Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Lesson One Sunday

"Females blurt out a direct translation of what should be formulated indirectly
. . . . since woman does not bound herself, she must be bounded. The celebrated Greek virtue of self-control (sophrosyne) has to be defined differently for men and for women,
Aristotle maintains.
Masculine sophrosyne is rational self-control and resistance to excess,
but for the woman sophrosyne means
obedience and consists in
submitting herself to the control of others."
--Anne Carson, a few years after age 11,
writing Men in the Off Hours

". . . My education, I have to admit, has been gappy.
The basic rules of male-female relations
were imparted atmospherically in our family.

no direct speech allowed.
I remember one Sunday I was sitting in the backseat of the car.
Father in front.

We were waiting in the driveway for mother,
who came around the corner of the house
and got into the passenger side of the car

dressed in a yellow Chanel suit and black high heels.
Father glanced sideways at her.
Showing a good bit of leg today Mother, he said

in a voice which I (age eleven) thought odd.
I stared at the back of her head waiting for what she would say.
Her answer would clear this up.

But she just laughed a strange laugh with ropes all over it.
Later that summer I put this laugh together with another laugh
I overheard as I was going upstairs. . . "

--Anne Carson,
writing a poem called "Thou" within "The Glass Essay"
and publishing it five years earlier,
in Glass, Irony, and God

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