Diary of an Obsession – A modern Minnesong by a perfectly imperfect brain

doo001.

 doo002  Let me sing you a song of a man so fair –
OK, he does have kind of darker hair.
Reddish, maybe?
A copper-street-dog-blond-brownish-wreck?
But sometimes definitely straight, long, sleek and black.
 doo003  Let me sing you a song of a man with a face
that’s the sweet, happy resting place
of so many pens that once lived in my pencil case.
Their tips broke at the sharp corners of the split cheeks’ crease.
They now surely rest in peace.
 doo004  Let me sing you a song of a man’s lips
right smack in the center of these split cheeks’ dips.
Disapproving flat line, bad boy’s smirk, curved like the Moon,
I could just bite –
oh no, that comes way too soon.
 doo005  Let me sing you a song of a man with hands,
five fingers a piece, long, and slender, and well, a man’s.
He can do magical stuff with these,
I am sure of it
like mmhh – pointing at things and holding on to a guitar bit.
 doo006  Let me sing you a song of a man’s body so fine
though *checks the watch* there isn’t really the time.
Yet, let me tell you, he got moves
*fans herself* I need air,
but oh my God, please, don’t you stare!
 doo007 Let me sing you a song of that man’s body again
since obviously I don’t have any restraint.
Bare of visible scars won in battle for Rome or us
for a peek he still gets my vote, my ticket money,
and maybe a tiny squee as a plus.
 doo008  Let me sing you a song of a man’s voice.
When he orders to kneel I do it, I have no choice.
Just listen.
Fancy antlers and mighty stick (the one in his hand) aside,
the velvety sound of a stiff upper lip and a good cuppa tea has all my circuits fried.
 doo009  Let me sing you a song of a man laughing
because he does it a lot
more often than not.
Did you know that lot & not rhyme on hot & also snot.
OK, that was disconcerting.
 doo010  Let me sing you a song of a man’s heart.
His kindness attracted me from the start.
A body can be a piece of art,
without a heart it comes down crushing,
and it is nothing.
 doo011  Let me sing you a song of a man’s head.
the inside that is; that’s understood without being said.
There is plenty of brain
and it is good for more
than just ruminating other people’s thoughts again & again for evermore.
 doo012  Let me sing you a song of a man of passion.
Though that surely isn’t of the latest fashion
he permitted himself to care what is rare,
to show what he burns for
no matter that vulnerability is a dare.
 doo013  Let me sing you a song of a gifted man,
he is like freaking Peter Pan.
Not that he played him, at least not that I know,
he just takes advantage that his inner child doesn’t grow.
I love to watch whoever he chooses to be from front row
(that’s a lie. It’s last row all the way to the right, always. But that didn’t rhyme.)
 doo014  Let me sing you a song of a man of the Bard.
It means he keeps First Folio and Sonnets in high regard.
What’s in a name? He knows it well.
Every word works like a spell
and not like my rhymes that are marred.
 doo015  Let me sing you a song of a man of excellent taste
who usually at all performances aced
until the one scene
in which he got star struck by Kermit the Frog when they faced.
Man, do I wish I was green.
 doo016  Let me sing you a song of a man of the puppets
because yes he has it with the Muppets.
He taught a Monster with a cookie
not to be pushy.
 doo017  Let me sing you a song of a romantic hero
but why does that only rhyme on zero?
Dreamy, quixotic, starry-eyed, prosaic,
it’s so old-fashioned it’s almost archaic –
pero quiero. (or again hero)
 doo018  Let me sing you a song of a man who inspires
I put lines down to still my desires.
My pens head out in order to discover
what lies underneath the facial cover
and all the masks he dons.
 doo019  It’s in the eyes:
intense, mysterious, sometimes menacing,
curled at the edges, sparkling, full of life, and –
readable?
 doo020  You see I don’t see on a regular base.
There is a reason I don’t like to look people into their face.
It’s confusing
all this moving
that takes place.
 doo021  It’s the different operational system that I run.
It’s not a better or worse, just a deviant one.
It’s very hospitable and kind,
invites even the most minuscule bit of information into my conscious mind.
I mean that is still better than none.
 doo022  It’s a bit chaotic in a noisy world though
I’m constantly running on the edge of immanent overflow.
That’s why I am inclined
to hide in that mind
that just can’t let go (not even at night).
 doo023  I guess a choice had to be made,
there had to happen a bit of a downgrade
before it all blew.
So, I was left with no inherited clue
what was said with hands and face’s aid.
 doo024  Or what’s implied when humans speak.
A loss that makes me on a regular basis freak.
It is far from me to question nature’s evolutionary decisions in me
but nope, no good; though it makes for more diversity.
And yes, that’s a good thing despite my critique.
 doo025  Ok, when you meet me you will hardly notice
not when I have the energy and willingness to focus.
I copy just enough of your animation to put you into your comfort zone
without appearing to be a weird clone.
At least I try. But it is tiring, like rhyming, to the bone.
 doo026  To avoid the expenditure
I blend in with the furniture.
Should you coax me into talking
expect no small talk in the making
facts and stories are my anchor.
 doo027  Back to faces though, and eyes.
Knowing that they should tell me something is where the problem lies
mainly because not all people have good intentions and are nice.
And I don’t want to hurt anyone either
But knowing it helped if I deciphered this features doesn’t make me wiser.
 doo028  I just get stuck analyzing
and re-analyzing what’s there to see
and how it matches with what I know of psychology
until I end up realizing
all I did was making it harder than it has to be.
 doo029  Then there are these eyes that I’m reading.
This is special – he
is my link to humanity.
*head on desk* this is a bad, cruel joke of nature
making it an unattainable creature.
 doo030  But he is there.
 doo031  His hair.
 doo032  His face.
 doo033  His lips.
 doo034  His hands.
 doo035  His body.
 doo036  His dance moves.
 doo037  His voice.
 doo038  His smile.
 doo039  His heart.
 doo040  His intelligence.
 doo041  His passion.
 doo042  His talent.
 doo043  His Shakespeare fondness.
 doo044  His hero worship.
 doo045  His teaching skills.
 doo046  His inspiration.
 doo047  His romance.
 doo048  His eyes.
 doo049  He is all that – an I can see it.

I think this is the place where I should apologize to Mr. Hiddleston, but then it is a true story. Nature likes these jokes.

What’s a true story as well is that I am on the spectrum and that’s what it means for me. But no, I don’t need to be cured from being me. What I need (and those like me on the spectrum) are friends like Sherlock’s friend Watson, aware of the differences in operational systems but willing to work to bridge the gaps because the profits from the synergy are high for both partners.

