The Topic At Hand: How Do You Like Your Eggs?

Buy Cipralex no prescription, How not to begin a story. Like this. Ab ovo—from the egg, from the beginning. In his Ars Poetica, order Cipralex no prescription, the first-century BCE poet Horace emphasizes the importance of starting a story in medias res—in the middle of things—by giving the example of what not to do: don’t start the story of the Trojan War ab ovo, from the egg from which Helen hatched. No egg, Where can i buy cheapest Cipralex online, no Helen; no Helen, no abduction by Paris; no abduction by Paris, no Trojan war. Horace seems not even to consider that someone inquisitive like me, someone more interested in excavating beginnings than weaving an action-packed plot, might even want to venture ante ovem, before the egg, to ask why Leda’s children were born out of eggs in the first place, buy Cipralex no prescription. Before the egg, Zeus seduced/raped Leda in the form of a swan, buy cheap Cipralex no rx, so, appropriately, her children were born from eggs. Cipralex price, coupon, [caption id="attachment_710" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Helen hatching from an egg. A phylax image circa 4th century BCE."]Helen hatching from an egg. A phylax image circa 4th century BCE.[/caption]

I’m surely not alone in finding value in all this egg and pre-egg business, in believing that examining origins leads to worthwhile insights about motivations, people, Cipralex trusted pharmacy reviews, as well as the ways people use religion to explain the inexplicable. Buy Cipralex no prescription, And yet, for hundreds and hundreds of years after Horace, writers mostly took his advice. The great epics, the weak epics—the poets followed the rules, Cipralex from canadian pharmacy, as though they had a little checklist next to them: start in medias res—check; invoke Muse—check; divine intervention—check. Eventually, the epic gave way to the novel as the literary home for long stories, but generally novelists followed the old Horatian dictum to start at a moment of action instead of from the egg of the plot.

In what sort of alternate literary universe would starting at the beginning be prized, buy generic Cipralex, and what values would it express. For one thing, an interest in character development over plot and narrative thrust, Order Cipralex from United States pharmacy, introspection over event. (I think I hear Achilles yawning just thinking about it.) It didn’t take a new world, but a new genre, which Michel de Montaigne kindly invented for us at the very moment that some historians have dated as the genesis of the private self, buy Cipralex no prescription. The essai—an attempt, an effort at understanding that uses a different kind of thinking than plot-driven narratives, is well-suited to the practice of going back to the egg to try to understand oneself. The desire to understand differs fundamentally from the desire to entertain or teach, rx free Cipralex, and whereas one can achieve the latter without reference to origins, understanding depends on knowing not only the present but the past as well. We can chase causation backwards, Buy Cipralex from canada, backwards, backwards, looking for a place beyond which there is only faith or chaos. There we find the egg of the story. Buy Cipralex no prescription, [caption id="attachment_715" align="alignnone" width="218" caption="Michel de Montaigne, inventor of the esssay."]Michel de Montaigne, inventor of the esssay.[/caption]

Someone asked me a couple of weeks ago for an explanation of why my family is so religiously diverse—my father adheres to a sect of Hinduism, my mother is a Unitarian Universalist, my sister is a Baha’i, and I am a former Methodist, former atheist, former agnostic, former Catholic, former dabbler in Buddhism who now identifies as “universalist/religious tourist” on my Facebook page.

“Well, online buy Cipralex without a prescription,” I said. “I suppose it’s because my father set the example of choosing one’s own religion. He was raised Southern Baptist and rebelled against it by exploring Hinduism and Transcendental Meditation.”

But this answer seemed partial and made me ask and answer another question: “Why did he rebel against the Southern Baptist faith. Purchase Cipralex, Well, I suppose it’s because my grandparents’ way of being religious, and their way of infusing religion into family life, seemed oppressive, excessive.” But this only led to another question: Why did my grandparents have such a heavy religion, buy Cipralex no prescription. Only now do we arrive at an answer that leads to an unanswerable question: My father had an older brother, Bob, who died before my father was born, buy Cipralex no prescription. My grandparents had moved their family to a new farm in Iowa, and while the adults were busy with moving and unpacking, the two boys ran off to explore. Cipralex samples, Six-year-old Bob fell into an uncovered well and drowned. Shortly thereafter, my grandparents, first my grandmother and some time later my grandfather, got “saved” and began a new life in religion, fast shipping Cipralex.

