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As you'll probably notice, I've uploaded a few posts. I only just found out a webpage where I had essays and articles died, so I decided to post them here, where that won't happen.

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Bonding isolation

During the past century, renowned authors such as JRR Tolkien have outlined certain anchor points that unite fairytales and –to some extent– legends.  These pillars include, among others, the hero’s journey, an authoritative figure posing as antagonist and a secondary world (in which the story takes place) that draws the reader in. But above all, most fairytales and/or legends place an outcast or isolated character in the leading role; an issue that has been greatly analyzed in Max Luthi’s article.

“The fairytale sees man as one who is essentially isolated but who, for just this reason, can establish relationships with anything in this world. [He] is seemingly isolated, but has the capacity for universal relationships.”[1]

To properly understand this statement and be able to legitimize it, a necessary sample from more than one source is in order. While common sense would point that different origins and different cultural foundations would give out different types of heroes, in the following stories we’ll find that it isn’t so and thus we’ll confirm Luthi’s affirmation of a hero finding his/her connection with the world through their particular type of isolation.

Madame Leprince de Beaumont’s Beauty and the Beast comes from an occidental slope of men’s cultural development, while Drinking Companions, is born from an oral tradition in the orient—China.

In Beauty and the Beast, we have a very explicit example on this “discovery in isolation”, and it comes when Beauty – torn between her duties as a child and her “friendship” with the Beast – finds the Beast nearly dead on a garden and experiences grief and despair for him, finally realizing that she loves him dearly and that she wants to marry him.

Akin to many other Fairytales, Beauty is misunderstood in the world she lives. As a consequence, she harbors herself in books and in her father; the one person that will never turn away from her and will love and understand her no matter what. This disjointed person Beauty grew to be started to vanish when she decided she would take her father’s place in the castle and she meets the Beast. With him, her journey towards becoming part of the society once again begins and peaks when she finds love in the Beast without that being disarticulated from her love for her father (or Elektra complex).

Drinking Companions finds a mirror journey towards self-discovery in both main characters: the drunken ghost Liu-Lang and the poor fisherman, Hsü. Now, while the characters’ interaction was critical for the unfolding of the final outcome, and key to them leaving their isolation, we find that in this tale, the self-discovery is pushed by the characters’ will and not the other’s influence.

While Liu-Lang’s voyage is more significant in terms of finding his place in the world, Hsü also discovers that no good action goes by unrewarded or overlooked by the one(s) who matter the most.

Hsü’s company makes Liu-Lang find his inner kindness in saving the life of the woman that was to take his place as ghost of the river. This is his breakthrough point, where the ghost connects with nature, and in some way, with the world around him (when he chooses to care for what happens to this woman…to others). Thus, he ends the karma he had been paying for so long and is rewarded with deity for his act of wisdom.

On the other hand, Hsü’s connection with the world is much more earthly and easier to see for the mortals: for sharing and keeping his promise to someone that had earned his love, the poor fisherman is given wealth, and his family suffers no more grieve because of their lack of physical belongings.

As per prediction, both oriental and occidental slopes of men culture throughout the centuries developed a common archetype for a fairytale (or legend) hero. Both sources list an isolated hero that finds his/her way through life or their journey by establishing relationships with the world around them; by connecting with nature and discovering their inner self in one way or the other.

[1] Folk and Fairytales, 3rd Edition. Article by Max Luthi
Throughout the medieval romances or legends, diverse portraits and archetypes of women have been presented and exploited, and the stories of Perceval and Gawain stage two valuable examples. In Chrétien de Troyes' tale of Perceval, we see a somewhat misogynistic reality of the medieval age, while in Gawain the women are depicted as powerful agents with a voice and a mind of their own.

The matter of female characters in both stories from either point of view revolves around issues of power and even linguistic control. Only in Perceval and in Arthur’s court, two ways of seeing a woman’s relationships with men appear: Arthur and his wife and Kay and the woman who smiles at Perceval. While categorically different in treatment (Arthur is sad because Guinevere left and Kay hits the court woman), the domination and linguistic control are painfully obvious with both couples (even if the woman wasn’t Kay’s partner) when the king talks about his desires involving his wife and when Kay streaks the lady’s cheek simply for laughing with (or of) Perceval.

