Tuesday, December 03, 2002
Looking for something else, I stumbled upon a notebook musing from a few years ago:
I like best to see my face reflected in a window at night. The outline is clear, but the details are less distinct. It's such an accomplished [self-contained] pleasure, admiring my own reflection.
I once asked a man, at the beginning of a new romance, when we were first shyly revealing the traits we found marvelous and fascinating in each other, "Don't you think I see you differently than you see yourself?"
He considered and replied, "It's only natural. I know myself better than you do."
It was so easy for me to admire and cherish him. But he to himself and me to myself--it's not as easy. We know the blemishes.
When I look into a mirror--a clear flat, distinct and well-lit reflection--my eyes seek our all the imperfections. I put my face right close and examine all the planes and crevices. I wonder what I'm looking for? Don't I know my face already? I don't linger over the good features, but I move straight to mottles in my skin, or to my crooked teeth. Are my eyebrows incorrect? And which standard should I choose?
I want to believe I am beautiful. I want it so very badly. Because if I am beautiful, I will be loved. And if I am loved, then I will live in the sunshine and nothing can be wrong.
I don't undersatnd this trap, a slippery slop to never-fulfillment. What if I am loved, but am not beautiful? What if it rains on me and the ones who love me? It must be a flaw in me. When hard times come, it must be because I am not loved enough. But who could love me enough? I am not beautiful enough for that kind of love.
When I see myself in the night-window reflection, I am less distinct. I don't have to see the confusing minutia of my appearance. I can be pleased with the outline. I can love myself, forgive the imperfections. I can have what I so crave and not be indebted to someone else.
posted by Murphy 12/03/2002
Monday, December 02, 2002
Sigurd Part VI
At last, Sinfjotli was considered old enough by Sigmund to enact revenge upon Seggeir for Volsung’s death. Sigmund and Sinfjotli had been creating havoc in King Seggeir’s kingdom long enough; they wished to strike at the heart of their enemy.
Signy brought them into the palace, to begin their attack on her husband. But as they were waiting, one of Signy’s two young children ran into the room where they were hiding. He was chasing a toy, and he saw the two fierce men. He ran back to Seggeir’s chamber and told his father what he had seen.
Seggeir understood the significance of what the child said and prepared himself for attack. Signy discovered what had happened, and dragged her children to her brother and son: “These children have betrayed you,” she told Sigmund. “I suggest you kill them.”
Really, since he had killed the first two boys, it’s not so surprising that she would say this. I mean, it follows what happened before.
But maybe Sigmund was feeling guilty, or who knows what. He said, “I am loth to kill children of yours, even if they have betrayed me.” And he stood there.
Young Sinfjotli didn’t have this constraint of feeling. He killed his siblings right then and there.
The next thing you know, Seggeir has launched his attack. Sigmund and Sinfjotli have arrived at their hour of revenge, and they fought harder and stronger than ever before. But they could not prevail against Seggeir’s numbers, and he tied them up and threw them in jail.
While they sat there all day and night, Seggeir devised a special way for them to die. He built a traditional cairn, or burial mound. As a special torture, he put a huge stone slab through the center of the mound. He put the men into the burial mound, one on each side of the stone. He intended this to bury them alive, together but unable to help one another.
However, right before the mound was sealed, Signy managed to throw an armload of straw into the opening. But Seggeir sealed it up tightly, pleased to have devised this painful and humiliating death for his long enemies.
Sinfjotli looked through the straw. He said to Sigmund, “It looks like we won’t have to worry about food for a while, because my mother has thrown in some ham with the straw.”
But then he felt it; the hilt of Sigmund’s sword! He couldn’t see because of how dark it was, but this sword was unmistakable.
Sinfjotli plunged the sword into the slab of rock dividing the mound. Sigmund grasped the other end and they sawed their way through the slab. As soon as the slab was spilt, they worked together to hack and saw their way out of the burial mound.
They were free.
It was nighttime, and they made their way back to the hall to find Seggeir. Everyone was asleep, so they gathered fuel and firewood. They intended to set the great hall on fire and burn the king and all his men with it.
When they felt the heat and the smoke, the men in the hall woke up. The king demanded to know who had set the fire.
Sigmund rose up to accuse him. “Here I am, Sigmund, and my sister’s son, Sinfjotli. Now you know that all the Volsungs are not dead, and we remember that you are the one who killed our father.”
Signy came out to stand with her family against Seggeir:” Now you know that I have not forgotten who plotted to kill my father. I had our two youngest sons killed because they were not eager enough to avenge Volsung. Here is Sinfjotli, my child and Sigmund’s. He was conceived while I was disguised as a sorceress. His blood comes from a daughter and a son of Volsung, and he was always eager to kill you for your betrayal of my father.”
Sigmund put out his hand to lead his sister out of the burning hall, but she stopped him.
“I have worked for nothing but revenge. I have had my children killed for it, and devoted my whole life to it. I was unwilling to marry Seggeir, but now I will willingly die with him. It is all I am fit for.”
