Les Semaines


what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout



"I feel raped."

It was simply a casual remark, obviously a phrase he'd used dozens of times to express what he was feeling now, a mild irritation at paying a higher price for an item than he thought it deserved, a synonym for ripped off. Raped.

I was stunned into silence, couldn't think what to say. I'm sure I stood there in classic shock, my eyes widened in surprise, or something like. Ideas about what to say or not to say were racing through my head and I couldn't choose which to say so in default I chose silence.

I've spent a long time now wondering what it was I should have said. That he wouldn't say that had he ever or someone he loved ever experienced rape? Making him feel horrible for saying that, was that the point? Or making him suddenly conscious, was that it? Raising his awareness as a favour for a future lover/girlfriend/wife? Was that it? A chance to express my own anger? How should I react? How should I respond? The options froze me.

And statistically the chances are that someone he loves has experienced it. The real thing. I have. Many of my friends have. I wonder whether anyone has ever told him about it. I guess not, or he couldn't have used the word so casually. It simply wouldn't be possible, would it? Or maybe it would. Maybe someone somewhere who started using this phrase was trying to make the word a casual thing to rob the word of its power in their own experience. Or more likely someone somewhere started using the word in such a way because it spoken so frequently in this culture that it has lost its power to shock, to express the reality of what the word means.

But it has never lost its power to me. The word evokes anxiety and nightmares for me: my own and that described by people I know and love, and that described by other women and men who have shared their experiences. Some people in Britain scoff at the North American squeamishness of calling rapeseed oil Canola oil, but I understand the gesture--not simply a marketing ploy to not an unpleasant connotation attached to a product though that is surely the greatest part of the corporate side of the renaming--to not make it an everyday word. Something you keep in your kitchen.

The power of words and connotations. I've been thinking about that a lot. I still don't know what I should have said. I'm getting tired of calling people on things all the time and then feeling like a hectoring mother. Or letting things slide and feeling like important opportunities were missed. I don't know where the middle ground is here.

Carol Orlock's wonderful novel about the Persephone myth starts out with Demeter hearing her daughter screaming the word "rape". I think of paintings like "The Rape of the Sabine Women" where rape meant more general abduction, but probably in addition what we mean by the word now.

This incident has been haunting me since it happened, and I'm still trying to think about what I should have done or should do in similar situations. Educate? Leave well enough alone? Use the sarcastic comeback?

Sophia is batting one of her fur mice behind me, and Jim is making noises that indicate he's getting ready to go downstairs to bed. I'll think about this some more, but maybe by writing it down I'll have gotten it at least a little out of my head. I am not sullen and I am not obsessed. Just wondering.

After all, it's just a phrase, isn't it?

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Listening this week to a smattering of everything. That is not so entertaining to describe as an obsession.

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Mary Gentle's A Secret History: The Book of Ash, #1 combines two intriguing stories: that of a scholar translating a manuscript about the life of the great female warrior, Ash, and the details of her life. I'm usually left bored by tales of warriors and battle, but Ash is fascinating. Why? Because her life is pretty interesting with her definitely humble beginnings, then all the twists and intrigues as her life continues. I was caught up in her days and enjoyed the bits about the scholar's difficulties with disappearing and re-catalogued manuscripts. I got this book as a comp at World Fantasy Convention last year, but I've already ordered book #2 (of four in the U.S.; it's divided into two in the U.K.), so yes, the publisher got me.

Also head-deep into China Miéville's Perdido Street Station, a strange new dark and macabrely beautiful world. More about this when I've finished it but I'm lost in it and feel the import (from the U.K.) price was well worth it. Miéville writes wonderfully, clearly yet intricately.

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Just a few more sentences added. But added.

Also, I got a file from my publisher with an image of the cover of Blood Memory. I love what has been done to the background and of course the photograph I love but now I need to get used to the idea of red lettering (not blood-red, thank goodness. Red is probably my least favourite colour. Not sure why. And I hate the blurb, which is something I wrote as part of a grant application from when I was writing the book. Sigh.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

January 1977

664. Primitive terms

Primitive terms and limitations on the power of God. [1] I think therefore I am. So? What's the point in simply existing. Why does thinking prove existence (existence is a proof in itself) <-- philosophers would laugh at that statement. Being and thinking. Could you think and not exist? Does it matter? Descartes himself never knew. I never knew. I am Much-Afraid, my feet are not Hind's Feet, and i'm not in the High Places. [2] Maybe soon? I don't understand these primitive and non-primitive terms. High Places are for me. I want to stop running. But [quote from Randy Stonehill(?)'s "Keep Me Running" deleted.]

665. Meditations

Meditations. Dreams of doubt. Wondering as wandering. A confrontation with truth and non-truth. P and not-P. To enjoy! Darkness falls alone. The sun rises with company. Dark sky, silent sea... childhood falls so. Two years, should be walking. [3] On being Much Afraid, with crippled feet and a crooked mouth, and trying to reach High Places. I try alone though i know i can only make it with a guide. Darkness falls.

666. Six sixty-six

[Entire entry consists of quotes from Larry Norman's song "Six sixty-six" about the Revelations about the anti-Christ.]

667. Foolish puppets

[Entry consists of quotations from another Christian rock song, I think by Randy Stonehill, "Foolish puppets", about how silly people cut their link with God like puppets cutting their own strings.]

668. Not dreaming

I know i'm not dreaming because if I were dreaming i certainly wouldn't be here. Not here, listening to this more than averagely boring lecture. Thinking and dreaming. I dreamt all last week. Yesterday i woke up. Painfully. I never wanted to wake, the dream was full of sorrow and sadness, but also of Love.

669. New lows in boredom

Philosophy and English are exploring new lows in boredom. Travelling through fresh hitherto unexplored territory. Where no man has gone before. A form of torture. Torture is a form of boredom. Silence is the different between half and all. Tomorrow.

670. The end of an era

It's th end of an era. The era of the smart shopper (or as Rob says [4] clever consumer.) Now i've gone army (or khaki at least) [5]. End of an age; though smart shopper would last forever, like the refill of this pen. I think this is a magic refill and will never empty. Sometimes i speculate on my sanity.

671. Weekend

Phono, it's been a wild and weird weekend. Beautiful in many ways, and in others very ugly. Here's hoping for cures and dreams ended. New dreams are begun. Passing high places. Travelling, or getting ready for the journey. (Again.) Confusion covers the thoughts, but somehow His hand was in this all. I don't understand. My best laid plans came out as i'd hoped but they killed the dream (I hope). What a wild and weird weekend.

672. To see and believe

[Quote from an unremembered Christian rock song omitted.] The night is chilly and it won't surrender (neither will i). I don't want to surrender. I want it to play my own magic way. When will i learn. Acceptance-with-joy? Part of my lesson is over.

673. Lonely child

[Entry consists of a brief quote from a song I don't remember.]

674. Knew from the beginning

I knew from the beginning i'd have to take it right to the end. Well, maybe not exactly from the very beginning, but pretty close thereafter. I'm still learning part of it now, the all roads leading back part, the never quite able to forget it part. So right back to the start, beginning again, again.


1. In Philosophy 100 we were reading Descartes' Meditations.

2. This is a reference to an allegorical and quite lovely if I recall correctly Christian inspirational novel about Christians growing closer to God, called Hind's Feet in High Places. I had obviously recently read it.

3. I'm referring to have been a Christian for nearly two years at this point--that I shouldn't be a baby Christian still.

4. Ah, my first mention of Rob. He was in my philosophy class, and will later become a Major Player for a while.

5. Not sure what I'm talking about. A shopping bag I was using to carry my books perhaps?

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