Satellites Out of Orbit by Chris Wind

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    Epistles:

      Eve (849w – 6min) challenges her guilt for the ‘fall of Man’;
      after all, she chose knowledge over ignorance, experience over
      innocence…
      Lilith (280w – 2min) challenges her exile from Eden for stealing
      Adam’s sperm and making demons with it
      Abel (716w – 5min) presents a more plausible story: Abel, tiller of
      the soil, was a woman; Cain, slaughterer of animals, was a man; which
      one would God favor and with what consequence?
      Cain’s wife (91w – 1min) – Her existence is never acknowledged,
      and no surprise that she is the first battered wife
      Noah’s wife (417w – 3min) – Guess who does all the shit work on
      the ark?  (and she doesn’t even have a name)
      Hagar (534w – 3min), according to legend, the first victim of female
      circumcision, examines that practice from a feminist point of view
      Zipporah (677w – 5min) – The Ten Commandments were clearly
      intended for men…
      ‘The certain woman’ (228w – 2min) examines the politics of men
      being killed by women, and the implications of that for war
      Delilah (665w – 5min) shows us a completely different, and
      unflattering, picture of Samson
      Eshta (913w – 6min) – A man offers his daughter to a gang of men,
      to protect his male guest, telling them basically to do what they want
      with her; I’ve given her a name,  Eshta, and a voice
      Ruth (85w – 1min) considers what it means to be ‘a virtuous
      woman’
      The Queen of Sheba (763w – 5min) is not impressed with King
      Solomon.
      Vashti (483w – 3min) has the nerve to disobey her husband, a King no
      less.
      Judith (563w – 4min), part of the resistance, and an assassin,
      speculates as to why her story isn’t in the Bible.
      Mary, the mother of God (1129w – 13min) – Imagine what it would
      really mean to be the mother of a god…
      Mary of Bethany (1133w – 13min) – the thirteenth apostle
      Mary Magdalen (756w – 5min) – much maligned as a prostitute, Mary
      Magdalen sets her story straight with a close reading of Luke and
      John
      Thecla (398w – 3min) – the Reverend Thecla, if you please.
      Satan (744w – 5min) – Who else but a woman would have reason to
      rise up and rebel against the Almighty Father?  And who but a woman
      would bypass Adam in the Garden and approach Eve instead with the gift
      of the knowledge of good and evil?  Makes perfect sense.

      Letters:

      The Portrait – (about 6 minutes) Mrs. Mozart writes a letter to her
      daughter, Nannerl, Wolfgang’s sister, explaining the second-class
      treatment she has received, but asking her, nevertheless, to apologize
      for her justified reaction
      The Protest – (about 3 minutes) Alethea, a fictional woman living in
      4th century Athens, writes to Agnodice, her obstetrician—who has had
      to disguise herself as a man in order to practice, but who is then
      charged with corruption—to express her support and describe a
      Lysistratian protest she has organized
      The Ride – (about 7 minutes) Lady Godiva writes to her fictional
      sister, Gawaina, agonizing over her decision to ride naked through the
      town (a decision she makes in order to secure her husband’s promise
      that he would lower taxes, thus alleviating the heavy burden borne by
      the peasantry)
      The Experiment – (about 4 minutes) a milkmaid writes to Mrs. Phipps,
      urging her not to let Edward Jenner inject cowpox into her son (since
      it is already known, but dismissed as an old wives’ tale, that
      getting cowpox makes one immune to smallpox)
      The Patent – (about 7 minutes) Catherine Greene shares her
      invention, the cotton gin, with Catherine the Great, rejecting the
      notion of intellectual ownership for personal profit
      The Model – (about 3 minutes) Suzanne Fourment discourages her
      sister, Helen, from becoming, also, one of Rubens’ models, partly
      because it would encourage young women to binge in efforts to achieve
      the lush and unrealistic-for-most body that was in favour at the time
      The Stone – (about 5 minutes) Renaissance sculptress Properzia,
      famous for her miniaturist sculpture of peach pits, writes to her
      fictional friend Benetta criticizing her ‘buying into’ the
      ‘bigger is better’ view exemplified by her choice to work with
      large blocks of marble
      The Ring – (about 15 minutes) Martha Bernays, Freud’s wife, writes
      a long letter to Lou Salome, Freud’s mistress, about her marriage,
      her opinion of Freud, and her opinion of his theories
      The Grapes – (about 4 minutes) Mary, one of Milton’s three
      daughters, writes to her sister, Deborah, urging her to leave their
      abusive father