And she walked back into the fire, saying farewell to Sigmund and Sinfjotli. She died with everyone in the hall.
posted by Murphy 12/02/2002
I'm sure Sigurd would approve of the weekend I just had. Not a lot of killing, but excellent feasting and fellowship.
I've been TOO bogged down, and I have thoroughly missed hanging out with friends old and new. This Thanksgiving was a friend thanksgiving rather than a family one. It was very very nice.
Since I also did a lot of christmas shopping this weekend, I was feeling far more benevolent than usual. Well, according to lots of experts, a lot of us were feeling the Christmas spirit.Sales are supposed to be way up this weekend. I am looking forward to the pleasure in my friend's and family's eyes when they open the presents I get them.
I am a very social animal. Being around good friends revitalizes me. I now feel all recharged and ready to tackle new things. This, In reference to my blog, has caused me to look again at all the books I am in the MIDDLE of reading.
I'm still in the middle of
The Proud Tower, by Barbara Tuchman.
MiddleMarch by George Elliot
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
The Battle for God by Karen Armstrong
The Pleasure of Finding Things Out by Richard Feynman
The Prince by Machiavelli
Hmm...There's more, but I'm not at home and I don't remember what they are.
I just finished reading, but have not yet reviewed:
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
All of these I think are very worthy of being reviewed, but they are meatier than I have time to just dash off..Interestingly, Dr. Dolittle is the trickiest.
But what I am really excited about is this poster they are selling at the library...It is a poster/timeline/graph of all the major musical composers since the 1400s. It gives their names and their major works and places them in proximity with other contemporary composers.
This is tremendous! I mean, It's not like this information didn't exist before. But sometimes, the way information is presented can make all the difference.
I believe that music can convey the sense of an idea or an emotion in ways that other mediums cannot. I may say to you, "the 1600s in Europe was a time of humanistic exploration, with intense interest in rational exploration and characterized by a sense of self-confidence."
That's very dry.
But if I hear the music from that period, and put it into the context of what I know of the history and literature and art and architecture of the period, music can add a depth and fullness and richness to my partly formulated understanding. I am looking for that click, that "Oh!" moment, the moment when the discrete facts coalesce into a fluid understanding.
I would like to have a sense of the progression of the last 6 centuries. It takes much less time to listen to music than it does to read large tomes.
posted by Murphy 12/02/2002
Sunday, December 01, 2002
Sigurd Part V
I warn you ahead of time, this part of the story is quite strange. I’m only telling it like it was told me, but you can make of it what you will.
Sigmund and Sinfjotli decided to go on a few adventures before planning their vengeance on Seggeir. They figured they had time. Besides, Sinfjotli was young and needed toughening up. To this end, they went around being bandits in the woods, killing and robbing people.
One day, when they were out looking for people to rob, they found a house, with two men asleep in it. The house had all kinds gold and treasure in it, and the men were covered with rings and such.
But above the men, there were two wolfskins. I don’t know if our Volsung men had figured this out beforehand, but the wolfskins were enchanted. As you have probably figured out though, they were not really men to step back and think anything over. They grabbed the wolfskins and tried them on.
Instantly, the skins became part of them. Lo and behold, our heroes had become what are now known as a werewolf. They ran and howled. Sigmund decided that they should look for more men to kill and rob. Sinfjotli and he separated, with the understanding that they would not take on more than 7 men without calling to the other for help.
Next thing you know, Sigmund runs into 7 guys. He howls for help, and Sinfjotli comes running. Between the two of them, they finish them off really quickly and separate again.
Next thing, Sinfjotli runs into 11 men, but he won’t howl for help. Maybe he was trying to impress Sigmund, maybe he thought Sigmund was being a wuss for calling for help even when there were under the agreed upon number of men, whatever. We lay into the eleven men, and slashed and snapped and fought and eventually kills them.
But he is badly wounded. Sigmund finds him, and realized what happened. He was so angry that he bit Sinfjotli’s throat.
That didn’t really help matters. He managed to pick Sinfjotli up, and drag him to their underground home. He realized then that he couldn’t get the wolfskin off, and he howled in frustration. He sat by Sinfjotli, trying to figure out what to do.
As he waited, he saw these other woodland creatures fighting. One of them bit the other’s throat, just like he had bitten Sinfjotli’s. Then he scampered off, returning with a leaf that he placed on the wound. The formerly wounded creature sprung up again, completely well.
Sigmund ran out to try and find the leaf! He saw a raven flying overhead, with a leaf. The raven dropped it, and Sigmund was able to take it back and heal Sinfjotli with it.
Both of them were pretty happy about this. They decided to lay low until they could get rid of the wolfskins. As soon as they were able to shuck them off, they burned them.
All this time, Sigmund never realized that Sinfjotli was not Seggeir’s son. Sinfjotli was always very anxious to get revenge on Seggeir.
posted by Murphy 12/01/2002