giovedì, gennaio 08, 2009

The Lemnian women and international fuckery

So to recap from yesterday: every change of civilisation, nationality, or whatever it is that we watch as separate episodes on the History Channel now, was actually military age men going to new places, killing or displacing the military age men already there, and being incorporated well or less well into the pre-existing society of women and children.

Men knew, in a warlike society, they were always going to be in danger of being displaced. They couldn't guarantee a woman's chastity by actually being around and sharing their resources all the time - by following the marriage contract, in short - because they couldn't guarantee they would win or survive their military encounters. So they told a bunch of folk stories about how awesome women who were raped and then killed themselves were, and how fucking dreadful women who wanted to fuck invaders were. It worked fantastically, as now we have this legacy of helpless guilt and weirdo sexuality on both sides of the gender split, but not fantastically enough to keep history from marching on.

Men being displaced by new men because of a failure to live up to the marriage contract didn't always work by the displacers winning a military encounter and the displaced dying or running away, though, and there are two interesting examples of this from Greek history or story-telling. The more famous and less convincing one is of the pre-Hellenic Lemnian women, who murdered all of the Lemnian men as they slept, in retaliation for being displaced by Thracian slave-girls. The women then managed to bear the next generation, and make their appearance on what would be an episode of something on the History Channel about the Myceneans, by fucking Jason and the Argonauts.

It's an interesting story, but just a story. Robert Graves* reckons that Lemnos was a gynocracy supported by an armed female religious class that visiting Myceneans - rather violent and male chauvinist - could only understand in terms of the men all having been murdered. What is rather more than just a story are the stories about the Epizephyrian Locrians, which I promised you yesterday but unfortunately you're not going to get today, as I have to go to work now. But I will say that in their case, the Locrian men broke the marriage contract not by being killed or defeated in battle, and not by rejecting their wives for slave girls, but by being rather too good at battle. It's a ripping yarn. Stay tuned.

* Who I adore but whose POV on the pre-classical and classical world was strongly influenced by hallucinogenic mushrooms.

mercoledì, gennaio 07, 2009


Conversation with my boss yesterday whilst waiting for printout of press release about the bankruptcy of yet another company I cover:

Me: Fuck, this printer stinks.
Boss: Stinks of what? Not like it's going to blow up?
Me: No, it stinks . . . (sniffs freshly printed sheet) . . . it stinks of printer, you know, except more than most printers do.
Boss: (shrugs) Just try not to breathe when you're printing things out.

Economic crashes make my olfaction more sensitive. I think it's an evolutionary survival mechanism women developed. Men developed a good one for icy sidewalks useful at present here in Scandinavia Sud where the Belges haven't yet figures out how to spread sand or clear pavement ice, which is to walk with a low centre of gravity, ie to lumber, ie to carry all your weight in your bum. That's why they don't slip around as much as women, who are top-heavy. Also women wear much stupider shoes.

Which brings me to the subject of today's, and probably tomorrow's post, which is women and their history. This past vacation in Aspromonte and Syracuse has been a hell of an eye-opener on two things, in a not absolutely unrelated way - the history of women, and the history of the Christian church. But women are by far more important, representing 54% or so of our race, so let's start there, in part in atonement for my rather sneery 'humanities' undergrad programme, which gave them/women's studies minimal airtime.

Actually let's start with the F-word, who I'd love even if he were a woman, but thank heaven he's not, because I don't understand how to bring women to orgasm. The F-word was on a Viking kick in December and for some reason this nudged him into seeing geographical and ethnical history from a women's perspective - a perspective he pointed out was much more continuous, much less choppy, and much more, shall we say, true than the typical Rise and Fall of the Babylonians Egyptians Greeks Romans Goths Celts Saxons Vikings Franks blah blah blah, which is how men have historically presented history, because, well, that sort of choppy, discontinuous minority perspective is an accurately male perspective of history.

Let's consider what generally happens, as the F-word spelled it out, when a bunch of men, say, Vikings, successfully invade, say, Britain:

Celtic military age husband (to wife and children): Well, we're fucked and you're too heavy to carry while I run, so I'm off. This represents the fall of the Celtic et cetera. Bye.
(Wife watches him go, watches Viking bash through front door)
Celtic wife: Oh, thank god you're here, that coward ran off and left us all alone. My, what big muscles you have. If you don't hurt the children I'll blow you.
Viking: Jeg liker du veldig godt!

Of course sometimes the women and children were sold abroad into slavery. And Europeans carrying out Crusades, for example, had a nasty habit of slaughtering every Christian, Moslem, and Jewish thing in the cities they invaded, because we Europeans are utter barbarians, morbid barbarians at that, and always have been, but that's something for when I write about the Christianity of Southern Italy. But generally speaking, women took what they could get - took care of their children, and muddled on with the changes in skin tone and language of their men as best they could. The Jews knew this. That's probably why they measured descent through the matrilineal line, even if their religion doesn't exactly traditionally empower women otherwise, and that's certainly why the Jews are so lonely in their ability to tell you where they came from over the millenia.

Tracing descent matrilineally, however, isn't an exclusively Jewish phenomenom. Someone else who traditionally traced their descent that way was the Epizephyrian Locrians, an offshoot of the Spartans who went to my father's region of Calabria about 2700 years ago. There are some interesting theories as to why they went there, and why they traced descent matrilineally, that I'll look at tomorrow when I have that little bit more time.

martedì, gennaio 06, 2009

Waxing days

Today I know what I'd like to write for you, and I can't, because of the penury of time I've got now that I'm back at work, and though there was time enough whilst on holiday I was too busy being, shall we say, happy, to park myself anywhere to write that wasn't off on some mountain or train or beach or ruin, and one doesn't take a computer to such places, thank God.