Welcome to my World (Erika Manuscript #3)

A book for a book. This is the third and final manuscript in the EL James inspired series. While each of the three manuscripts is a standalone with its own, unique look at fandom I also traced the transformation from words to movie with its importance on the picture in them. So it felt just right to base the last that is in its main part a retelling of the story in lines on an extraordinary medieval manuscript that is not a book, but a role – the Ripley Scroll.

But it wasn’t just its shape that made me choose it. The Ripley Scroll is an alchemical manuscript, its imagery referencing the Philosopher’s Stone – the high prize at the end of an alchemist’s labor. Of course, some actually believed that they could create it, create gold or the elixir of life or whatever they thought the Philosopher’s Stone was. In many ways however this transformation is a stand in for a way of life. The main assumption is that the gold you are seeking is already hidden in the mud you start with. It takes many steps, many decisions what to do next to get closer to the gold. Some decisions might lead to setbacks. But a true alchemist never lets the main goal out of sight and knows that there is a next decision and a next step. The transformation isn’t gradual but it is worth the hard work.

Every good story about a character is an alchemical one, a story about self discovery, about struggle and failure and not giving up, about being aware of the many decisions that might lead to the gold inside and to a piece of happiness. It’s Christian’s and Ana’s way too.

But it is also the story of every one of us. Every day, every minute we have choices on what to do, how to act, whether to hide in someone else’s story – to relax there, recharge, learn – or to be aware of the world around us and in us and become slowly, step by step, the gold we were born with that might be able to find the solutions to all the real problems around us – with books and in books (and movies) but in the reality of life.

Last but not least, this manuscript is done like a coloring book. Studies show that coloring increases creativity and decreases stress. With the next two movies far away in the future I thought this fandom dearly needs something to keep it calm during the wait.

Grey Book of Hours (Erika Manuscripts #1)
Raising the ordinary to the Extraordinary (Erika Manuscripts #2)

 

rip001

rip002

rip003

rip004

rip005

 

 rip006  rip007  rip008
 rip009  rip010  rip011
 rip012  rip013  rip014
 rip015  rip016  rip017
 rip018  rip019  rip020
 rip021  rip022  rip023
 rip024  rip025  rip026
 rip027  rip028  rip029
 rip030  rip031  rip032
 rip033  rip034  rip035
 rip036  rip037  rip038
 rip039  rip040  rip041
 rip042  rip043  rip044
 rip045  rip046  rip047
 rip048  rip049  rip050
 rip051  rip052  rip053
 rip054  rip055  rip056
 rip057  rip058  rip059
 rip060  rip061  rip062
 rip063  rip064  rip065
 rip066  rip067  rip068
 rip069  rip070  rip071
 rip072  rip073  rip074
 rip075  rip076  rip077
 rip078  rip079  rip080
 rip081  rip082  rip083
 rip084  rip085  rip086
 rip087  rip088  rip089
 rip090  rip091  rip092
 rip093  rip094  rip095
 rip096  rip097

Raising the Ordinary to the Extraordinary (Erika Manuscript #2)

When I finished the Grey Book of Hours and made it public I talked about it with some people and the phrase ‘a book for a book’ came up. It got me thinking. I decided that it would be nice to match book with book – three manuscripts, all with their own distinct character, to illustrate the transition from the word to the moving pictures. All of them held together by the fandom at which I will look from three different angels.After I established in the first manuscript the idea that a fandom is very much alike a religion with the creators in its center, in the second I decided to focus on how a word of those in that center has, because of their position, the power to raise the ordinary into the extraordinary. A mention of one of those ‘worshipped’ can wash money into a charity’s coffers, it can shed light on things that might go forgotten or would be overlooked, it shapes tastes and opinions, it can even make or break a project or a career.However, this power of the word has also peculiar results like thousands of shares of/ unconnected comments on the greatest negligibility just because it was uttered by someone in that center position. Take Erika’s photos on Instagram and Twitter. Not that they are negligibility, but they are nothing special per se as far as photos go. What makes them special is that they despite their normality gather thousands of likes and the most diverse and unrelated array of comments in all kind of languages.

What’s that you’re reading?”
“It’s about cryptography.”
“Like secret messages?”
“Not secret. That’s the brilliant part. Messages that anyone can see but no one knows what they mean unless you have the key.”
“How is that different from talking?”
“Talking?”
“When people talk to each other they never say what they mean, they say something else. And you are expected to just know what they mean. Only I never do. How is that different?”
“Alan, I have a funny feeling you’ll be very good at this.” [Alan and Christopher in The Imitation Game]

It’s the blossoms of the bizarre I chose to illustrate. They made me think of a 15th century manuscript – the Voynich. Carbon dating suggests that it was created around the same time as Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights – the number of this painting is the entrance code to the underground garage of Escala – and it is at least as hard if not harder to decipher. In fact, it is written in a so far unbreakable code and many of the illustrations contain plants that do not exist. And yet, 200+ pages of vellum and the colors would have cost a fortune no one would have simply wasted, especially not as the notion of l’art pour l’art, of just doing something because you can and want like I do with these manuscripts, only developed centuries later. So, just like with the comments and likes that seem unconnected, it has to mean something if we just find the right key.

Thus I combined illustrations and writing from the Voynich with 98 of Erika’s photos featuring the most diverse collection of glasses and bottles and cups and some plates in just as many pen and color pencil drawings. The result is strangely, nonsensically beautiful and interesting and weird and crazy – it really raises the ordinary into the extraordinary. It’s like a long and ongoing party where the best things are consumed and creativity flows freely. It’s like fandom with a lot of wine, funny ladies and their plumbing.

The idea will only be complete once I found a way to auction the manuscript (hopefully then signed by Erika) off for charity because it then covers all aspects of the ‘power of the word’ thought. It will happen. For now, without going into more of my ideas behind this, let me raise the ordinary to the extraordinary for your pleasure. A big thank you goes out to Rachel, Sara, and Jennifer, who in our little DM group kept me motivated by cheering even the smallest daily progress. You guys rock.

