Your Eve was wise, John. She knew that Paradise would make her mad, if she were to live forever with Adam and know no other thing but strawberries and tigers and rivers of milk. She knew they would tire of these things and each other. They would grow to hate every fruit, every stone, every creature they touched. Yet where could they go to find any new thing? It takes strength to live in Paradise and not collapse under the weight of it. It is every day a trial. And so Eve gave her lover the gift of time, time to the timeless, so that they could grasp at happiness....And this is what Queen Abir gave to us, her apple in the garden, her wisdom--without which we might all have leapt into the Rimal in a century. The rite bears her name still. For she knew the alchemy of demarcation far better than any clock and decreed that every third century husbands and wives should separate, customs should shift and parchmenters become architects, architects farmers of geese and monkeys, Kings should become fishermen and fishermen become players of scenes. Mothers and fathers should leave their children and go forth to get other sons and daughters, or to get none if that was their wish. On the roads of Pentexore folk might meet who were once famous lovers, or a mother and child of uncommon devotion--and they would laugh and remember, but call each other by new names and begin again as friends, or sisters, or lovers, or enemies. And some time hence all things would be tossed up into the air once more and land in some other pattern. If not for this, how fastened, how frozen we would be, bound to one self, forever a mother, forever a child. We anticipate this refurbishing of the world like children at a holiday. We never know what we will be, who we will love in our new, brave life, how deeply we will wish and yearn and hope for who knows what impossible thing!Well, we anticipate it. There is fear too and grief. There is shaking and a worry deep in the bone. Only the Oinokha remains herself for all time--that is her sacrifice for us. There is sadness in all this, of course--and poets with long elegant noses have sung ballads full of tears that break at one blow the hearts of a flock of passing crows! But even the most ardent lover or doting father has only two hundred years to wait until he may try again at the wheel of the world and perhaps the wheel will return his wife or his son to him. Perhaps not. Wheels and worlds, are cruel. Time to the timeless, apples to those who live without hunger. There is nothing so sweet and so bitter, nothing so fine and so sharp.
Catherynne M. Valente
Popular magazine articles and Oprah-style television shows falsely represent work-life balance as an individual challenge, a lifestyle choice available to all women. The feminism on offer is woefully thin and unpleasurable. On the high end of the income scale, feminism seems to mean working even more than men. The media celebrate women such as Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and former secretary of state and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for her brutal work ethics--magazine articles report, awestruck, they they barely sleep, that their staffs struggle to match their work hours, that they've become the rare female leaders in their spheres by laboring harder than male colleagues. Mayer reported proudly that while at Google, she would sleep under her desk. By this measure, feminism, that Utopian striving for equality that we've carried through centuries of opposition, is boiled down merely to the right to work ourselves to death. If feminism means the right to sleep under my desk, then screw it. And this is a vision that can be palatable, just barely, only at the high end of the economy where work is plausibly couched in self-actualization. . . . If any feminism is going to be worth its name, it will improve the lives of all women instead of setting them in competition with each other or applying only to this or that region or income stratum. Liberal feminism would grant women the right to compete. A radical feminism would grant women a good life in which they have real power.
Sarah Léonard