Tuesday, April 28, 2009

a little bird

To me, New York was Jackson Pollock sipping vodka and dripping paint onto a raw canvas. 
-Edie Sedgwick

“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace.”
-John Lennon

Monday, April 27, 2009

the She-King

The second to the most recent issue of National Geographic featured a spread on Hatshepsut. The She-king of Egypt,1479 B.C. I saw the cover a few weeks ago when I was at Barnes & Noble and remembered Hatshepsut immediately from my high-school studies, and was flooded with all the prior interest I had in her. I studied her years ago, and reading about the new discoveries archaeologists had made in the past two years (finding her supposed mummy and all…) was like being re-acquainted with an old friend. An old friend who was mummified and kept her organs in jars.

I am so enamored with history, specifically great female leaders, and attribute a significant part of personality/character/ideals to the detailed study of particular ones all through my youth and now into my adult years. I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge of all different cultures, histories, genres, and peoples. Hatshepsut is one of my many objects of absorption.

It was great for me personally because this article coincided with the completion of my reading of H. Rider Haggard’s classic, “She (who-must-be-obeyed)” the week before I saw the magazine feature. The Haggard tale involves three courageous men and their journey into the African jungle in search of, what they at first think to be fabled, white queen of Kor, and her legions of followers. Of course, the immortal tyrant ends up being real, and true to form, must-be-obeyed. She is over two thousand years old, remains crazy-in-love with a man even past his death, conjures the supernatural to do her bidding, and bathes in fire. In short, she is a badass. And you love to hate her.

The connection I am trying to make between her and Hatshepsut is that of marvelously strong women. The unbelievable stories of feminine power, specifically in years past when women were objects to be possessed, traded, and sold, are inspiring and very relevant to today’s women as well. The lengths certain women went to, the horrible pain suffered, the brutality and power they wielded, are all facets of what these women (real or not) did to get where they wanted to/were destined to.

And we could use a little education in the feminine mystique department these days—when Lauren Conrad and Kim Kardashian are recognized models for female stature, and love can be cheapened and won on a rock tour bus—we must act quickly. ☺ The learned mind is an attribute quickly fading.

Let’s learn a little about this “King Herself”:

(I find this utterly fascinating. Feel free to ignore me as I geek out.)

• Hatshepsut married her half-brother to keep the bloodlines “pure”
• When her father and two brothers died she acted as King-regent for her newly crowned, much younger, stepbrother before eventually (it took her two years) pushing him off the throne.
• She ushered in a 21 yr. “golden age” unprecedented by any ruler before her (male or female)
• Under her rule women had more rights than anywhere else in the ancient world
• She took on classically male traditions in dress to command more respect from the people. This was rooted in her training from her father’s scribe and posing as a man, at a very early age.
• She wore a beard and dressed in male clothes. All inscriptions of her that she commissioned, she looked distinctly male. This gained her more respect and helped her be taken much more seriously.
• She left behind more monuments and works of art than any Egyptian queen to come
• Used the superstitious inclination of the time to keep control over the people
• She built the temple Der el Bahri as a gift to herself and represented her divinity which she claimed was directly given to her by the god Amon-Ra
• There were no wars during her rule
• She sent expeditions to Punt (modern day Somalia) for ivory, gold, animals, and spices
• She was said to be a master politician and stateswoman
• She built 2 of the largest obelisks to date (only one remains standing, courtesy of Tuthmose III and his temper tantrum; see below)
• She groomed her daughter Neferura in the same fashion she was raised, as a prince instead of princess
• Her other daughter, Merira-Hatshepsut may have been legendary mother to Amenhotep
• Tuthmose III grew up and got jealous of her power, was bitter towards her for what she essentially stole from him, and dethroned her, destroyed all her monuments, carvings, buildings, and even her epic burial temple in the Valley of the Kings.
• Even though Tuthmose tried to remove every trace of Hatshepsut (it is rumored he actually murdered her and Neferura) from the earth, her wide spread notoriety and unprecedented rule out-lived his anger.

“Hatshepsut ruled with an iron fist and achieved much, including expanding territory, broadening trade, building and restoring temples, and holding stable order in Egypt. Although there were many men who reigned before and many after, Hatshepsut proved to be an equal among them then, fake beard or not.” –richeast.com

read the National Geographic article: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/04/hatshepsut/brown-text

we must do more

Since 1996, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has played host to the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II. More than 5.4 million people have died from the ravaging effects of war and its aftermath. Today, eastern Congo is caught in an epidemic of appalling sexual violence, as militias use rape as a military tactic to destroy communities and exert control over natural resources. The conflict has been marked by cycles of escalation, and the international response has been wholly inadequate.

