Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Calypso? Penelope?

I have been flooded with images over the past few days, mostly back in the Odyssey. Most of this, dear reader, is memory (which, as Hillman points out, is part confabulation). Yet memory is the mother of the Muses; the access to creative arts and expession.

Oh, I digress. A lot.

Anyway. I was thinking about Penelope, the patient, crafty wife of Odysseus, the one who never gave up pining away for her husband, gone twenty years. She tells her suitors (who clearly view her as a prize, and a total package - Odysseus' kingdom as a bonus) that she will entertain their entreaties for her hand when she finishes her tapestry. Every day she weaves; every night she unravels. She is the penultimate "home" Odysseus longs for; the idea toward which he moves.

But, there are a lot of other women, nymphs, and goddesses in this tale. Odysseus is sunk under time and again, by wrathful Poseidon and the sea. He is tired from the long war, and the losses of friends and years away. In this tale, it is the feminine that pulls him through, anoints him, pleasures and heals him. He charms others, regaling them with tales of his adventures, but the women pull him to action, recognize his strength, as well as his cunning. They see his wound (his scar) and both compassion and passion arise.

And some want recognition. Calypso implores him to stay with her, forever, in a state of bliss, warmth, sex, and love. She wants him to stay, and see that her devotion is so great that she is deigning to care for him. She reminds him of how she pulled him from the sea, near-death, crew dead and gone. She hid him and healed him herself. And, by order of the gods (thank you Athena), she lets him go. Calypso stays behind in her lonely paradise, and Odysseus faces the sea, alone, with his strength, wits, and longing for home.

So I think of desire. Lately there has been a lot of talk about this coming up in me and my friends. Desire for stability or excitement; family or freedom; the past or the future. Desire is full of endless distances (or something like that -- robert hass), and I am beginning to see how desire moves us. Whether island to island, or to weave and unravel, we long for.

At the end of the day, you know, I'm just a girl from a Glen Campbell town! (you know, needing more than wanting, and wanting for all time...)

"Even his griefs are a joy long after to one that remembers all that he wrought and endured." -
Homer, The Odyssey

wink and a curtsy,
steph

4 comments:

KristiBean said...

This sounds like a beginning. I'd love to hear more. Not at all as convoluted as you made out, self-depricating friend 'o' mine.

Ron said...

Beautifully written, Steph. I found myself beginning to identify with Odysseus, right or wrong. All I can say for certain is that I definitely want to find my way back. Your words paint powerful pictures - looking forward to more.

thustra said...

thank you for that, hmmm mmmm

Motherwort said...

You know how I feel about the Odyssey, so you know I love this. Desire and fate, two things that speak to the Greek in me. It's all so twisted, woven and unraveled again and again...how much of our desire is our fate, how much of what we see as fate is really our desires, born from a wordless place so far in our beginnings we cannot really decipher it beyond "I want...."

Lovely.