A similar pair is seen in the relationships between Blanchefleur (BF) and Perceval himself, and in the lady of the meadow and her lover. Perceval starts to treat BF with a certain reverence and respect, but she still has little to no say in the most important matters or decisions, and the lover’s way of dealing with the lady of the meadow requires very little observance to characterize him as the misogynic archetype of romance legends. Whether the woman explained or not, she would be punished and dishonored for a long period of time until the chivalric interference of Perceval.

When around BF, an older woman, the youth (Perceval) exhibits a curious ambivalence towards her and towards the value systems of the two opposing worlds mentioned and in which the story is played out: the royal court and the primitive forest. Nonetheless, the misogynistic and diminishing of women, struggles with a latent change to come in the near future, such as Gawain’s legend.

The women in the story are the Pearl-poet's primary instruments in a subtle critique and reinforcement of Feudalism. There is a certain veneration of womanhood that is not brought up in Perceval’s story, where long-established values of subjugated women prevail against the afore mentioned curiosity and change of treatment Perceval attempts with BF.

Then Gawain comes and we meet the host’s wife. A woman of literacy (who mentions having read romances) and even what feminists call a progressive feminine character, appears to exercise a great deal of agency in the course of things. Unlike Arthur’s queen, Guinevere, who sits silently passive amidst the courtiers at Camelot, the lady of Hautdesert speaks, thinks, and acts.

In this story we encounter a first attempt to modern day women; someone who chooses her lovers and acts upon her desire. She also wears revealing clothing, does her hair up elaborately, and it is possible to read that she even wears makeup. She drives herself with cleverness and argumentative skill, trying to seduce Gawain, eventually achieving her goal and thus triggering the story towards the ending.

Yet the Gawain-poet limits the lady in some interesting ways. First of all, he never gives her a name. Guinevere (in both legends) and Morgan le Faye, the other major female characters, both possess names while the host’s wife remains anonymous. Although she clearly possesses beauty, intelligence, and skill, her use of all three is authorized and legitimized by her husband, hence legitimizing the still patriarchal chain of values in the medieval times.

Returning to Perceval, in the small amount of “stage-time” his mother gets, she tells the story of how her husband and other sons left her despite her opposition,. The story repeats itself when the youth decides to leave and Perceval’s mother simply accepts his leave without a ”fight”, dressing him to go away and sacrificing her own life as a consequence of that male dominion she styles as part of the established values of the time.

As we have seen, both legends -Perceval and Gawain’s- have their main characters try to break out of the patriarchal clout while the women are seen in two very different lights and yet the ways backslide onto the chain of values established to the moment, where women are in one way or the other dependant of their respective men (even Morgan le Fay, we learn later, acts upon a grudge towards her half-brother Arthur).
The word woman and the female gender have suffered dramatic changes since the beginning of civilization: from superior; goddess figure, to barely considered a human being. As society turns from matriarchal to absolutely and irrevocably patriarchal, we witness the reduction of the female role to either mother or prostitute in later cultures; both categorically opposed in the eyes of society.

Yet, we fail to see that this statement might hold an exception in its roots, and the story of Gilgamesh[1] (the first epic ever written) gives us the first heads up in this testimonial when putting Ninsun and Shahmat in similar roles for the man each accompanies.

First, let us define the terms. Mother is described[2] as a female that gives birth, whilst a prostitute comes out as one that engages in sexual intercourse for pay. Digging a little deeper: to give birth; to become a mother necessarily implicates sexual intercourse. Consequently both terms have the same starting point, but their essence separates them: a prostitute performs the sexual intercourse with the ultimate goal of pleasure to the client, while a mother performs it to give life; hence the opposition.

However, Gilgamesh shows us a different angle on both “jobs” in a parallel plane of the protagonist, Gilgamesh and his companion, Enkidu: we have Ninsun, the hero’s mother, and Shahmat, the temple prostitute who makes the first contact with the wild man Enkidu was at the beginning of the epic.

