I am also delighted to announce that the delightfully illustrated book of this essay is now available on pre-order, via this link: 'ON VISION AND BEGIN HUMAN: Exploring the Menstrual, Neurological and Symbolic Origins of Religious Experience'. Release date for the book is November 1st 2015.
but let's just say, for a moment, that it did...
But the males fear her too, for it is not just the women who bear a sense of belonging. They are brothers of the hunt, they are beginning to express profound attachments to a parallel symbolic world of blood, and they can see that in her attraction, there is the nightmare of banishment. In this moment, invisibly lost in the sisterhood, she is the embodiment of the invisible world that is beginning to emerge.
She disappears from sight, hidden away in a place known only to the women, where only her closest relatives may attend to her. They raise her from the ground, lest her awesome power should cause a storm, or a flood, or the ending of the (again, symbolic) world. At length, perhaps during the few days of the New Moon, she is painted with red ochre and dressed for her reappearance as a woman. The cry of the women goes out and the men dash to attend, arriving to be greeted by an array of red-painted apparitions. Slowly, the women part to reveal what in later epochs will come to be called an epiphany, but it is of a profoundly strange kind, for the girl who disappeared is no longer visible.
Only the world of symbolism embodied by the invisible girl's equally unseen moral force can resolve the tension of instincts that follows. Every sensual perception that she is a young woman in the prime of life is over-ruled by a newly evolved symbolic cognition that insists on her her 'otherness', and the very danger of her fertility paradoxically signals her unavailability to the males and her safety to the females. Now, in place of the girl is an upright-walking antelope, covered in red ochre patterns: a female-to-male transgender therianthrope who holds a stick which every man knows is the symbolic phallus that informs their own sexuality, while across her thighs are patterns that symbolise the currently-invisible moon.
She begins to dance, mimicking the movements of all the male animals she knows, but especially the Antelope Bull. The intense signalling of her body paint, bead decorations and even animal parts becomes a collectively-held fiction based upon no directly verifiable situation, yet the deceit becomes more real than the evidence of the tribe's own eyes. Her hyperreality is not based on accurate semblance but on an energy-intensive explosion for the senses, amplified by her movements which become infused with an incipient simultaneity of human and antelope, female and male. She is magically unreachable, an embodiment of the hidden world for which the tribe are developing an emerging experience, and as the dance continues, she draws out a narrative which the tribe knows is being played out somewhere in the wilderness among the ‘real’ animals: she reaches out through symbolic associations to draw the animals near to watch.
The similarly red-painted women join in and dance like antelope cows, for wild animals are as the tribe well know all female, so the sight of this powerfully fertile 'male' creature attracts their attention. They approach to dance just as the women are dancing. She is becoming the First Animal Master, her dance is affecting more than just the tribe, and due to her strange attraction, the men know that in a few days those animals will be close enough to their home range for a hunt to begin.
There is nothing like her in the 'real world', nothing so intensely coloured or so strangely dressed, no animal or tribe member so bizarre looking. She is wholly different from the world of the senses and her unavailability begins to subtly change for some into an unknowability, a creature endowed with a force which seems to defy all the agencies of the everyday world and governs every aspect of the tribe's social reality. She becomes the embodiment of the raw and the cooked, the distinction of nature and culture, and the moral law that eating raw meat is as wrong as philandering sex because she is unavailable.
She is the evolutionary doorway through which verifiable signs become unhinged from directly perceivable reality, liquidly transforming words and gestures into expressions of unseen intentions and movements. This strange dancing creature who personifies this invisible realm gazes upon the world with wide and unsettling eyes that seem both dead and fascinatingly alive, for her many days alone and her magic dancing have placed her into a deep trance, and the final component of the full message of her actions to the tribe falls into place... ‘wrong species, wrong gender, wrong time, not alive... otherworldly’.
ON VISION AND BEING HUMAN
Exploring the Menstrual, Neurological and Symbolic Origins of Religious Experience
340 pages & 30 illustrations, with endnotes, annotations and references.
Pre-Order September 1st 2015. Release Date November 1st 2015.