      Soliloquies:

      Ophelia (6p) questions the advice of her brother Laertes and her
      father Polonius, accusing them both of projection, then extends her
      criticism to Hamlet, examining both his words and actions, in the end
      revealing that she did not kill herself, the weight of her dress
      dragged her down.
      Regan (1p) presents a fresh look at King Lear, showing how the pieces
      fit a story of sexual abuse.
      Portia (2p) is enraged that she is not allowed to use her fine mind to
      choose her own husband and that she must disguise herself as a man in
      order to practice law.
      Desdemona (1p) examines the charge of infidelity brought against her
      and finds it sorely wanting.
      Kate (3p) examines what it is to be called a ‘shrew’ and then
      recounts the events of the play, which show with frightening
      plausibility that she was a victim of so-called ‘domestic
      assault’.
      Isabella (1p) considers the choice before her and has no trouble
      agreeing to sex for a life.
      Juliet (2p) pooh-poohs love at first sight – she just wants to have
      sex.
      Marina (1p) reveals the truth of her life – as a child prostitute.
      Miranda (2p) explores why mothers are so absent in Shakespeare’s
      world.

      Fairy Tales:

      Gretel (658w – 5min) – Gretel reveals the gender stereotypes in
      her tale and points out that she, not Hansel, saved them (though she
      resents having to ‘play dumb’ to do so).
      Cinderella (727w – 5min) – Cinderella’s stepsister tells quite a
      different story about what happened, and she doesn’t think much of
      Cinderella (but “Hey, if the (glass) shoe fits, wear it!”)
      Little Red Riding Hood (1056w – 6min) – An updated version of the
      story has a girl accosted by a young man as she walks through the park
      on the way to visit her grandmother, and she and her grandmother
      manage just fine without the green archer coming to their rescue: she
      breaks his kneecap, and her grandmother breaks his collarbone.
      Snow White (728w – 5min) – Turns out Snow White is a prostitute:
      first, maid, mother, and mistress to seven men, then she goes with the
      prince (“You mean you didn’t know the prince was a pimp? Oh come
      on. He took one look at me and offered to buy me!”), then she goes
      out on her own as an independent.
      Alice (1831 – 12min) – An amusing tale by Alice, the fisherman’s
      wife, who, once she becomes King, makes some big changes!
      The Wicked Stepmother (305w – 2min) – Yes, she insulted her
      stepdaughter, but only so she’d abandon her silly quest for physical
      beauty.
      Greystrands (1104w – 7min) – Greystrands is what became of
      Goldilocks, of course.
      Catherine (402w – 2min) – Whether she gets to keep her newborn
      baby or not is decided by a guessing game?!  A GUESSING GAME??!!
      Sleeping Beauty (517w – 3min) – ““Is it you, my prince? I have
      waited for you a long time.” Give me a break!”
      Thumb (1732w – 12min) – What happens when people can’t figure
      out if the little person is Tom Thumb or Thumbelina?


