Sunday, April 10, 2005

Carole King, You'd Better Watch Your Step

So a few weeks ago I freaked Spencer out when I likened Emily Dickinson to Cassandra, the character from Greek mythology whom I once wrote about in a paper for Professor Waid entitled "Hexed, Vexed Prophetess." If you think about it, Dickinson and Cassandra are both repressed female artists figures. Both have a talent for creating words, but both are denied a real audience. Cassandra has her curse; anyone who hears her prophecies immediately doesn't believe her. Only after the events she predicts come to pass does anyone realize that she's right. (And, eventually, Clytemnestra murders her.) Emily Dickinson writes all these poems, but she hides them in hat boxes in crazy spinster style. It's only once she's dead that anyone reads them and then they say, "Hey! Some of these are pretty good." So, in that sense, I think they're just a little similar.

And then I did it again.

I decided today that Medusa is another symbol for the female artist. Think about it: she's a woman who can turn any living thing she looks at into a statue representation of that thing. It's especially appropriate when you think about how the statue was a popular art form to show the human body. We still look at carvings in museums today and marvel about how well the artists depicted the tiniest human details.

Anyway, Medusa also works in the sense of the female artist being demonized. Female artists are often maligned in classical thought because the Muses — the spirits of artistic inspiration — are female and the whole process of creation is likened to sexual metaphor. The beauty of the Muse inspires the artist to make something, almost like creation itself is sex and the child of that copulation is art. Anyhow, a female artists throws the whole thing out of whack, because women shouldn't be producing viable offspring with Muses. Medusa reflects this, too. She may be a powerful artist that could have conceivably turned real-life people into highly detailed stone reproductions of them, but she's also one of the most famous, most fearsome monsters in Greek mythology.

Anyway, just a thought about that. (And honestly, I have no proof that either of these notions are Drew originals. I could have very well read about them or learned them somewhere, but I still think they're kind on interesting.)

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