Oedipus Shmedipus

Oedipus Shmedipus

Mix the flour and butter until they form a coarse mill…

She had started and stopped writing about them several times, going off to bake scones.

Fold in the chopped cranberries, pour one cup of heavy cream…

The dough is a little sticky now, and she finds joy in kneading it; knowing how to be patient, not to add too much flour. Soon she will flatten it to a big circle, and chip away little round shapes with curly edges.

She had begun writing about them several times, and stopped in the midst. It is much simpler to bake scones. Soon she will slide them into the oven, for the soft smells of foreign pastries to spread across and fill the air.

Bake the scones until lightly brown, careful not to overdo it. That's it. There are no more excuses left for her now.

So many times she began writing about them, of Oedipus, Freud and Harold Bloom and every time she stopped. For who is she, this softening woman, to write of these men whose works shape our lives to this very day in a preordained, never ending cycle of violence.

It was in Tu B'shvat (the Jewish celebration of trees) that she was playing with the idea of writing in a humorous spirit about how she is going to cling to high trees… and write about Oedipus and Freud. She ended up baking scones with dried fruits, because that also something to do with Tu B'shvat.

And the scones are ready, sprinkled with powdered sugar and their stories, in all their founding and shaping glory, are still there. You can talk and knead for as long as you like, but no new knowledge will be born here, until you kill someone.

Sophocles wrote the Tragedy of Oedipus nearly 2450 years ago; in which the titular prince was born prophesized to commit Patricide, wed his mother and bring pestilence, woe and sorrows to his people. He wrote a tragedy about blindness and predetermined rivalry. He probably did not foresee a Jewish Austrian Psychiatrist building an entire theory based upon it, about parent/child relationships, human evolution and the society we live in, 2400 years into the future. And then along came Harold Bloom – Another important Jewish fellow – and wrote about the "Anxiety of Influence" and how new knowledge is formed, how creation is born, in the world we live in.

She's meant to write a chapter about this subject in her ever elusive, prolonged Masters Thesis. Instead she bakes scones and writes ambiguous stories. They trouble her mind far too long now, these Men with their Oedipus and repression. Their disinheritance and sublimation of Patricide and all this to create something, that for one passing moment, you feel like maybe had never been written before.

There's something so real about the sticky feel of this dough. You have to be gentle with it, so it won't break, so the butter won't dissolve too much. So the scones will come out equally soft and delicate. There's a recipe, and as long as you follow it everything will be just fine. You can decide to be bold and add pecans. It is better to quell you rebellious streak when it comes to foreign pastry recipes and to heed the instructions. This is not the time to be creative or break new grounds. Save your insurgence for other things.

Coward. You're a coward, she reproaches herself as she removes the broken egg shells from the sink to the trash can. What the hell are you so afraid of? I don't know. Maybe that they won't understand. Think it's rubbish. Fearful that she doesn't have that flare in her, to write until she collapses, to leap and fly. Freud would have had a field day with her.

But the story these men tell bothers her. It is so powerful that for nearly 2500 years no one told another one, as powerful and formative. Every birth, every creation calls for a battle, a disownment, a demonization of what came before it. "This old world to it's foundations we will crumble", because there's no point in anything else.

She misses her grandmother. The tempestuous, and sometimes lost. The one who wrote that art and motherhood share the ability to give unconditionally. Even after there's none but a crumb of the scones she made, her grandmother's words keep striding with her.

She doesn't know how to write without the recipes yet. The stories help her. Guide her. In them she finds wisdom, and comfort.

And there are the stories that haunt her. Like the one about Oedipus being told for 2500 years, on top of which Freud constructed entire theories of penis envy and the drive that turns into sublimation to slay the "Father Figure" and become the Alpha Male. To take what you want and repress the fact that someone was here before you, and that he might have been more eloquent in expressing that which you wish to say. These stories concern her because they clear room in the pages of history for men who took those theories to the extreme. One of which passed away around these very parts just a few weeks ago (former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon). He created and destroyed, built and mostly demolished again. And with his passing, from every corner of the political spectrum people rose to proclaim that many a day shall pass before we witness a leader such as this in our lands. A true Alpha Male.

But she digresses again. Quick to write a parable, to draw the lines between the dots she scattered on the page. She must have "Misunderstanding Anxiety", it's hard for her to be incomprehensible sometimes, and even more to abandon these wanderings among her private memories and associations.

The end is nigh and she decides to emerge from behind the character she's been hiding in. She's just like her anyway. In the language of stories she will say that writing helped her  appear out of this character, because sometimes it's a place to hide and at other a place to be exposed.

This week a dear friend told me that my insistence on interlocking my stories with social change is a kind of burden. That my attempts at connecting the stories with the ever so real world of working for social change  is holding me back from soaring. She's correct, of course. The truth shall set you free, but it's also a bitch. And maybe I do shackle myself to this encumbering anvil, of saying something about social justice, because I am afraid – or worse, can't – Spread my wings and fly. Maybe.

But that is only one part of the story. The other is that I am tenacious. I believe that this connection between stories and social change, is alive and vibrant. It needs to exist.

I started with Oedipus, Freud and Harold Bloom and the story they tell about how the world behaves and how new knowledge, life and creation are born. These tales bother me because I realize I am also bound to them. I doubt myself when I think that there are other ways to be and create in the world, even though it has already been said before my time.

And I'm restraining myself now. Holding back from weaving these threads that are strewn about the page. If I could paint, maybe I would create something with these strands in front of me. But as always, I will let Daniel draw the story of this tale. And he will do something a little different of his own, that will entwine with my own, which is already knotted with the living and the dead. And maybe that is enough of a statement about the processes of creation.

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 Illustration and English translation: Daniel Gouri de Lima

אודות Hamutal Gouri

יועצת ומנחה לשינוי חברתי. מנהלת קרן דפנה - נשים מחוללות יחד שינוי - מספרת סיפורים המאמינה ששינוי מתחיל במקום בו השתיקה נשברת. Consultant, trainer and storyteller for Social Change; Executive Director of the Dafna Fund - Women Collaborating for Change. Believes that change begins when silence is broken
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