Thursday, January 28, 2016

THE RAPES of MEDUSA


"The Rapes of Medusa" by Troy's Work Table Publishing. Nighttime carport chalking for Thursday 28 January 2016.

Sidewalk chalk, charcoal, chalk pastels, glitter sidewalk chalk.

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Triptych, from left to right: "Poseidon," "Perseus," and "Athena (Gorgoneion)."

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Medusa is treated poorly by the gods and their kin. Her story spans centuries, so there are versions and variations. In some stories she is vain; in others she is mere victim. In some stories she is willing sexual partner; in others she is raped. In all, she is transformed from beautiful woman to horrid monster, later attacked and decapitated by Perseus, and then her head taken as trophy to adorn the aegis of either Athena or Zeus.

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"Poseidon."

The first rape is an assault upon her person and her sexuality. Poseidon desires her and rapes her in the Temple of Athena. Does Athena punish Poseidon for his crime? No, but she does punish Medusa for defiling her temple, whether willing participant or not. And, her two sisters may or may not be made monstrous along with her, dependent upon the storyteller.

At the heart of the story, though, are the Olympian gods enacting violence upon the offspring of an earlier set of deities that precede both Titans and Olympians.

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"Perseus."

The second rape is the physical attack of Perseus upon the person of Medusa. With help of the gods, all of whom are essentially his aunts and uncles (due to his father being Zeus), he decapitates Medusa and steals her head as her two sisters pursue him.

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"Athena (Gorgoneion)."

The third rape is the use of Medusa's head as a trophy that adorns the aegis (shield? armor?) of Athena. So not only does Athena enact violence upon Medusa by making her monstrous, but she also guides Perseus and he pursues the Gorgon, and then Athena later gloats once Medusa's life is taken. The parading of Medusa's head is just as egregious as the rape and murder (and, for me, perhaps even more so).

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View the individual triptych panels of "The Rapes of Medusa" HERE.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

HAPPY 9TH BIRTHDAY, 99 BOTTLES


Happy ninth birthday to my favorite beer store/bottle shop, and one of my favorite family-owned businesses, 99 Bottles!

They celebrated their birthday with a beer tasting that included one cider and three ales, accompanied by a 99 Bottles chocolate-on-chocolate cookie from fellow small business The Old Hen.

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Cold Brew Coffee Cider, a Hard Cider by Number Six Cider Co.

The pour is clear and golden. The nose is pure coffee. The tongue is a hit of dark coffee sliding over an undercurrent of apple cider.

I love the smell of coffee and I love the taste of candied coffee beans, but I am not a fan of the hot beverage known as coffee. But this is excellent. It is a perfect balance of coffee and cider.

(And I should not have even drank this. I have a non-allergic immune response to apples, but I made an in-the-moment adult decision to indulge knowing full well I would pay for that decision later. But it was well worth it!)

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P-51 Peanut Butter Cup Porter, a Porter by Wingman Brewers

The pour is the dark goodness of porter. The nose is pure Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. The tongue is peanut butter, chocolate, light smokiness, and more malty goodness as a backbone. This is like eating a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup while standing in the smoke of a twilight summer campfire. I like the P-51 Porter on its own, but this version is even better.

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Cuvée Brut, a Sour Red Ale by Liefmans
(also known as Kriek-Brut)

The pour is a clear gem red body topped with a pinkish-white head. The nose is fresh cherries that is just "this side" of cherry cough syrup. The nose is tart cherries and lemon, with a hint of sugar lurking in the background. It gets even a bit more sour on the finish, but in a way that pleases. I like this a lot!

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Delirium Noël, a Belgian Strong Ale by Brouwerij Huyghe

The pour is a clear orange-gold. The nose is cloves and other spices, with a faint leathery scent below. The tongue is spicy (primarily, but not exclusively, of cloves) and leathery and smooth and effervescent. It is complex and enticing. The mouthfeel is right on the verge of being watery to me, but still heavy enough on the tongue to keep me interested.

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Thank you to Tiffany and Craig and crew for nine years of excellent customer service; hundreds of beers I've been able to try at tastings and in bottles, cans, and growlers; and numerous suggestions throughout my explorations and adventures in craft beer.

Friday, January 22, 2016

STHENO


"Stheno" by Troy's Work Table. Carport chalking for Friday 22 January 2016.

Sidewalk chalk, charcoal, chalk pastels.

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I was reading poetry and plays of ancient Greek writers and wondering how we end up with the stories that we think have been told. They are what I call "Sunday school" stories. Being raised in a Lutheran congregation, I heard many Bible stories in Sunday school and confirmation, only to learn later in life that many of the stories were darker than the versions I heard as a child or that adult storytellers and teachers left out pieces that were violent, contradictory, or just plain weird.

