question of what the literary historical novel is, and what it should and shouldn’t do, seemed to have found its moment in 2012, the year in which Hilary Mantel won her second Man Booker prize for Bring Up the Bodies — 17 years after the publication of her first historical novel, A Place of Greater Safety. Bring up the Bodies is the second instalment of three novels on the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell. The first, Wolf Hall, had won Mantel the Man Booker in 2009. Peter Carey, J. G. Farrell, and J.M. Coetzee are the only other authors to share the honour of having won two Booker prizes, but Mantel is the only person in the history of the prize to win twice in quick succession, and to win for historical novels in series. Mantel’s Man Bookers (should we call these Man-tel Bookers?) are also distinctive in that her novels represent an era more remote than any other winning ‘historical’: 250 years earlier than those treated, say, by Barry Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger. What is notable, then, about Mantel’s double-win is not only how pre-eminently ‘historical’ the novels are, but also the complexity and breadth of the history they offer, intra- and extra-textually. They play out along the same line of historical events — what Wolf Hall begins, Bring Up the Bodies continues — but differ in technique and strategy, as the author learns her subject (Tudor history and the political and intellectual progress of the Protestant reformation) and her Subject (Thomas Cromwell, from whose point of view the events are narrated).

Sara Knox
Hilary Mantel and the Historical Novel

take down your panties

March 11, 2018

It is dark, very dark, and your legs are so long – impossibly long, it seems – because it takes me forever to take down your panties and to pull them over your feet.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the myth that women prefer cuddling to sex. I think the biggest reason for that myth is that our cultural concept of sex is so skewed. We consider intercourse the ultimate and often the only sex act. Oral sex, fingering, humping, playing with toys, and a whole variety of other things that get women off (because they involve clitorises instead of just vaginas) do not count as sex to most men.

Paper Cuts and Plastic: Women and “Sex”