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18 November 1987 Personal Correspondence on Women, Myth, and Goddesses (PDF)


Ts-itstsinako, Thought Woman

is sitting in her room

and whatever she thinks about


She thought of her sisters,

Nau’ts’ityi and I’tots’ityi

and together they created the Universe

this world

and the four worlds below.

Thought Woman, the spider,

named things and

as she named them

they appeared

She is sitting in her room

thinking of a story now

I am telling you the story

she is thinking.



I will tell you something about stories (she said)

They aren’t just entertainment.

Don’t be fooled.

They are all we have, you see,

all we have to fight off

illness and death.

You don’t have anything

if you don’t have the stories.

Their evil is mighty

But it can’t stand up to our stories.

So they try to destroy the stories

let the stories be confused or forgotten.

They would like that

They would be happy

Because we would be defenseless then

She rubbed her belly

I keep them here (she said)

Here, put your hand on it

See, it is moving.

There is life here

for the people.

And in the belly of this story

the rituals and the ceremony are still growing.

[Leslie Marmon Silko: Ceremony]


Nov. 18, ’87

Dear Pam

In the poem [Ceremony], I changed (He said) to (She said). It makes more sense that way. Silko’s book was quoted by Paula Gunn Allen, and I was checking the source for the purpose of finding some illustrations for my story on Linear/Non-Linear Dynamics.

The “Belly” is Ghii Lii, but I do not know if you would like to use that or not. I am trying to make up some “intellectual model” for those academic snobs who are not enlightened enough to appreciate the sacredness of the Womb, particularly described as “Belly” — of perhaps the Mother who is old enough to tell stories —.

Like we talked about, Stories (Myths) are in the hands of Males nowadays. I think that is why Silko wrote (He said). But, that brings the question of how Women lost the status as the Myth Makers.

I forgot who wrote it in what book, but it is a standard theory in Sociology that Women lost their status when “external relations” (trade, war) invaded tribal communities. It was an almost universal reaction of tribal communities all over the world that the “external relations” were handled by “Warriors” who were, by and large, males. Paula also  says the same as to the “degradation” of women’s status in Native communities which came in contact with “outsiders”.

[There were some exceptions. In the Japanese Myth I sent a copy to you last week, the Goddess Amenouzume was a “diplomat”. Besides, ancient Japan was ruled by an Empress, and even pregnant women went to wars along with men. They were like Amazons, who supposedly lived in Northern Europe, possibly Czechoslovakia. In my father’s country in northern Japan, peasant women used to be the ones who sold and bought things, until 1945 or so. Peasant men in the country were, in general, “reclusive” and did not like to deal with strangers. They talked only when they were drunk, but then they could not count money. “Samurai” Warriors were the complete opposite, which supports the theory in Sociology.]

But, trades and wars were “external”. How did that become “internal”? Why is Myth Making lost?

I am not against the “happy myths” that women make about “A little cozy house with a white picket fence and Sunday strolls to a park with children”. It is a worthwhile Myth and I hope the Myth becomes a reality for every woman. After all, the Socialist Ideal that Rosa Luxemburg fought for, with all her intellect and passion, was for the happiness of all people in that sense. And, in that sense, European Socialist movements had at least a partial success, in terms of a compromise called “Welfare Capitalism”. That is, Rosa’s Myth becomes true, to a degree. It is rather the megalomaniac Utopia of men-socialists, such as that of Stalin, Hitler, and Big Money Men, that brought disasters.

You read Silko’s poem, with a minor substitution of “Myths” for “Stories”. The “Theory” is absolutely correct. When women make up a Myth of the New World, the New World comes. That will be, for sure, the reality sooner or later.

Women, with their “manipulative minds”, can make men do most anything. Men would not know what was happening to them. It was Women — said to have been some 200 of them — who made Jesus do what he did. It was ladies who made Galileo do science, by their show of support in terms of “popularity” and perhaps coy flatteries. Galileo was known to be a lover of wine and women.

The only exception was Newton. Young Newton adored a daughter of a pharmacist in his town. But she did not even look at him. And we all know the dreadful result of that. If Human Race annihilates itself by Nuclear War, I shall blame women for their part in frustrating men, driving them crazy, and making them desperately suicidal. To be sure, however, before men can blame women, women of the world must be given a universal and absolute “Natural Right” to each own “a little cozy house”. You may not have noticed it, but with some 800 Billion Dollars we have been spending on armaments every year, we can do that. (No less than 40 million houses a year. And think about the employment they would create, plus the secondary effects on the economy.) The problem is, of course, the “egg and chicken”. We are in a Vicious Circle — a bad type of Non-Linear Dynamics —.

