Astrogator's Logs

New Words, New Worlds
Artist, Heather Oliver             

Steering the Craft

Those who read Standing at Thermopylae know I promised a response to whiny vaporings that appeared on the Apex blog. My response is now up: Steering the Craft. It talks of embroidered jackets and starships, of bread and roses. Here’s the end:

Susan Seddon Boulet, Shaman Spider Woman (1986)

War for the Country
By Viktoría Theodórou – Poet, resistance fighter

A soft mat she found and sat, on the leaves.
A song emerges from the flute of her throat,
low, so her light-sleeping comrades don’t awaken,
just so she accompanies their dreams.
Her hands don’t stay idle, she takes up thread and needle
to darn their socks with the hand grenade
she always carries at her waist, with it she lies and rises.
The grenade in the sock, round and oblivious
to its fire, thinks it’s a wooden egg,
that the country was freed and the war ended
and Katia is not a partisan in the snow-covered woods –
that she sits by the window behind the white lilacs
and sews the socks of her beloved, who returned whole.

7 Responses to “Steering the Craft”

  1. Asakiyume says:

    The poem is lovely, and I love the image too–I love the art style of Susan Seddon Boulet. (And I can see why you asked about the photo!)

    Off to read your blog entry now.

  2. Athena says:

    Francesca, I met that poet once. She was like Ged in the short story On the High Marsh from Tales from Earthsea: modest to the point of vanishing. But if only you could read her poems! A single translation of contemporary Greek women poets exists (by Eleni Fourtouni) and may still be around in second-hand e-stores.

  3. intrigued_scribe says:

    Fantastic blog entry, especially where the compelling, seamlessly included metaphor of the jacket is concerned. The endeavor to grow and build greater lives–and the necessity of that–is indeed timeless, universal and constant. And this:

    It’s customary to wish feisty daughters on people who still believe that half of humanity is not fully human. I, however, wish upon them sons who will be so different from their sires that they’ll be eager to dream and shape the dark with me.

    Wonderfully said. And Susan Seddon Boulet’s art is beautiful and fitting, as much so as Viktoría Theodórou’s poem. especially in theme and sentiment. Truly incisive, absorbing writing.

  4. Athena says:

    You said it exactly right, and in just three words, Heather! Timeless, universal and constant. And of course you and I know the kind of men the world needs!

  5. Neo says:

    Dear Athena,
    I’m writing this with great heartbreak. The issue has gone beyond science fiction writing. I’m clearly disappointed with your tone that borders on the presumption that most men are sexist pigs. I cannot match you in your poetic style. I’ll write in English.

    I would like to tell something about myself that might be relevant here.
    I know a young undergraduate student who is aiming to do her PhD in physics. She’s one brilliant student. I guide her in whatever way I can. I’m not saying I’m reason for achievements. Far from it. She’s so brilliant she can achieve most of things without anyone’s help. But whenever she does something new, or learns something significant because of my efforts, however little it might be, I simply become proud of her. My heart fills with joy, to see a physicist in making.
    This is just a simple example. There are literally millions of sober and thoughtful men who do their part to make world a better place, to ensure equal opportunities for both genders.

    And what “kind of men” world does need? Socrates, Gandhi, Washington,Jesus, or Newton- The men who truly change entire civilizations are entirely another breed. Each one is a giant, in their own respect. You can not put them in particular mold of personalities. Please don’t equate kind of men that world needs and kind of men women might want.

    I agree Athena, world is far from perfect. Humans are not born perfect, but perfection is something a species or a civilization strives for. But you, as a scientist, could have been more careful with your tone. Seeing and acknowledging things as objectively is one greatest strength and requirement of scientists and engineers. When you become intentionally feisty, you might successfully end up hurting “sexist pig” men, but you fail to recognize it prevents many sober and thoughtful men (sons of sires, if you wish) from joining you in dreaming and shaping a better world.


  6. Athena says:

    Neo, my recommendation to you is to re-read the essay on the Apex blog — and if you did not read the post by Gustavo Bondoni that prompted it, I suggest you read that, as well. My Apex article discusses the kind of men the world needs, which (in my view) happens to coincide with the kind of men women want. In fact, I believe it discusses the kind of humans this world needs, women or men.

    I also recommend that you don’t use the truly reactionary argument of “unless you’re nice to me, I can’t join your cause.” If you think the cause I champion is just, my “tone” is beside the point.

    It’s ironic, of course, that several people thought my article was not feisty enough. But, as you say, none of us is perfect.

  7. Caliban says:

    Sexist p.. what? Huh? We are talking about the essay on Apex, right?

    I don’t see that in Athena’s beautiful and brilliant essay at all. She does use the male pronoun for the offender. (And in this case he is, indeed, male.) She does refer to her grandmother’s jacket…but she also suggests her nephews might wear that jacket as well. So it’s a pretty far stretch to infer that Athena is suggesting that most men are sexist pigs. And her rightly famed article on “snachismo” suggests quite the opposite.

    On the other hand, do read Bondoni’s post, which posits that if white men come out ahead, it’s completely due to fair play, but if a woman (or worse, a woman of color) gains a tiny bit of traction, one must question her place there. Athena’s metaphor is apt: his post has all the intellectual power and subtlety of a bucket of piss. Indeed, I thought she was wonderfully subtle and restrained, considering.

    I’m curious: how could she possibly have pointed out the fact that wet paper bags have written more compelling arguments than Bondoni, in a more respectful tone?