Thirsty for a Fresh Take on All Things True Blood?

WELCOME! Thirsty for a fresh take on all things True Blood? Pull up a virtual barstool at the Pierced Pomegranate Tavern where sisters Rachel and Rebecca are serving up juicy feminist analysis with a twist and opening a vein of thoughtful sociocultural dialogue on HBO's hit series.

Like the epic literary salons of eras past - theaters for conversation and debate which were, incidentally, started and run by women; where the spirited debate about the issues of the day ran as copiously as the actual spirits did - but updated for the digital age, the Pierced Pomegranate Tavern is a fun forum for exploring questions ripe for discourse about the human condition & today's most crucial social issues through the medium of True Blood.

Your salonnières are not peddling liquor per se, but they are offering up new and alternative ideas informed by such diverse influences as pop culture, art, music, cultural history, Goddess studies, transformative theory, literature and poetry, and archaeomythology, filtered through the sieve of their own lived experiences as feminist women of a particular age, background, and culture.

This is a space where you - patrons and passersby alike - can view and engage with these perspectives through the lens of True Blood and contribute your own thoughts. So, no matter if you're a Truebie or a more casual viewer of True Blood, or your drink of choice is a pomegranate martini - one of Rachel's favorite cocktails to drink and Rebecca's to mix - an herbal tea, a frothy double mocha latte, or a can of Fresca (wink, wink) you're invited to join the conversation on the show's complexities in a way that can spark transformation.

Hopefully you'll find something to sink your teeth...err...straw, into! PLEASE ENJOY RESPONSIBLY ;-)

YOU'VE BEEN SERVED (A WARNING)...

The Pierced Pomegranate Tavern is dedicated to exploring social issues and more through the lens of True Blood. As such, you may encounter:

*SPOILERS
*TRIGGERS
related to the often provocative and adult themes presented by the show

If you choose to enter and participate in this virtual salon, please be prepared to do so in a thoughtful, respectful, and mature fashion with the above in mind. Click here to check out our comment policy. Thanks!

Disclaimer

No copyright infringement is intended, all rights to True Blood belong to HBO, credit is ascribed to sites where images appearing here were originally found.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Boy, I wa-wa-want whatchu wa-wa-want...

...give it to me baby like boom, boom, boom...
what I wa-wa-want is what you wa-wa-want na nah...
                                                      ~ Rude Boy by Rihanna
After such a long wait the new season of True Blood is finally under way! But before we launch into our review of its premiere episode, "She's Not There", I'd like to first take a look at a particular piece of Season 4 promo material.


In this poster we see Sookie seated in the center of the frame surrounded by three suitors, each with a hand on her, staking a claim, wanting a piece. Which one will she choose? Which supernatural contender for Sookie's affections will prevail, who will win? Because it's a competition after all, and she's the prize - the object of strong male sexual desire being fought over. She's the spoils, the booty - her booty going to whichever alpha male can assert himself over the others.


That's one way of looking at it.


But this image isn't really about Team Bill, Team Eric, or Team Alcide, is it? It's about Team Sookie.


For me, it's no accident that she's the central figure in this poster. Look at her posture; her body, and indeed, her countenance as she gazes directly into the camera exudes relaxed confidence. An at-easiness with herself and who she has become.


Gone is the virginal innocent we met in Season 1. Swathed in deep red, this Sookie - like our tavern's heraldic pomegranate with its abundant scarlet seeds so evocative of the redness of the fertile womb - is the picture of blooming female sexuality.


Her hair is loose, unconstrained - quite unlike the tight ponytail stretching her facial features that she wore in "Strange Love", when she was so utterly thrown for a loop by the sexual banter of her co-workers at Merlotte's.


In the Show Your True Colors poster above Sookie is shown as being possessed of a healthy, active female-centered sexuality. Kind of like in Rihanna's Rude Boy - is it so shocking to think that women could want what men want...a gratifying sex life...and that our sex drive can be just as strong, just as audacious, and just as pleasure-for-pleasure's-sake seeking as theirs? And that it's normal, natural, and healthy - and doesn't make us deviants, whores, or hypersexualized vixens performing for men's benefit alone?



In the video above, a self-assured Rihanna sits astride a lion. Could it be that women aren't (or aren't justonly, or always) lithe prey animals made for men's hunting pleasure; or as 1970's pioneer of erotica and Imaginative Sex author John Gorman writes, "the smaller, more sleek female who is natural quarry and game" (p. 33)?


Writing as Pat Califia in 1997, the transgender activist now known as Patrick Califia-Rice described Gorman's work as "unrelievedly heterosexual" and as positing "a world in which biology is supposedly allowed to dictate the social and sexual roles which men and women will play - dominant and warlike, submissive and servile, respectively" (p.vi)..."the hero or the dazzling object of his desire" (p. xiii). But even Gorman (whose writing, Califia wholeheartedly admits, is focused on the arousal, excitement, and gratification of the female "slave" much more so than that of her male "Master") allows that women are not passive, that "She, too, has needs. She often provokes the male to her hunt" (p. 33).


OK, maybe sometimes we want to feel that we are being chased, caught, and "ravished in a thoroughly satisfying manner" (Califia, 1997, p. xii) by a determined, energetic, and worthy partner - on our terms. As agents of our own fate, not commodities for male consumption. And for mutual pleasure, not just his. But maybe, just maybe, sometimes we'd like to be the hunter.


Califia writes, "The process of creating a sex life or love life for oneself is at least as much about learning and teaching as it is about discovering one's secret, innate self" (p. xi, italics are mine). What if, as Sookie's secret, innate self - the seat of her sexual self - is bubbling up to the surface, she'd like to be something other than "game, sleek, beautiful and desirable, frightened of him, who could be caught and owned, and tamed, and who, in his snare, would writhe and cry out" (Gorman, 1974, p. 21)?


Hypothetically, why does she even have to choose between Bill, Eric, and Alcide?


Of course, that's a somewhat rhetorical question since we know that in this culture, the industrial family ethic - which was preceded by the colonial family ethic, insists that the proper place for a woman is in a monogamous relationship with one man. I'm not saying that coupling up is wrong, or that women (or men) of any sexual orientation who want to do so are somehow less liberated.


What I am saying is that it's limiting and outright damaging - especially to women - to insist that this is the morally ordained, right, and only way to live.


As Mimi Abramovitz writes in the feminist classic, Regulating the Lives of Women: Social Policy from Colonial Times to the Present (1996) our contemporary social structures are still based upon the patriarchal family ethic that emerged during the early 19th century primarily as a means of controlling and regulating women’s productive and reproductive labor, placing them in their husband’s home and subordinate to him as the male head-of-household.


