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28 July, 2007

Shadow Drums

This is something I wrote a while ago, a little bit tidied up; I figured I'd re-audience it or something.

    Apollo, the god of light, of reason, of proportion, harmony, number--Apollo blinds those who press too close in worship. Don't look straight at the sun. Go into a dark bar for a bit and have a beer with Dionysos, every now and then.

    --Ursula K. Le Guin

I tend to be of the opinion most days that the culture I grew up in believes that the Apollonian pleasures are the only true pleasures, and the Dionysian pleasures are wicked indulgences that one might sneak into but which are really flaws in character.

The results I see of this are twofold. First, that very few people are taught a healthy way of interacting with Dionysos, such that they either fear him and his servants, or are swept away by him and claim they were not themselves, not in control, not at fault, and such that they do not know how to make _use_ of the secrets of sex, of drugs, of music, of any of the other dark drumbeats of the soul. Second, that those people whose souls balance more naturally as servants of Dionysos than servants of Apollo are lost, unable to find a place where they can stand and feel that the axioms of the universe fit the way they see it.

Where are the places for the ecstatics, for the potion-makers, the dancers, the drummers, the temple harlots, the prophets, the shamans, the makers of poetry, the makers of sculpture, the painters, the singers, all of the people who try to speak to the gut rather than the head, in a culture where what is rational and _productive_ is what matters? On the edges, if anywhere at all, when the Vice Squad and the War on Some Drugs leave them alone long enough.

It's all, "Don't do that, that's bad," "You should wait until you can deal with that as an adult," "You need to be rational about this," and those things don't work so well when the sirens sing and the drums start beating. Is it any wonder that so many people can't deal with sex and drugs when they're never taught how to dance with Dionysos without getting torn to pieces by the Maenads?

And now, after reading some stuff Belledame linked to, including some commentary on Little Light's brilliant monsterdom piece, I'm puttering about reading the Bacchae....

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