      I am Eve

          the bad girl, the evil woman.
          I stand accused, and sentenced. Without a trial. For life.
          Because of my single action, millions of individuals have been
      born with ‘original sin’, have been guilty even before they acted,
      doomed before they started. I alone have been held responsible for
      this sad and pathetic fallen race. Therefore, let me begin by
      correcting this: if I were free not to fall in the first place, they
      were free not to fall after me; and if I were not free, then I can’t
      be held responsible—for my fall or theirs.
          Now, let us further examine the charges, let us correctly
      define that action.
          I have been condemned for choosing knowledge over ignorance:
      the fruit I ate came from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
      In a society that praises pursuit of knowledge and honours men of
      wisdom, why have I been viewed with disfavour? Had Adam reached out
      first, would he have been so rebuked? Or is the state of ignorance
      requisite for women only? (Histories pass on Socrates, they pass over
      Aspasia.)
          In the same vein, I chose experience over innocence. In a
      context of attitudes that value experience, the disapproval of my
      action can only imply the desire that women, like children, live in a
      state of innocence.
          I have also been condemned for disobedience. If that were the
      issue, then why wasn’t the tree so named—‘the tree of obedience
      and disobedience’ or ‘the tree of temptation’. By naming it what
      it was not, God either deliberately tempted me or deliberately
      deceived me. And he should be judged, not I.
          Perhaps though, the tree really was a tree of knowledge. In that
      case, one should wonder what insecurities led God to prefer obedience
      over knowledge. Indeed, one should wonder why he went so far as to
      forbid knowledge. The reason is evident in Genesis (3:22-23): he
      didn’t want us to equal him. He sent us out of Eden to prevent our
      eating from the tree of life, because already we were as wise for
      having eaten from the tree of knowledge, and if we had made it to the
      tree of life before he found us, we would’ve been immortal as
      well—we would’ve been as godly.
          And that takes me onward, for counted among my sins is that of
      pride. Considering that later, through his son, God commands us to
      ‘follow in his footsteps’, I find the label of pride odd for the
      action that would do just that—make me like God. Furthermore, I find
      it odd to be condemned for being like God when, after all, he created
      us in his image (Gen 1:26-27). And God certainly is proud: to create
      us in his image can be called narcissistic, and to prefer us to spend
      our time admiring him rather than learning about him is equally
      evidence of pride. (As an aside, I would think that my knowledge would
      increase my admiration; that wasn’t why I ate the fruit, but if it
      was, would it have mattered? Did God ever ask my intent?)
          I have also been charged with a lack of faith. Yet I took it
      on faith in the first place that God told us not to eat from the tree:
      remember, he gave the command to Adam before I even existed (Gen
      2:16-17). (I don’t rule out the possibility that the command
      therefore was meant only for Adam—God knew that knowledge in the
      hands of men is a dangerous thing.) Further, I had faith in the
      serpent, I trusted the serpent to be telling the truth. Is it
      dishonourable to trust?
          And is it reprehensible to act on that trust, as I did then in
      offering the fruit to another, to Adam? God commanded innocence, then
      held me responsible for an act of innocent intent. For how could I
      know my faith was misplaced? How could I know the serpent was evil
      until I had knowledge of good and evil? By telling us not to eat of
      the tree, he insisted on ignorance—but then held us responsible, for
      an act of ignorance.
          Lastly, I have been condemned for using my reason, for it is
      through the exercise of reason that I decided to eat the fruit. The
      serpent’s explanation of God’s motives, that the knowledge of good
      and evil would make us godly and he didn’t want us to equal him (Gen
      3:5), seemed very reasonable to me. God’s command on the other hand,
      not even to touch the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil
      because then I’d die, seemed so very unreasonable. Where is the
      fault in using that faculty given to me by God? The fault is not mine,
      but God’s: he made reason guide our will and left our reason prey to
      deceit.
            Or did he? History has it that the serpent’s words were
      false, that I was deceived. But God’s words after the fact (Gen 3:22
      “Behold, the man is become as one of us”) verify the serpent’s
      prediction (Gen 3:5 “Ye shall be as gods”): the serpent was
      telling the truth. And in fact God lied: he said we would die (Gen
      3:3) if we touched the fruit of that tree, and we didn’t—at least
      not for several hundred years. And so I stand condemned, for listening
      to truth. And for offering that truth to others.