Congolese women and girls in particular bear the vicious brunt of this crisis. Indeed, eastern Congo right now is the most dangerous place in the world to be a woman or a girl. Used as a weapon of war, sexual violence and rape exist on a scale seen nowhere else in the world. Often successful in its intent to destroy and exterminate, rape is causing the destruction of women, their families, and their communities. Congo’s women are the backbone of Congolese society and are the country’s best, brightest hope. Yet efforts to protect women and girls in the Congo are failing spectacularly. Rape ruins the women physically (let alone mentally and emotionally), pro-creates a race of “dishonored” children of rape, and demoralizes the men/husbands/fathers (who are forced to watch) in a traumatizing and terrible way.

Enough is enough.

Congo is not hopeless.

There are solutions.

Together, we can stop the violence.
Where there is hope there can be peace. We must tell our leaders that we cannot allow such crimes against humanity to continue, not on our watch. For over a century, the Congo has been plagued by regional conflict and a deadly scramble for its vast natural resources. In fact, the greed for Congo’s wealth has been a principal driver of atrocities and conflict throughout Congo’s tortured history. In eastern Congo today, resources are financing multiple armed groups, many of whom use rape as a deliberate tactic to drive the local population away from mines and other areas that they wish to control. The armed groups that are perpetuating the violence generate an estimated $144 million each year by trading in four main minerals, the 3 Ts and gold:
* Tin – used inside your cell phone and all electronic products as a solder on circuit boards. 53% of tin worldwide is used as a solder, the vast majority of which goes into electronics. Armed groups earn approximately $85 million per year from trading in tin.
* Tantalum (often called “coltan”) – used to store electricity in capacitors in iPods, digital cameras, and cell phones. 65-80% of the world’s tantalum is used in electronic products. Armed groups earn an estimated $8 million per year from trading in tantalum.

* Tungsten – used to make your cell phone or Blackberry vibrate. Tungsten is a growing source of income for armed groups in Congo, with armed groups currently earning approximately $2 million annually.

* Gold – used mainly in jewelry, gold is also a component in electronics. Extremely valuable and easy to smuggle, armed groups are earning between $44-88 million per year from gold.

The first step to building a movement is to raise awareness about the crisis in Congo. No matter how much we know or how much we care, we will only succeed if we speak out and demand action from our leaders. The campaign offers a menu of actions that activists can take to raise their voices and call for an end to the conflict and sexual violence in eastern Congo. Despite the horrific scale of the violence, and the grave consequences of the conflict in Congo, we rarely see it on television, we seldom hear about it on the radio, and we hardly ever read about it in the newspapers. The campaign works with activists to raise the profile of the Congo conflict in the media and demand that the media shine a light on this invisible yet catastrophic crisis.

To learn more about Enough and what you can do to help, go to www.enoughproject.org.

I am, I am, I am

So... I have this desire to write.

Like, constantly. It never goes away. I am always thinking of words and phrases and quotes and lines.....but the actual execution never comes as fluidly. Sometimes it will all rush out in a great wave of feeling and accuracy, but other times I stammer and stall and wait for the inspiration to fall out of me-- and it never does. How can you have so much inside of you, so very much it hurts, and NEVER be able to get it out. Not completely. I need to write a "Villette". I need an opus. I need to have the patience to organize myself and take the time and take the energy and write more than a sonnet (even if my sonnets are great). :)

"To write is nothing, you just sit at the paper and bleed."

an undeserving poem

If the moon smiled, she would resemble you.

You leave the same impression

Of something beautiful, but annihilating.

Both of you are great light borrowers.

Her O-mouth grieves at the world;

yours is unaffected,

And your first gift is making stone out of everything.

I wake to a mausoleum; you are here,

Ticking your fingers on the marble table, looking for cigarettes,

Spiteful as a woman, but not so nervous,

And dying to say something unanswerable.

The moon, too, abuses her subjects,

But in the daytime she is ridiculous.

Your dissatisfactions, on the other hand,

Arrive through the mail slot with loving regularity,

White and blank, expansive as carbon monoxide.

No day is safe from news of you,

Walking about in Africa maybe, but thinking of me.

-Sylvia Plath