Seems like the basis for the Defense of Marriage Act - under which marriage = 1 man + 1 woman only - the fangs-out fight over which happily ended in marriage equality in my home state of New York just this past weekend.


In Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula we meet a female character reflective of a new social order - Lucy Westenra.

Sadie Frost as Lucy Westenra in the 1992 film Bram Stoker's Dracula

Like Sookie, she too had three suitors - and collected marriage proposals from all of them on the same day. As Susan Parlour (2009) writes in her essay, "Vixens and Virgins in the 19th Century Anglo-Irish Novel: Representations of the Feminine in Bram Stoker's Dracula", even though she failed to postulate a new image of feminine roles in the the workplace - as her best friend Mina, who might on the surface appear more of an expression of the New Woman in that regard, did - Lucy nonetheless shook up the strictures of the Victorian patriarchal machine.


According to Parlour, Lucy demonstrated her voracious sexual appetite. She admitted to being a "horrid flirt". These behaviors certainly transgressed the accepted Victorian etiquette demanded of young ladies. But Lucy took it a dangerous step further in her desire to marry Arthur Holmwood, Quincy Morris, AND Dr. John Seward. "Why can't they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all the trouble?" (Stoker, 1986, pp. 73, 78) Lucy wistfully wondered, and in doing so, embraced some of the more radical ideals of the New Woman's challenge to prevailing sexual values. In the minds of the Victorian patriarchs, could a destabilized society and accelerated moral decay be far behind?


Would Sookie ever suggest a similar solution to the Team Bill, Team Eric, or Team Alcide quandary? What if she did?


Do you know what became of that little minx Lucy? She fell prey to Count Dracula, was turned vampire, and as such became a "phallic woman", having fangs with the power to penetrate and draw blood; a sexually empowered aggressor. This, of course, could not stand. Lucy was subjected to a particularly brutal "second death" at the hands of four men - including her three suitors and the famed Dr. Van Helsing - during which she was staked in a manner reminiscent of gang-rape.

Vampire Lucy is destroyed in Bram Stoker's Dracula
The violation of her vampiric body yields the restoration of her benign femininity; her threat to the symbolic or social order extinguished (Parlour, 2009).


Is this the fate of the overtly sexually desirous woman? I'd like to think not, but one need only reflect back on René Lenier's Season 1 rampage to be reminded of how our society often treats its fangbangers, sluts, and bad girls (i.e. women whose sexual behavior transgresses the clearly demarcated gender roles mapped out for them).


This is a topic that is deserving of a lot more fleshing out and continued discussion. For now, suffice it to say that although I'm not holding out hope for Sookie to choose not to have to choose between Bill, Eric, Alcide, and whoever else may come her way (I'm not even saying that's the best option for her, anyway) I AM glad to have an image that we can claim as one representative of Team Sookie - where her needs, wants, and desires can be seen as central.

~ Rachel    

References

Abramovitz, M. (1996). Regulating the Lives of Women: Social Welfare Policy from Colonial Times to the Present. Boston, MA: South End Press.

Califia, P. (1997). "No Fantasy, Please, We're Americans: A Foreward by a Feminist". In Gorman, J. Imaginitive Sex. (pp. v-xiv). New York, NY: Masquerade Books.

Gorman, J. (1997).  Imaginitive Sex. New York, NY: Masquerade Books.

Parlour, S. (2009). "Vixens and Virgins in the 19th Century Anglo-Irish Novel: Representations of the Feminine in Bram Stoker's Dracula". Journal of Dracula Studies, Number II.

Stoker, B. (1986). Dracula. Penguin edition.  
     

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Guest Bartending at the Mid-Atlantic Popular/American Culture Association Annual Conference to Explore Maryann & Sam's S2 Contemporization/Reversal of Primal Motifs - the Divine Female & Sacred Bull; the Goddess-Queen & her Year King consort

We've lined up another "guest bartending" gig for 2011!
  
I (Rachel) will be delivering a paper on True Blood at the Mid-Atlantic Popular/American Culture Association Annual Conference in Philadelphia this November.

Returning to the Science Fiction and Fantasy track that was my home base at the PCA/ACA conference in San Antonio this past April, I'll be addressing the Season 2 story arc that principally involved the maenad Maryann Forrester & our favorite shifter, Sam Merlotte.    

Here's the paper's title: Echoes of Goddess Culture’s Reversal and Subversion in HBO’s True Blood                 

Here's its 150 word abstract: This visual talk opens a vein on the contemporary human condition by exploring how HBO’s wildly entertaining series True Blood taps into ancient archetypes and mythologies  still pulsing in our modern psyches, flowing through―and informing―today’s cultural currents. When viewed through the lens of Goddess scholarship, the maenad Maryann Forrester’s Season 2 characterization and story arc can be seen as contemporizing the primal motifs of the Divine Female and Sacred Bull; the Goddess-Queen and her Year King consort. True Blood’s reversal of these antecedents’ key elements echoes the subversion of Goddess mythology five millennia ago as peaceful, egalitarian society was supplanted by patriarchy. Drawing upon 800,000 years of art and myth and amplifying leading voices in feminist thought, archaeomythology, and women's studies not often heard in mainstream discourse we will trace parallels between True Blood and this buried history and explore the socio-cultural implications of Goddess culture’s decline on our society.

Since Philly is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from my home in NY, I look forward to having a nice little entourage attend the conference - if you live nearby or just feel like visiting the City of Brotherly Love, why don't you stop by the Pierced Pomegranate Tavern when we set up shop there this fall!

~ Rachel           

Tru Blood Tru World: In the Face of a Harsh Economic Landscape for African-American & Latino Men, Lafayette Adapts

It's not often that I send off a quick missive, but here's one.

Listening to NPR as I was driving home from work yesterday (I know, something else out of character for me, right?) I was struck by some disturbing labor and economics statistics. Unemployment amongst African-American men is currently hovering at around 15% and the figures are similar for Latino men. Here's the kicker: most economists agree that these numbers will likely not budge for the next decade!!!

I immediately thought of Lafayette. Yes, I know. He's a fictional character. The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics is probably not keeping data on him or his cohorts, the town of Bon Temps where he works as a short order cook at Merlotte's (also fictional), or on Reynard parish and its environs where he plies his various other trades, since these locales, too, are fictional.

Even so, is it really so odd that Lafayette would cross my mind in the context of a news report pointing out that unemployment figures for African-American and Latino men are nearly double those for white men?