[caption id="attachment_705" align="alignnone" width="267" caption="Horace in conversation with poets. Buy Cipralex no prescription, By Raphael, from the Stanza della Segnatura"]Horace in conversation with poets. By Raphael, from the Stanza della Segnatura[/caption]

So where is the egg, Canada, mexico, india, the earliest point in time after which cause and effect applies. Before the egg is something unexplainable, something that can be understood only with reference to god (“Zeus came to Leda in the form of a swan; that’s where these eggs came from”) or to chaos (“Children die terrifying and apparently meaningless deaths because mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”). In my grandmother’s case, what looked like chaos could be borne only by means of religion, buying Cipralex online over the counter.

I can thus trace back something of my own ideas about religion to a summer day in 1939 and a chain of events set in motion by the death of a boy my father never met. How far back can I go to find the ovular moment of my tendency toward introspection, buy Cipralex no prescription. In the summer of 2007, during the separation that preceded the beginning of my divorce process, Where can i order Cipralex without prescription, I pored over my diaries from 1994 through 1996, trying to understand, looking for the egg of that story. One day in midsummer, an envelope slipped out of the pages of one of the fat five-subject notebooks I favor for my journals, ordering Cipralex online. It was eerie to open the envelope and find a letter to my future self, written in 1995, a year before my wedding. Where can i buy Cipralex online, It was written for future-Rachel, who 1995-Rachel knew would one day want out of the marriage, to explain to her why she should ignore that wish. Buy Cipralex no prescription, The letter, by its existence, serves as proof of my own belief in 1995 in the potential discontinuity of my own identity. So far, the meaning of the letter has differed at three points in time, online buying Cipralex hcl, three distinct Rachel-readers of the letter. In 1995, the letter contained truths that a future self might forget. Buy Cipralex online no prescription, To my self in 2007, defensive about the terrible, terrible responsibility of ending a marriage, the letter was proof that something had been off all along. To my self in 2009, buy Cipralex online cod, less committed to ideas of absolute truth, less defensive about the way my life has turned out, it was a sad snapshot that gave me a heart-breaking sympathy for all the multiple versions of me, Where to buy Cipralex, all the multiple versions of him, but especially those two in 1996, poised on the brink of a story to which I know the ending, but they don’t.

[caption id="attachment_704" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Thirty years of diaries: November 27, 1979--August 17, 2009."]Thirty years of diaries: November 27, 1979--August 17, 2009.[/caption]

But that wasn’t the first letter from myself to a future self, buy Cipralex no prescription. In 1984, where to buy Cipralex, when I was in seventh grade, I wrote a letter to future-Rachel, trying to explain myself, Cipralex gel, ointment, cream, pill, spray, continuous-release, extended-release, to gain sympathy. I was ashamed, embarrassed about being who I was: shy, nerdy, depressed, australia, uk, us, usa, lonely. I felt so hopeless, such an ugly duckling in every way—I still remember how much I longed for invisibility the day the boy I adored spoke to me, Order Cipralex online c.o.d, and I was wearing a lavender shirt that was, in my mind, hideous, horrible. I never wore it again, buy Cipralex from mexico. Buy Cipralex no prescription, These indignities were bearable; what was unacceptably painful was the thought of some Rachel of the future, one who would have figured out how to negotiate the intricacies of the adolescent social web and how to attain the desideratum of a boyfriend, one who would look back at my seventh-grade sad-sack self and cringe or laugh. I don’t remember a lot of the details, just that it was a plea for understanding: the writer of the letter believed in and feared the possibility that the reader of the letter, her own future self, Where can i find Cipralex online, might have forgotten her misery, or might blame her for it.

