The Anguish of Women in Mythology: Quotes from “Wake,Siren”.

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The 2019 novel Wake, Siren: Ovid Resung” by Nina MacLaughlin is a collection of stories from the perspectives of the women mentioned in Ovid’s Metaphorphoses. The overarching themes in the book, evident from each story, are injustice, violation, anguish, and rage against their violators and tormentors. The romanticization of the violation of their bodies, minds and souls, done at the hands of the “heroes” of mythology (thing: Artemis, Apollo, Hermes, etc). These gods that have been in the spotlight for their specific expertise for centuries, while the women of seemingly little value in mythology, and even goddesses, have been used as a means to satisfy their selfish needs. This book puts a new spin on the telling of mythology and finally puts a spotlight on the many women in mythology that have, up until now, been seen as unimportant and worthless in comparison to their male counterparts. This novel beautifully retells the pain and misery of the women, finally putting the narrative into the hands of those who have suffered, rather than those who caused the suffering.

“Is it punishing to be a woman? It is. It will continue to be.”

“These immortals, these two who will not know end, what do they know of pleasure?
For us, earthbound, finite, for we who will die, to dissolve with another body is to brush against immortality, it is to be absorbed into endlessness. We pursue these moments with so much of ourselves. Joined with another body, in whole surrender, in total pleasure, we transcend temporarily our own eventual ends, we enter a place unbound by future or past, we enter into oblivion. We enter the infinity that death is, and we are alive to know it and exist within it for moments […] The gods chase this same oblivion, but what breaks over us as a vast rush of eternity, they experience as the closest thing they can to knowing what it is to die. It is the moment they come closest to mortality. And it explains their fascination with our mortal desire. They taste our ends; we taste their endlessness. […] Our pleasures harder won, we pay for it with our lives. In all our bodies, in all our states of being we seek what does and does not bend to time.”

“What drained the energies right out of me is that you do right, you do finest, you do the best undeniable, you still get punished.”

“Those who love us can never protect us all the way, but they will try and try.”

“A body doesn’t have an opposite. Black and white, colors both. Dog and cat, creatures both. Man and woman, people both.”

“In their carnality, the gods are not so far removed from human states. Their lusts and longings, the wide spectrum of their proclivities. They take interest in mortal acts of love and they descend to our bodies and our beds to taste what we taste, trying to understand their own pleasure better.”

“The greatest pleasure is loss – self, control – an act of surrender.”

“[…]And all those gods, all those deathless ones. They never met regret. They don’t fear mistake because they don’t know consequences. Never guilty, never punished.”

“Pleasure is as individual as our fingerprints, for every person on this earth. Desire, fear, and need press up against our chests, between our legs, in ways that shift through all our lives.”

“The worst of our behaviour rises out of the snarled nest of our fear.”

“God is the voice inside that communicates without language through the dark expanse of time. The voice of god is the endlessness inside you. The voice of god is silent and sensed at the edges.”

“And it is the project of a life to remember how valuable one’s attention is, and the effort it can take to steer it where you want.”

“I am until I am not.”

“Immortality is the death of beauty. Beauty begins in endings.”

“It’s not the snakes that are so petrifying to people. It’s not the servants writhing from my head that turn people to stone. Don’t you know? It is my rage.”

“Darkness has its own gravity. It has its own ways of seducing. Just a little lower, keep coming, you’ll ind something extraordinary. Painful, maybe. Frightening, maybe. But just stay down here long enough and you’ll reach it. That’s the promise of the dark, that eventually you’ll hit something real.”

“There’s no anger without fear. […] And a man whose fear has made him angry is one of the most dangerous kinds of men.”