Summer is a great time for catching up on reading. This summer has seemed endless to me, as have some of the novels I’ve devoured during these lazy, hazy days.
Check out what I’ve been reading:
…and feel free to share what you’ve read this summer–other than Harry Potter!
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Posted in Blog Entries by L. P., Books, Culture, Currently Reading, Entries, Inspiration, Life, Philosophy, Reading, Writing on April 5, 2007|
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Still reading The Golden Bough, Chapter 21, Tabooed Things, including hair and the head.
I think this is interesting given that this taboo continues in some forms today. When I was a girl, I had to wear something on my head to go to church (Episcopal), either a hat or at least a little scrap of lace. Jewish men must wear yarmulkes, Sikhs must not cut their hair and must wear turbans, Muslim women must cover their heads. The reason “rude savages” are all squirrelly about anyone touching their heads or cutting their hair relates to the belief in sympathetic magic, Frazer says. Primitive societies believed that malevolent sorcerers could take pieces from one’s body–hair, nail clippings, even spit–and use that for enchantments. And despite all evidence to the contrary, a “savage” who believes his hair has been burned by an enemy may waste and die, Frazer says–solid proof of the power of mind over matter, belief over reason.
One of the most troubling aspects of our particular time in history is the power of these lingering primitive religious beliefs, wrapped up in thousands of years of semi-rational thought and before that millions of years of irrationality.
Reading The Golden Bough has reaffirmed my disbelief, I must say. I do believe it matters that we live a good life, but hope of reward or fear of punishment in an afterlife has nothing to do with this conviction. I don’t have any idea what happens after we die, and it seems that most religions are pretty much waving our arms around trying to answer that great mystery in a way that keeps fear at bay.
Covering the head before God or wearing a scarf to avoid arousing men’s lust seems senseless to me. After reading Orhan Panuk’s Snow, I can get with headscarfs as a political statement. I can even get with them as a fashion statement. When I was in my late 20s, I traveled to Western Iran, near Tabriz, and the girls there (this was the late 1970s before the Shah was deposed) had these flirty scarfs and wore jeans and platform shoes. I wanted a scarf like that in the worst way.
But if there is a power that binds the universe together, I can’t think it would care that our heads are open to the sun or that the wind blows through our hair.
However, The Golden Bough is rich material for writer, especially for fantasy or historical fiction.
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