These two letters to future-Rachels were written alongside volume after volume after volume of diaries, going back to when I was eight years old. But that’s still not early enough to be the egg, purchase Cipralex online. To find the egg of my introspection, my sometimes obsessive attempts to communicate, I have to go back to the dream my mother had three days after my conception, Japan, craiglist, ebay, overseas, paypal, when I was barely more than an egg myself. In the dream, I looked like newborn-Rachel: a baby with a patch of black hair on the side of her head, buy Cipralex no prescription. The baby said to my mother, “My name is Rachel Elizabeth” . . , purchase Cipralex online no prescription. and so it was. Buy Cipralex no prescription, Hearing that story over and over again as a child—because I loved it and wanted to hear about it often—shaped my sense of self. Who knows why my mother had that dream—perhaps its origin was supernatural (the Zeus explanation) or perhaps she had a bad burrito (mere anarchy). At any rate, Order Cipralex from mexican pharmacy, I locate in that dream the egg of my fascination with the idea of communication among all these discrete selves who are me and not-me, all at once.

Only by writing and reading and writing and reading my selves through these journals across, so far, thirty years of my life, real brand Cipralex online, could I have experienced for myself how illusory is the idea of a stable self. My desire to find or create causal linkages that can take me back ad ovem—so that I can turn around and trace a straight line ab ovo to the present, to my present self—leads me instead to find a series of discrete selves. Two of these selves in particular felt so acutely the fallacy of continuity that they called attention to it and to themselves as, perhaps, moments of my identity that would be subsumed, erased in future-Rachel’s attempts to create a seamless narrative, a story of identity as an unbroken line stretching from egg to chick to hen.

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    • The baby naming itself through a prenatal dream plays a central role in a favorite book of mine, Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman by Malidoma Patrice Some.

    • Tara

      Wow. I also have kept diaries, on and off, but I’ve never written a letter (to myself, only to dead people). What do you think is so different about a diary than a letter? If you’ve written your journals with an anticipation of reading them in the future.

      I also wonder what it means that you experience ’84 and ’95 Rachel as different selves, instead of earlier versions of yourself. It seems like those selves were already anticipating (longingly?) a discontinuity. They wanted to think of themselves as different from your future self. Maybe because you already were already aware and distrustful of your narrativizing impulse?

      Anyway, this is very captivating and thought-provoking, thank you.

    • Rachel Hile

      Tara, thanks! Such interesting questions you ask, and ones that I hadn’t thought about until you asked. I suppose I think a letter implies separation between writer and reader, whereas a diary/journal implies continuity. I think of using a diary to keep track of details, events, emotions, etc. in order to aid oneself in remembering. A letter is not a memory aid but serves instead to communicate some particular message; in that sense, I would say that it is more overtly rhetorical than a diary (though I’m not denying that diaries, especially to the extent that they imagine a more public audience, are rhetorical to some extent). So it’s not so much the futurity of the reading situation that differs (they’re both read after being written, of course), but the way that the writer conceives of, communicates with, and represents within the text the implied audience. And I guess I think of ’85-Rachel and ’95-Rachel as different selves for the simple reason that they wrote a letter—to me, that seems so assertive of discontinuity that it almost seems respectful to acknowledge discontinuity. Again, thanks for the thought-provoking questions.

    • Ralph Hile

      Comes now the Hindu-wannabe, seeking audience.

      I probably would have been quite content to merely lurk, but Michael’s comment about the Malidoma Some’ book I found irresistible. I was similarly taken with the book, to the extent of sending money to his foundation. I must confess though that I don’t recall the prenatal naming ritual. His story of cultural dissonance after his return to his village and the initiation process he underwent to heal the gap was awe-inspiring, to say the least. I once spoke with an acquaintance who was familiar with the work, comparing Some’ to Carlos Castaneda. His response was, “Like Castaneda on STEROIDS!”

      Also, if you’ll pardon my publicly praising your essay, Rachel, I just want to say, “Ya done good, kid!” A small quibble though—your depiction of disjunct selves perhaps does spring from a certain Buddhist orientation. We Vedantins see things quite differently.

      As a sidelight, one that Rachel chose to overlook, I too, had a dream about the then recently conceived (or maybe it was not that recent). It was a simple dream, merely to the effect that a smart little girl was soon to join our household, but it could be taken to be precognitive, certainly.

    • Janie Epstein

      I found this intensely interesting. Your willingness to be frank demands a willingness to engage. I hope writing this has given you new insight. My own ideas have certainly morphed over my lifetime, but you seem to have travelled a long distance in relatively few years.
      I do think that there is communication between the physical and mental processes of our bodies that are little understood and therefore evoke explanations that draw on the supernatural. Because of some of my own experiences during pregnancy (surely a time of amazing physical process) I can imagine that your mother was on some level aware that she had become pregnant. Dreams involving images of the expected child are fairly common. When they occaisionally resemble the eventual real child they take on even stronger reality. I don’t mean to diminish your or your mother’s response to her dream. After all, if through no other means, the repetition of the dream has certainly had a real effect in your life.
      Thank you for a very thought provoking essay.