We get two introductions to both characters: the one the narrator makes and their own as they speak. The narrator presents Gilgamesh’ mother as a descendant from royalty, nobility. From the start, she is portrayed with a special advantage since she is a goddess and gives birth to the King of kings, Gilgamesh. Next to her, we meet the temple prostitute; we don’t know her name until pages later, when the hunter takes her, Shamash, to see the wild man with only one goal: to tempt him into the pleasures of flesh and bring him to Uruk, Gilgamesh’ city, so they have the contend both were destined for by the gods. Note that both woman are introduced only in relation with their given jobs, that of a mother and that of a prostitute.

The epic unfolds, and soon enough we hear from their characters’ development. It is no longer just the mother and just the prostitute; we find each of the men seek and find advise and comfort in both their opposite sex companions.

In Gilgamesh, p.9 [i] Shahmat introduces herself to the epic with a plan in mind. The newly acquainted with himself, Enkidu, has the first human pulsation and Shahmat guides it to fulfill the task she has been given: to bring Enkidu to Uruk so he faces Gilgamesh, the king. Now, as it was said before, this woman is wild Enkidu’s first human contact, so that will mark Shahmat  as someone to turn to for him.

(Gilgamesh, p.10-11) [ii] At a this moment in the epic, Rimat-Ninsun introduces herself to the reader as Gilgamesh’s first place of advice; the one he trusts above all and probably the only one he trusts so at this point of the epic. Ninsun knew of this, and despite she fought it at first, she also guides Gilgamesh’s thoughts and actions into what she believed would be the best course of action for the future of her son.

Gilgamesh p.12 and Gilgamesh p.19-20 [iii] gives us the next level in which Ninsun and Shahmat’s relationship with their men is equivalent. The two steer them (Gilgamesh and Enkidu) into one way or the other of protection; one more physical than the other. Shahmat takes Enkidu by the hand towards “civilization” and Rimat-Ninsun gives Gilgamesh the protection from the god he needs to carry his given (chosen) task.

Finally, to round up the significance of the comparison, Enkidu’s lines to Shahmat (Gilgamesh p.41)[iv] reinforce the correspondence with Gilgamesh’s relationship with his mother. This scene grants the reader with Enkidu’s last thanks to the temple prostitute for having brought him to the world where he met Gilgamesh and his name was immortalized along with the king’s

Like we have seen throughout the whole epic, the one point of return to both comes down to their counselors, comforters and protectors: mother and prostitute. In Gilgamesh, their roles are placed and determined with a similar significant position in connection with their relationship in the company of their men.

[1] Gilgamesh: A new rendering in English verse by David Ferry. 1993, 1st edition.
[2] In the Webster’s Pocket Dictionary 4th edition

[i] Enkidu, now you are beautiful as a god. Why do you seek the company of beasts? Come with me to the city, to Uruk, to the temple of Anu and the goddess Ishtar. Gilgamesh is the ruler, the strongest of all, the terror. The auto and power of his desire can be withstood by no one”
[ii] “The star that fell from the heavens, the meteorite that lay on the empty plain outside Uruk, the star you could not lift when you strove with it, the star you were drawn to as if it were a woman is the strong companion, powerful as a star, the meteorite of the heavens, a gift from the gods.

That you were drawn to it as if drawn to a woman means that this companion will not forsake you. He will protect and guard you with his life. This is the fortunate meaning of your dream”
[iii] (a) p.12
Shahmat took off her robe and divided it so that the wild man also could be clothed. When this was done and both of them were clothed, she took him by the hand as a goddess might, leading a worshipper into the temple precinct; as if he was a child, she held his hand and they began their journey. (.- Gilgamesh p.12)

(b) p.19-20
“Why have you given my son a restless heart? No one has ever undergone the journey that he will undergo. Huwawa’s mouth is fire. O Shamash, my son, Gilgamesh is going on the forest on your errand, to kill the demon hateful of the sun god. When Shamash sees him setting out on the road or in the mountain passes, or entering the forest, may Shamash guard and keep him safe. And may the stars, the wachmen of the night, watch over Gilgamesh and his companion”
[iv] “This is the blessing of Enkidu on Shahmat: May no man revile or curse or turn away. May the old man comb his locks and beard to please you. May the young unbuckle his belt in joy for you. May your house be full of gifts, crystal and gold, carnelian and lapis lazuli, earrings and filigree ornaments, fine new clothes. May the priests invite you with honor into the temple”

The thin line

In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the author presents a collection that confronts the reader with not only oral tradition stories of a patriarchal social order during the first century AC, but with patterns that repeat themselves even in today’s society with one or another variation.