      *****

      The Portrait

      My dearest Nannerl,
          Of course you have a right to be upset about the portrait.
      After all, you performed right alongside your brother; in fact, your
      father had the bills printed to read “Two World Wonders.” Two, not
      one. You were with Wolfgang on the 1762 tour through Passau and Linz
      to Munich and Vienna; I remember Count Zinzendort called you (not
      Wolfgang) “a little master”. And you went again through Germany,
      in 1763, this time to Augsburg and Ludwigsburg as well as Munich, on
      to Paris, and then to London where the two of you performed that
      sonata for the Queen of England. And in 1765 you performed in Holland.
      No, do not doubt yourself, Nannerl: you were quite correct in calling
      Carmontelle’s portrait inaccurate because it shows Wolfgang at the
      keyboard, your father at the violin, and you merely holding the music
      for them. And he said you insulted him! I do know how you feel about
      the matter and I am completely on your side. Nevertheless, I must ask
      you to apologize.
          And I know that your father’s recent decision to leave you at
      home and take only Wolfgang on this next tour doesn’t make it any
      easier. Though I admit to being glad not to be left at home by myself
      for once, I know it is terribly unfair. And I am writing this letter
      not to excuse or justify your father, but to explain. Nannerl, you are
      not to take his decision personally. It is not, as you first thought,
      that you are not good enough. Recall the Elector of Munich insisted on
      hearing you play the clavier, not Wolfgang; and there are many who
      share his high regard for your abilities. Nannerl, you are an
      excellent musician, a great performer. Nor is it that you have fallen
      out of favour with your father; he loves you as much as he ever did.
      (Which is, unfortunately, not as much as he loves Wolfgang. He is a
      man of his times. Didn’t you ever wonder why he started Wolfgang on
      lessons at a younger age than he started you? Surely you noticed he
      spent more time with Wolfgang? And it wasn’t until Wolfgang was
      ready to appear in public that he let you perform. You were young
      then, and perhaps did not notice… All the better. But I know
      Wolfgang had a head start right from birth and—but enough, I am
      getting ahead of myself.) Nor is the reason for your father’s
      decision, as you also suggested, that he considers you too frail to
      withstand life on the road. Wolfgang too came down with typhus in
      Holland.
          Then why, you must be crying out! Let me try to explain. There
      is a time in every girl’s life when, suddenly, people stop treating
      her as a person—and start treating her, instead, as a mere woman.
      All of the doors that until that time were open are suddenly shut. All
      except one. It happens to every one of us, some time between twelve
      and twenty. It is happening now to you. (And later, when that door has
      been passed through, it too will close, and there will be nothing
      left: nothing left open to go back to, and nothing open yet to go
      forward to. As soon as I gave birth to a boy, your father’s
      attention rapidly shifted: I was of no more importance and Wolfgang
      was everything—but again I digress.)
          This time of life is particularly difficult for someone like
      you, someone for whom the open doors promised such glory and richness.
      Why, when still a youth you were performing in all the great centers
      of Europe, you received excellent reviews and return engagements, you
      were meeting with all the important musicians of the day, you had a
      knowledge and experience of the outside world forbidden to others of
      your sex and age. And you were beautiful too, I know enough of the
      world to know this is an asset. Oh Nannerl, you had it all! Not even
      your brother had your beauty! But he had something more important: the
      right sex.
            It’s a betrayal, I know it. It dashes to the ground all of
      the things you thought mattered: ability, dedication, desire. I had a
      talent for singing. I found it hard too, when I realized that I was
      not destined to become a famous singer. But, alas, I loved your father
      and wanted a family, so I accepted that loss for another gain. But
      you, Nannerl, I suspect it will be a long time before you marry, if at
      all, and perhaps you will not have any children. So it must be
      particularly frustrating and painful to have the only door you ever
      wanted open, suddenly closed.
            I know this is little consolation, and indeed in a less
      generous heart, it would be salt to the wound, but remember, without
      you, Wolfgang would not be where he is today. You helped him become
      what he is. Much as your father likes to take all the credit for
      Wolfgang, it is simply not true. He had a family to support, a job to
      do, and while he was away playing in the consort, and directing the
      choir, it was you Wolfgang learned from. Remember in London, when
      Wolfgang was introduced to Johann Christoph Bach and the two of them,
      taking turns, with Wolfgang seated between Bach’s legs, the two of
      them played a sonata together and afterwards improvised. What a
      delight that was to everyone! Of course I knew it was with you he
      learned how to do that. I remember you, as a mere girl of ten, taking
      your little brother, then six, and ‘babysitting’ him just like
      that. And there was so much more. All the musical games you made up,
      and the time you spent helping his little hand form the notes on the
      staff when he could not yet write the letters of the alphabet. When I
      saw how much more valuable it was to have you spend time with your
      music and with your brother, well, I did not force upon you all the
      domestic duties it is common for daughters to bear. Besides, how many
      women get to do the washing and cooking to the music of such artistic
      genius!
            And all of that makes this last bit even harder to tell you.
      You suggested that I ask Carmontelle to re-do the portrait. That is an
      excellent idea, but it cannot be done. You see, the one you saw was
      already a second version, done at my insistence. Nannerl, in the first
      one, you were not there at all. The man had excluded you completely,
      left you out altogether. (And the portrait you see now is his idea of
      atonement.)

