Archive for August 25th, 2011

by lizard

(posted a day early because tomorrow I’m heading up to Glacier)

Leonard Shlain’s The Alphabet Versus The Goddess is one of the most intriguing books I’ve ever read. His premise feels right. Below the fold you will find a long but worthwhile synopsis by the author.

But before we get to that, I’d like to prime the synopsis with another great poem by Sharon Olds. This one comes from her first book, Satan Says, published in 1981. The poem is perfect for this post, and I would suggest rereading it after finishing Shlain’s bold assertion.

*

THE LANGUAGE OF THE BRAG

I have wanted excellence in the knife-throw,
I have wanted to use my exceptionally strong and accurate arms
and my straight posture and quick electric muscles
to achieve something at the center of a crowd,
the blade piercing the bark deep,
the haft slowly and heavily vibrating like the cock.

I have wanted some epic use for my excellent body,
some heroism, some American achievement
beyond the ordinary for my extraordinary self,
magnetic and tensile, I have stood by the sandlot
and watched the boys play.

I have wanted courage, I have thought about fire
and the crossing of waterfalls, I have dragged around

my belly big with cowardice and safety,
my stool black with iron pills,
my huge breasts oozing mucus,
my legs swelling, my hands swelling,
my face swelling and darkening, my hair
falling out, my inner sex
stabbed again and again with terrible pain like a knife.
I have lain down.

I have lain down and sweated and shaken
and passed blood and feces and water and
slowly alone in the center of a circle I have
passed the new person out
and they have lifted the new person free of the act
and wiped the new person free of that
language of blood like praise all over the body.

I have done what you wanted to do, Walt Whitman,
Allen Ginsberg, I have done this thing,
I and the other women this exceptional
act with the exceptional heroic body,
this giving birth, this glistening verb,
and I am putting my proud American boast
right here with the others.

—Sharon Olds

Shlain has this to say
: Continue Reading »

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