Saturday, August 02, 2003

Dear Nunnies,

I am back in the fold. Or that is, I am out in the field. Quite literally. I am doing the ancient anthropological trade of fieldwork (though my brother,a paleontologist who spends weeks on barren lands in the heat digging the earth for bones,denies this can be field"work").But once in a while I do pop into the Nunnews blog for a peak......Sister Edith´s brother´s wedding serial keeps me wondering how the happy event possibly could have ended happily. But I geuss alls well that ends well...

I myself am currently in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, Central Europe. In this town they don´t have church bells. Instead there is glockenspiel every hour emanating from all the bell towers. Cringe factor 100. But I am writing about this detail of life in Bystrica, because it for some reason shows the character of this town. It is the regional capital and holds all the reginal courts, a university and a number of other centers of higher education. The accent spoken in this region was used as the model for the oficial written and spoken Slovak language. Poeple are very aware of this and proud of their town. The town square is renovated and everyone sits outside drinking cappucinos, sodas and beers. Saturday night they have live music playing.All in all a verz decent town.

I bet you it has a dark side somewhere.....but no one ever mentions it.

I don´t spend much time in town. Well, partly that is because if you go window shopping more than once every two weeks, you get bored. What my fieldwork has consisted of until now, is going to a small village 10 kilometers out of town, to learn to make hand made lace from a lovely old lady, who still at the age of 80 makes lace for sale. I think I am beginning to be part of their daily life by now, but they still won´t let me wash the dishes. That has become my goal....when they let me wash their dishes I know that I´m getting somewhere others maybe wouldn´t. Patience, patience....

Thinking of the coupling of women and magic...I simply can´t see any Foucault in that. except to say, it is a discourse some of us obviously still use. Reallz, it amazes me someone is still in that groove.......Durkheim would probably have a lot to say about it.Systems of classification. In almost all cultures, women have been connected to the occult, magic and the myterious.Biologists would sayit had to do with female fertility and the mysteries it posed to mankind.

Whats this about a nation-state, Sister Andrea ?

have to run back into the field.........Scarlett

Friday, August 01, 2003

Oh and Andrea, if you are going to build that Nationstate.. I could really use your endorsement!

Anyone else reading this can ignore the above. ;)

Just so you know.. I will be in the wilderness for the next week and a half, roughing it without indoor plumbing, and attempting to hone my skills with a voice tape recorder. The island I'm vacationing on is full of interesting people who are rather old, so I am going to practice interviewing them, and catch some interesting tidbits on tape.

Happy August, etc..

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Interfaith Nunnery Wedding Story continues..

Rehearsal.. is the Hysteria worth the Halibut?

On the day of the Wedding Rehearsal, Taste of Chicago opened to a packed crowd. No one was paying attention. No one recognized the danger. I walked down and got a manicure and a pedicure from nice people at Water Tower Place and Nordstrom's(you can't expect to get both in the same place if you didn't call ahead), and got back the hotel with fourty-five minutes to prepare for the rehearsal. I figured this would be just enough time for a shower, so I looked halfway decent (you can't show up at the rehearsal with unwashed hair: it would be rude to the wedding planner). My mother came with me, and while I was busy having my feet scrubbed, blissfully my Mother was drawn into the clutches of a makeup floor artist at Nordstrom's . When the woman was done, my mother looked like a circus clown, and had half a grand in horrible makeup purchases tucked under her arm. I spent the entire walk home trying to tell her she should wash off the makeup and return the purchases, because she looked perfectly fabulous without all of that horrible face paint. Having accomplished my objective (she agreed that it had been a weak moment, what with her son getting married) I pushed the button for the elevator. Then I saw my brother's fiance.

Like me she was waiting for the elevator; unlike me, she was in a state of near hysteria. I quickly took the heavy bags out of her hands, and listened to her story of un-relenting traffic and unexpected delays. Taste of Chicago had struck. My brother and his fiance had been in the car for over two hours, and traveled only 15 miles. The hotel had told her over the phone her room wouldn't be ready until five. FIVE! Was it too much to ask for a bridal suite one had paid for months and months in advance to be ready on time? She looked about ready to ring someone's neck. I decided my shower would have to wait. We went up to the top floor, found her room had been prepared (I can only suppose after she had broken the hotel manager's ear-drum) left her bags with her and hurried down to my room.

Now I was stressed. Would my mother be able to get that stuff off her face? Would my brother's fiancé actually kill for a perfect wedding? It was a three ring circus, but thankfully I had a very minor role. We all got to the ball room in time, learned our parts (walk slowly, smile, hold the bouquet higher!) and tumbled into a bunch of taxi's heading for Spago: the site of the rehearsal dinner.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Honorary nun Erica has directed me to a mindbogglingly weird article that claims a connection between growing interest in occultism in our society with the growing influence of the female of the human species and the waning power of the male. The article suggests that a swing from Science to Magic, from Democracy to Aristocracy, from Religion (Traditional) to Wicca, and from Moral to Amoral, is only what is to be expected when those illogical, unreasonable, and generally silly women get a chance to control society.

I am intrigued by the suggested alliance between Science and Christianity. In the nineteenth century, certain scholars tried to prove that Science and Reason were victors in a battle against Religion. According to these scholars, the perpetrators of that outdated, silly belief system had forever fought against progress, claiming, for instance, that the earth was flat, despite Columbus' obvious wisdom and sense. (A myth, by the way. Any literate and educated person in the Middle Ages, except for a few crazies, had access to astronomers who demonstrated conclusively that the earth was indeed round. Also, Columbus' numbers for the size of the earth were very far off the mark, and if America had not been in the way the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria would have been in serious trouble. See Jeffrey Burton Russell's Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians.) The scholars who developed the Science/Religion dichotomy were mostly wrong, although they did have their moments.

In any case, the presence of Science and Christianity on the same side against the common enemies Woman and Magic is odd and interesting from an anthropological perspective. The author (actually a woman, a Mrs. Marian Kester Coombs) conveniently ignores modern dichotomies between right-wing Christianity and Science - I wonder what she thinks of Evolution! - in order to create the universal division between Virtuous, Wise, Faithful, Logical, Reasonable Man and Amoral, Foolish, Pagan, Irrational Woman.

I lack the talent to skewer this article as fully as it deserves. Iris, Niki, please introduce anthropological theory to this debate. Would any of your textbook authors agree with Mrs. Coombs? Would they disagree? Can we explain Mrs. Coombs' obvious confusion with reference to Durkheim or Foucault or anyone else you might have read?

By the way, Erica, thanks for the tip, but may I ask what you were doing reading from the self-proclaimed National Conservative Weekly Since 1944? :-)