The same is true for many Greek myths. The gods use mortals as pawns in games they play against one another. They even use the so-called "heroes" of Greek mythology to act on their immortal behalf, usually without the hero knowing that he is being used.

The story of Medusa is one such story.

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The story that most of us know is probably something along these lines. There is a monster Medusa, who is terrorizing the countryside, turning creatures, men, women, and heroes to stone with her gaze. The hero Perseus is sent to slay her and take her head, and he is helped along the way by gifts from his father (Zeus), Hermes, and the goddess who wants Medusa's head (Athena). Athena is the one who made Medusa the monster she is, though. Poseidon raped the mortal human Medusa in the Temple of Athena, thereby desecrating this sacred space with an act of violence and violation. (In some versions of the story, Medusa is a willing participant, but notice that Poseidon isn't punished.)

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There are further complications in the story.

(1) Medusa's sisters Stheno and Eurykale, both of whom are immortal, unlike the mortal Medusa, are likewise monstrous. Are they punished with monstrosity along with Medusa due to Poseidon's transgression? Or are they punished as monstrous offspring of older deities, who, like the Titans, are supplanted by the newer and more recent gods?

(2) Perseus himself is sent to certain death by a future father-in-law who wants him out of the picture and gives him a task likely to end in his demise. The gods intervene to ensure that Perseus is successful.

(3) Why does Athena want the Gorgoneion (Medusa's head as amulet) for her Aegis (sometimes a shield, sometimes an armor)? Why does Zeus want the same? And why do they need Perseus to retrieve it for them?

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Which brings us back to Stheno. Why wouldn't she pursue the slayer of her sister? Why wouldn't she seethe against the murderer of her kin?

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View more photos of "Stheno" HERE.

Monday, January 18, 2016

SHADOW COUNTRY REVISITED

Troy's Work Table is reading Shadow Country (2008) by Peter Matthiessen "again."

In the past, I read "Book 1" (the equivalent of Matthiessen's earlier novel Killing Mister Watson, 1990) and "Book 2" (the equivalent of Lost Man's River, 1997), but couldn't bring myself to read "Book 3" (the equivalent of Bone by Bone, 1999). I greatly enjoyed the storytelling of both "Book 1" (told by the various neighbors of Watson) and "Book 2" (told by Watson's son) and disliked Watson so much that I didn't want to hear his side of the story in "Book 3." But now I think I'm ready to work my through the entire novel, all 900 pages of this "new rendering of the Watson legend" and give Edgar Watson his due.

URBAN ADVENTURE QUEST


One of our Christmas gifts this year was an Urban Adventure Quest. It started at the Seattle Center and ended a few hours later in downtown Seattle. Along the way, we saw various pieces of public art, learned about a few Seattle landmarks, and visited some places that figure prominently in current Seattle "mythology."

While we were dependent upon an internet-capable phone to receive clues and submit answers, we didn't need a GPS unit. And even though we weren't looking for longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates, it felt very similar to geocaching.

(And we may or may not have added some of our own chewed pieces of Hubba Bubba bubblegum to the Post Alley gum wall, which was recently cleaned in November 2015.)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

FAUXLIAGE

The Child and TWT headed off to Tacoma for an afternoon of viewing fauxliage.

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Our first stop was at Tinkertopia to view their window display, which featured The Seedling Collection by Cher Nalty. The various miniature cacti and succulents are "planted" in small terra cotta pots, but their fauxliage is crocheted by the artist. The attention to detail and resemblance of the actual plants they are modeled upon was fascinating.

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Our next stop was to the W. W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory in Tacoma's Wright Park to visit their exhibit Evolution: Art, Science & Adaptation. My favorite pieces were those that became one with their surroundings, rather than those which seemed a bit dissonant.


Cactopi by Ed Kroupa. I especially loved this piece, but it was more than it simply mimicking an octopus, albeit in a cactus form. First, I didn't even notice it, since it blended in with the real cacti and succulents that were behind and next to it; The Child had to point it out to me. Second, I love that it played on the octopus's ability to camouflage itself. This fauxliage was as powerful as The Seedling Collection.


Green by Yuki Nakamura. As with the Cactopi, these porcelain casts of antique and current lightbulb forms blend into the natural foliage in which these nest. This fauxliage mimicked fungi forms, and the white and green coloring helped them to feel part of landscape. I did find these forms on my own, and they "feel" as though they belong in this setting.

Friday, January 15, 2016

EPIPHANY TREE


"Epiphany Tree" by Troy's Work Table. Carport chalking for Friday 15 January 2016.

Sidewalk chalk, charcoal.