 

voy001voy002voy003

voy004

voy005

voy006

voy007

 voy008  voy009  voy010
 voy011  voy012  voy013
 voy014  voy015  voy016
 voy017  voy018  voy019
 voy020  voy021  voy022
 voy023  voy024  voy025
 voy026  voy027  voy028
 voy029  voy030  voy031
 voy032  voy033  voy034
 voy035  voy036  voy037
 voy038  voy039  voy040
 voy041  voy042  voy043
 voy044  voy045  voy046
 voy047  voy048  voy049
 voy050  voy051  voy052
 voy053  voy054  voy055
 voy056  voy057  voy058
 voy059  voy060  voy061
 voy062  voy063  voy064
 voy065  voy066  voy067
 voy068  voy069  voy070
 voy071  voy072  voy073
 voy074  voy075  voy076
 voy077  voy078  voy079
 voy080  voy081  voy082
 voy083  voy084  voy085
 voy086  voy087  voy088
 voy089  voy090  voy091
 voy092  voy093  voy094
 voy095  voy096  voy097
 voy098

Sweet Sixteen – the Madonnas, Feminism, and Fifty Shades of Grey

FullSizeRender (12)

‘I never really looked at them before: all figurative, all religious – Madonna with child, all 16 of them. How odd.’ [Fifty Shades Darker, Chapter 8]

Odd doesn’t even start to describe it. We will start with the number: 16. It seems rather random. Random could mean just that; that it was pulled from a stake of numbers like in the lottery. More often than not however random but specific facts are carefully chosen. The question is why?

So, 16? When we think of mystical numbers we think of 7 or 40 or 666, not 16. Yet, if we are in the realm of the unexplained already, let’s try numerology. St. Augustine of Hippo said a long time ago, a very long time ago: Numbers are the universal language offered by the deity to humans as confirmation of the truth. And in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe we can read that the answer to life the universe and everything is 42. In plain, dry words numerology is any belief in divine, mystical or any other special relationship between a number and some coinciding events. It means that believers believe that numbers have some meaning attached to them. For 16 you can find:

‘The key words of the karmic sixteen are: restlessness and problems related to personal relationships. The ultimate goal of the karmic number sixteen is to provide the possibility to reawakening the soul, so that it can rediscover its evolutionary path. It therefore involves unexpected and drastic changes. […] Sixteen represents the opportunity to overcome impediments in relation to the past life; perhaps being born in an unusual and not very fortunate environment or, perhaps, simply conflictive family conditioning. The person characterized by the number 16 will almost certainly have to face conflicts in personal relationships or connected with marriage in adult life, i.e. betrayal, deceit or debasement.’

Impediments in relation to the past: check.

Born in an unusual and not very fortunate environment: check.

Conflicts in personal relationships in adult life: check, check and check.

In fact make that 16 checks since Christian had 15 previous submissives. Ana was meant to be his sweet 16. And then she left. The doors of the lift shut. She is gone. Christian sits on the floor and can’t figure out what has happened, what went wrong. He looks up and there they are, his 16 Madonnas.

‘I gaze up at the paintings, my Madonnas. They bring a mirthless smile to my lips, the idealization of motherhood. All of them gazing at their infants or staring inauspiciously down at me.’ [MotU, Edward PV Outtake I]

The Madonnas are another of these randomly seeming, but very specific facts given to us in the books. They are the only figurative paintings in Christian’s apartment, and they greet you as soon as you enter his castle in the clouds. As he says himself we generally think of them as an idealization of motherhood. As such they can be easily dismissed as symbol of the oedipal conflict we all have to go through in our psychological development in our teenage years. We learn from Dr. Flynn’s later statements that Christian surpassed this part of his development and now needs to play catch up. He still needs to separate sexual desire and love when it comes to his birth mother and thus has problems to keep her out of his intimate relationships leading to chaos in his feeling. And as we all know, Christian doesn’t do chaos.

That’s all nice and good. But what about the ‘inauspicious stare’? What do we really SEE when we look at an image of a Madonna, this not just image of an ideal mother, but really ideal of a woman?

We see a mostly seated, sometimes kneeling figure. The figure is covered, usually to an extent that the typical outlines of a (female) body are totally blurred and merge with the background. Last, but not least the person whether she wears a crown, a halo or some version of a headscarf is never looking directly at the viewer, but has demurely lowered her eyes.

Not just numbers have a meaning, or random facts in books. Paintings have a language of their own which you can decipher if you want.

A seated or kneeling figure is an inactive one, and one that made herself/was made smaller/lowered herself. She might wear a crown, but don’t let that deceive your perception. A seated king would always be drawn on a pedestal with the signets of his power tightly grabbed in his hands. This queen is chained to her chair, waiting to be told what to do just as she was expected to do as told when the holy spirit impregnated her with the baby she holds in her hands.

‘As I strap her into the seat her breath hitches. The sound goes straight to my groin. I cinch the straps extra tight, trying to ignore my body’s reaction to her.
“This should keep you in your place,” I mutter. “I must say I do like this harness on you. Don’t touch anything.” […] She scowls at me and I know it’s because she can’t move.’ [MotU EPOV Outtake I]

If you cover something you are trying to hide it. Yes, Christo and Jeanne-Claude wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin in 1995 because they wanted to create a new curiosity for what is behind the wrapping based on the idea that you don’t really see anymore what is constantly in front of you. (That’s a thought to chew on for our social media age where we are bombarded with the same images of the same people 24/7.) But covering the female figure has nothing to do with recreating curiosity. On the contrary, blurring the outlines of the female figure, merging them with the background is meant to make the figure as a person forgettable and make her not arouse any interest.

‘”That dress is very short,” he adds.
“You like it?” I give him a quick twirl. It’s one of Caroline Acton’s purchases. A soft turquoise sundress, probably more suitable for the beach, but it’s such a lovely day on so many levels. He frowns and my face falls.
“You look fantastic in it, Ana. I just don’t want anyone else to see you like that.”’

The demurely lowered eyes go right along with a seated position and a covered silhouette. They too are a restraining measure as they don’t allow you to take in your environment. You can’t observe what interests you in open curiosity, but you are left in a weak, defenseless position unaware of what is to come. You are kept a virgin – innocent, but also inexperienced, naïve, ignorant, unaware, and helpless.

‘”You look very relaxed in these photographs, Anastasia. I don’t see you like that very often.” […] “I want you that relaxed with me,” he whispers. All trace of humor has gone.
Deep inside me that joy stirs again. But how can this be? We have issues.
“You have to stop intimidating me if you want that,” I snap.
“You have to learn to communicate and tell me how you feel,” he snaps back, eyes blazing.
I take a deep breath. “Christian, you wanted me as a submissive. That’s where the problem lies. It’s in the definition of a submissive – you emailed it once to me.” I pause, trying to recall the wording. “I think the synonyms were, and I quote, ‘compliant, pliant, amenable, passive, tractable, resigned, patient, docile, tame, subdued.’ I wasn’t supposed to look at you. Not talk to you unless you gave me permission to do so. What do you expect?” I hiss at him.
His frown deepens as I continue.
“It’s very confusing being with you. You don’t want me to defy you, but then you like my ‘smart mouth.’ You want obedience, except when you don’t, so you can punish me. I just don’t know which way is up when I am with you.”’ [Fifty Shades Darker, Chapter 2]

Yes, a Madonna, the painting of a perfect, desirable woman, is the picture of a submissive. Continuing this thought, it is what had been expected of a woman for centuries, and is still expected by many though they might disguise it as ‘behavior belonging to the social contract we who live in a society of plenty have entered in’ or as ‘behavior demanded by religion’ etc. It is that picture down to the part where the image is an oxymoron – a virgin mother – and really unachievable. In that light a woman will always be a sinner and therefore punishable for just being that, a woman.

