Wednesday, May 10, 2006

the inspiration for Lyssa Strada

The original inspiration for this blog began long before there were blogs-- with an event that to many might seem rather trivial these days: these post-9/11, but not yet post-Iraq, not yet post-Bush-administration days. A woman working in a bar in the Philadelphia area was humiliated by a professional football player who chose to expose himself to her while she was working. Not knowing that he was a pro-ball player, she, of course, did not understand the honor being bestowed upon her, even when his buddies said "Don't you know who he is?" Frankly, no; she did not. The story became quite a brouhaha in the press, with speculation about who did or did not deserve what, questions of suits and money, a non-apology apology, and more. In the end, she ended up losing her job, and he went on his merry way. That is, he continued playing pro-ball. However, there was one local sports writer-- a male!-- who took the lady's side. In other words, he made no excuses for the athlete's behavior, and did not consider that being a so-called SportsCelebrity entitled one to expect that such behavior was excusable.

I'm not sure his understanding helped the then-unemployed waitress much, but it made an impression on me, contributing to an image I would carry around for quite a while of competing choruses of men and women (more about them later), but updated and in modern dress (except that the men would be wearing plastic molds of brains as codpieces, hanging from the fronts of their khaki shorts, and singing "hanging brain, hanging brain, hanging brain" as if they were singing about "dropping trou"), and with this image came the beginning of an idea for something with Lysistrata as a jumping-off play, and the Philly environs as a starting place. Would it become a story or a novel or a play or what? The answer to that question changed constantly with the cast and landscape in my mind. I still had to imagine how the women in the tale would wreak their vengeance, righting not just the injustice suffered by one waitress, but correcting injustices for women all over the world. Would they be Furies? Or the Eumenides? All questions with answers in flux.

In the summer of 2001, several ideas began to gel, and some time later, after a week spent on Monhegan, I thought I could envision a book that would weave them all together, but, before I got very far with my idea that fall, I woke up one gorgeous morning in September, feeling a bit of spring finally returning to my limbs after a period of living with a chronic condition. Yet, even before I arrived at work, there were hints on the news on the car radio that something was amiss.

For some time afterwards, even wanting to write anything seemed so frivolous... and in a sense, it was. Ultimately, that day cost all of us so much more than we were aware of at the time. Conservatives like to pretend that only they lost anything of value on 9/11, or perhaps, that only they truly appreciate the losses of that September morning. Yet, the rest of us are-- finally-- all too aware that our losses in Iraq are fast approaching the numbers of our losses on 9/11. And, we mourn daily the increasing losses of all kinds that accrue like silt. In addition to the tragic loss of life and the destruction of a major city's skyline, that day ultimately meant we were to have not just one, but two terms of George W. Bush at the helm, clueless, oblivious, contentious, arrogant... that we would be responsible for the loss of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi lives, for unbelievable torture, for an almost complete loss of innocent belief in America as a force for good in the world. I could go on, and on, but I don't need to now, because now, enough people have experienced the shock and awe of thinking, with each new and horrible headline, that surely things cannot get any worse. Until they do get worse. And now enough of us wonder every day how much worse things can get. And can our Constitution hold on until 2009? But what does it really mean if, finally, enough people see how upside-down our world has become?

In Aristophanes' play, Lysistrata and the women she recruits are unhappy with both their third-class lot in the world and with the effects of the Peloponesian War on their lives. And now a personal, creative impulse that originally began as a wish to create a piece of art, and was informed by a belief in the proper-ness of a woman's autonomy, has evolved through a series of notions that did not become it-- including the wish for a simple feminist statement about women in the world-- and, finally, has been prodded into existence by a senseless war. Started by an insensible president.

There is a bit of hope, but we must harness women's Wrath, if we are to have any real effect. GWB willfully ignores the counsel of other men, but he has been known to be vulnerable to the influence of the women in his life.


Blogger Thursday Next said...

This world is too important to be left in the hands of ... nothing but cheap expletives come to mind at the moment.

We can make a change, but we need to work together to do it. Exercising the duty to vote, writing letters to our "duly" elected "leaders," and exercising our 1st amendment right as often as possible can make positive changes in our lifetime, paving the road for those in the next generation.

2:49 PM  

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