The only way to get out of the Vicious Circle is Myth Making. I do not go into mathematics here. But the same can be explained in cases like the “high jump”. Athletic coaches would tell you that the first thing one has to do is to make an Image of one jumping high. If you cannot see yourself jumping high, you cannot jump high. That is the most important “pedagogical” secret.

If you can imagine that you are doing it, then you can do it. Whatever the “it” is. If we can see what Indian Reserves look like, then that is what it shall be. We do not have Peace, simply because we do not know what Peace looks like. In dealing with Vicious Circle situations, Imagination, i.e. Myth Making is the most important thing. If we have a “Story”, we can jump. That is why I am “holding a gun to your head” — though I would prefer a better metaphor —.

OK I tell you a story. The story is about a strange man and an author. This strange man used to stand on a bridge over a river in Tokyo. There was a sand bar in the river. This strange man, on a certain weekday, every week, would go there and look at the sand bar. The author also had a habit of taking a walk and passing by the bridge on the same evenings. Eventually, the writer came to know the man and they started to talk. The man was thinking of building a beautiful town on the sand bar. I do not remember the details, but I guess it was something like Utopia. Maybe it was a Woman Town, consisting of “cozy little houses” with flower gardens and parks.

The writer did not believe a single thing this strange man was talking about. It was a crazy dream, nothing more than an “escape from reality”. But nevertheless those two kept meeting and discussed all details of the Town Plan.

Then, like any story of this kind, it came to an end. One evening, the writer came to the bridge, but the strange man was not there. The next week, the writer waited a little longer, but the dreamer did not show up. The next next week, the writer went a little earlier and waited. No show. A month passed. A season passed. A year passed. In the dusk of Tokyo, the writer kept looking at the sand bar in the River Sumida. The Utopia was no longer there. And there the story ended.

I must have been 10 years old or so when I read it. But the sad feeling is still with me. My mother did not even know that I was reading stuffs like that. My teachers, schoolmates, brothers, would not have known what the feeling was like, even if I told the story to them. Only my sister knew that I was reading, but I did not tell her about the story. And that I learned math, physics, Marxism, Christianity, etc., including digging into Bear Shit, has to do with the story too.

I am looking for the imagination lost.

You see I am the writer still looking for the man with the strange imagination. I am not holding a gun at you. I am hanging on to the imagination.

What you are talking about may be a dreaming nonsense. But it is important to me. I expect you to be a Myth Maker. You have to tell me your “Stories”.

If you cannot find words, I supply you tons of words. As long as there is a vision, in a sense of even being a feeling, there will be words for it. If not, we make up words. If you can’t get the picture right, someone will dram it for you. One thing about Myths is that they are communal properties. Don’t try to monopolize the burden like Jesus Christ — even his case was not an egoistic enterprise  as the Bible distorted it to be —. You are not even a Christian.

Back to the “Woman talk”. The difficulty of Ghii Lii is from its Femininity. C. Kerenyi open the chapter on Kore by saying “How can a man know what a woman’s life is?”

[Essays On A Science of Mythology. C.G. Jung, and C. Kerenyi. Princeton U Press 1949. BL313 J83.]

Kore, a Greek goddess, Holy Virgin, The Mother Earth, The Female Spirit of the Universe, is dated some 5,000 B.C. Her name is spelled variously, like “Car”, “Carna”, “Ker”, “Kali” and apparently worshipped all over Indo-European World, including Egypt. The Myth is the oldest, from the time before any Male Gods appeared. But the Kore Myth was destroyed. We only have fragments, and with many distortions. Probably you do not think of this, but to me it was obvious from the beginning that Ghii Lii has to do with the Female Spirit. It was “Water” that led me to it. That led me to Paula’s books, etc.

Now I have a hell of a problem. How can a man know what a woman’s life is?

It is one thing to talk of a “different culture” in terms of, say, male anthropologists interrogating male informers. As long as “Culture” is defined by Males, there is a hope in understanding. But what I am facing is something else. I try “Geometry/Field” — because that is the only thing I know —. Hopefully there is some Female Principle in Geometry/Field, enough to get to Ghii Lii. But that is tough going.

At any rate, let us see what we can get out of this mess. Like I said, Levi-Strauss could not do it. So if we fail, there is nothing to be ashamed of (in and intellectual sense). But, for the sake of the life of people under oppression, I hope someone will find a way. I remind you that many people pampered you (a pun intended), because you hold a key. In a sense, we are “mouse woman” to you as the “bad tempered, flighty, headstrong girl” in the “Bear Shit” story narrated by Bill Reid. If and when she become the noble Bear Mother is an open question at the moment.



P.S. In summer 1988, I am offering Physics 2020 “Physics And Society”. I will be talking of the Role of Scientists in the Nuclear Arms Race/Destruction of the World. Would you kindly consider talking about Native Science in the course? The summer course will likely be offered in July (in the second session). However, if we do not get enough enrollment, it will be withdrawn.