"We, Hermia, like two artificial gods,
Have with our needles created both one flower,
Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion,
Both warbling of one song, both in one key,
As if our hands, our sides, voices, and minds,
Had been incorporate. So we grew together,
Like to a double cherry—seeming parted
But yet an union in partition—
Two lovely berries molded on one stem;
So, with two seeming bodies but one heart,
Two of the first, like coats in heraldry,
Due but to one and crownèd with one crest.
And will you rent our ancient love asunder
To join with men in scorning your poor friend?"
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act III Scene II, William Shakespeare
"Notice that Shakespeare ascribes to love between girls a pseudodivine power, a spiritually fertile quality. Like ‘gods’ the two ‘create’ a flower with their needles, and the ‘double cherry’ is a literally fruitful image (as well as a symbol of virginity). […] Helena’s is a more psychological question—‘And will you rent our ancient love asunder?’—which clearly echoes the Anglican marriage ceremony, with its ‘Those whom God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.’ She is not accusing Hermia here of taking her man, but of something rather more subtle: letting men into the secret garden of girls’ love."
like this is seriously blowing my mind the first time I read this book like
hermia and helena??? YES reread EVERY text for love between women
I love that this is the academic way of just going
America seriously needs to reconsider calling itself “the world’s policeman” considering how our own police force treats our own people
"The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was."
Bottom, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act IV, scene 1
Well, he’s not wrong…
Penelope and her Suitors, John William Waterhouse, 1912
musings on race in the Golden Compass
So the book The Golden Compass has limited racial diversity… big surprise there, it was written by a middle-aged white English guy, raised Anglican, straight and cis, educated at Oxford. That’s privilege on top of privilege, smothered in privilege.
My usual stand when it comes to representation from writers such as these is, there’s no malicious intent when everyone’s white… there’s hardly any intention at all. Unconscious bias, an unconscious idea that this is what your protagonist looks like, these are the major players around him/her, and other options don’t even come into play. It’s not deliberate, but it’s still erasure.
Allow me to over-think this anyway.
I guess you’re right — it would never cross Pullman’s mind to write Lyra (or any other major character) as a PoC, and totally out of his unconscious privilege, of course, not out of deliberate thinking.
I’ve just re-read the trilogy and then I came straight to tumblr hoping against hope for this kind of discussion, so thanks to you both in the first place. Pullman and race, I think, are a super interesting conversation to have, and I really thought critically about it while I read the book….
First of all, I was wrong. Samoyeds are a distinct ethnic/cultural group in our world, and they are not the HDM-verse equivalent of the Sami. I apologize for that.
Second of all, I was only writing about the first book, but I applaud you for going further.
Below the cut, expect some disagreement with what your assessment, and an essay on the heritage of Mary Malone.