Spolia

A monthly literary magazine, devoted to the strange and to the wise. Edited by Jessa Crispin.

Issue 9--Disappearance Issue
Ander Monson, Mia Gallagher, an essay on Vivian Maier, Olivia Cronk, and others

To purchase this issue, visit www.spoliamag.com

@spoliamag
Tumblr run by Jessa Crispin

There was Rome…

"There was Rome, and she would like to stay in a hotel by herself. There was just ‘abroad,’ she always wondered how long the feeling lasted. And there was America, but one would have to have introductions or one would get a crick in one’s neck from just always looking up at things. She would like to feel real in London. She had never come out through a pass and looked down on little distinct white cities with no smoke. She had never been in a tunnel for more than five minutes — she had heard there were tunnels in which you could nearly suffocate? She had never seen anything larger than she could imagine. She wanted, she said, to see backgrounds without bits taken out of them by Holy Families, small black trees running up and down white hills. She thought the little things would be important: trees with electric lights growing out of them, she had heard of; coloured syphons. She wanted to go wherever the war hadn’t. She wanted to go somewhere nonchalant where politics bored them, where bands played out of doors in the hot nights and nobody wished to sleep. She wanted to go into cathedrals unadmonished and look up unprepared into the watery deep strangeness. There must be perfect towns where shadows were strong like buildings, towns secret without coldness, unaware without indifference. She liked mountains, but she did not care for views. She did not want adventures, but she would like just once to be nearly killed. She wanted to see something that only she would remember. Could one really float a stone in a glacier stream? She liked unmarried sorts of places. She did not want to see the Taj Mahal or the Eiffel Tower (could one avoid it?) or go to Switzerland or Berlin or any of the colonies. She would like to know people and go to dinner parties on terraces, and she thought it would be a pity to miss love. Could one travel alone? She did not mind being noticed because she was female, she was not tired of being not noticed because she was a lady. She could not imagine ever not wanting someone to talk to about tea time."

Writing about spinsters, and Elizabeth Bowen’s paragraph in The Last September, as a young women tries to decide whether or not to marry her suitor, is helping. There is just so much good in these few lines. “(could one avoid it?)”

Many scholars see the story of Tiamat as a story of the fall of the matriarchy to the patriarchy. Tiamat used to be a goddess, but in the Babylonian stories of her murder, she became a horrible monster whose body is dismembered and strewn about.
Tiamat was originally the goddess of the primordial sea, the mother of chaos and the formlessness from which everything takes shape. She held a very high position in the pantheon. But then later, stories emerge about her being a monster, and the logical, rational hero Marduk conquers her. 
Her body is cut in half, one half becoming the sky, the other the land. Her tears become the rivers, her blood gives form to mankind. 
This is a pattern repeated through several cultures, the demotion of goddess to monster or whore, and her death becomes the way for a world to take shape. Women represent chaos and disaster, men represent order. 
"Marduk armed himself with a bow and arrows, a club, and lightning, and he went in search of Tiamat’s monstrous army. Rolling his thunder and storms in front him, he attacked, and Kingu’s battle plan soon disintegrated. Tiamat was left alone to fight Marduk, and she howled as they closed for battle. They struggled as Marduk caught her in his nets. When she opened her mouth to devour him, he filled it with the evil wind that served him. She could not close her mouth with his gale blasting in it, and he shot an arrow down her throat. It split her heart, and she was slain.”

Many scholars see the story of Tiamat as a story of the fall of the matriarchy to the patriarchy. Tiamat used to be a goddess, but in the Babylonian stories of her murder, she became a horrible monster whose body is dismembered and strewn about.

Tiamat was originally the goddess of the primordial sea, the mother of chaos and the formlessness from which everything takes shape. She held a very high position in the pantheon. But then later, stories emerge about her being a monster, and the logical, rational hero Marduk conquers her. 

Her body is cut in half, one half becoming the sky, the other the land. Her tears become the rivers, her blood gives form to mankind. 

This is a pattern repeated through several cultures, the demotion of goddess to monster or whore, and her death becomes the way for a world to take shape. Women represent chaos and disaster, men represent order. 