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The week was filled with so much death. The sky was filled with so much gray and rain. I needed to step back to Epiphany for just a few more moments of light, so I did. I used my Epiphany photo of the day as a model for some much needed chalk art.

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View more photos of "Epiphany Tree" HERE.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

ASHES TO ASHES (BLACKSTAR)


"Ashes to Ashes (Blackstar)" by Troy's Work Table. Nighttime carport chalking for Tuesday 12 January 2016.

Sidewalk chalk, homemade sidewalk chalk, glitter sidewalk chalk, charcoal, chalk pastels.

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“Ashes to ashes, funk to funky / we know Major Tom’s a junkie / strung out in heaven’s high / hitting an all-time low.” 

—from “Ashes to Ashes” as found on Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) by David Bowie

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May you rest in peace, Harlequin.

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View more pictures of "Ashes to Ashes (Blackstar)" HERE.

REVELATION

"What occurs after revelation and paralysis? Either death or a slow and certain thawing. A returning to the physical world."

—page 118, Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, as found in Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy

Saturday, January 09, 2016

SLADE HOUSE



"I let out a yelp of surprise like a trodden-on puppy and the small black iron door opens. Like it was only waiting to be asked. It waits, ajar..." and "I'm kneeling, I'm paralyzed, and I don't know what's happening. I try to move but no joy. Not even a finger. Not even my tongue. My body's the cage now, and I'm the one locked in. The only things working are my eyes and my brain." and "But when Marinus reaches up to touch the flowers, her hand passes clean through. [...] I turn around and see the end of the garden is erasing itself."

—from Slade House by David Mitchell


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I just completed David Mitchell's Slade House (2015) in a few hours of reading. I couldn't put it down! It is a sequel of sorts to Mitchell's The Bone Clocks (2014), with both books delving into some of the same concepts and notions, but approaching them each in its own way. And each novel stands alone quite fine, but I think that Slade House is even stronger when read as a sequel to The Bone Clocks.

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As I read, I am reminded of other books, other stories.

The namesake residence of Slade House and its relationship to it inhabitants reminds me of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher." I can easily imagine Roderick and Madeline Usher living at Slade House.

The way that Slade House and Slade Alley appear (and/or disappear!) to visitors reminds me of the shifting streets and landscape of Stephen King's "Crouch End." The garden in its lushness and almost overbearing meticulous detail reminds me of the environment of Jeff VanderMeer's Area X in his novel Annihilation.

The myth of Persephone is referenced in many ways—in the abduction of an innocent, being stolen away to the the underworld, in making sure one doesn't eat or drink anything in the underworld since such ingestion or imbibing binds one to the place one has been taken. Or, perhaps this is a contemporary version of the story of Hansel and Gretel.

Then there are the metaphysical "Illuminati" soul-stealing vampires. I wasn't sure what pieces of literature I was hearing echoes of in Mitchell's book, although I recently read Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" again and the supernatural setting, manipulation of Goodman Brown and his wife Faith, and the malevolence lurking beneath the story all came rushing to the forefront for me.

Finally, there are so many echoes of other Mitchell novels and stories, that this easily fits into his own "personal" literary mythology.

And, as I stated above, it was well-written and the plot laid out such that I was compelled to keep reading and keep turning pages.

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Following are quotes from some of the above named echoes and "inspirations" that have been bouncing around in my brain.

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"Shaking off from my spirit what must have been a dream, I scanned more narrowly the real aspect of the building." and "The door, of massive iron, had been, also, similarly protected. Its immense weight caused an unusually sharp grating sound, as it moved upon its hinges." and "From that chamber, and from that mansion, I fled aghast."

—"The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe

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"She felt disoriented and a little stupid. The heat, the wind that seemed to blow constantly with no gusts or drops, like the draft from a furnace, the almost painted quality of the light..." and "The light had changed; from a clear orange it had gone to a thick and murky red that glared off the windows of the shops in Norris Road and seemed to face a church steeple across the way in fresh-clotted blood. The sun itself sat on the horizon now, an oblate sphere." and "She didn't scream. Her lungs seemed to have collapsed like small crumpled paper sacks. Her mind wanted to leave her body behind and just...just fly."

—"Crouch End" by Stephen King, as found in New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, edited by Ramsey Campbell

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"The lord of the dark underworld, the king of the multitudinous dead, carried [Persephone] off when, enticed by the wondrous bloom of the narcissus, she strayed too far from her companions." and "And he made her eat a pomegranate seed, knowing in his heart that if she did so she must return to him." and "Demeter grieved when she heard of the pomegranate seed, fearing that she could not keep her daughter with her."