So instead, I'll briefly lament the difficulties involved at this time of year with getting along. It was good to head to the Med for the solstice and the recovery from it, and the days are now already so much longer up here in Scandinavia Sud than they were when we left. It was good for us - for me and the F-word. No particular troubles in paradise but yesterday I was reminded what a shitty time of the year this is for couples, with our closest friends here informing us they'd broken up over the break, and other crack-ups being widely reported. This is really the attrition time - the cold, dark morbid time when the cycling of the seasons gets too obviously painful, and mortality too painfully evident; if 2008 can die, why not you? And if you're going to die someday, why are you with person A anyways? Is this the person you want to miss you after you're dead? Is this the person you want to hold you as you go? Is this the person you're willing to mourn for? And if the year can be born again, well, why can't you?

Maybe if the F-word and I moved to a place that was always summer, I would never lose him, I thought as the girl tearfully told me she's ended it, maybe if we lived in a place that was always summer, I could always be nice to him. Rather too pat as the formula for a neverending love, but even as I tried to get her to stop crying my mind ran through the possibilities, comparing a couple aging with these lousy, shitty seasons turning over and over, rubbing their faces in the passage of the years and the deterioration of their bodies and patience, versus the same couple cheerfully and obliviously aging under a semi-tropical sun.

I don't know, I don't know. I just know that even though it's being Canadian-esque here with the cold, after the two weeks in the mezzogiorno with its irises and flowers and third season of citrus fruits, I do understand that someday it'll be spring again, by hook or by crook.

lunedì, gennaio 05, 2009

Reflections on a European voyage

Travelling in this over-ripened cheese of a continent at Christmastime is fucking penitential. We had this intensely beautiful and amusing holiday in Sicily and Calabria - more Milos Foreman than Sergio Corbucci it may have all been, and I did have the exquisite pleasure of losing my keys on the first day, but by Sunday, when we were due to fly back to Germany, I was feeling excellent. Well rested, well fed, well fucked, well et cetera. Some of the more family-friendly aspects of the fortnight will no doubt get exposed here in the coming days.

And then, Stefanito got mixed up about when I needed to be at the aeroport - two hours away on dreadful mountain roads - and decided for a marathon session in the bathroom. The entire household took turns begging him to hurry but if there is an Irresistible Force in this world, it's an Italian man occupying a fucking toilet. Anyways, eventually he popped out, responded to the situation, and fucking gunned us across some of the worst winter roads in Aspromonte. That little Fiat was going so fast I thought it would disintegrate. Intensely beautiful region we were burning through, but an absolute shithole - our (Reggio) side of the mountain is okay, or at least as okay as Aspromonte gets, but the Santa Eufemia side is where they took the northern kidnap victims back in the day and no doubt where all sorts of bad shit is got up to now, up to and including some cockless guinea motherfucker taking a bead on us with a handgun as we whizzed by.

We got to the aeroport twenty minutes late, but it turned out that was only bad for my nerves, because Italy being Italy the check-in was crawling at a retarded snail's pace. In fact, we checked in ten minutes before the fucking plane took off, and security was a breeze - all the women setting off the metal detectors with their belt buckles, et cetera, all the security men gaily , or rather heterosexually, waving them through. Not such a breeze, however, that the F-word didn't have confiscated from his hand luggage my bottle of Burt's Bees skin creme Elvis and the Vermeer Lady had mailed me from Vancouver for Christmas (not available in Belgium) which for some inexplicable reason he a) had, and b) had in his fucking hand luggage. I was pissed. I still am.

Luckily for him, Europe was about to overshadow his inexplicability by losing my checked baggage. Not much more to say about that. If it doesn't arrive I'll be fucking pissed. Aside from all the stuff typically in luggage that one doesn't want to lose, there was some olive oil soap in it my family makes from their farm, and little things for the neice, and a couple of packets of Caffe Mauro, roasted in Reggio and, once more, not available in motherfucking Belgium. Not to mention another bottle of Burt's Bees moisturizer that my mum bought me last time I was in Canada. Fuck. Uberfuck. The F-word's luggage got through, but the jar of expensive and exquisite thyme honey we'd bought in Syracusa had got broken despite careful bubble wrapping. Fucking hurrah. Three cheers for European luggage handlers, the fucking trogladyte cunts.

So speaking of Canada, northern Europe is in the grip of a rather refreshing Canadian-esque cold snap, with reasonable quantities of snow on the ground and temperatures bottoming out around -7 C. Pleasant to me, utterly chaos-producing to these incompetents. Let's face a fundamental fucking fact here: Germany and Belgium are northern countries. The last couple of years have been warm, but the winters here traditionally involve cold, snow, and, you know, fucking winter. And then in the last three days, five fucking inches of the shit falls from the sky and has the temerity to remain on the ground, and suddenly it's fucking Armageddon here. Getting from Dusseldorf to Brussels last night had me in tears. Tears of fury rather than despair, yes, but tears nonetheless.

And then, to cap the whole motherfucker off, when we ground into town around 22h in no mood to cook, I bought us some falafel from my favourite kebab shop, and they've changed the fucking recipe or supplier or something, and now it tastes like deep-fried sand. Fuck. Titfuck. Fistfuck. Truckfuck. Et cetera. And as if all that wasn't enough, now I have to go to work, because I haven't been fired yet. Call this a fucking recession? Porca troia. And fuck.