just the tip

“He began to crawl forward on knees and elbows. He had no reason to do this.”

i, also, was entranced by this phrase. and, also because this post is a fraternal twin to my book-reading partner, Meredith Noelle, who also responded to Chapter 2: The Place Inside the Blizzard from The Left Hand of Darkness. how deeply human, to crawl forward for no reason. i can’t go on, i must go on. the crawler has lost his brother-lover to suicide. the societal rules that prompted suicide permit incest, but only until a child is born of the union, and then the two must part. so we get the unhappy equation:

incest + procreation = no lifelong love allowed

why permit incest, but only up to a point? the child may be conceived and born. but then the law insists that they end their partnership, and one of the two brothers (it seems the people in this world take on female form only for the conception and gestation, then return to male form) raises the child on his own. the law can support a conjugal relationship, and it can end it. in our own society, also true. we can divorce. even children can sue for independence from their parents, the law governs parent-child, the law governs spouse-spouse. but the law does not hold over friendship. i cannot dial 311 and ask the law here in NYC that Meredith stop being my friend. friendship is lawless. a threat. in a BBC podcast on the newly translated History of Sexuality vol. 4 of Foucault, one of the guests posited that homosexual relationships seem threatening to our society and incur its wrath because male-male and female-female friend/relationships test our laws. how can you be a friend AND a lover? the nerve!

the oral myth of Chapter 2 follows a familiar death and resurrection pattern, but Getheren goes into “The Place Inside The Blizzard” rather than the underworld. his symbolic death is in a pure-white place, not the shadowy black grave. to leave the realm of death and return to the living, Getheren gives up his name, and his left hand. this reminds me of the excellent graphic novel by Emma Steinkellner, The Okay Witch. in that tale, Hecate demands that a witch offer up something precious before she is permitted to pass in or out of her protected witch-portal. some witches give up their honor, their skill, their sight; one of the main characters gives up her happiness. my mind is circling around a larger myth, of having to give something up as you pass through a portal. what are we willing to give up for access? initiation has a price.

initiation from proto-indo european root *en “in” + ire “to go” from root *ei- “to go” (source). to go in, is my interpretation. an initiation is really a going-in. the function of this myth, so early in the book, is perhaps such a going-in, initiating us into the full story, into our own reflection and lived experience of the story.