What Language Is Spoken On This Road?

First the good news.

A good time was had by all at the art exhibition called Midsummer Light. It was presented by the Women In The Visual and Literary Arts. I really enjoyed being a part of this experience and exhibiting my photographs. If you did not get to the opening reception, the exhibition will remain up for your viewing pleasure until July 19th at the Christ Church Cathedral’s Cloister Gallery, 1117 Texas Avenue. The venue is open from 11 am to 2 pm Monday through Friday while Treebeards serves lunch.

In other news:

Sometimes I just have to laugh at myself. Sometimes I do things that just go a slight bit awry. Nothing huge. I’ve never killed anyone.….that I know about. If I did it was certainly a mistake. But sometimes all of the technology.….phones.….computers.….televisions.…..can just be a bit much.

For instance, let’s consider Amazon. I order things from Amazon. Mostly books, but sometimes other things. I have been buying things — especially books — all my life. Here is my most recent acquisition that I received on Tuesday. It is a book about Vincent Van Gogh.

First, I apologize for blogging one more time about Vincent. I know I have blogged about him quite a bit lately. However, it does involve my latest acquisition from Amazon and the reason for this blog will soon be made clear. Remember that patience is a virtue.

This book had been highly recommended to me. I was looking forward to receiving it. When I had it in my hot little hands, I sat down in my most comfy reading chair and opened the envelope. I liked the cover. I like a lot of Vincent’s self portraits. He did quite a few of them. I sat back and began to open the book ready to learn more about this artist.

As soon as I open the book I see another self portrait. I am happy. I am relaxed. It still looks like a really nice book doesn’t it? Look closely. Closer. Do you notice anything? At this point I was still happy and relaxed. I hadn’t noticed anything. But wait!

I turned a few more pages and began reading the content. Here is the content that talks about the painting of the potato eaters. I think that’s what it says. Yet, I don’t really know for sure, do I? Why don’t I know? Because I don’t read French! My book is printed in French. How did this happen?

I wasn’t looking for a French book. I spent 5 years studying Spanish. I have never spoken a word of French. Quickly I looked back at the confirmation I received from Amazon when I ordered this book. I look and look and keep looking. Finally down, down, down the email confirmation I go. I look very carefully at the very small print. Language: French.

EGAD! Lesson learned. I still like the pictures in this book. I will keep it and may use some of the photos for collage work. Who knows?

Maybe one day I’ll meet a new friend who reads French and likes books about Vincent Van Gogh.

I remain forever hopeful.

Until next week.….

Recording a Reading Revolution

I love books, as evidenced by this corner of my house:

Again, I’m a planet outlier.

Publisher’s Weekly bemoans a 20 percent decline in fiction sales. Only one year out of the past five have sales climbed. Thank Harper Lee’s 2015 book, Go Set a Watchman. 

All the reasons for declining fiction sales equal sensible logic:

More competition for entertainment hours and products.

More closings of brick-and-mortar stores.

Fewer book reviews.

Shorter attention spans.

Even audiobooks are displacing the printed novel. Mike Shatzkin, a noted publishing industry guru, calls it words-to-be-heard vs. words-to-be-read.

What’s ignored in the worrying noise is the price we’re paying by not reading.

Be it television, video games, the World Wide Web, streaming books, and other entertainment options, we’re actively rewiring both our brains and bodies. Few of us pay attention to the consequences, either short or long-term.

Photo courtesy Amazon.com.

Writer Maryanne Wolf takes a look in her fascinating (ahem, non-fiction book), Reader Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World.

Wolf cites varying studies that blame the widespread screen explosion for our collapsing attention spans, declining imagination and thinking skills, worsening physical health, and strained relationships.

One of the first studies came out in 1998. Linda Stone, of the Virtual Worlds Group at Microsoft, possessed frightening prescience when she coined the term “continuous partial attention.” 

Stone referenced children specifically when she created the term. Twenty years later, she’d no doubt label us adults with the same syndrome.

Tag me guilty, too. But only when I’m not reading a book. In that printed landscape, my attention laser-focuses to imagine a world only I can see. 

Delicious creativity and control! Fun and fulfilling, too!

Yet, these recent books and magazines frighten me about this road we’re on. There seems an almost willful ignorance for behavior and consequences. In confronting these effects, there’s information and messages to share, heed.