Have I mentioned already that all Madonnas are brunettes? Yes, like Christian’s mother who was a crack whore with a pimp using her, beating and abusing her into submission. Like the women Christian likes to beat. Like Ana, who was meant to become Christian’s 16th Madonna. Christian – who’s name means ‘follower of Christ’, the baby son in and from the lap of all those Madonnas.

But Ana said no and walked out on him. She wasn’t ready to sit or kneel, to lower her eyes or herself.

‘”I don’t want a set of rules.”
“None at all?” Shit – she might touch me. Fuck. How can I legislate against that? And suppose she does something stupid that puts herself at risk?’ [MotU EPOV Outtake I]

This reflects a lot of the male fear in regard to a shift in a female’s position in society: What if they hurt me? How can I still prove my masculinity if I can’t be their hero? But back to the moment in that Ana left and refused to become the 16th Madonna, one of those now looking down at Christian inauspiciously. What other female models are there he can draw from to paint another picture of a desirable woman?

There is Elana, the dominant. She made the transformation from trophy wife – the Madonna of another man – to a successful business woman. In a market that stagnates at best she was able to found and grow a business that sells luxury – not an easy feat to accomplish for anyone. It is business in an area that shapes the image in all our heads of what a modern, at least outwardly successful woman has to look like. She says of herself:

‘”I was the best thing that ever happened to you,” she hisses arrogantly at him. “Look at you now. One of the richest, most successful entrepreneurs in the United States – controlled, driven – you need nothing. You are master of your own universe.” […] “You loved it, Christian, don’t try and kid yourself. You were on the road to self-destruction, and I saved you from that, saved you from life behind bars. Believe me, baby, that’s where you would have ended up. I taught you everything you know, everything you need.”
Christian blanches, staring at her in horror. When he speaks, his voice is low and incredulous.
“You taught me how to fuck, Elena. But it’s empty, like you. No wonder Linc left.” […] “You never once held me,” Christian whispers. “You never once said you loved me.”
She narrows her eyes. “Love is for fools, Christian.”’ [Fifty Shades Darker, Chapter 22]

Elena for me represents in many ways old school, fundamental feminism of the kind that thinks itself superior because of the second X chromosome. She wants to be the better man up to the point where she uses and abuses men and denies the existence and power of feelings. She divides the world in worthy opponents and pawns in her game. And any woman not willing to see the world like her will never be worthy because there is no other way than hers.

‘”You can’t go. Ana, I love you!”
“I love you, too, Christian, it’s just –“
“No … no!” he says in desperation and puts both hands on his head.
“Christian …”
“No,” he breathes, his eyes wide with panic, and suddenly he drops t his knees in front of me, head bowed, his hands spread out on his thighs. He takes a deep breath and doesn’t move.
What? “Christian! What are you doing?”’ [Fifty Shades Darker, Chapter 13]

Yes, sticking to what he knows Christian offers Ana this way. But for Ana this is just wrong and disturbing. She said she wants no rules, no roles to fill, no presaged paths to walk. And she meant it for both of them. She doesn’t want Elena or her ways, no standard feminism which tries to tell her how a woman has to be either. No man or woman is to tell her how she has to behave or who she has to be.

‘”Don’t you dare to tell me what I’m getting myself into!” I shout at her. “When will you learn? It’s none of your goddamned business!” [Fifty Shades Darker, Chapter 22]

But it is finally not Ana who throws Elena out.

‘”Get out of my house.” Grace’s implacable, furious voice startles us.’ [Fifty Shades Darker, Chapter 22]

Grace “Call me by my right name – Mom” is for Christian the angle that rescued him. He is eternally thankful, so thankful that he calls his catamaran after her. And that throws Ana off for a moment because on the outside his relationship with her is reserved and more on the coolish side. But the reason for that too is confusion. The term ‘mother’ is attached to the Madonna for him, his birth mother. The image of female force is taken by Elena. He cannot connect successful and yet warm Grace with either. She doesn’t fit. She is a category of her own. But since he sees her as a rescuing angle she is also something otherworldly, in her love maybe even slightly dangerous. And as Grace shows in this situation she can be an awesome, forbidden creature.

Just like his Ana, who accepts no conventions; who is only a Madonna when she chooses to; who is the dominant when she must; who doesn’t know what is the right path, but ploughs forwards on her path; who is proud and more secure of who she is not least because of him and his support and can freely admit it.

That is Fifty Shades for me – a story about a young woman’s way in today’s world to finding her definition of what it means to be a woman, of what feminism is today. There is sex, yes. Being female is first and foremost a gender and implies needs that ask to be sated. There was silence about that for too long. No need or desire is wrong. Christian, when Ana and he enter this new chapter in their relationship, stresses again and again how important it is for Ana to articulate her wishes, discuss sex and become comfortable with it. She stresses in return how he needs to open up about his thoughts and feelings and accept her love. They try a way of partnership and communication. It is more, more than there has been.

Is it mommy porn? Yes, because the idea of being cherished while free, of being who and how we want to be, of being not superior or inferior but truly equal while staying unique in all ways with a man who knows to value that is very arousing despite all the work it is.

Look at me. – I am.

Erika, did you know … fans tweet

 IMG_2321 IMG_2322
 IMG_2323
 IMG_2324

 

 It was back in fall last year when a friend asked me if I would want to do something for EL James upon the occasion of the movie premiere. I was reluctant at first. It wasn’t because I didn’t like the books. I am a fan and I have been a fan for a long time already. Two insecure, imperfect, inexperienced people find somewhere the courage to dare the struggle for love together while shredding their masks they even wore to hide from themselves. What’s not to love? The language you say? It might not flow from your lips like Shakespeare but I am with E. E. Cummings who wrote:

Since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you…

It was me. I didn’t know what I could offer that would be interesting and unique enough to bother. I am not your average fan art artist. Beautiful faces don’t have the capability to hold my attention for long (except one but that’s not the story here). I bow my head at the altar of amazing creativity and extraordinary ideas, and I expect the same in my offerings I leave behind. There wasn’t anything –

or maybe there was. There was this idea that had been lingering in my head for quite some time:

Watching fandoms like the 50 Shades of Grey one, being part of them in celebration of incredible creative work and the great minds behind them, sharing precious moments with like-minded people who might even turn into friends because a shared love can bridge the gaps our ever present, usually first noticed differences create, I came to the conclusion that fandoms and religions show many parallels, and not just in their devotional aspects. Especially tweets often read like prayers expressing gratitude, love or asking for something while marking the hours, days, and special occasions life provides.