—from Mythology by Edith Hamilton

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"The moment his fingers touched them, they became strangely withered and dried up, as with a week's sunshine." and "There was a scream, drowned immediately in a louder murmur of voices, fading into far-off laughter, as the dark cloud swept away, leaving the clear and silent sky above Goodman Brown. But something fluttered lightly down through the air, and caught on the branch of a tree. The young man seized it, and beheld a pink ribbon." and "A basin was hollowed, naturally, in the rock. Did it contain water, reddened by the lurid light? or was it blood? or, perchance, a liquid flame?"

—"Young Goodman Brown" by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Questions:

In what ways are we predators? In what ways are we prey? When does our role shift from one to the other or vice versa?

What is the nature of time? What is the nature of our soul?*

What is the nature of reality? Do "we" experience the world through our senses? Are our senses oftentimes or mostly misleading? Are our experiences heavily influenced by prior experiences?

Is immortality gift or burden?

*(If we indeed have a soul.)

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All in all, Slade House is a spectacular "haunted house" tale and a welcome addition to the literary canon of David Mitchell. I highly recommend it.




Wednesday, January 06, 2016

EPIPHANY


Evening light, Day of Epiphany. North Hill, Puyallup, Washington.

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"There is a light that never goes out / there is a light that never goes out / there is a light that never goes out..."

—from "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" by The Smiths, as found on the album The Queen Is Dead (1986)

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"The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned."

—Matthew 4:16

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"[M]ust every apparent island of Being eventually erode and melt away into the surrounding sea of Becoming?"

—page 11, Moby-Dick as Philosophy: Plato - Melville - Nietzsche by Mark Anderson

Ἐπιφάνεια


Morning light, Day of Epiphany. North Hill, Puyallup, Washington.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

LIGHT and DARK

"Notice that the heavenly things descend from the chthonic, the light from the bewitched and bewitching dark."

—page 8, Moby-Dick as Philosophy: Plato - Melville - Nietzsche by Mark Anderson

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In the midst of these seasons of light and darkness (Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany) and the "saidness," the "spokenness," the Word of God being enfleshed within them, in some sense, this quote speaks volumes to me. The quote itself is in relation to ancient Greek notions of creation, but I feel it could likewise relate to ancient Hebrew notions of the creation and Hellenistic Christian appropriations of the same (in the New Testament version of the Genesis story as it is transformed in the Gospel of John).

THE TWELFTH DAY of CHRISTMAS


This Christmas I've been reading Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer once again. It's one of my all-time favorite novels. This hand-painted lighthouse quilt was in the room I stayed in at Ocean Shores, which seemed timely since a lighthouse features prominently in the novel.

Monday, January 04, 2016

THE ELEVENTH DAY of CHRISTMAS


Family members enjoyed Dungeness crab for one of their Christmas dinners. I'm not a fan of most invertebrate seafood, so it would have been safe around me. But the Mother Octopus is another story...

Sunday, January 03, 2016

THE TENTH DAY of CHRISTMAS


The (Wiener) Dog is "nose to the ground" as she tracks other dogs ahead of us on the snowy Riverwalk Trail.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

THE NINTH DAY of CHRISTMAS


Driftwood and distant mountains. Point Brown Jetty, Ocean Shores, Washington. Late afternoon, 12/29/2015.

Friday, January 01, 2016

DEATH RITUAL V: HIS BLACK MOUNTAIN


"Death Ritual V: His Black Mountain" by Troy's Work Table. Carport chalking for Friday 01 January 2016.

Charcoal, sidewalk chalk, chalk pastels, black walnut branches, cotton twine.

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I just completed The Revelator by Robert Kloss. I will tell you that it is a brilliant and brutal book, a look at America through the life of one person—a fictionalized version of Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism. As in his prior novel The Alligators of Abraham and his novella The Desert Places, co-authored with Amber Sparks, this book is filled with the violence and suffering of everyday life and the common person. There is a truth in his writing that doesn't shy away from the horrors of real life.

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Multiple times in this novel, there are bodies found in the forest, swinging in the trees, having committed suicide in the face of personal failure and/or apocalyptic fears and/or eschatological ruminations.

I don't know how prevalent such hanging suicides were in early 19th century America, but I was reminded of the suicide forest of Japan, Aokigahara, The Sea of Trees.

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The Black Mountain in the novel is crucial to the protagonist and the faith he is proposing and promoting. There are seven branch-trees; three hanging bodies; two gold plates; one Black Mountain.

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You can view more pictures of "Death Ritual V" HERE.

THE EIGHTH DAY of CHRISTMAS


Point Brown Jetty, Ocean Shores, Washington. Late afternoon, 12/29/2015.

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As much as I love my creature comforts, I love this all the more.