A recurring subject is love and marriage (and consequently the family borne of it) and how human flaws tend to decide the worst for them. We see this issue especially developed in the stories built around the characters of Procne and Procris in their respective stories.

While both characters are intimately linked to their stories and the events surrounding them, human (or women) nature jumps to the eye when looking at the bigger picture in which both chronicles take place and end.

The starting point for both tragic outcomes appears with two happy marriages and the unhappy god(s) before the couples. In Procne neither Juno, nor Hymen, nor the Graces blessed the marriage[i]; while in Procris, Cephalus (her husband) kept talking, always of her, of our marriage, of our first night together; till the goddess was angry[ii]. Though with different reasons, the gods weren’t happy with these couples, but they were.

However, there is a very thin line between happiness and hatred, or between trust and suspicion, and whether naturally or supernaturally triggered, these two wives were about to cross it, leading to their lives’ end because of the foolishness of their men and their very own ingenuousness.

Procne asks to see her sister, failing to imagine her husband would look at her with different eyes; and Procris naively lets herself be dragged by deceitful offers from no other than her own husband. The innocence of these two women in regards of their husbands is the setup for a negative reaction when disappointed, where the biggest difference between the characters and their definition.

Procne appears as one to take matters in her own hands when things don’t work: she goes off and saves her sister as soon as she finds out she’s trapped and together they plan vengeance against Tereus. At this point, Procne places that goal (revenge) before any other instincts she might have[iii].

On a similar situation, after Procris finds out it was her own husband trying to lure her into unfaithfulness, her character is defined as a weaker person, a victim[iv]. First she runs away to Diana’s tribe of virgin huntresses, and when Cephalus comes back and asks for forgiveness, she doesn’t only grant it to him, but she gives him a present (two presents) that will be her demise.

From his escaping, one other possibility comes to life: After Procne has killed her son and fed him to her husband, Tereus starts chasing her and Philomela, and the sisters run and escape from the vile sword of an adulterous man, leaving him swift in grief and lust for vengeance[v]. We see escaping as a symbol and trail of revenge from the wives’ part.

Turning to the husbands’ situation, both lives (as they know it) are ended after their wives are finished (figuratively and literally speaking), and they have given them the ultimate weapon/reason for disappearing: Procris gave Cephalus the weapon that killed her, and Procne with her “feast” was the reason why Tereus turned into a bird. Both men keep living, but one lives defeated and the other one is bound to earth in a nonhuman way (as are Procne and her sister).

And last, but certainly not least, both stories contemplate a phrase said by each wife to their respective husbands that brings the crucial realization to finish the story:
-          Tereus calls for his son so he can share the feast with him and with a “he has come in”[vi], Procne lets him know what he is eating.
-          In her dying effort, Procris begs Cephalus to never allow this Aura inside [of their room]. He explains with desperation but what good was explanation then?[vii] And Procris finally exhales her last breath, knowing that her husband was always faithful.

Again, there is a very thin line between love and hatred and between trust and suspicion. With these two stories we not only see the crossing of the lines, but Ovid also covers reactions inherent to human beings and different drawing of characters that unmoved by their nature (whether passive or proactive), they can still come down to tragic endings.

[i] p.143
[ii] p.175
[iii] (In p.149-150, after her son kisses her) She was moved to tenderness, against her will. Her eyes filled up with tears, her purpose wavered. She knew it and she looked at Philomela, no more at Itys, then from one to the other (…) (and she makes her decision to kill both man and child).
[iv] (In p.176, after Cephalus has uncovered himself) Never a word, but a shamed and beaten woman fled from her treacherous husband and his house.
[v] p.151
[vi] p.150
[vii] p.179-180

For my readers

Since doesn't let a fic be NC-17, I cut part of chapter 9 (which appears as Ch. 10 due to the prologue to the story). Here's the page missing, if you're interested.

Ch. 9 cut sceneCollapse )Hope you enjoyed!

Oh, and BTW, the fic is finally finished, so if you feel like going back. I'll be happy! :D


Chuck Lorre on Democracy and freedom

It featured at the end of last week's Big Bang Theory's chapter.