That again would make the creators, people like EL James, something like Henry VIII – sans the ulcerous leg that turned him into a grumpy, eccentric old man too fond of young women and beheadings. They shape a new ‘religion’. They do so not out of nothing, but deeply rooted in the millennia-old tradition of storytelling.

Speaking of Henry VIII, in medieval times the most common type of books, of illuminated manuscripts were Horae or Books of Hours. They were prayer books developed for laymen who wanted to incorporate elements of monasticism into their daily lives like reciting the hours. Thus the name. Personalized copies were a common thing in the great families. Even without personalization would these manuscripts all be unique since they were as their appellation points out hand crafted. Yet they typically contained the church calendar, excerpts of gospels, psalms, and special prayers.

Keeping all that in mind I went ahead, kept the general structure of a Book of Hours and substituted the prayers with tweets by the 50 Shades of Grey fandom to create the personalized Horae of the Grey family. I didn’t just find matching illustrations from original manuscripts and added, where possible, figures from movie scenes; but to highlight 50 Shades’ place in the tradition of storytelling I added fitting quotes from other books throughout history from the Odyssey and the Divine Comedy to contemporary YA.

The result is funny, sometimes provocative or ironic, but always full of love for EL James’ creation and the work of all involved in making the movies. It would have been a great gift.

Would have been because currently the book is MIA. I put it in the mail, as a registered item and everything, in December to give it enough time to make the trip to said friend. It didn’t help. It’s gone missing somewhere between Berlin and Chicago. The worst thing is that despite properly filed search requests with the Deutsche Post AG and many phone calls everywhere no one seems to actually been looking.

In my devastation about it, about over a month of living for just that one thing lost, I did the one thing I could do. I created something that kept me connected with the Grey Horae – a triptych fashioned after the typical altar pieces of old with a touch that reminds of old manuscripts as well. The three panels are connected and can be folded shut thanks to a crocheted embroidery that is very much a pun on the dismissive term “mommy porn”. Whenever I see it I imagine the witches of the Garlickhythe gathering giggling and doing needle work while discussing THAT book, above all Marjorie Cooper of course. The needlework magically sneaked its way through centuries and realities into the art.

After all this talk the point why I said all this – I decided to give at least the scans of the Horae, what is left of it right now, and images of the triptych back to the internet. Not an eye for an eye but a gift for a gift.

(If you find yourself in the artwork why not leave a not?)

 

Book of Hours - If you can't beat them, join them.

Book of Hours – If you can’t beat them, join them.

boh002small

List of content: Prayers through the Day Prayers through the Week Prayers for Special Occasions

boh003small

Prayers through the Day

I know a place where no one is lost, I know a place where no one cries, crying at all is not allowed, not in my castle in the clouds.

I know a place where no one is lost, I know a place where no one cries, crying at all is not allowed, not in my castle in the clouds.

Fortunately the Milk!

Fortunately the Milk!

boh006small

I have always held, too, that pistol practice should be distinctly an open-air pastime...

I have always held, too, that pistol practice should be distinctly an open-air pastime…

And I thought about how many people have loved those songs and how many people got through a lot of bad times because of those songs...

And I thought about how many people have loved those songs and how many people got through a lot of bad times because of those songs…

boh009small

There is more than one kind of family.

There is more than one kind of family.

 

Daemons are creative, artistic creatures...

Daemons are creative, artistic creatures…

 

boh012s

 

For in dreams we are entering a world that is entirely our own...

For in dreams we are entering a world that is entirely our own…

boh014s

Oh happy dagger! This is thu sheath.There rust and let me die.

Oh happy dagger! This is thu sheath.There rust and let me die.

boh016s

 

 

Prayers through the Week

Prayers through the Week

Look at the Moon.

Look at the Moon.

 boh019s

Make Tyr pride heroically!

Make Tyr pride heroically!

Why so Mercurial?

Why so Mercurial?

Beware Thor's thunder in the skies.

Beware Thor’s thunder in the skies.

All you need is love.

All you need is love.

Liberate your mind!

Liberate your mind!

 boh025s

Shine on!

Shine on!

Prayers for Special Occasions

Prayers for Special Occasions

Erika, did you know that your baby boy wil one day walk on screen? Erika, did you know that your baby boy will turn some envy green? Did you know that your baby boy has come to bring millions joy? This brain child of yours is here now to enjoy.

Erika, did you know that your baby boy wil one day walk on screen? Erika, did you know that your baby boy will turn some envy green? Did you know that your baby boy has come to bring millions joy? This brain child of yours is here now to enjoy.

She also called me brave...unless she was talking to the catfish.

She also called me brave…unless she was talking to the catfish.

 boh030s

A towel, the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have...

A towel, the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have…

You want weapons? We are in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world!

You want weapons? We are in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world!

Come, gentlemen, I hope we shall drink down all unkindness.

Come, gentlemen, I hope we shall drink down all unkindness.

No. It is said that the Nephilim are the children of men and angels. All this angelic heritage has given to us is a longer distance to fall.

No. It is said that the Nephilim are the children of men and angels. All this angelic heritage has given to us is a longer distance to fall.

"Take some more tea," the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly...

“Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly…

If all else perished and he remained...

If all else perished and he remained…

"Who are you?" "No one of consequence." ...

“Who are you?” “No one of consequence.” …

Quand le hibou chante, la nuit est silence.

Quand le hibou chante, la nuit est silence.

So I'll be bold as well as strong, and use my head alongside my heart.

So I’ll be bold as well as strong, and use my head alongside my heart.

 boh040s

Sometimes the storm winds blow so strong a man has no choice but to furl his sails.

Sometimes the storm winds blow so strong a man has no choice but to furl his sails.

"What's your name?" he asked above the roar of the music...

“What’s your name?” he asked above the roar of the music…

Heroes are important. Heroes tell us who we want to be...