We know that popular culture not only shapes, but is shaped by society. Therefore, could the desertified Bon Temps economic landscape and its dried-up job market - one's options for (low wage) work include Merlotte's (apparently the town's chief employer, aside from the sheriff's office), big box stores like the one Tara quit in "Strange Love" (perhaps a stand in for Walmart which just got an enormous class action gender discrimination suit tossed), or the Grab-It-Quik - be an allusion to the U.S. Main Street vs. Wall Street divide?

Is it that hard to see how, in the face of limited opportunities in the mainstream economy, Lafayette or someone like him may resort to carving out a niche for himself in the informal (i.e. underground or shadow) economy?

LaLa the short order cook

LaLa the drug dealer


LaLa the prostitute

LaLa the road crew worker

LaLa the webcam operator











Lafayette is a hustler; a survivor. He's got jobs in both the legit and the informal economies.

He's got to work - hard - to stay above ground because unlike the Stackhouse kids, he hasn't benefited from intergenerational wealth transfer. Sookie and Jason work hard too, but they each inherited the homes they live in from deceased family members. This affords them a certain level of comfort and financial stability that fewer working and middle-class people of color will have access to in the future, given that the sub-prime mortgage and foreclosure crisis has disproportionately impacted their communities. It should go without saying that without homes to either be sold or passed down as an inheritance, families with fewer means have less options available to them as they plan for their heirs' futures.

As a social worker for a non-profit that - amongst other things - provides community development services I've seen the Great Recession's negative impact on first-time homebuyers and homeowners who are upside-down on their mortgages as well on low-income households who are striving for financial self-sufficiency. Disparities across race, class, and gender lines, unsustainable and often predatory lending targeting elders and people of color, and a lack of living-wage jobs are driving the gap between those with a foothold on the economic ladder to the middle class and those without - to say nothing of those who are tumbling from the middle-income rungs every day.

Will the informal economy expand in response to the constriction of the mainstream one? What are the implications if it does, and what kinds of outcomes can we anticipate in key sectors of our society?

It looks like - for the next decade, at least - LaLa's gonna have to keep on hustlin'.

~ Rachel   

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Great Revelation:True Blood Season 4 Premiere Party Menu Unveiled!!

Upon a mushroomes head
Our table-cloth we spread;
A grain of rye or wheat;
Is manchet which we eat;
Pearly drops of dew we drink
In acorn cups fill'd to the brink.
                              ~ Old Poem
      My friends, we have created a feast fit for a fairy! Inspired by this magical change of season, we partnered elements of  the summer solstice with important elements that will be highlighted in this season of True Blood. Think Afro-Caribbean, meets ancient pagan, meets Fairy!

     Our menu pays homage to our Celtic roots while celebrating the season of Litha (better known as Mid-Summer). The very same roots that are the cornerstones for modern day Wicca; a religious practice heavily represented in the new season of True Blood. As we rejoice in the return of the light, we remember that from here on our nights will begin to grow longer, as the Earth continues her revolution around the Sun. By gathering recipes from online sources and cookbooks, such as "The Healthy Hedonist: Holidays" by Myra Kornfeld, and  "Witch in the Kitchen: Magical Cooking for All Seasons" by Cait Johnson, we put together a meal that any Witch/Wiccan, Brujo, Fairy, Shifter, Were and yes, even Vampire (Tru Bloods will be served!) could enjoy.
    

       The Menu-


     "Titania's Cherry Soup" (shooters)- "This 'Mid-Summer Nights' dream of a first course would be right at home in a fairy court."  Dark sweet cherries blended with honey and lemon juice.

    
     "Strawberry Guacamole"- a gift to appease even the most mischievous of fairies, this surprising combination is  a treat for the eyes as well as the taste buds. Ripe avocados, lime juice, cilantro, and sliced scallions combined with fresh, sweet strawberries add depth to this already delicious dip.


     "Bite and Kiss" - This spicy Jamaican starter could not be more appropriately named! Fiery Jamaican Jerk seasoned shrimp (we have substituted chicken for the non-fish eaters and vegan chicken for the non-meat eaters) paired with vibrant mango salsa and sour cream dip to cool things off a bit!


     "Flowering Salad"This delightfully delicate salad is more art than appetizer. Lush green lettuce, crisp, crunchy cucumber, highlighted by a sprinkle of edible flower blossoms (eg. nasturtium, borage and calendula) all tossed with a light summer dressing.


     "Banana Corn Fritters"-  "An exotic appetizer that's savory, smoky and slightly sweet" Banana and cornmeal held together by a mixture of eggs, milk, cinnamon and a dash of heat, fried to a golden perfection.


     "Dirty Rice" - This Louisiana staple evokes  images of the bayou. Hot and sticky, this side dish will have you thinking that you're in Bon Temps!


     Dessert-


     "Enchanted Berries"- "This dish is sheer elfin enchantment....the mysterious violet-blue flames remind us of magical winged creatures glimmering in the shadows just beyond our reach." Berries, berries and more berries, add a little sugar and a little more brandy, strike a match and admire.


     Beverages-


     Mead- possibly one of the oldest alcoholic drinks in the world (and one Shreveport's resident Viking vampire would recall imbibing as a human), this honey based libation has been served at feasts and festivals for centuries.  For more on this keep an eye out for our upcoming post on our trip to the "Long Island Meadery".


     Berry Mojito- being the bartender that I am, I found great joy in coming up with a drink to fit this already great menu. A "quite delicious" mix dark red berries (a nod to the fruit that goes in to creating the "blood" used on the set of True Blood) light rum, mint and simple syrup. This cocktail is sure to please.


     Tru Blood- Sheer marketing genius, no True Blood premiere party should go without a bottle of this blood orange flavored soda!


    Assorted Teas- the perfect end to this Fairy Feast!


IF DURING THE COURSE OF YOUR TRUE BLOOD SEASON 4 PREMIERE PARTY REVELRY YOU FIND YOURSELF TRANSPORTED TO FAIRYLAND TAKE HEED!!!

Thanks to the Victorian folklorists who traveled about the Irish, Scottish, and English countryside recording the old stories and ways, we know of many taboos to remember when visiting Fairyland (Skye, 2007). Sookie, unfortunately, has broken all of them. Don't make the same mistakes she did!

During your premiere party, follow these three simple rules to ensure that you and your guests return from the Otherworld unscathed:

1. DO NOT EAT OR DRINK ANYTHING!

As Michelle Skye writes in Goddess Alive! Inviting Celtic and Norse Goddesses into Your Life, the food and drink in Fairyland is imbued with the essence of the Otherworld and will leave you craving more to the extent that earthly fare will no longer satisfy you. Beware of food and drink offered to you in fairyland, and do not  take any until you know and trust the the beings giving it to you.