      Love,

      Mother


      *****

      Juliet

          Romeo, Romeo,
          Where the hell art thou?

          Have you stopped along the way
          To play at your stupid battle games?

          Or have you changed your mind,
          And decided not to come
          Thinking me too ‘easy’ and thus insincere:
          What perversion of thought is this?
          Because I say what it is I want,
          Direct and forthright,
          You judge my desire false?
          While the one who dallies,
          Says no to mean yes,
          You deem true and take her
          Seriously?
          Or perhaps you think to be ‘easy’ is to be unchaste:
          If so, you misjudge
          Yourself!
          Because I want you     (I want you)
          Does in no way mean
          I am a woman who wants every man.
          Do you think of yourself so poorly?
          Can you not accept that it is you who–
            That one look of yours makes me wet
          One touch sends a fire through every nerve
              That it is you, standing there
            In your tights so tight
                            And your shirt
                  Carelessly open,
          Your chest–

          Oh Romeo, Romeo,
          Wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?
          ‘Tis true you asked the same last night
          When you came
          And I bid you go
          –For you had come so ill-prepared!

          I bid you go to the Friar–
          Not for a marriage,
          ‘Tis but a farce:
          We say there will be no sex
          Until there is marriage
          Meaning until there is love;
          But if we marry at first sight,
          Then ‘tis surely not a token of love
          But a license for sex.
          (Indeed, my mother’s talk to me
          Of marriage
          Was as awkward as a first broaching
          Of the subject of sex!)
          And what need have we of a license–
          Better use can we make of a sheath!
          (The Friar, do you forget, is also a pharmacist!)

          Yes, I bid you go
          But only to return–
                      Return, Romeo, come–
          Part thy close curtain, love-perfuming night,
          As I will soon mine own unclasp,
                                  let fall,
          To offer sweetest heavens
                            To my love, my Romeo, come–
          Steal upon catpaws silent in the night
          Follow my purr, come,
                            Leap into my arms!
          Let us kiss once for every star in the sky
            A thousand times our lips shall meet!
          Let me feel your body
                            Move sleek along mine
                Let me touch you, Romeo, here     and here
          (‘Tis true, as spoken, strangers’ love is boldest!)
          Flutter your fingers upon my breast,
                Play with me love, at tug and nip
                  ‘Till my body stiffens in arched pleasure!
                Come, let me surround you
          Let me suck at the moon’s liquid
                            ‘Till you clench and howl!
          Then lick me love,
            Seek my treasure with your teasing tongue
              Nibble the pearl in folds of oyster,

                            My hands tearing at your head,
                      ‘Till I am gasping in wild heat,
          Come, now, thrust your hard desire
                                reach deep in to me love–
          Let me feel your panting breath–
          Come night, loving black-silked night,
                                  Come take me, wake me,
                          Make me cry out
                        For more!
          Come, Romeo, come
                  Come,
                          Oh,
                                      Come!

