Category Archives: The Daily Communiqué

The Daily Communiqué – 22 April, 2019 – 50 Shades

“Being a successful, middle-aged, overweight woman, people are so angry that you’re stepping out of line,” she said. “Sometimes it really gets me down.”  (Alexandra Alter, New York Times, The Evolution of E. L. James, April 12, 2019)

I would amend E. L. James’ comment to “being a middle-aged, overweight woman, people are angry when [they think] you step out of line.”  Something else we agree on,  the women she describes are invisible.

That’s where our agreement ends because as much as I adore writers, and believe we get to write and read whatever we want, the woman who wrote fan fiction based on teenaged vampires is not someone whose work I would ever read.

People in the know tell me Fifty Shades of Grey really damaged the kink/fetish community because she wrote about it wrong.  And from what I hear it wasn’t about consent at all.  It was abusive.  And now I read her new book is more of the same.

Let’s be clear, I am against censorship, and I am in no way encouraging she not be published.  Nor am I encouraging people not read her.

What I am saying is women have a hard enough time being taken seriously anywhere, and fantasies written about men sweeping an unlikely candidate off her feet and abusing her in the name of love are not helping.

Glorifying non-consensual unbalanced power relationships just sets everyone up to believe that’s okay.  Fetish/kink is all about consent.  Nothing happens between people unless there is a clear understanding of what’s allowed and isn’t.  We should all be so lucky as to know what we’re in for.

“Bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, and sadism are ‘varsity-level’ sex activities, as the sex columnist Dan Savage might say, and they require a great deal of self-knowledge, communication skill, and education. Fifty Shades eroticizes sexual violence, but without any of the emotional maturity and communication required to make it safe.” (Emma Green, Consent Isn’t Enough: The Troubling Sex of Fifty Shades, The Atlantic, February 10, 2015)

I may have taken more than a little glee in

“It’s not just that [the book] is bad. It’s that it’s bad in ways that seem to cause the space-time continuum itself to wobble, slightly, as the words on the page rearrange themselves into kaleidoscopic fragments of repetition and product placement.”  (Sophie Gilbert, The Indelible Awfulness of E. L. James’s The Mister, The Atlantic, April 18, 2019)

I will end by saying good for E. L. James for following her passion and getting published.  That’s a dream most writers never see come true.  And good for her for making so much money, and being smart about it.

It’s disheartening that such obviously poorly written books about a sexually abusive relationship which is emotionally dangerous is so popular.  Women all over the world probably think this is the way romantic relationships are supposed to work, and will continue to pine for their multi-millionaire fantasy man to rescue them from a dreary, sexless reality.

Stand up for yourself!  Engage your own agency and find happiness within yourself.  If kink is your thing, find a community which will help you explore it in a physically and emotionally healthy way.  Get a vibrator for goodness’ sake.  No man is going to rescue you.

 

 

 

The Daily Communiqué – 21 April, 2019 – Recap Week 3

Lookee here!  Three weeks of posting daily.  Writing ahead and scheduling hasn’t been working out so I race home after work and write.  And for some reason, the scheduling feature on WordPress has stopped working.  Neither of the plugins I downloaded work either.  So no regularly scheduled posts at 1700 each day.  Daily posts when I get to a computer and can push the button.

On Monday, Notre Dame caught fire.

Tuesday, I went pink.

Exploring different ways of chasing the demons away, spurred by a story about a small town in Spain which throws turnips at a monster was the topic on Wednesday.

I discovered a new artist on Thursday.  Artemisia Gentileschi by name, and her work is feminist and takes on the patriarchy.  Not bad for a 16th century painter.

Friday was fantasize about travel day.

I closed the week by exploring hygiene as a seduction technique.

The Daily Communiqué – 20 April, 2019 – Viking Hygiene

Over on Twitter, there was a discussion about personal hygiene as a seduction tool.  Apparently, because the Viking invaders into what’s now England brushed their hair and cleaned their teeth every day, washed their clothes, and took a bath once a week, the women were leaving their husbands in droves.