2. DO NOT DANCE WITH THE FAIRIES!

Fairies love to dance and make merry. Some mortals, stumbling upon the party, join in with the fair folk as they whirl in a spiral dance. If you see such a dance, stand on the sidelines and clap your hands. Do not dance with the fey as your human body will undoubtedly tire (as Sookie's part fairy body did), being unable to keep up with the otherworldly beings. We simply cannot keep up with the stamina of the fey when in their environment.

3. DO NOT STAY TOO LONG IN FAIRYLAND!

Given that allegedly a year has elapsed since we saw Sookie join hands with Claudine and dissolve in a flash of light and the S4 premiere, we can only assume that she has overstayed her welcome with the fair folk. Time in Fairyland shifts and twists; it's not linear and can be deceiving. Upon her return to the mortal world, Sookie - and you, if you're not careful - may find that things have changed dramatically!    


That said...eat and drink responsibly and enjoy the Season 4  Premiere!

We look forward to your next visit to the Pierced Pomegranate Tavern - now open for Season 4 business!!!

~ Rebecca & Rachel

Saturday, June 18, 2011

And is he dark enough? Enough to see your light? IMAGES OF HOLISM IN TRUE BLOOD


And is he dark enough? Enough to see your light?

Rebecca will be so proud of me, quoting her beloved Damien. But really, I couldn't resist. I've been plotting and scheming for a way to best to use these lyrics for quite a while in relation to Sookie and Bill, and since it's last call for this idea around holism I brewed up during Season 3, I figure it's now or never!

Here's my thought process. Much ado has been made about how they are just far too different for their love to ever work; she's mortal, he's vampire; she's of this era, he's of one long bygone. And perhaps, most importantly...


SHE IS
  OF THE

                                                   LIGHT
AND HE IS

  OF THE




                         DARK

Remember when Sookie first met Claudine? How during an out of body experience Sookie's soul, or consciousness arose from the hospital bed where her body lay hooked up to life support and followed a trail of flower petals out the door and into an alternate, liminal plane where fairies romped amidst the tombstones of Bon Temps Cemetery?

Recall how, as a shadow swiftly enveloped the heretofore sunny scene, Claudine fearfully declared, "The dark approaches"? Next came her hasty retreat - remember how she paused to warn Sookie, "He (Bill) will steal your light" and, in response to her protestations that Bill is not like that, to admonish Sookie, "Don’t let him take it from you, promise me!” before slipping below the surface of her light pool escape hatch?


Can you feel Descartes' influence?

I know, I know, it's a silly reference to glamouring (you know how Bill generally says, "can you feel my influence?" when he's working his powers of persuasion) and perhaps an even sillier insinuation that a 17th century French philosopher would have anything at all to do with True Blood.



 René Descartes (1596-1650)

Or, maybe this Descartes thing isn't so silly after all; let's unpack it a little, shall we?

We are living in a time of profound disconnection and extraordinary dissonance; a time in which the vestiges of what Professor Emeritas of Rutgers University Bruce Wilshire points out as a Baroque era (particularly Cartesian) conception of reality and our place in it still holds sway. This framework highlights “self as scientific knower, self as self-sufficient individual and as ego, self as master manipulator of objects” (p. 37). It is connected to the famous mechanistic theory of nature that requires us to perform an immense abstraction from our own bodies and the world. 

Cartesian science believed that in any complex system the behavior of the whole could be analyzed in terms of the properties of the parts. Remnants of Caresian dualism remain in contemporary consciousness: self cut off from other, mind from body or matter, human from animal, present from past and future (Wilshire, 1990). Some examples of other heirarchical dualisms (the first-stated member of the pair is considered as superior, the second-stated as inferior Other) that trickle down to us today include Hegel and Rousseau's public/private, male female, eason/nature; Plato's reason/body, reason/emotion, and universal/particular.

These dualisms are seen as totalizing, meaning that they are thought to exhaust the alternatives within the parameters in question (Wilshire, 1990). What does this mean? According to theoretical physicist Basarab Nicolescu (p. 26, 2002), classical logic is founded on three axioms:
  1. The axiom of identity: A is A
  2. The axiom of noncontradiction: A is not non-A
  3. The axiom of the excluded middle: There exists no third term (3rd term = "T"); T is at the same time A and non-A
In other words, something is what it is - absolutely. Classical logic renders it impossible to consider day as night, black as white, life as death...

...feminine as masculine (Nelsan Ellis told the crowd at Dragon * Con 2010 that Alan Ball's vision for Lafayette to embody both the feminine and the masculine originally threw him for a loop; even Eric's metrosexual vibe may appear suspect to some)  


    or dark as light...



No, no, no...that would be repugnant to the prescribed order! That's why Bill entering the land of fairie is seen by Claudine as such an aberation...dark simply cannot be light!

According to dualistic thinking the two obviously must cancel one another out - they cannot occupy the same space.

We've got to let old Descartes off the hook at least a little bit for this schismatic, fractious worldview; even Wilshire (1990) prudently avoids holding him wholly culpable for the pervasiviness of dualistic  influences which have given rise to the divisive and isolating trends that have dominated much of modernity: xenophobia, racism, sexism, etc. He implies that the genesis of the patriarchal period around 2500 B.C.E. set the movement towards rigid, rationalistic thought in motion and that definition as negation (if it's this it can't be that) has its roots in Aristotelian philosophy. 

Wilshire (1990) cites the great circles and mounds of Neolithic Europe as evidence of the integral thought patterns that were alive in our dim past, long before the shift to the dualistic modes that dominate today.

Stone Age Orkney Island neolithic womb-tomb earthen structure

These earthen structures were temple observatories constructed around 3000 B.C.E. They anticipate field and relativity theory in the sense that space and time were seen as interdependent. Human reality was experienced as being interdependent with space-time; the human life cycle nested within the Cosmic. Within the vast, pregnant-seeming bellies of the mounds people reawakened to their own possibilities as they observed the regenerative course of Nature through the deaths and rebirths of the seasons and the movements of astrological bodies (Wilshire, 1990). "Human birth and death were just two ritual acts in the great sprial of life" (Ward, p. 88, 2006).

Newgrange spirals

Hypogeum spirals
   
Another vision of our realty has been set forth in the last century through systems thinking; a “new” way of thinking in terms of connectedness, relationships, and context that recalls the worldviews of these indigenous and ancient goddess oriented civilizations. Quantum physics in which subatomic particles are not seen as “things” but as interconnections among things; Gestalt psychology which is characterized by its “hunger for wholeness” that sees the existence of irreducible wholes as a key component of perception (Capra, 1997), and deep ecology which seeks to expand the notion of self beyond the confines of the ego and personal history, and to extend concepts of self-interest to include the welfare of all beings (Macy, 1991) are part of the systems thinking zeitgeist. 

