THE BLOG

Coincidences and Clairvoyance: The Mysteries of This Book Continue Unexplained

12/02/2010 06:33 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011


By Claudia Ricci

It is very possible that after you read this chapter, you might decide that Sister Mysteries has gone on too long. Or maybe you will decide that you just don't believe what I'm writing.

Even though I promised never to tell a lie again, at least not on the Sister Mysteries blog, you might think that I am breaking my promise and making all this weird stuff up.
No. I promise you that I am not making any of this weird stuff up.
What happened on Tuesday night happened exactly the way that I am going to say it happened. If you don't believe me, you can ask my sister Holly Ricci, who was on the phone call with me and my friend Denise.
If you have not yet read Chapter Eleven, then you should read it before you read this chapter. (Duh, obviously, Chapter Eleven comes before Chapter Twelve!)
If you DID read Chapter Eleven, then you know that I spent about 1,500 words discussing the issue of "binaries" in my novels, and in stories in general. I wrote about Claude Lévi Strauss, a famous anthropologist who, no, did not invent dungarees.
Rather, he's considered sort of the Father of Mythology. After studying myths all over the world, he published an IMPORTANT BOOK (Structural Anthropology) in the mid-20th century. One of his principal ideas was that all myths and stories have the same basic structure, that is, they operate as a series of binary or opposing ideas or forces. Among these binaries are life vs. death, man vs. woman, rational vs. irrational, love vs. hate, sad vs. happy, and so on.
One of the most famous of binaries, one that fascinates and infuriates femininsts, is the so-called virgin/whore binary. According to experts who study this kind of thing, the virgin/whore binary has existed since ancient times. Women are cast either as Madonna figures, like the Virgin Mary, or as seductresses, like Eve in the Garden of Eden story from the Bible.

(Another seductress might be the flamenco-dancing main character, Ronda Cari, of my new novel, Seeing Red. Ronda has a fling with a Spanish guitarist, and she ends up pregnant. But that's another story.)

My new blog novel, Castenata, also features at its core a very obvious "virgin/whore" binary: Sister Renata, a devout nun living in 1883 in California, keeps donning flaming red flamenco dresses, and seducing her cousin Antonie. Of course, Renata denies all this, and says repeatedly in her diaries that Antonie is crazy as a bedbug; his syphilis is making him psychotic. He weaves these wild tales about his nun cousin, painting her over and over again as a seductress.

OK, so I wrote a chapter on binaries and I thought, that's enough of that.

Except it wasn't.