Even so, I cross my fingers, remembering what’s happened with music. Printed books could travel a similar road.

Remember LP’s and turntables? They’re back, and popular, for reasons I don’t comprehend. Records over CD or streaming tunes? Clunky equipment over flat, round disks or no plastic at all? Pray tell, why

Amid my semi-Luddite questioning, possibility arises.

Once can become twice. 

Music now, books next?

Copyright, GrooveBags.com.

Meantime, I read, wait, and check my mailbox.

Shoes inbound promise a coming retro-revolution. 

Our world needs more fiction, published. And read. 

A broad can hope.

What’s Your Woman?

Medial Woman screamed “Me!” in the morning.

Afternoon, I yelled back, “Me, Amazon! Next, Mother!”

I saved my loudest roar for “Hetaira” – there’s something about a woman focusing her life on a man that simply does not ring my chimes. Dare I ‘fess up that I heard my dark side shouting?

A weekend drive to Houston’s Jung Center — past a 4‑car freeway pileup (a high five for what lay ahead?) — brought an in-depth study of these four aspects of the feminine psyche.

Which Archetype(s) are you? (Image copyright Suzan Cotellesse).

The workshop promised this RoadBroad an opportunity to expand her knowledge of female archetypes. My novel demands character exploration. I never anticipated a bonus: riches of personal learning and expansion.

Indulge me as I take an esoteric dive.

Archetypes are, in brief, an imprint all humans carry. In psychological theory, they’re original forms, or models, of people or ideas that others recognize universally.

In “Four Aspects of Woman,” workshop leader Suzan Cotellesse synthesized the groundbreaking work of psychoanalyst Toni Wolff who posited that, across a woman’s life, she dances with four archetypes in both her personal (individual) and non-personal (collective) relationships. (Authors Mary Dian Molton and Lucy Anne Sikes later expanded on Wolff’s work in their book, Four Eternal Women).

Those four natures include Mother, the nurturer; Hetaira, the relater; Amazon, the striver; and Medial Woman, the wise woman. Suzan’s clear and wise teaching explained each of the four functions in detail.

Which fits you now? (Image copyright Suzan Cotellesse).

Immediately, I slotted my novel’s six primary female characters.

Then. Off came the blinders.

My turn. Personal truth.

Easy at first: Medial Woman. Intuitive. Spirit Seeker. Mysterious. Crone (rising because, at age 61, she’s not very old. Cough. Cough.).

Amended at day’s end: I’m actually a growing Amazon followed by a creating Mother supported by evolving Medial Woman with full-on-resistance mode at mention of Hetaira. There’s something about this broad who self-selects as a man-slave. Over-reaction, of course. I’ll explore. Later. 

At workshop’s end, we collaged our learnings. I used a single piece of paper, collaging its two sides.

Amazon roars; Medial Woman meditates (Collage images copyrighted by their respective magazines).

Here’s Afternoon Me. Young again, she strides into the world as an independent Amazonian woman. Her white and black attire symbolize the clarity of her life mission and purpose.

Interesting that Amazon’s stride comes atop Medial Woman’s natural wisdom. The latter’s represented by images of clear water and shining sun, the foundations for a strong feminine force re-entering the world.

To her left—as a guiding mantra—balances the red and black passion of woman and man evenly weighted with each other, moving upward toward a better future. I hope.

On the reverse appeared the supporting forms, Archetypes #2 and #4, if you will:

Mother creates, Hetaira relates (Collage images copyrighted by their respective magazines).

Mother anchors this side with her Gaia representation, stand-ins for the gestating/birthing role of the creative feminine. She stands on what she brings to her role: ‘The Woman who Knows what Women Want.” Apt for an author of women’s fiction?

To her right stands Hetaira, daring any challenge. On anything. Closed-off arms offer aloof confidence. Attractive. Fearsome. Yes, work to do, both of us.

Splitting the page, the four faces of the female archetypes reveal different looks. Each glance, shaded by artfully applied make-up, reveals as it also hides. Can you see why each face was placed as it was?

Two days after the workshop, I look at these pages and ask—my god, where does this stuff come from?

Medial Woman wants to know.

For Amazon Mother.


Suzan will offer this informative class again this fall at Houston’s Spectrum Center (www.SpectrumCenter_Houston.com). You can explore Suzan’s other work and teachings at her website (www.suzancotellesse.com).