Sex tapes

Usually, I have a theory for pretty much anything that comes to mind, but for the love of Merlin, I cannot fathom why anyone would make a Sex tape. I, for one, wouldn't enjoy watching myself naked, moving and panting and making weird noises. Not for me. I love sex, don't get me wrong, and I think me and my husband are H-O-T when we have sex (I would put "make love", but we're talking about sex here), and I like my body and his very much, but putting it on tape (or DVD)? For what?

Judging but what we see in television, movies, and entertainment news, it is a widely expanded custom in many places, so here's me trying to make sense of it.

The question here is: Why would you tape (well, now it's not tape, but record) yourself having sex with someone else? From what we've seen, nothing good ever comes from it: bad press, painful reminders, broken relationships, etc.

The initial answer that comes to mind is "to masturbate", but then I think: if you have a partner, and a healthy sex life (I take it that someone who would record him or herself and their partner having sex, have a very active sex life with them), masturbation, while a nice practice, is much nicer when you're accompanied.

Maybe you tape yourself so if something were to happen to your relationship, you would still have a reminder of what it was like. However, that DEFINITELY can't be healthy: if a relationship is over, to see yourself consumate it with the other person, doing the act that makes intimacy intimate, can bring nothing but pain and regrets, and no one should live with pain and regrets (unless they deserved it, which would be karma).

It is also possible that the couple is only looking to better themselves and the act of sex (and/or love). Perhaps that could be a reasonable answer as to why you'd do a sex tape. You see it, you analyze it, you say "I think you don't look confortable here", "this sound you made didn't seem very pleasurable", "that part I didn't enjoy", "maybe you could try this a little more often, I liked it"... I don't know. It is possible. But to me it would be like taking away the magic and the mystic of the act itself. These things you talk, not analyze with evidence, in my opinion. Also, the talk should be based on feelings and senses, not in a tape (or DVD), where things are often cold, distant and easily misinterpretable (I know it's not a word, but seemed precise in this context). 

These three scenarios played, I wonder: why risk it? In any case, if there was another partner who found the tape, I'm sure s/he wouldn't be happy. What if it got leaked and everyone got to see you naked, moving and panting and making weird noises. What if, in the second case for example, you got hung up so much in that lost love's sex tape that you missed chances to meet a new love? Or if, in the third case for another example, when you saw the tape, you didn't like it and it damaged, or worse yet, ruined your sex life? Why risk it.

The next answer I can think about is that the couple has some aspirations to be porn movies directors; that they have their goal clear (so to speak) and have agreed to do some sparring or test-drive in regards of their dream, with them as stars. Now that would be totally understandable, but I don't think there are so many aspirants to be porn movies directors? And both in the relationship? The chances are verty few.

So here we turn to much more negative possibilities of expanations for making a sex tape.

Maybe a person (or a couple) is so self involved that they simply want to see themselves over and over again. Because that's why you record something, to watch it again, and maybe again. That kind of narcisistic and/or hedonistic behavior can never lead to a good ending.

Perhaps they are indeed hoping someone will find the tape (DVD) sooner or later; they just want the attention. In the case of celebrities, they sue and get publicity... in the case or regular people, they want their partner to get upset, or to get horny, or to start a fight, or to become so insecure they will do things to "keep the other interested". In any case, it is still a self-involved behavior that has no regard whatsoever for the cosequences of their acts (for example, the feelings of the way this will affect the other person featured in the sex tape).

In any case of the above mentioned, as usual, I'm still at loss as to why someone would make a sex tape. I think of possibilities, but never come to a concise and exact answer. That's the wonder of life, I guess.

26 weeks...

... since my last update. Wow! I used to write here all the time!

I got married, and moved into our new apartment. Married life is very nice, we're about to turn 6 months, can you believe it?

As for work? Well, I had to give up the job teaching at University cuz they wanted me to be more easy going with the students; the leading professor is very relaxed (too much imho), and they wanted me to be like that. So I had to resign. Nonetheless, I have been doing some freelance work, and I love working at home. It doesn't pay as much and it has ups and downs, but I usppose it's all right for a while. Someday I will find a non-slaving job adn I will love it.

Apart from that, nothing more. I'm just going to go back to the paper I'm editing.