According to activist, systems scholar and progenitor of The Work that Reconnects Joanna Macy (1991), a dramatic shift is occurring in our time from notions of linear, unidirectional causality to perceptions of dynamic interdependence where phenomena affect each other in a reciprocal or mutual fashion. This new-old picture, or likeness of reality that is emerging in our times - which was the prevailing metaphor for the Cosmos and human’s place in it in Neolithic civilization - is the ideal that Wilshire (1990) says might be embodied in contemporary life, if we are inventive and resolute enough.  

Returning now to True Blood, might the scene below in which Sookie and Bill join forces to help Tara throw off Maryann's possession be an expression of the integral - the light and dark, female and male unified - a vision that can help synthesize the fragmentary aspects of the self and culture into a meaningful whole?




On their own, neither Sookie nor Bill were able to break Maryann's hold on Tara. Only together were they able to help her return to reality.

Scholar and midwife Arisika Razak (1990) proposes that birth is our major metaphor for life and coming into being, a universal and central aspect of human experience that can serve as the nucleus around which we can build a paradigm of positive interaction and functioning - and a model for physical, emotional, an dspiritual transcendence.


Transdisciplinary theorists' calls for a non-dual vision of reality are pregnant with allusions to birthing. Nicolescu offers, "In my view, the 'death of man' is after all a necessary stage in history, one that anticipates our second birth (p. 74, 2002). He links the evolution of humanity with the evolution of he universe, and suggests that a new type of human (remember the idea of the eco-individual in my last post?) homo sui transcendentalis is in the process of being born. Of this new type of human, Nicolescu says, "He is not some new man but man reborn (p. 74, 2002). Also on p. 74, Nicolescu states that the process of his (new man's) birth involves transgression, originally meaning "to pass to the other side, to cross" - "crossing from one level of Reality to another, or from one level of perception to another". Morin and Kern (p. 18, 1992) hypothesize, "It, starting from a paradigm of complexity, a new method can be born, can take flesh, can advance, make progress, then it would be able perhaps to start a revolution everywhere.


Let's apply this birthing imagery to the scene above.     

When I rewatched it recently I noticed how, as Sookie stared into Tara's "dark, empty" saucer eyes trying to make a connection, she said to a desperate Lafayette, "it's not her, she's gone". Unable to penetrate Maryann's control over Tara, Sookie turned to Bill for help. He counseled, "you have to go further into her mind than you ever have before". Sookie tried again, and was only able to grasp quick flashes of Tara's experiences with Maryann. Bill decided glamouring Tara may help, suggesting, "if we leave her like this who knows what harm may come to her...or to us".


Crouching in front of Tara as Sookie cradled her from behind, Bill's attempts at glamouring began as gentle cajoling but became a labored affort. At first, it seemed to me like Bill was taking the role of a priest performing an exocrism but the more I thought about it, I see this scene as a birthing. Together, Sookie and Bill - Sookie in the position of mother, Bill as midwife, bringing Tara across the "something I can't cross - an abyss" (Sookie to Bill)  - the chasm neither of them could span alone.

Duality working in concert. The spell is broken. Tara is whole again.

What do you think?

Have you noticed any other images of holism in True Blood  - anything that for you communicates the truth of the Tejo-Bindu Upanishad: To direct the mind towards the basic unity of all things and to divert it from the seizing of differences; therein lies bliss

Please use the comments section below to share your thoughts!

~ Rachel

References
Capra, F. (1996). The web of life: A new scientific understanding of living systems. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books.
Macy, J. (1991). Mutual causality in Buddhism and general systems theory: The dharma of natural systems. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Morin, E., & Kern, A. B. (1999). Homeland earth: A manifesto for the new millennium.  Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.
Nicolescu, B. (2002). Manifesto of transdisciplinarity. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Plumwood, V. (1993). Feminism and the mastery of nature. London, UK: Routledge.
Razak, A. (1990). “Toward a Womanist Analysis of Birth”. (pp. 165-172). In Reweaving the world: The emergence of ecofeminism”. Diamond, I. & Orenstein, G.F. (Eds.) San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books.
Ward, T. (2006). Savage breast: One man’s search for the goddess. New York, NY: O Books
Wilshire, B. (1990). The moral collapse of the university: Professionalism, purity, and alienation. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.       

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tru Blood Tru World: An (Unlikely) Ecofeminist Philosopher

It's LAST CALL for this idea I distilled at the end of Season 3 but have yet to serve up and the FIRST TASTE of a new element we'll be featuring at the PPT come Season 4; Tru Blood, Tru World: AN (UNLIKELY) ECOFEMINIST PHILOSOPHER.

Driving home from work this past Tuesday, a piece on American Public Media's radio program Marketplace caught my ear. It was called, "Canada fights dirty".

Hmm... intriguing.

After Tess Vigeland's introduction, the report started with Marketplace Sustainability Desk's Scott Tong polling Americans on the street about the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of our neighbor to the north.
 
Predictably, many respondents mentioned the folksy accent (i.e. what are you talking aboot, ay?). Several also upheld common stereotypes like, "it's America-light", "Canadians have a clean and orderly society" and - perhaps the most pervasive - "Canadians are polite, friendly, and nice".

I guess on some level I must buy into that last one, because that's why the piece grabbed my attention. Those nice Canadians are playing political hardball? Really?

Apparently so; according to Marketplace, Tuesday was the last day for the public to comment on a new pipeline to carry Canadian oil to the U.S. We already buy Canadian crude (we actually import more oil from Canada than from any other foreign nation) but whether to pipe in a lot more has become a bitter fight in Washington with deep economic, political and environmental implications.

That's because the product going through the pipe is controversial; it's known as oil sands - literally, it's oil embedded in sand - and it's one of the dirtiest fossil fuels in the world to produce since it requires steam generators and other kinds of heat to get the oil out. This means lots of carbon pollution, and high-carbon fuels are being banned globally.

"Environmentalists around the world are fighting Canada's attempts to export oil from Alberta's oil sands".

So Canada is pushing back.

Canadian diplomats are meeting with like-minded allies, like BP and Shell. Their argument: Canadian oil reduces U.S. dependence on oil exported from unstable and unfriendly Middle Eastern and North African nations. Canada doesn't exploit, oppress and kill anyone to get their oil to market. And, according to Calgary oil analyst Dave Yager, they're "not going to use the profits from tar's oil sands production to build a nuclear bomb and annihilate Israel".