Heroes are important. Heroes tell us who we want to be…

"Test?" Hades lovely mouth twisted bitterly around the word as if he could read Helen's thoughts...

“Test?” Hades lovely mouth twisted bitterly around the word as if he could read Helen’s thoughts…

It's very hard to grow up in a perfect family if you are not perfect.

It’s very hard to grow up in a perfect family if you are not perfect.

There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends...

There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends…

Remember tonight ... for it is the beginning of forever.

Remember tonight … for it is the beginning of forever.

Since feeling is first...

Since feeling is first…

People say that life is a thing, but I prefer reading.

People say that life is a thing, but I prefer reading.

"It'll be alright, my fine fellow," said the otter...

“It’ll be alright, my fine fellow,” said the otter…

Do you wish me a good morning; or mean that it is a good morning...

Do you wish me a good morning; or mean that it is a good morning…

"Tell me, as a pagan who do you worship?"...

“Tell me, as a pagan who do you worship?”…

What a strange thing! to be alive under cherry blossoms.

What a strange thing! to be alive under cherry blossoms.

And, dying, he declined to die.

And, dying, he declined to die.

In the end, this shall be for me sufficient, ...

In the end, this shall be for me sufficient, …

VII The desire of Man being infinite, the possession is infinite and himself infinite.

VII The desire of Man being infinite, the possession is infinite and himself infinite.

No violence,, gentlemen, no violence. I beg of you!  Consider the furniture.

No violence,, gentlemen, no violence. I beg of you! Consider the furniture.

For she had eyes and chose me.

For she had eyes and chose me.

Modern life is such an unholy mix of voyeurism and exhibitionism...

Modern life is such an unholy mix of voyeurism and exhibitionism…

Death is peaceful, life is harder.

Death is peaceful, life is harder.

Sun is bad for you, Everything  our parents said was good is bad. Sun, milk, red meat ... college.

Sun is bad for you, Everything our parents said was good is bad. Sun, milk, red meat … college.

I said it before and meant it. Alive or undead, the love of my life was badass.

I said it before and meant it. Alive or undead, the love of my life was badass.

 boh063s

He who falls in love with himself will have no rivals.

He who falls in love with himself will have no rivals.

 boh065s

She dots on poetry, Sir. She adores it...

She dots on poetry, Sir. She adores it…

"Common, let's see the degree." Kathrine unrolled her scroll...

“Common, let’s see the degree.” Kathrine unrolled her scroll…

The dim, dusty room with the busts staring down from the tall bookcases...

The dim, dusty room with the busts staring down from the tall bookcases…

 boh069s

It is the wine that leads me on, the wild wine...

It is the wine that leads me on, the wild wine…

As for the piano, the faster her fingers flew over it...

As for the piano, the faster her fingers flew over it…

Our nada, who art in nada, nade be thy name...

Our nada, who art in nada, nade be thy name…

Some days you are the pigeon, some days you are the statue. Live with it.

Some days you are the pigeon, some days you are the statue. Live with it.

 boh074s

Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather great amount of gratitude.

Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather great amount of gratitude.

"I will only add, God bless you."

“I will only add, God bless you.”

A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.

A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.

It was a pleasure to burn...

It was a pleasure to burn…

Through me you pass into the city of woe...

Through me you pass into the city of woe…

When you're supported by millions all over the world, you can either go nuts or feed of the goodwill.

When you’re supported by millions all over the world, you can either go nuts or feed of the goodwill.

It's not catastrophes, murders, deaths, diseases that age and kill us.; it's the way people look and laugh, and run up the steps of omnibuses.

It’s not catastrophes, murders, deaths, diseases that age and kill us.; it’s the way people look and laugh, and run up the steps of omnibuses.

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning...

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning…

A mother is the truest friend we have...

A mother is the truest friend we have…

A lot of what inspires many musicians is celebrating the differences, and people relate to that - more people feel like the unpopular, freaky one than the one in the incrowd.

A lot of what inspires many musicians is celebrating the differences, and people relate to that – more people feel like the unpopular, freaky one than the one in the incrowd.

"Who's been sleeping in my bed?"...

“Who’s been sleeping in my bed?”…

The snow began to fall again, drifting against the windows...

The snow began to fall again, drifting against the windows…

 boh087s

Donde termina el acro iris, en tu alma or en el horizonte?

Donde termina el acro iris, en tu alma or en el horizonte?

Promise me you'll always remember: You are breaver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

Promise me you’ll always remember: You are breaver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

Heaven knows, we need never be ashamed of our tears...

Heaven knows, we need never be ashamed of our tears…

I don't want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of loosing it again.

I don’t want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of loosing it again.

Fare thee well, and if forever, then forever fare thee well.

Fare thee well, and if forever, then forever fare thee well.

Boldness be my friend! Arm me, audacity, from head to foot! (Banksy for the Wimp: Shakespeare Edition, Nov 17)

masks

In the tragedy I am looking for today quite a number of characters pick up mask and pretend to be someone else. It isn’t an unusual plot element in Shakespeare’s work. In fact there are quite a number of plays in which especially young women disguise as men for various reasons. But the number of characters changing identities to survive, because they don’t know differently or to be dealt out a fate they think they deserve is especially high in this play.

Masks weren’t just a thing back in Shakespeare’s time. I love the Marvel and DC comic worlds. Ever since Teresa made me watch Arrow for another art project I am an avid viewer. The very first thing we hear about the main character is:

“My name is Oliver Queen. For five years I was stranded on an island with only one goal – survive. Now I will fulfill my father’s dying wish – to use the list of names he left me and bring down those who are poisoning my city. To do this, I must become someone else. I must become something else.”

Oliver Queen – he dons on a mask (ok, at that point of time he paints on a mask) and pulls a hood deep into his face because he feels that he can’t be himself and be good enough to accomplish his goals. The person he is appears to him not to be adequate, to be lacking. He creates a persona that covers all his insecurities, that can embrace his dark parts, and that seems to be inhumanly strong. But this persona is also isolated, hunted even, and without character – 2 dimensional and exchangeable (though that trick kept Oliver Queen from prison early on).

We all have Oliver Queen in us. We pick up masks because we think who we are is not sufficient or not adequate or not wanted or anyone else would be better. We are even advised to fake it till we make it. The mask is our attempt to dip into the river Styx and rise from it invincible, a hero.

But just as Achilles had a heel, a mask will never cover it all. It’s part of the package of being born human. Our greatest strengths are our greatest weaknesses: our unique personality and our (com)passion that is born from who we are. It’s what makes us different, thus vulnerable. But it also allows us to find likeminded people, connect, create, and come up with unique solutions.