“It must be recognized that the Christians of the time avoided bathing specifically because they considered too much cleanliness to be a sign of vanity, which was sin. Thus the infamous smelliness of the medieval period began.” (C. J. Arden, Were the Vikings Dirty? 03/20/2015)

To put this in context, the Viking age was ~793–1066 AD.  But what I got to wondering about was, when did we go from cleanliness as a vanity and a sin to cleanliness is next to Godliness?

My brief search led me to John Wesley who,  in a sermon in 1778, stated that cleanliness was indeed next to Godliness.  (There’s a lot of media and books available by and about him here at the Internet Archive, a cool place in itself.)

But even in 1778 personal hygiene was more difficult than we have today.  It’s a good reminder we should never expect our norms to fit history.  Things evolve and change.  I’m grateful every day for indoor plumbing and hot and cold running water.

 

 

The Daily Communiqué – 19 April, 2019 – Where Would You Go?

Let’s pretend for a few minutes that I actually have time and energy to write an application for Atlas Obscura’s First Journey.  $15,000US to go anywhere and do anything in the world.  Where would I go?

Mind you, this is off the top of my head, and is an incomplete list.  Of course, I’d visit all the book stores and libraries inbetween!  Where would you go?

Niagara Falls at night

Statue of Liberty – I’d have to train in order to walk all 377 steps to the crown

 

Borglum's GeorgeMount Rushmore at sunrise
I did Haleakala at sunrise and it was spectacular

Powell’s Book Store in Portland

Burning of Zozobra in Santa Fe

New Orleans for the music and the food

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Hockey Hall of Fame

Salem, MA

Seneca Falls, NY

Paris

The steps outside the Tower of London where Princess Elizabeth I sat in the rain before being imprisoned.

Stonehenge

Florence, Italy

The Berlin Wall

Rock hewn churches in Ethiopia

The Rock Hewn (Underground) Churches in Lalibela, Ehtiopia

The Daily Communiqué – 18 April, 2019 – Artemisia Gentileschi

Allegory of Rhetoric, Painting by Artemisia Gentileschi

In a silly mood recently, I thought there was a joke to be made about how in my more confident days, this was a picture of me taking dictation from my muse.  I mean, look at that gorgeous skin …

The painting was used by someone on Twitter and as is my inclination, I went off on a search.

The introduction of Artemisia Gentileschi began with this article which points out if one were to invest in art, one could do worse than investing in her paintings

“She has a position both as a feminist icon, who grappled with the not always beneficial attentions of the opposite sex, but also as an exponent of a robust style of figurative painting.”  (

“Wait!  Who is that?” I wondered and the search widened.
Artemisia Gentileschi was the daughter of Orazio, himself a painter of some repute.  She became known for paintings of strong women taking charge.  Her best known painting is probably Judith Slaying Holofernes (below), in response to her own rape by her mentor, Agostino Tassi.  Tassi was hired by Artemisia’s father because women weren’t allowed to attend the art academy.  (Tassi was eventually convicted of rape.)

Artemisia Gentileschi - Giuditta decapita Oloferne - Google Art ProjectWow.  As I read further, I learned about the Power of Women, an artistic trope depicting “an admonitory and often humorous inversion of the male-dominated sexual hierarchy.” (Wikipedia, op cit)

This is the truncated version of how I finally got to know Artemisia Gentileschi and her work.  There’s much to sort through and think about while placing her in the realm of feminist icon.

And, the name of the painting finally revealed itself at Robilant + Voena, in an exhibition of works inspired by La Artemisia.

The Daily Communiqué – 17 April, 2019 – The Turnip Man

The 2014 Jarramplas festivities. Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

By way of Atlas Obscura comes the story of Jarramplas, a monster who gets 30 tons of turnips thrown at him by townsfolk in celebration of … no one’s quite sure what. It’s a town tradition with no settled origin story.