Naturally, what - or who - did I think of while listening to this piece weighing the pros and cons of keeping Canada's dirty oil flowing?

Why, Russell Edgington, of course!

I know, I know, on the surface, at least, it seems odd that a piece broadcast on NPR about, amongst other things, environmental concerns would make me think of the King of Mississippi instead of, lets say...our resident True Blood king of recycling, Bill Compton...

paper products go here, Tru Blood and other glass products go here...bravo, Mr. Compton!
But seriously, let's think about this for just a minute. 

Hearken back, if you will, to the Season 3 scene in which Russell and Eric are riding in the back of a limousine together, on the way to press Queen Sophie Ann into marriage and to challenge the Magister.


Recall how the increasingly agitated king remarked to the scheming Viking: "Throughout history I have aligned myself with or destroyed those humans in power, hoping to make a dent in mankind's race to oblivion. What other creature actively destroys his own habitat?"

Might our duplicitous, power-hungry King Russell also be an (unlikely) ecofeminist philosopher?

"In the case of Russell, he's a power-hungry ancient druid who has a serious concern of the stewardship of the earth". So says a man who looks an awful lot like the King of Mississippi -  Mr. Denis O'Hare himself - in an interview with Brandon Voss of The Advocate

And who can forget the infamous spine-ripping scene in which Russell rants about humanity's egotistical overconsumption and violent, polluting ways...

    

Russell - according to Mr. O'Hare, who has reportedly worked out a detailed backstory for his scene-stealing True Blood character - is not of this time. His worldview was shaped during a time when humankind had a far different schema for life on earth, organized around a dramatically different master metaphor. The king's druid brethren were possessed of the ancient wisdom - which, in her essay "The Evolution of an Ecofeminist" Julia Scofield Russell suggests has been lost and refound in modern works like James Locklock's Gaia: A New View of Life on Earth (New York: Oxford University Press: 1979) - that the earth is a living being.

And that "the law of the circle" (remember, during his confrontation with the Magister, Russell insists that there is only one true law - the law of nature?) - "the fact that the Earth's natural life-support systems are circular. There is no 'out'. Everything is in the system, and everything we put into the system comes back to us, for good or ill" (Scofield Russell, 1990, p. 229) rules.

Everything is in the system. Including we humans. There is no "out". We can't escape the destruction we wreck. You may disagree with his methods (as I certainly do) but can you really blame Russell for trying to stop, as he says,  our "race to oblivion"?    

Imagine how difficult negotiating modernity must be for an ancient vampire such as Russell, whose multimillenia-long undead lifetime has brought him into such clash and conflict with a nearly unrecognizable paradigm; an entire civilization that heaps abuses upon the earth's body:
...toxic wastes, ozone depletion, species extinction, desertification, smog, acid rain, famine, forest death, poverty, cancer, genocide, dead rivers and lakes, nuclear contamination. (Scofield Russell, 1990 p. 225)
Sounds not unlike Russell's shocking televised speech above, huh?

We 21st century denizens may soon be facing what it's like to live through seismic paradigm shift. In fact, it very well may already be underway; many signs point to this truth.

Here's a relevant excerpt from my dissertation:
  
Several transdisciplinary theorists have issued a clarion call for a paradigm shift as an integral and overarching component of systemic social change (Morin & Kern, 1999; Nicolescu, 2002; Plumwood, 1993; Wilshire, 1990).


This a metamorphosis which is nothing short of the birthing of a new vision to replace the old frameworks dominated by dichotomous thinking that form the bedrock of modern society and are fundamental to its many ills.

Nicolescu (2002) discusses the immediacy of action required in terms of bringing about a visionary, transpersonal consciousness nourished by knowledge growth to challenge the threat of our material, biological, and spiritual destruction posed by blind adherence to the logic of utilitarianism that characterizes the dominant paradigm.

Goerner’s (2001) advocacy of the concept of a “great turning” posits that this revolution will result from radical changes in the way we think about our world and our relationship to it. She likens it to a developmental passage, a self-generated metamorphosis similar to that of the butterfly.


As the caterpillar is compelled by forces from within to slough away its DNA to allow for the butterfly with a completely different genetic code than its larval form to emerge, so too does our civilization transform as a result of pressure, pushing from the inside-out.

This process is driven by the interconnected crises of modernity. Goerner (2001) asserts that there are hints all around us that modernity has reached the end of its useful life; its virtuous beginning ushered in the noble notions of liberty, equality, fraternity, and reason but its twilight is delivering silent disaster on an epic scale. The transition from modern to integral age will entail profound global change. It will eventually alter every facet of civilization, and it is happening now, not in one or two countries, but in the entire developed world and in many developing nations.

The “great turning” thesis emphasizes the critical role of changing the assumptions that guide our thinking about the world and our place in it. She suggests that shifting the root metaphor we use to explain how the world works from mechanistic to web and ecosystem metaphors will render modernity as radically different from the coming integral age as our current civilization is from medieval times.  Such a reformulation will depend largely upon the choices we make, and whether we as a society can loosen the assumptions and worldviews to which we cleave to allow new ones to emerge like a butterfly from its chrysalis. (Goerner, 2001).

WOW. Are we ready for such a major, life-altering shift?

In my estimation (and Russell's), something's gotta give.

Remember during that same limousine ride I was talking about above how Russell lamented to Eric, "Do you remember how the air used to smell? How the humans used to smell? How the humans used to taste?" Perhaps Russell's reminiscences about the pre-Industrial world reveals something deeper than his recognition that we are polluted and his simple, animal longing for human blood that tasted better, purer.

Maybe, just maybe, Russell can taste what we are lacking in our very blood - "the loss of soul in modern philosophy" (Cajete, 2000). Anthropologist Michael Harner writes about this kind of spiritual vacancy in his treatment of “soul loss”; in contemporary North American Hispanic communities this phenomenon is known as susto and is considered a common condition in the modern world (Broderick, 2001). 

As grief expert Elizabeth Kubler-Ross noted, “There is no spirituality left. I mean the inner, deep knowing where we come from”(Wilshire, 1990, p. 92). Accordingly, Orthodox theologian David Hart offers a sobering analysis of “metaphysical boredom” and what it means for modern Europe:
A culture - a civilization - is only as good as the religious ideas that animate it; the magnitude of a people's cultural achievement is determined by the height of its spiritual aspirations. One need only turn one’s gaze to the frozen mires and fetid marshes of modern Europe, where once the greatest of human civilizations resided, to grasp how devastating and omnivorous a power metaphysical boredom is. The eye of faith presumes to see something miraculous within the ordinariness of the moment, mysterious hints of an intelligible order calling out for translation into artifacts, but boredom’s disenchantment renders the imagination inert and desire torpid. (Catanzarite, 2007, p. 103).
Canda and Furman (1999) define spirituality as "the universal and fundamental aspect of what it is to be human - to search for a sense of meaning, purpose, and moral frameworks for relating with self, others, and the ultimate reality" (p. 36).
Could it be that the spiritual malaise of contemporary Western society; indeed, our stagnant collective soul, (which Russell perhaps tastes in our blood) might be a function of our estrangement from Earth and from the web of life?

Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence author Gregory Cajete (2000) writes that Henryk Skolimoswski was one of the first to articulate an eco-philosophy for the transformation of thought needed to bring a new ecological consciousness. In his 1981 study, "Eco-philosophy: Designing New Tactics for Living" he states that current political systems threaten to rob us of our highest values and because the current basis for action is no longer deeply rooted in life-serving purposes (echoed by Scofield Russell: "Ecofeminists antifeminine, it is antihuman, antilife", 1990, p. 225) or reverence for nature, we need a new philosophy to inform and guide us.

According to Cajete, "The era of the 'eco-individual' is dawning" (1990, p. 59.).

What will this era - and the eponymous "eco-individual" look like? How will we tell when it has dawned, and what can we do to move it forward?

Above, I referenced Lovelock's Gaia theory. Back in Season 1, Amy Burley queried a very overeager-to-do-V Jason, "You know what Gaia is, right? Theory of Gaia?". Amy may have understood Gaia theory intellectually, but despite her hippie persona and her  I'm-an-organic-vegan-and-my-carbon-footprint-is-minuscule pseudo cred...


...believe me, she didn't really get it. Amy Burley was a false prophetess - hollow; a complete sham.  

Her treatment, and eventual staking of vampire Eddie Gauthier shows how little she comprehended the meaning of the Lakota phrase "Mitakuye oyasin", translated as "we are all related" (Cajete, 2000, p. 86).



Eco-philosophy is utterly dependant upon this tenet.

If eco-consciousness is indeed a return to ancient wisdom, perhaps we can glimpse the coming paradigm and eco-individual in the Maya words:
The roots of all living things are tied together. When a mighty tree is felled, a star falls from the sky. Before you cut down a mahogany, you should ask permission of the keeper of the forest, and you should ask permission of the keeper of the star. (Cajete, 2000, p. 108)
Euro-western society has much to learn from living indigenous traditions, whose ways and wisdom may seem comfortingly familiar to the pre-Christian Celtic Russell Edgington. For example, native science offers a system for naturalistic observation and knowing which honors and integrates sense, perception, and the metaphoric mind to apprehend reality. Unlike conventional science which leaves out so much, this Indigenous scientific method opens to "the sacredness, the livingness, the soul of the world" (Little Bear, 2000) in a way that can bring us to new and needed vistas.

Ecofeminist Julia Scofield Russell reminds us that while we are all a part of the body politic ("We are its lifeblood, its nerves, its brain") and as such we must continue to engage in the activities of the nation state in order to make a difference, we can also exercise what she calls the "politics of lifestyle", "a distinctly feminine politics in that it is both inner and universal, personal and all-inclusive" (1990, pp. 226-227).

It DOES matter what we choose to do in our personal, everyday lives and at our home and hearth; it matters deeply.

As Scofield Russell writes, the movies we go to see, the food we eat, our relationships, what we throw away and where, our livelihoods - everything - emanates out into the larger system, ultimately impacting the whole living planet.  

Although humanity may be behaving as a cancer on the earth, the answer is not - as Russell thinks - to subjugate and control us so as to force our compliance with his will, despite his (at least ecologically) good intentions.  

If we want to make a difference for the better, we can take our role as consumers seriously and behave as such. We must understand that when we purchase a produce we are supporting the entire system that made it. We can support companies and practices that are sustainable and withdraw our dollars from those that are ecologically and socially damaging. 

There are so many ways we can initiate life-affirming changes in our everyday lives; with our diet and food buying practices, with our relationships, tax resistance, housing, gardening, conservation - as Scofield Russell (1990) writes, it's up to us.  

And yes, Bill Compton, we can recycle.

What do you think? How are you making change; making a difference? We'd love to know! Please share in the comments section below.

Sláinte (an Irish toast to your health) for now...

~ Rachel

References 

Broderick, R. (2001). Leather tramp journal: A 12-mile mountain retreat. Leavenworth, KS: Forest of Peace.

Cajete, G. (2000). Native science: Natural laws of interdependence. Santa Fe, NM: Clear Light Publishers.

Canda, E. R., & Furman, L. D. (1999). Spiritual diversity in social work practice: The heart of helping. New York, NY: Free Press.

Catanzarite, S. (2007). Achtung Baby: Meditations on love in the shadow of the fall. New York, NY: Continuum.

Goerner, S. J. (2001). After the clockwork universe: The emerging science and culture of integral society. Charlotte, NC: Baker & Taylor, Inc.

Little Bear, L. (2000). Forward. In Cajete, G. Native science: Natural laws of interdependence. (pp. ix-xii) Santa Fe, NM: Clear Light Publishers.

Morin, E., & Kern, A. B. (1999). Homeland earth: A manifesto for the new millennium.  Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Nicolescu, B. (2002). Manifesto of transdisciplinarity. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Plumwood, V. (1993). Feminism and the mastery of nature. London, UK: Routledge.

Scofield Russell, J. (1990). The evolution of an ecofeminist. In Diamond, I. & Orenstein, G.F. (Eds.) Reweaving the world : the emergence of ecofeminism. (pp. 223-230). San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books.

Wilshire, B. (1990). The moral collapse of the university: Professionalism, purity, and alienation. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Season 4 Premiere Party Planning Underway!!!!!!

     Your salonnières Rachel and Rebecca have joined forces to brainstorm some ideas for the official Pierced Pomegranate Tavern True Blood S4 Premiere Party! We'll be fusing music, menu items, cocktails (of course!!), and decor elements representing themes and characters from the past few seasons of True Blood! 

    We know waiting sucks, but we don't want to give away all of our tricks just yet! 

     We would love to hear what you have  brewing  for your "Season of the Witch" premiere party. Drop by our comments section and share! 

Character Spotlight: One of my favorite "characters" in True Blood

"Music takes us out of the actual and whispers to us dim secrets that startle our wonder as to who we are, and for what, whence, and whereto" ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

     One of the many reasons I have fallen so passionately in love with True Blood has been because of its character development. I want to take some time to discuss a character so strong, so well developed, a character so integral to the story without her the show could not survive. No, I'm not talking about Sookie! This character has been in every episode, every scene, and almost if not every frame of True Blood.  The character I turn my spotlight on in this post is.....MUSIC!