A mask does not only take away our distinctiveness and polarization. Achilles wasn’t a pleasant character overall, but his belief in his invincibility though he knew he would die and die soon since he chose glory over a long life, made him careless and that’s what made it possible for Paris to kill him with a simple arrow to his heel. The same way a mask makes us careless. We become aloof. We dismiss others to the point where we hurt their feelings. We make bad choices that hunt us. We stop to care. Like Achilles we become personified grief, in others and for our death inside.

That we don’t need to be someone else or perfect to be even a superhero proves another character that made it from the comic pages to the big screen. Tony Stark never denied that he is Iron Man. And Oliver Queen seems slowly to make peace with the person he is as well. Three seasons in and he has found at least a group of people already for whom his mask isn’t necessary anymore:

“My name is Oliver Queen, after five years in hell, I have come home with only one goal – to save my city. Now others have joined my crusade. To them, I’m Oliver Queen. To the rest of Starling City, I’m someone else. I am something else.”

Back to Shakespeare and today’s play. It ends with all characters taking down their masks and admitting to who they always have been. And as far as tragedies go this is a happy ending. That’s maybe why some scholars call it a romance, one of Shakespeare’s late romances. Which play am I looking for today? If you know it send an email to banksyforthewimp@gmail.com. For rules and more check here.

O brawling love, O loving hate, O any thing of nothing first create! (Banksy for the Wimp: Shakespeare Edition, Nov 14)

Love

In the play I am looking for today in Banksy for the Wimp: Shakespeare Edition we meet the archetypal lovers, rather star crossed in their case.

Love – some refer to it as an international language that overrides any barriers. And yet, the cultural differences in the way we conceptualize love make it impossible to come up with a universal definition. Even the heart, which I use as well in my emoji code as a stand in for the concept, doesn’t mean the same to all of us. That’s a main problem with a language that uses symbols in need of interpretation. An ‘L’ is an ‘L’ while a heart – well, even in my code it appears again as stand in for the concept of life that includes being alive as well as survive etc. There it is accompanied by a visual image of heartbeat.

On the other hand, that’s also the advantage of an unusual code like the emoji code I devised. It makes it possible to illustrate a connection that goes beyond the visual. It is more than a thought-terminating cliché that love keeps us alive – as a single person and as a species.

Love has a biological basis, in our brains not hearts though, that involves three neural circuitries including neurotransmitter. They enable us to care for and identify with another person to the point of unconditional selflessness that we show in our actions from momentary lust to long-term attraction and commitment. Thus love is a major facilitator for interpersonal relationships which lead to offsprings and the care for them as well as to sharing of resources, feelings of safety and security, and mutual defense.

Yet, while love means giving it is at the same time very egoistic. Since we have a sense of self we all jonse to be recognized as an individual and to be cherished for who we are. Love in friendship and family, but even more so in a committed relationship is what gives us this sense of recognition. Our being turns from something dissolving into nothingness through time into a blip on someone’s radar into an existing universe.

Unfortunately, our real interpersonal relationships become rarer instead of more. Families and long standing communities break apart. Caring becomes a weakness because it makes us vulnerable. The part of love desired is the part that gives us recognition. To achieve that we overshare, the more exclusive, the more explosive, the more unnatural the more attention, the better. We become so confused we end up not finding each other anymore. And it hurts.

The play I am looking for today isn’t just about star crossed lovers. In Shakespeare’s version of the tale their death out of love reconciles their feuding families. From Dante (canto VI, Purgatory) we know however that the Montague’s were a family from Verona, the Capulet’s a Cremonese family. They were political rivals who played out their feud all over Lombardy until their continued warfare led to both families’ destruction. The difference between reality and fiction, between death and life was love.

It’s not that hard now anymore to tell me the name of the play, is it? Do so in an email to banksyforthewimp@gmail.com for a chance to win an original paper version of a storyboard of your choice from this series.

When the hurly-burly’s done, when the battle’s lost and won (Banksy for the Wimp: Shakespeare Edition, Nov 11)

yggdrasil

In theaters around the world some believe that today’s play in Banksy for the Wimp: Shakespeare Edition is cursed. They refuse to mention its name and simply call it The Scottish Play.

Proud Scotland that just showed us in their referendum that democracy can work even when it comes to such an emotionally heated topic as independence.

In a world where decisions tend to be based on a global scale shrinking it back to the home turf seems antiquated. But even global decisions start as a thought in a single human brain. No matter what masterpiece of evolution a human brain is, the bulk of its development happened when we lived in small tribes that were knit tightly as humans’ main tool for survival. It’s because of that that the highest number of social connections our brain is capable of handling at once is 150. As much as we want to perhaps, we will never care for more than that because having a connection to someone is the basis for caring.

Ever growing entities that demand our attention and loyalties overstrain and frighten us. We try to adjust, widen our perspective, start long lists with electronic blips we are asked to call friends, but the longer the lists grow the lonelier and more insecure we get. We turn into Linus without his security blanket. We dig for roots in hope to find connection and identity again.

That the world stretches wider in a way than our mind can handle makes us vulnerable. Our desires have always been engine and fuel to search for solutions. Those who aim for power know how to use this. The play I am looking for today dramatizes the corrosive psychological and political effects produced when evil is chosen as a way to fulfil the ambition for power.

But really we don’t need to look into fiction to find examples for that. 96 years ago today ended one of the most horrific wars of humankind with the armistice that was later on turned into a very fragile peace with the Treaty of Versailles. I am thankful for all those who threw and throw their weight and life against the devilish combination of malicious, manipulative, megalomaniac, rootless, and ambitious. At the same time my hope is that the Scottish referendum, the peaceful beginning of a debate on how to achieve both: roots and freedom – individual recognition and integration in a world wide network, will not remain a lorn example of an attempt not to turn more people into veterans.

I thank you for your voices, – thank you, – your most sweet voices. (Banksy for the Wimp: Shakespeare Edition Nov 9)

Potsdamer Platz blackboard

I saw the play I am looking for on this 9th of November in Banksy for the Wimp: Shakespeare Edition performed this year in an incredible production of the Donmar Warehouse directed by the artistic director of the house Josie Rourke. I sat, thanks to the magic of NTLive, in a movie theater here:

photo (51)

It once looked like this:

Potsdamer Platz 20s

Fires burnt and windows shattered here too on November 9, 1938:

Kristallnacht

And then it looked like this:

Potsdamer_Platz_1945

They turned it into this:

Potsdamer Platz1

Until 25 years ago today this happened:

Potsdamer Platz 2

The play I am looking for today couldn’t be better suited for this place since while it takes us back of the times of Ancient Rome it deals with democracy, misuse of the system, and the power of manipulation of the masses. On the one hand we have a successful general who only reluctantly runs for consul. He despises the plebeians and their expectation to have a say in the governing of Rome and really only does it for his mother – yeah, why else? On the other side stand two tribunes those role it was to protect the interests of the plebeians against the actions of the senate and the annual magistrate. They are professional politicians interested in their own position of power at least as much as in the needs and wishes of the people they represent. And they know exactly how to use them.