As I read, it struck me as one of the many ways people chased demons away. Turnips in Spain, Zozobra in New Mexico, and sin-eating among them.

Although sin-eating may be borderline because it’s not really chasing the demons away.  It’s eating a ritual meal over the body by a designated person.   By eating this meal, the sin-eater absorbs the sins of the dead resulting in absolution of the deceased’s soul.

Zozobra on fire / Getty Images

Zozobra represents gloom and annually storms Santa Fe determined to spread it over the entire world, beginning with the children.   His eventual burning, brought about by fire spirit dancer, chases the gloom, and bad spirits, of the year away. Light returns, and the Fiestas de Santa Fe begins.

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

Further it brings to mind Shirley Jackson’s story The Lottery, about an annual ritual performed by townspeople who stone the loser of the lottery to death in order to ensure continued well being of the town and bring about a good harvest.

If only it were that easy.

The Daily Communiqué – 15 April, 2019 – Notre Dame

@dibujosdecristina

Instagram: @dibujosdecristina

It is too much.  Notre Dame burning seemed farcical, and that’s how a co-worker and I treated it, at first.

He heaved a huge sigh which I remarked on hearing over my headphones.  “I think it’s the end times,” he said.

“What?”

“No, I’m serious.  Notre Dame’s burning.  It might be the end times.”

Then I said maybe god was pissed at Benedict for the horrible things he said in his letter.

“But if he’s dead, how can he be pissed?”

I was confused.  “Benedict isn’t dead.”

Click.  Whir.

“Oh!  Nietzsche …”

Hearing the news coverage on the way home broke my heart.  A place I’ve never been, yet so iconic as to feel like I know it caught fire.  The flames seen from miles away.  Paris came to a standstill as citizens of the world stopped what they were doing, to bear witness to the awfulness.  People prayed, sang, knelt, and wept at the sight.

Meanwhile, the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem was also on fire.  But you wouldn’t know that.  Not even Al-Jazeera has much to say about it.

So much hardship to be borne in the world. It makes giving up look like a good idea.  Do Not.  We must be strong for each other, and ourselves.

The Daily Communiqué – 14 April, 2019 – Week 2 Recap

Monday’s announcement of the Hugo nominees led me to write about my experiences with WorldCon and meeting authors.

I’ve been listening to a lot of different music at work, thanks to the global record collection, and shared some of my discoveries on Tuesday.

In the same vein, on Wednesday there were works by artists I found intriguing.

Some reflective writing on writing on Thursday.

A tiny bit of fiction for Friday night.  The monster is real!

And rounding out the week, my reaction to former pope Benedict’s letter about sex abuse in the Catholic Church.

Currently reading:  Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James.  I don’t know what I think about it yet, other than it’s weird.

The Daily Communiqué – 13 April, 2019 – Benedict

I cannot let this pass.

The ex-pope known as Benedict released a screed blaming the sexual revolution of the 1960s for priests abusing children in the Catholic church.

Rachel Donadio’s article in The Atlantic is a fascinating look into the bizarre writings of a 92 year old pope emeritus, and how they’ve just muddied the handling of an already fraught situation.

“From afar, the Vatican is seen as an impenetrable and mysterious world, a place of ancient, sacred rituals and quiet religiosity. Inside, it turns out it’s a bureaucracy like any other. Sometimes the former boss weighs in, and what was once opaque becomes clearer, and even stranger.” (

Let’s be clear, abuse is not about an absence of God or the presence of naked bodies on billboards, it is about the agency of predators.  Millions of children have been traumatized because priests chose to sexually abuse them.

I know from experience how difficult it is to deal with the complex emotions of loving your predator, and the shock which comes with realizing what was done was abuse.  I was powerless, so were all those children, in the face of abuse perpetrated by a powerful person in our lives.

The Catholic church is powerful enough to do something about this, and has yet to fully address it. Not enough is being done to protect the congregants of the Church.

I cannot let this pass without comment.