     You may not even notice her at first, but she is there. She hangs around in the background...off camera, out of sight, but never out of mind. She lays in wait to prey upon the emotions of the characters; fueling their fears, their desires. She builds pressure, creates anxiety, she gets our hearts beating with her deep crescendo as we follow along to her pulsating rhythm.

     Music is the soul-the backbone of True Blood, and we have composer Nathan Barr and the many talented musical supervisors of the show to thank. From the romantically haunting strings that permeate throughout Bill and Sookie's love theme to the sinister rattle and hiss of Maryann's theme music in season 2, music and song been established as legitimate vehicles meant to drive the audience into the very heart of the story. Music and film have been partners from the very start. Even silent film couldn't resist the power that music possessed. According to the silent film page on Wikipedia "From the very beginning, music was recognized as essential, contributing to the atmosphere and giving the audience vital emotional cues."

     If the power of the instrumental score were not enough, the musical department takes it one step further by introducing song, that is music plus vocal performance. It's no secret that every episode title of True Blood comes from a song used within the episode, so it should also be no secret that listening to the lyrics of said song may further inform the viewer to "vital emotional cues" as well. The title song, which plays at the end of every episode may get lost if you don't pay close enough attention. That being said, I offer this challenge...go back and watch your favorite episode. Take note of the title. Watch the episode carefully, looking for themes. Allow yourself to get caught up in the sonic landscape and when the credits role sit there silently and listen. Listen to the lyrics, let the poetry get inside of you. After all is said and done let me know if your insight to a certain character, scene, or the episode as a whole hasn't changed...I bet it has!!

     We here at The Pierced Pomegranate Tavern would like you all to raise a glass for this often overlooked, but never underestimated character. Here's to you Music...for your commitment to greatness, for never settling to play a bit part, for never "phoning in" a performance and for always challenging us to look beneath the surface! In the immortal words of Russell Hammond (from the movie Almost Famous) "I dig music!!!" ~ Rebecca



Saturday, June 4, 2011

FIRST TASTE: GUEST BARTENDING AT THE SIREN'S CONFERENCE

Here's your first taste of the GUEST BARTENDING feature that will be on the PPT's menu for season 4's analysis and commentary...


...LORENA FANS TAKE NOTE...


The Pierced Pomegranate Tavern will be setting up shop from October 6–9, 2011, at the Vail Cascade Resort and Spa in Vail, Colorado!


Rachel will be giving a talk at the Sirens conference; a networking retreat and academic conference dedicated to women in fantasy literature, providing perspectives on fantasy books by women, female characters in fantasy works, and how to support women in fantasy literature.


Within its focus on fantastic women, each year Sirens features a fantasy-related theme—and in 2011, the theme is "monsters"! Conference programming will examine and dissect monstrous characters and themes of monstrousness. As the Sirens site points out, women have too often been decried as "monsters," and examples of monsters and questions of monstrousness pervade fantasy literature. Sirens honored guests for 2011 are Justine Larbalestier, Nnedi Okorafor, and Laini Taylor, each of whom has written of female characters who may—or may not—be monsters.


Here's an overview of Rachel's presentation:


Title: Annihilating HER Again: How Eroticized Rage Against True Blood’s Vampire Lorena―Avatar of the Monstrous Feminine―Resurrects the Forgotten History of Goddess Culture's Suppression


 
 300-500 word abstract for 50 minute talk

This visual, multimodal and experiential talk revolves around the now infamous final scene of True Blood Season 3, Episode 3 entitled "It Hurts Me Too" which drew the ire of the National Organization for Women for what NOW called a “messed up depiction of women, men, violence, and sex”, prompting its call for feminists to deliver a “thanks but no thanks” message to HBO. 

When it aired on June 27, 2010 I watched—eyes wide and jaws agape—as during what some call an act of “hate sex,” vampire Bill Compton hurled his maker Lorena to the bed, tore off her clothes, and twisted her neck, turning her face to the floor as he forcefully thrust into her. Despite his contempt and brutality—and with blood dripping from her mouth—Lorena told Bill that she still loves him. This explicit rendering of eroticized rage shocked me at a gut level akin to the way feminist scholar Vicki Noble describes women’s response to the obscene prevalence of rape: “We experience our collective annihilation repeatedly, psychically and physically as a woman is raped every thirteen seconds in North America…”.1

And yet, I can’t condemn or denounce this deliberately unsettling scene; in my view it raises vital issues that are better addressed through thoughtful dialogue than censure and several questions ripe for discourse spring immediately to mind: 

o    If Lorena is as NOW suggests the classic “bitch” archetype; the monstrous Feminine—a characterization that reduces her to a monolith—how might this comment on our culture which has long fragmented and demonized the Feminine? What kind of cultural context would need to exist for us to think differently?

o    Why does this scene disturb us so? Is it too hard to reconcile the genteel and romantic Bill Compton with his willful despoiling of Lorena; his determination to utterly ruin her—and harder still for us to place such a rapacious mindset not at the margins of dominant culture, but at its center?

o    Could Bill's pillage and defilement of Lorena be seen as a visceral rearticulation for a contemporary audience of mythologies depicting the slaying of the Great Goddess by the warrior god as peaceful, egalitarian society was supplanted by patriarchy some five millennia ago―the collective memory of which still pulses in our modern psyches?

Drawing upon 800,000 years of art, myth, histories and poetry and amplifying leading voices in feminist thought, archaeomythology, women's studies, and Goddess scholarship not often heard in mainstream discourse, we will explore these charged concepts and more. Tracing the intriguing parallels between the difficult-to-digest imagery “It Hurts Me Too” confronts us with and the mythologies of Goddesses dismembered, slain or made subordinate to male gods which represent the rupture from a Goddess-centered world to “dominator” world of today, we will open a discourse on contemporary issues like gender relations, sex and sexuality, attitudes towards autonomous women, and rape as a dominant social and cultural metaphor for behavior. We will identify new models for a “partnership” social structure. 

1.      Vicki Noble, Shakti Woman: Feeling Our Fire, Healing Our World (New York: HarperOne, 1991), p. 3.

Any thoughts?


I hear the host resort, which combines the conveniences of a modern hotel with the laid-back, friendly atmosphere of a mountain retreat, is amazing, and with its great room rates during the beautiful fall season in the Rocky Mountains, as well as a discount on most services at their acclaimed spa, maybe that's enough to lure you to Vail to join us?


~ Rachel