But the most important player in the arena isn’t named nor has it a single face. It is a ‘many-headed multitude’ – the people who’s vote the Roman general needs but who he despises for their lack of service to the state and the people who’s mouth and champion the tribunes are meant to be. In the Donmar production their voice was painted on a wall like it happened on the western side of the Berlin Wall or like it happens every day by street artist everywhere. And while democracy is the system that by definition means that this voice is what proposes, develops and establishes the laws by which their society is ruled, it is this voice that rules all societies because in the end no society works without people.

Like with everything there are problems attached to this voice starting with the question who is part of this voice and how does one deal with the fact that it will never be a homogenous choir. As snobbish and elitist as the Roman general might appear the question of service to the society vs. demands at it is a legit one. The voice might be dimmed or muted by threats (until it roars that is). But the biggest danger to the voice is posed by the voice itself – it is its proneness to manipulation. A leader of whatever kind that knows the voice behind him/her, knows how to play it, train it, tame it etc. is the most powerful one there is, while a leader who loses the voice will not be leader for long anymore.

In the play, while the general’s own words brought about his fall, it was because the tribunes incited the plebeians to start another riot that the general spoke the words in rage. In real life we should never forget that Hitler was democratically voted into office and used the laws an elected parliament had made to create the Third Reich. People believed into the regime or it wouldn’t have worked, just as people believed into the regime that built the Wall.

Until they didn’t. Until they took to the streets and tore the Wall down.

The same place. The same people. The same voice used to so different ends. What made the difference? In these days you hear a lot of people claiming that it was them from David Hasselhoff to an armada of politician. But I think it was the interest of the many-headed multitude for something beyond the self and daily life paired with knowledge and education. We were bombarded with propaganda – from the east just as from the west. Whether it was ‘Proletarians of all countries unite!’ or ‘Democracy is the power of the people through the people for the people.’ the part that seemed to have stuck was when you unite your voice will be heard and will move Walls. Our voice, our most sweet voice is the difference of changing things or being used.

Back to the play I’m looking for today. Do you know now what character Tom Hiddleston portrait at the Donmar Warhouse? Send an email until Nov 9, 2014 midnight EST to banksyforthewimp@gmail.com for a chance to win. Check here for rules and more about the contest/art project.

Thy Husband is … (Hint to Banksy for the Wimp: Shakespeare Edition – Play of Nov 5)

Kimmy

The play I am looking for today in Banksy for the Wimp: Shakespeare Edition raises more than one eyebrow because of its apparent misogynistic elements. There is a man psychologically tormenting and torturing a pigheaded and obdurate woman, who is an unwilling participant in their relationship, until she turns into an obedient wife happy with her place under his thumb. Or maybe it is all irony, or part of a farce. Whatever school of thought you follow one thing is for sure, one major theme of the play is the role and place of a woman.

Shakespeare lived most of his life in the England of Elizabeth I. The queen’s unmarried status was a popular topic of the time, though she thought of herself as married to her kingdom. She said on this subject:  “I keep the good will of all my husbands — my good people — for if they did not rest assured of some special love towards them, they would not readily yield me such good obedience.” Under her reign women lived a freedom unknown to women in other European cultures of that time; maybe because it was a brief period of largely internal peace and economic health that allowed to turn the focus a bit away from men, armies, conflicts and war. There were more well-educated upper-class women than anywhere else on the continent and the marriage age at least outside nobility was relatively high. Despite all that it was a patriarchic society in which woman stayed weak because they didn’t owe a thing and always had to yield to the wimps of a male protector. That even becomes clear in Elizabeth’s statement because she saw only the men – her husbands – as the good people that mattered and whom she had to tend to. So, Shakespeare could have been both: a conservative who felt endangered by headstrong, educated women demanding more freedom or a progressive who understood that without regard to gender education leads to freedom, leads to the most normal thing of them all – equality.

Yes, equality is the most normal thing of them all. It is scientifically proven that the difference in our chromosomes, whether we are xx or xy, has no impact on that what governs us – our brain. Of course, the difference has some importance beyond the pure definition of our gender. Men – the carriers of xy chromosomes – lack a leg on one of their chromosomes, hence a certain amount of information is not available. While an x chromosome carries about 1500 genes, most of them busy with anything but the shaping of female anatomical traits, a y chromosome carries only 78 genes involved in essential cell-housekeeping activities and sperm production (9 do that while 1 is responsible for the male anatomical traits). As a result baby girls born before their time have a greater chance to survive than their male counterparts. The prevalence to be born with genetic diseases on the other hand is bigger for baby boys. And the average man has a lower life expectancy than the average woman. As one of my teachers always said: nature had no use for old men.

The reason why I just took this excursion into the realm of biology should be obvious – while our gender is determined by our chromosomes, nothing we can learn from them screams females are weak or inferior. They don’t actually say either that females are superior. Quite a couple of genetic diseases are encoded on the x chromosome. It is only because women have two x chromosomes that both bring their information to the mix that prevalence of these diseases is higher in males who can’t patch up defects on one chromosome with information from the other. The differences in the hierarchy that were once perceived as the norm are rooted in culture and not nature.

These differences in the hierarchy were written into laws – by men – like laws preventing women to possess things, to sign contracts, to partake in higher education or to vote. It was these rules that made and make women dependent. And it was the implementation of these rules over centuries that anchored these ideas as facts into our brains.

The letting go is a slow process. It’s not just because whoever once gained power of any kind has a hard time of letting go. It’s also because the same rules forced men into a corset that by far doesn’t fit all. And it is because there are obvious differences between the genders most significantly but not limited to everything connected to reproduction. This leads to the big question what equal really means beyond women’s suffrage and equality in front of the law concerning everything marriage and parenting to property and contracts.

In my opinion equal means that regardless of gender what one wants to be and how one wants to live must be up to choice solely based on personal preferences and abilities. There must not be any judgment whether one wishes to serve in the army or serve a family. So, the line ‘Thy husband is…’ could be concluded: maybe existent, sometimes above me, sometimes below me, always covering my back, and possibly even a wife.