Moon In the Window

February 4, 2020

I wish I could say I was the kind of child
who watched the moon from her window,
would turn toward it and wonder.
I never wondered. I read. Dark signs
that crawled toward the edge of the page.
It took me years to grow a heart
from paper and glue. All I had
was a flashlight, bright as the moon,
a white hole blazing beneath the sheets.

Dorianne Laux

altered as human beings

February 4, 2020

In films, we are voyeurs, but in novels, we have the experience of being someone else: knowing another person’s soul from the inside. No other art form does that. And this is why sometimes, when we put down a book, we find ourselves slightly altered as human beings. Novels change us from within.

Donna Tartt
Interview with Laurie Grassi for Chatelaine Book Club, 8th November 2013

What do grown-up people know about the things boys are afraid of? Oh, hickory switches and such like, they know that. But what about what goes on in their minds when they have to come home alone at night through the lonesome places? What do they know about lonesome places where no light from the street-corner ever comes? What do they know about a place and time when a boy is very small and very alone, and the night is as big as the town, and the darkness is the whole world? When grown-ups are big, old people who cannot understand anything, no matter how plain? A boy looks up and out, but he can’t look very far when the trees bend down over and press close, when the sheds rear up along one side and the trees on the other, when the darkness lies like a cloud along the sidewalk and the arc-lights are far, far away. No wonder then that Things grow in that dark place near the grain elevator. No wonder a boy runs like the wind until his heartbeats sound like a drum and push up to suffocate him.

August Derleth
Lonesome Places

The witch has powers

February 4, 2020

Among the archetypes, the witch is a fascinating figure. When someone calls another “a witch,” we know exactly what they mean. The witch has powers. She is uncanny and unholy. She lives outside the borders of civilization and has been ostracized because her ways stand in opposition to accepted values, thus challenging our own impulse to conform. To not conform, especially as women, puts us at risk of being called a witch (or the rhyming word that begins with a B).

Ann and Barry Ulanov wrote in The Witch and the Clown: Two Archetypes of Human Sexuality:

“The witch figure presents an awesome image of the primordial feminine concern with herself. Maternal life spends itself like life’s blood flowing outward to nourish the sounds and bodies of loved ones. In the witch figure, life flows inward and downward to fuel the dark recesses of a woman’s psyche or a man’s anima.”

The witch reminds us there may well be unnamable and untamable aspects of ourselves where passions stagnate and fester. What parts of us don’t fit into the conventional idealized feminine? Do we harbour an urge that wishes to transgress and to cross borders? Historically, innocent women have been tortured and killed because the prevailing masculine rule feared female sexuality.

Dale M. Kushner
Mothers, Witches, and the Power of Archetypes

female monsters

February 4, 2020

Passionate female monsters don’t tend to end well. Their choices are limited: tamed and cuddly, dead, or alone, usually through some desperate tragic act that kills a loved one. Their passions tend to be all about sex or rage, with very little in between. Grendel’s mother is driven by revenge, Lucy in Dracula by lust/hunger, Sil from Species is motivated by sex for procreation and none of them is particularly sympathetic. We see them and other female monsters through the hero’s eyes, or more much more rarely, the Final Girl’s. Not their own.

Female monsters only become sympathetic if they renounce what they are. This is generally achieved by falling in love with the hero. There are rare exceptions, like the sisters in the Ginger Snaps films, or Irena in Cat People, who remain both monstrous and sympathetic, but they aren’t the norm.

Catherine Lundoff
Monstrous Females and Female Monsters

I squatted on the wet straw and stretched out my hand. I was now within the field of force of his golden eyes. He growled at the back of his throat, lowered his head, sank on to his forepaws, snarled, showed me his red gullet, his yellow teeth. I never moved. He snuffed the air, as if to smell my fear; he could not.

Slowly, slowly he began to drag his heavy, gleaming weight across the floor towards me.

A tremendous throbbing, as of the engine that makes the earth turn, filled the little room; he had begun to purr. . . .

He dragged himself closer and closer to me, until I felt the harsh velvet of his head against my hand, then a tongue, abrasive as sandpaper. “He will lick the skin off me!”

And each stroke of his tongue ripped off skin after successive skin, all the skins of a life in the world, and left behind a nascent patina of shiny hairs. My earrings turned back to water and trickled down my shoulders; I shrugged the drops off my beautiful fur.

Angela Carter
The Tiger’s Bride