Sunday, November 2, 2008
Next Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: squeaky toy, perpendicular, olives, shanty, howling at the moon, soul, bow and arrow, uniform, statistics, praying mantis
Mini Challenge: glamour, rocking chair, cormorant, objective, symbolism
Amanda Trillium leaned back in the heirloom rocking chair on the veranda as she leafed through a dog-eared issue of National Geographic. She was drawn to a glossy photo of a Carolina praying mantis clinging to a mulberry leaf in a gravity defying perpendicular position. Absentmindedly , she swizzled the olive in her cocktail. True, it was only noon, but she was desperately in need of some respite.
As the least senior member in the English department at Emerson U, Amanda was the obvious candidate to inherit the freshman class on American Romanticism. She had spent many tedious hours reviewing her students’ midterm essays on Melville’s symbolism .The papers were so bland and pedestrian. Not a fresh idea anywhere. Even Evan had disappointed by adopting a rather uninspired interpretation of the work as a contemporary political parable. Her head was swimming.
How could she be objective when she had developed such an aversion to the classic? A savage’s obsession with retribution against a majestic white whale. Although many scholars construed the work as an exploration of good and evil-- with a ship at sea being a metaphor for the soul -- Amanda had begun to look at the story quite differently. To her it had become an allegory of man’s domination of the natural world. Howling at the moon with his bow and arrow, he follows a misguided urge to conquer rather than to coexit/ merge. Amanda shook her head sadly. We have lost sight of our place in the world. It was because of this delusion that we are all hanging by a slender ecological thread, she mused ruefully.
Amanda could pinpoint the precise point in time that her views had taken a sharp left turn. Something transformative had happened during her retreat at the shanty in her ancestral village in the Scottish lowlands. Hiking along the shore at dusk, she watched a cormorant gracefully dive into the water. A moment later, it was spreading its wings in the last rays of waning sunlight. She approached the bird softly and it met her glance. In that moment, she had the uncanny sense that she was looking into the cormorant’s soul.
Melville, Hemingway, Richard.
Ahab and the whale, the old man and the sea, Amanda’s marriage. Even in their most intimate moments, Richard had regarded her as something to be possessed/colonized. She had always felt as though she was the slippery fish on the line to be reeled in. Shuddering with the memory, Amanda tossed the squeaky toy across the back yard for Spreckles to retrieve. She teased the briny olive off the tooth pick and took another sip of her cool drink.
Amanda abandoned herself to reverie. She recalled watching a late night interview with that voluptuous icon of glamour, Isabel Rossellini. It seems that she too had taken a sharp left turn along the way. In an outrageous green uniform, the former supermodel reenacted the mating ritual of the praying mantis. It is an absurdly violent scene. It turns out that the female devours the male during the act, while the decapitated male continues to copulate. So, in fact, Isabella loses her head (there’s a pun in there somewhere) while her green mantis abdomen continues to thrust. Statistically, there is a quantifiable increase in mounting duration among males who have been cannibalized, giving the species an evolutionary advantage.
Watch an episode of the green porno series here.
Still troubled about man’s tragic separation from his natural state and his inexorable drive to dominate, Amanda returned to the stack of papers.