Because all experiences are valuable.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Nightingale

I have neglected my blog, but like the prodigal son, I have returned. Now where is my fatted calf and feast, I ask? Ok, I'll settle for this box of flax granola here.

Since I left off with The Firebird, I think I will follow up with The Nightingale. This one an actual Hans Christian Anderson tale. Wouldn't it be odd to go back in time and tell Mr. Anderson of the impact his tales have had on the world? How we are all still familiar with them? What would he think of Disney World??

The Nightingale tells the tale of a Chinese Emperor,very rich and very spoiled, who hears that in his forest lives a nightingale, whose song is matchless and divine. He sends courtiers out to find the nightingale and invite her to the palace. She doesn't wish to go, saying her song is best in the quiet solitude of the forest. But she wishes to honor the emperor, so she goes. Everyone is stunned by her beautiful song, and her fame spreads. The Japanese Emperor hears of this, and sends a gift to the Chinese Emperor of a stunningly bejeweled gold mechanical nightingale which winds with a key and never tires.

The real nightingale is asked to sing along with the mechanical one, but she declines.  In the excitement over the perfection and regularity of the golden nightingale, the real nightingale flies away. All the courtiers exclaim how the mechanical one is much better, as she can be made to perform on demand, and her song is always just as expected. The poor fishermen who hear of this shake their heads, because they love the unique and original song of the real nightingale who sings for them in the forest, each time slightly different.

Time passes, and the golden nightingale becomes worn, and it's mechanical springs and gears are becoming worn. It can only be played once a year. The emperor becomes sad and sick. One night Death is so close that he is sitting on the emperor's chest. The emperor is in despair, and he calls for the golden bird to play. But it no longer works at all.
He is so close to death that a new emperor has already been chosen.

credit:Edward DuLac
The real nightingale hears of the emperors illness and flies to his bedside, where she charms Death so well, that he goes away, and the emperor recovers. After that, she agrees to sing at his windowsill  each morning and night, but only if she can sing what nature inspires her to sing, and only if he never tries to put her on display for the palace again. He agrees, and lives many more happy years.


What are we to make of this story. We could see the obvious statements about industrialist societies valuing the mechanical over the human. We could talk about job outsourcing, and moving factories to Mexico and India. We could talk about our disdain for nature and the
effects of our endless pursuit of bigger and better, leaving a trail of garbage and destruction in our wakes. Our key-turning, overwinding obsession with forcing all things to fit or desires and lifestyles has us raping the Earth for less and less nutritious produce, and working the poor honeybees to death. All of these things are valid applications of the moral of this tale.

I'd like to posit another. To me this story speaks to pornography. I've come to think that pornography probably has its place, or even a few places, and ways that it serves. It has been around as long as man has, I'm sure. Here is who it does not serve...women. I've thought and thought, and I cannot come up with one creditable argument as to how pornography honors or advances women. It seems to me that pornography used to be rather hidden. It was there, people knew it, it served its purpose. But by and large, it was kept away from those it harms most: women and children. Maybe those women who had to participate did benefit in surviving one more day on the money they earned, but I'm not sure that is really a life. But maybe they broke free, or had a child who went on to do something great.

But no woman's life was ever improved by loving or giving herself to a "drug" addicted porn user. If you think it isn't a drug, you should see the brain scans. If you asked me would I rather be in a relationship with a man who had had sex with 75 women, or a man who looks at/ uses porn beyond the occasional novelty aspect, I would pick the 75 guy every time (with a condom, of course). In the absence of other information, I would assume that those 75 women were at least real. I'm being simplistic...I know there are shades and subtleties here. But aside from disease issues..How Many women do you think Mr. Porn Guy has been with??

This isn't really a diatribe. I said yesterday to a dear new friend that I have everything in the world to give, but that I am not a wind-up toy. I was being illustrative...not in response to any issue. I think he knew just what I meant.  My commenting on ways I have been treated at times in life. Those who are malleable and willing will often be taken advantage of. I don't want to be less willing. I do want to be less willing to be taken advantage of. Much like our little nightingale.

The moral of my own story:
My song is my own, and it is free. But you can't take it from me. It must be gifted to you, and indeed, it does have the power to pacify Death.

Love you all!  T. Sylace    


  1. I think I remember that reading or hearing The Nightingale story before. And I understand your point on the porn because we previously had a conversation about it some time ago.
    And you very much know about my voice being taken and how much I give. But I am more fierce to those who try to steal my voice, and me away.

  2. Ali, you said a mouthful. You are the fiercest little tiny girl with the biggest lion's roar.

    Never forget that Alice was lost and confused, and beset by those intent on harming her, but she never lost her sense of adventure, she refused to be silent...and she triumphed.

  3. Your words always mean so much to me. I love and miss you dearest.