Sunday, February 7, 2016

for the love of process

yesterday i cleaned house. this morning it still doesn't look clean. maddening! why can't i enjoy the process? that's how i live, by process. results do come: a poem, a play, a trip to india. i do it just to be doing it. and when i have nothing to do i go crazy. 

this isn't necessarily movement. in fact, if i get my mind spinning, that's best of all. for instance, a couple weeks ago i'd come to a standstill. photographing finally bored me and i'd been in mourning. how i liked the excuse to visit a parade, to climb a hill, to visit a brothel (not really, alas). you get my drift. and drifting not really my style.

a class in ancient greek art started. finally i had an excuse to do something. usually i sit in the back row and simply listen. this time the class so small we sat in a semi-circle. i realized i was going to have to find something to say. and the videos on youtube marvelous: the triumph of zeus, the fall of troy, sex-riots in pompeii. 

this kept me busy. i kept filling in gaps in my knowledge. how did athens evolve? i listened to fourteen hours of lectures. and i can't figure out how democracy came about. forty thousand male citizens, four hundred thousand slaves. fifteen hundred  a jury at a trial. no lawyers!! you defended either your accusation or your innocence.

if you were a good woman, you married young to an old guy, you maybe twelve and he thirty-five. a woman could be a prostitute, a courtesan, a slave, and lead a more exposed life. or your family married you off to secure their fortune. as you can imagine, a awful lot of young woman died in childbirth. 

one video on amazons very peculiar. it did prove they existed, after a fashion, to the north of greece in the groups of nomads where the girls rode horses from day one, and fighting from ten years old on. the graves prove it, swords and spears beside slain women, skulls crushed, bones bruised, arrows through the breast.

this news drifted slowly into athens. at first their amazonian costumes like the greeks and gradually assuming a scythian outline. and nomad slaves were common in athenian households. their stories would obviously passed to their charges. and this is what seems odd: the amazons were the second most prevalent motif on pottery, the feats of Herakles the first. 

did the home bound ladies and girls carry around these jugs full orfwater and wine, wishing they too were riding horses and fighting like the males? why did they want this reminder of the free while they had to stay out of sight, run the household, and bear children. wouldn't these images be salt in the wound?

as you can see, all this new information set my mind spinning. i could forget being depressed, looking at sin in pompeii very graphically depicted. strange, when i toured the town, the only evidence was a little door high in the wall which the guide unlocked to show us a pair in flagrante delicto. turns out all the sexy stuff in a secret room in the naples museum. 

retracing my steps to epidaurus, delphi, sparta, i catch up with my own life in a new way. my only dread: i'll lose interest after the initial burst of energy. and cleaning house simply doesn't suffice.