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Monday, April 22, 2019
The Earth Will Shake reading group, Week Nine
"Dante and Beatrice", by Henry Holiday. Beatrice is the young woman in the center.
This week, please read page 169 ("Sigismundo did not sleep the rest of that night. He prayed, or tried to pray") to page 186 ("And Maria knew that, whomever Papa married her off to, whatever else happened in her life, her days would not be those of an ordinary Neapolitan contessa."
I thought that Part Four, "The Priestess," was particularly good.
I loved the blunt description of "crushes": "His obsession is annoying because you are intelligent enough to know that it is more or less accidental: if it wasn't you, he would have some other girl to be obsessed with." (Page 177.)
Notice that a famous obsession is referenced in the text: Page 183 mentions "the Portanari girl from Firenze" and on page 184, "Beatrice" is told to run to Via Dante and get the doctor.
Beatrice Portinari is the woman who enthralled Dante and is mentioned in Dante's works. She lived to only age 25 in Florence (e.g., "Firenze.") She is arguably the ancestor of the "Miss Portinari" in Illuminatus!
I have remarked elsewhere on how Wilson's female characters are strong in The Earth Will Shake, and I think the real women referenced on page 179 shows Wilson's explicitly feminist intent: Women such as Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Anara Morandi Mazzolini and Laura Bassi.
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The terrorist attack against Christians in Sri Lanka again connects symbolically with the scene of Peppino's fate as mentioned last week. This could be either coincidence or prognostication. I'm going for the latter and hoping the novel continues to forecast events because the next section takes up the subject of healing.
p. 180: "... but her hands were not clasped; she was holding them over Hercules's body, about 6 inches from each side of his head. Maria hesitated in the doorway, not sure of what she was seeing ..." This and other descriptions of healing in this section sound like the technique now called Reike. I have seen this work.
I agree that RAW does an excellent job writing from a female point of view.
p. 186: "contessa" - the last word in this section describes marriage or true love from a Qabalistic angle and would give me hope if I was Sigismundo reading that paragraph which starts: "And Maria knew that, whomever Papa married her off to ..."
contessa = 263; 2 = Chokmah, the Divine Male; 6 = Tiphareth, 3 = Binah the Divine Female.
Chokmah 2 connects with Tiphareth 6 via the path of He, The Star in the tarot. Tiphareth 6 connects to Binah 3 via the path of Zayin, The Lovers in the tarot. On the Tree of life this looks like a V which then becomes a downward pointing triangle symbolizing invocation or the descent of spirit into matter when including the path of Daleth, Venus, which connects Chokmah 2 to Binah 3.
Mother Ursula possibly named in homage to Ursula K. LeGuin? Also, Ursula translates as "she-bear" RAW wrote about the ancient bear divinity in his first commentary on "Finnegans Wake" in "Coincidance."
From that book p. 20 and 21:
Puns on the Latin "ursa," bear, also abound, and Glasheen in her "Third Census to Finnegans Wake" concludes that the bear-god is one of the major figures in "FW."
Weston LeBarre, the anthroplogist, in his classic "The Ghost Dance: Origins of Religion" (published over 20 years after "FW") decsribes the bear-god as one of the earliest human divinities..."
"This bear-god conflates with Giordano Bruno ... and of course Bruno suggests bruin. ... Bruno was burned at the stake in Rome in 1600 for magick, heresy, plotting against the Papacy and teaching the Copernican theory of astronomy. He is another phoenix, because what rose from his ashes was the classic scientific age of Galileo and Newton."
According to Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable:
"St. Ursula: A 5th-century British princess, according to legend, who went with 11,000 virgins on a pilgrimage to Rome and was massacred with all her companions by the Huns at Cologne. One explanation of the story is that Undecimilla (mistaken for undecim millia, 11,000) was one of Ursula's companions. (p.1119)"
Pynchon introduces a lost lemming named Ursula in "Gravity's Rainbow." The Pynchon wiki sez: "Ursula (who is found later) is representative of the Saving Remnant that Pynchon evokes from time to time."
There was also a very famous sound engineer and alchemist named Bear who worked for the Grateful Dead and designed their Wall of Sound.
Oz is spot on with the Ursula/ursine connection.
I was going to note that Beatrice was the ancestor of the Marquis de Sade but I was thinking of Petrarch's Laura. I did learn that the Marquis gave Marat's eulogy today.
I agree with your observation that Maria is an example of a strongly written female character in RAW's work Tom. I'll have to ask Adie about his representation of budding female sexuality. My favorite part of this week's reading was Sigismundo's prayer at the beginning. It was relatable.
"the Dominicans' committee to theologically investigate claims of the unusual" on page 181 reminds me of the Committee to Scientifically Investigate Claims of the Paranormal".
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