Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Confessional



ARTIST: ANONYMOUS


I am excited.

I received my first postcard on 3/20/06.

A couple of entries ago, I invited any and all readers of this blog to send me a postcard which confesses a "secret." I also invited readers on my Yahoo Esalen group to do the same. This project of mine is based on Post Secret. However, my project is different. The secret need not be your own. The secret on your post card could even be entirely fictional. The only requirement is that the secret should be "true" in some way that matters to you.

Isn't this postcard excellent? The artist's image is pasted over the top of a postcard of the Grand Canyon. The description on the address-side of the card mentions "Years of the Colorado River's erosive power." When I saw that, I thought perhaps this was a subtle message, a way to suggest that the artist feels eroded by time and by some powerful force outside the artist's control.

The idea of being "stuck" is an important one for storytellers. As Joseph Campbell has pointed out, in fairytales, we often encounter a hero who is stuck, unable to move into the next phase of her or his life. Thumbelina is stuck in maidenhood until the ugly toad steals her from her mother's watch and takes her down, down, down into the muck of life. For Persephone, it is the same. Like Little Red Riding Hood, Persephone strays from her regular life long enough to pick flowers. Persephone is snatched away by Hades and becomes Queen of the underworld. Little Red encounters the wolf, gets swallowed by him, and then is reborn, quite literally, in fact, when ejected from of the wolf's belly.

In modern storytelling, the character is often stuck. The character then makes a choice to change her or his life. Or something happens to make the character have to make a choice. In academic circles, we call this second kind of story "the bear at the door." You simply can't remain stuck when the bear is clawing at your door about to break it down. You have to do SOMETHING.

I hope that more people will send me one or more postcards. You can send the postcards to:

Theresa Williams
Department of English
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, OH 43403

10 comments:

Wenda said...

Oh Theresa, I so needed to read this tonight. Thank you.

beths front porch said...

Theresa, thank you for this entry. I'll be back to study it. The bear is at my door right now. I know what post card I'll be sending, and it is dark! I am deeply touched by this entry. Beth

Erin said...

Theresa--what a great entry! I'd never heard of "the bear at the door" stories, but I like that phrase! These thoughts on being "stuck" are going to help my thought process with a story I'm workign on. Thank you! I see how powerful these postcards can be, and now I want to try one, as well!

Tom said...

Theresa, I view the heart as being stuck, but it is actively pushing to get through the hole. My view is that the heart will eventually pass through the fence, and move on to better things as it enjoys its new airborne freedom. Within the heart is persistence, covered by the blue hue of patience.

V said...

In Wagner`s "Siegfried", the heroine Brunhilde has been asleep on top of a mountain, surrounded by fire. It takes the kiss of the hero, Siegfried, to free her from the curse her father, Wotan placed upon her. Talk about being stuck!
Hugs,
V

Paula said...

This image is so pretty, and the heart in the chain link fence reminded me of el sanctuario de chimayo in New Mexico--on the walkway from the parking lot to the church is a chain link fence with hundreds of crosses made from twigs and grass woven into the links. It was an incredible metaphor of faith, and my trip to Chimayo is an important part of the Epilogue to my memoir....

Vicky said...

You know, the heart could be made of crystal , but it also could be liquid, and slipping through like Tom said above. I love the juxtaposition of the ugly chain-link fence and the shining clarity of the heart. To me, blue is the color of purity and honesty. The heart knows it is stuck for now, but that is temporary as it gradually slips through the cold metal link, away from its grasp, and finds its way in the world.

A wonderful image. And one to hold onto for those of us (i.e. everyone) who gets stuck from time to time. Love, Vicky

Paul said...

Heart? I thought that was a triggerfish in a gill net. I've got to stop thinking about fishing so much.

Anyway, Vladimir Propp distinguished between "seeker-heroes" such as "the Youth who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was", and "victim-heroes" such as Little Red Cap, who stray from the straight and narrow and need to be rescued by woodcutters (who would not be allowed to submit articles to the aforementioned magazine due to their axes and saws.

Theresa Williams said...

Paul, there are some versions of "Red" in which the grandmother and Red dispatch the wolf all by themselves. Not completely sure, but I believe these are the earlier versions, the ones BEFORE men tried to take over the birth process. Thanks for your comments.

emmapeelDallas said...

Oh, I love this entry, because I am SO stuck right now, and it gives me hope. Thank you Theresa, and I intend to send you a postcard.

Judi

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"I was no better than dust, yet you cannot replace me. . . Take the soft dust in your hand--does it stir: does it sing? Has it lips and a heart? Does it open its eyes to the sun? Does it run, does it dream, does it burn with a secret, or tremble In terror of death? Or ache with tremendous decisions?. . ." --Conrad Aiken

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