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05 February 2006 @ 05:29 pm
Medusa II  
I was frightened of what I would see in his face when I revealed myself. But I did it: tore off the mask. I was expecting to see a flash as he raised his shield, or horror frozen upon him. I expected repulsion, fear, hate. Instead, when I removed the mask, he looked at me steadily, accepting this new me, as if there was no surprise, as if what was beneath was no different, or that the mask has been transparent, or obvious. He looked at me, calm. He took my hand and together--my hand in his--we removed his own mask.

What was below his was better than the face I had been looking at. I realized that he felt the same about what he now saw in me. There may be flaws, but they made us both more real. There was no fantasy here. Now there's just two people, two hearts with nothing in between.

hollsterhambone was right. It was sexy.
bodhicea: bjorkbodhicea on February 6th, 2006 03:23 am (UTC)
I should have titled that last entry Narcissus, not Medusa, huh? There's certainly some level of combination of those two myths. Medusa in love with herself as Narcissus?

It's so much better to be loved as Medusa, though, let me tell you. Interaction with a human being (even another snaky-headed beast) is much more pleasant than interaction with a reflective surface.
BONEhollsterhambone on February 6th, 2006 08:49 pm (UTC)
I thought you might like this:

    Freud Medusa’s Head, 1922

    We have not often attempted to interpret individual mythological themes, but an interpretation suggests itself easily in the case of the horrifying decapitated head of the Medusa.

    To decapitate = to castrate. The terror of Medusa is thus a terror of castration that is linked to the sight of something. Numerous analyses have made us familiar with the occasion for this: it occurs when a boy, who has hitherto been unwilling to believe tht threat of castration, catches sight of the female genitals, probably those of an adult, surrounded by hair, and essentially those of his mother.

    The hair upon Medusa’s head is frequently represented in works of art in the form of snakes, and these once again are derived from the castration complex. It is a remarkable fact that, however frightening they may be in themselves, they nevertheless serve actually as a mitigation of horror, for they replace the penis, the absence of which is the cause of the horror. This is a confirmation of the technical rule according to which a multiplication of penis symbols signifies castration.

    The sight of Medusa’s head makes the spectator stiff with terror, turns him to stone. Observe that we have here once again the same origin from the castration complex and the same transformation of affect! For becoming stiff means an erection. Thus in the original situation it offers consolation to the spectator: he is still in possession of a penis, and the stiffening reassures him of the fact.

    This symbol of horror is work upon her dress by the virgin goddess Athena. And rightly so, for thus she becomes a woman who is unapproachable and repels all sexual desires—since she displays the terrifying genitals of the Mother. Since the Greeks were in the main strongly homosexual, it was inevitable that we should find among them a representation of woman as a being who frightens and repels because she is castrated.

    If Medusa’s head takes the place of a representation of the female genitals, or rather if it isolates their horrifying effect fro the pleasure-giving ones, it may be recalled that displaying the genitals is familiar in other connections as an apotropaic act. What arouses horror in oneself will produce the same effect upon the enemy against whom one is seeking to defend oneself. We read in Rabelais of how the Devil took to flight when the woman showed him her vulva.

    The erect male organ also has an apotropaic effect, but thanks to another mechanism. To display the penis (or any of its surrogates) is to say: “I am not afraid of you. I defy you. I have a penis.” Here, then, is another way of intimidating the Evil Spirit.

    In order to seriously substantiate this interpretation it would be necessary to investigate the origin of this isolated symbol of horror in Greek mythology as well as parallels to it in other mythologies.

bodhiceabodhicea on February 7th, 2006 02:33 am (UTC)
you exhibitionist
I think this is exactly the reason that yonica suggested I add you. Thanks.

I am not, generally, very fond of Freud, but this passage gives me a bit to think about (once I dismiss all of his penis obsession). Was the ripping off of my mask, revealing my snaky-headed-ness, an apotropaic act? When my audience didn't take flight, did that mean he wasn't the devil?

If my Medusa head does relate to female genitalia, by revealing it, was I becoming a Sheela-na-gig?
BONEhollsterhambone on February 7th, 2006 10:57 pm (UTC)
Re: you exhibitionist
I like your interpretation: "when my audience didn't take flight, did that mean he wasn't the devil?" What I often find problematic about Freud is that he tends to forget that there are more subjects in play than his writings avow, meaning he often forgets himself, the author. And when he is able to talk about himself he seems to explain his participation away too neatly (The Uncanny). And, of course, the penis thing that you mentioned.

I had to look up Sheela-na-gig...don't know anything about it. But when I did it reminded me of the venus of willendorf, those grotesquely pronounced woman-parts, on display, ready to devour? Vagina dentata? Maybe that you were able to reveal and he didn't run away speaks to his not imagining the Medusa you feared you possessed. In other words, accepting the "real thing," and not the image or the veil.
bodhicea: headsbodhicea on February 7th, 2006 11:32 pm (UTC)
Re: you exhibitionist
I have to admit that my own knowledge of the Sheela-na-gig stems not from scholarly study, but from PJ Harvey.
(The song is awesome, check it out if you haven't already).

But, still...

These images of women with prominent or enlarged genetalia, which they are often touching, sometimes pulling open while they bare there teeth are striking. No one definitely knows their purpose (like Freud cannot really lay claim to what the myth of Medusa really means, since he is unable to talk about the origins of the story). Sheela-na-gig are often generically referred to as fertility figures, but frequently referred to as objects with which to ward off evil: the apotropaic charm.

And now I'm thinking of the scene in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues where the cowgirls chase away a man (who happens to be in the business of feminine hygeine products), by pulling up their skirts and chasing him off with their unwashed genetalia at the fore chanting "the vagina is a self-cleaning organ!"
BONEhollsterhambone on February 8th, 2006 02:07 am (UTC)
Re: you exhibitionist
I find all this stuff so fascinating. Now I want to read up on Sheela-na-gig instead of writing my dissertation. No, NO! Must not delay any longer!