          Nurse laughs to see me so–
          (Though mother would faint,
          Still confusing innocence with ignorance)
          Young love, she mutters, fanning my face;
          But I protest, ‘tis not love,
          Not of ones so young,
          Nor of ones just met–
          Let us be clear:
          Yours was an artful come-on
          (‘Let lips do what hands do’)
          For a classic pick-up–
          ‘Tis young lust, I tell her true:
          I want sex
          With a desire pure as the lace on my bodice;
          She clucks to hear me talk so,
          And I would persist–
                            But what’s in a name?
          That which we call making love
          By any other name
          Feels as good.


      *****

      Cinderella

          Poor little Cinderella! Who more deserving of finding her prince
      and turning into a princess! Yeah, right.
          First off, Cinderella did not have to do all the hardest work
      in the house. Our stepfather was a man of rank, remember, and my
      mother no peasant; we had fine rooms and beautiful clothes, and status
      enough to be invited to the King’s ball. So we certainly had maids
      and servants to scrub the floors and wash the dishes. Cinderella
      offered to help with the work. Probably because she had nothing else
      to do; she didn’t seem interested in much besides pleasing people.
      Drove me crazy.
          And she did not have to sleep “in a straw bed in a poor room
      at the top of the house”. Think her father would put up with that?
      Certainly not. She had a perfectly good bedroom just like the rest of
      us.
          The story goes that my sister and I were proud. True enough.
      What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with being proud of what you
      can do, of what you’ve worked hard to learn well? All those gorgeous
      clothes people kept talking about were of my sister’s making—she
      was into fashion design. And as for me, well, it was known I could
      ride a horse to win most competitions in the land. So sure we were
      proud. But vain? Yes, we spent a lot of time in front of that
      full-length mirror: my sister had to see the effect of her creations
      (and so I suppose she’s as vain as one gets in that line of work),
      and as a favour, especially on days too wet or too cold for the horses
      to be out, I often modeled her half-finished pieces for her. But
      that’s it. I wasn’t even good-looking, by contemporary standards,
      no peaches and cream in my complexion!
          And it’s true, Cinderella wasn’t invited to the ball. But
      only because the King thought she was too young. And we certainly
      didn’t snub her like you think. We called her into our rooms and
      asked her for advice on our clothes, to make her feel part of the
      excitement. She liked that, you know how younger sisters are, she
      wanted to iron this and mend that—we even let her do our hair.
      But we never called her Cinder-wench, or actually, even, Cinderella.
      Her nickname was Kinderella (little child), and somehow the ‘K’
      must have gotten changed to a ‘C’.
          As for what happened at the ball, that’s true too. She was
      very beautiful, our new little stepsister, we never denied that. And
      when beauty and wealth come together, most people fall over themselves
      like asses. Those at the ball were no different: to them, appearance
      is everything. My sister was stunned by Cinderella’s gown, and she
      gawked, it’s true. But out of professional interest, not jealousy as
      most people think. I wasn’t jealous either—I just wanted to ride
      one of those impressive silver stallions she came with.
          And as for that bit about the yellow dress, the story goes that
      Cinderella asked my sister if she could borrow it to wear at the next
      ball, and my sister said no way. Well, I don’t know, that might’ve
      happened, I wasn’t there. That yellow dress is one of her
      favourites, one of the first dresses she made. But I think that if my
      sister had said no, she would’ve offered another instead. Then
      again, Cinderella’s tone can be so sweet and self-effacing
      sometimes, I can imagine my sister saying no out of sheer irritation
      and leaving it at that.
        The rest of the story is pretty much accurate. All three of us
      went to the second ball, Cinderella forgot about her curfew, lost her
      slipper on the way out, and—there is one thing I want to set
      straight: I did not try on the glass slipper. Quite apart from the
      fact that I didn’t want to marry that prince (or any prince, or
      anyone at all, actually)—a glass slipper? You’ve got to be
      kidding, that’d be worse than wearing high heels! Not only would it
      make walking difficult, but with the obvious risk of broken glass,
      cutting, embedding, it would discourage movement altogether. No thank
      you!
          (But as I said to Cinderella, if the shoe fits, wear it.)
          (And we all will live happily ever after.)

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