Revisiting Marija Gimbutas

Being sick last week had the silver lining of getting to spend a fair bit of time with both Marija Gimbutas’s The Living Goddess and The Language of the Goddess. There is enough accumulated opinion around her work that I might not have otherwise done that had not sickness whittled my world down to a spare space around the couch, where her books, fresh from the library, sat within easy reach. That’s more than a little ridiculous, when you think about the scholarship I would otherwise tolerate from within the greater magical community.

Of course, that’s part of it, isn’t it? The magical community has garnered for itself a sense of academic credibility (at least in its own mind) in part by accepting certain fashionable academic opinions as givens, including the ones that basically suggest Gimbutas is full of it. The spirit of seriousness lures us with the promise of acceptance if only, as Michael Serres observed, we exclude this third man from our dialogue. Or, well, pace Serres, not a third man, but a woman.

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[NB] Symbols and Signs of Decline: Fin-de-siecle France

I’ve been thinking about the Symbolist and Decadent movements of the fin-de-siecle life more generally (which makes Gordon’s recent post timely in a sidelong way; this is the other side of France’s enshrining of Reason, the aesthetic Avignon). Obviously, there is more than a superficial resemblance between Europe on the cusp of the 20th century and the United States on the cusp of the 21st, but there is something else going on, too. Beneath the parallels in situation, there is an inheritance. We aren’t just ‘repeating’ the decline of fin-de-siecle Europe, in part because we are encountering it with the legacy of fin-de-siecle Europe available to us.

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