"Marduk armed himself with a bow and arrows, a club, and lightning, and he went in search of Tiamat’s monstrous army. Rolling his thunder and storms in front him, he attacked, and Kingu’s battle plan soon disintegrated. Tiamat was left alone to fight Marduk, and she howled as they closed for battle. They struggled as Marduk caught her in his nets. When she opened her mouth to devour him, he filled it with the evil wind that served him. She could not close her mouth with his gale blasting in it, and he shot an arrow down her throat. It split her heart, and she was slain.”

Before and behind us are rows and rows of scraggly old women, swishing their fan wings, trying to cool down from the heat that before long will be as unforgivable as a mortal sin. But all their fanning achieves is to irritate the flames of the candles on the altar, make the flames angry, make the heat worse, while the priest sings away to the statue of our lady holding the world in her outstretched palm.

The Apsara was a kind of female spirit, found in Hindu and Buddhist mythology. They were celestial beings, shapeshifters, who could move between dimensions and take any form they wished.

One of the most beautiful depictions of the apsara can be found in the Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia, but there they are often mis-labeled. The “dancing girls” are often described as whores, and the stories told about them are as nymphs who sexually serviced the King. But recent scholarship found older stories of fertility and artistic inspiration. (Jacobsen’s Lost Goddesses is an interesting book on this topic.)

Which does bring up an interesting question, about goddesses getting downgraded to prostitutes. It’s a common problem in fantasy, (male) writers using goddesses in the real world so often put them in the role of sex workers. (Neil Gaiman did this, what, twice?) 

Top image: apsara from India. Bottom image: from the Angkor-Wat temple in Cambodia

Let’s do another disappeared goddess, shall we?
Meretseger is the Egyptian serpent goddess of punishment and mercy. Her name means “She who loves silence.”
The Egyptians had no concept of sin, so that was not the basis of her punishment. It was chaos and disorder that displeased her, and that displeased Egyptian society. 
Meretseger ruled over the Valley of the Kings, and it was her poison that would fell you if you disturbed the tombs. (The curse that ruled over King Tut’s tomb was “Death Shall Come on Swift Wings to Him That Toucheth the Tomb of the Pharoah.” The discoverer of the tomb, Lord Carnarvon, died from a mosquito bite, falling ill only three weeks after his intrusion.)
Meretseger was a local diety, meaning that when her area de-populated and became less important, she ceased to be worshiped and slowly faded away.

Let’s do another disappeared goddess, shall we?

Meretseger is the Egyptian serpent goddess of punishment and mercy. Her name means “She who loves silence.”

The Egyptians had no concept of sin, so that was not the basis of her punishment. It was chaos and disorder that displeased her, and that displeased Egyptian society. 

Meretseger ruled over the Valley of the Kings, and it was her poison that would fell you if you disturbed the tombs. (The curse that ruled over King Tut’s tomb was “Death Shall Come on Swift Wings to Him That Toucheth the Tomb of the Pharoah.” The discoverer of the tomb, Lord Carnarvon, died from a mosquito bite, falling ill only three weeks after his intrusion.)

Meretseger was a local diety, meaning that when her area de-populated and became less important, she ceased to be worshiped and slowly faded away.

razorshapes:

Vivian Maier

"In 2007 Chicago 26-year-old real estate agent (and president of the Jefferson Park Historical Society) John Maloof walked into an auction house and placed a $380 bid on a box of 30,000 prints and negatives from an unknown photographer. Realizing the street photographs of 1950s/60s era Chicago and New York were of unusually high quality he purchased another lot of photographer’s work totaling some 100,000 photographic negatives, thousands of prints, 700 rolls of undeveloped color film, home movies, audio tape interviews, and original cameras.

Over time it became clear the photos belonged to a Chicago nanny named Vivian Maier who had photographed prolifically for nearly 40 years, but who never shared her work during her lifetime. Since the discovery Maier’s photographs have received international attention with collections touring in cities around the world as well as the publication of a book.”

Actually, it’s a lot more complicated than that.

(via true-antagonist)