October 03, 2008
Dream weaver, Penelope, the bailout and more
Along with links and comments about current events, Goat Rope is winding down a long series on the Odyssey of Homer. Much of the series has focused on the misadventures of Odysseus' homecoming and how these shed light both on ordinary life and particularly on veterans coming home from war.
One character who has not received her due here has been the faithful wife Penelope, who in her own was was as crafty as her husband. Incidentally, Margaret Atwood wrote The Penelopiad to tell the whole story from her point of view.
With Odysseus gone and presumed dead, her status was unclear. There was little or now place in that society for an independent woman of child-bearing years. Now that her son Telemachus is coming of age, she is under enormous pressure to remarry. Over 100 suitors are basically camped out at her home and are devouring the family's estate. They even plot the murder of Telemachus.
To gain time, she says she must complete her duties by weaving a burial shroud for Odysseus' father Laertes, which she secretly unravels at night until her secret is revealed by a treacherous maid.
In the epic cycle, she is seen as the ideal wife, in direct contrast to Clytemnestra, the wife of Agamemnon who murders her husband on his homecoming to revenge his sacrifice of her daughter Iphigenia (although there are many here among us who would say Agamemnon had it coming).
My favorite scene with Penelope in the Odyssey is her discussion of the nature of dreams. As you may have noticed, some dreams make sense and some don't. Here's her explanation:
"Ah my friend," seasoned Penelope dissented,
"dreams are hard to unravel, wayward, drifting things--
not all we glimpse in them will come to pass...
Two gates there are for our evanescent dreams,
one is made of ivory, the other made of horn.
Those that pass through the ivory cleanly carved
are will-o'-the-wisps, their message bears no fruit.
The dreams that pass through the gates of polished horn
are fraught with truth, for the dreamer who can see them..."
The problem is it's kind of hard to tell true dreams and false ones apart sometimes, whether we're awake or asleep.
WELFARE FOR WALL STREET UPDATE. The House is likely to vote today on the Wall Street bailout. Here's an action alert and analysis from the American Friends Service Committee.
SCAPEGOAT. Right wingers are trying to blame the Community Reinvestment Act (and minorities) for the Wall Street meltdown. That would be another dog that don't hunt.
URBAN PLOWBOY. Here's an interesting item on the future of urban farming.
SCORE ONE FOR SIGMUND. A new medical study finds that old school psychodynamic therapy works as well as other treatments for certain mental disorders.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: WHO KNOWS?