    • I envy your complete record. My own journal keeping has been sporadic and I’ve lost track of everything by now. My blog is about the only journal I’ve kept up with, but since it’s public, it’s not always complete.

      Many times I’ve wished the various vintages of myself could communicate, though usually the wish is for the ability to warn my previous self, ‘Don’t marry her, don’t buy that car, don’t hire that guy, quit that job…’

      I still think stories are best started in action, but digression is what gives action a soul. I know Cormac McCarthy doesn’t tell much of the ‘why’ his characters do what they do, but then when I read him I find myself filling in the blanks for myself, trying to figure out what happened to make Chiggurh or the Judge ‘that way.’

    • Ralph, nice to encounter another fan of MPS’s work. The prenatal naming was important in that book, because it was his confidence in the power and truth of his prophetic name (“friend of the stranger/enemy”) that gave the narrator/author the confidence to believe that each situation he encountered was just another obstacle on a journey of inevitability.

      I’m currently reading Ritual, by the same author, wherein there’s discussion of how the child and the grandparent bond due to their mutual proximity to the spirit world; the child has just come from there, and the grandparent is about to go there. Meanwhile, the parent, caught up in dealing with day to day problems in the material world, is left out. And yet, here again we see multiple selves, all of them essentially the same person, at one time or another.

    • I have kept a journal since freshman year of high school, all in those black and white composition notebooks. Two years ago, before I moved back to Brooklyn, the idea of lugging 23 years of journals with me felt overwhelming. I decided I might sell them on Ebay, as a lark, to have some strange and interesting way of getting rid of them.
      I chose one at random–the summer before I left for college. I began reading and I was do disgusted with the self-assured, head-up-her-ass girl that was writing, without thinking I tore it to shreds. I then destroyed the others journals; I began in 1985 and moved forward, tearing them up until they were only hard covers and string.
      Then I opened August 1993, the month I moved to New York City. It was amazing. Something had changed. I no longer knew everything. I knew nothing, and I knew that I knew nothing.
      There I read: “Things I wish for: 1) To be fluent in Sign Language 2) To be a professional interpreter 3) To live in the Village.”
      I am a nationally certified interpreter and educator, fluent in ASL for years, and I’ve had three different apartments in the Village. All those wishes seemed easy, accomplished long ago. But I had such love for the woman who wished them. And she seemed still familiar, while the high school girl with all the big ideas did not.
      So I saved that journal, and all the journals I’ve written since moving to NYC.

    • Rachel Hile

      Amy, I’ve long thought that there is a sort of window of time during which one will destroy the productions of an earlier self, and that if one waits long enough, those productions become far enough in the past that they no longer cause the present self shame. My example: I used to write stories when I was in grade school. Imagine me as a sixth grader—if I found a story I wrote in fifth grade, I’d be embarrassed at how awful it was, ashamed really, and would destroy it. On the other hand, if I had found a story written when I was in second or third grade, it would still be awful, even more awful, but I would be far enough away in time that I wouldn’t feel ashamed about it. I suppose it was having that experience that led to my thoughts in seventh grade regarding how I would view that era in my future. But from your story, it sounds like you’re pretty sure that no amount of time would have been enough to separate you enough from that arrogant girl that you could forgive her for it. And that, of course, makes me curious to read an example of the head-up-her-ass girl, which, alas, we shall never have 🙂

      Janie, thanks for the comment about dreams, especially pregnancy dreams—yes. Certainly when I was a child, I was convinced there was something magical or spiritual about my mother’s dream (and at some point in my adolescence, when everything was dramatic, I noted that Rachel means “sheep,” Elizabeth means “consecrated to God,” and thought, “Oh great, I’m a sacrificial lamb!” [What would Malidoma Some think of that, Michael and Ralph?]), but now I think that you’re correct that the importance came from hearing it over and over again.

    • Becky Carleton

      What a beautiful homage to the personal essay and to the history of the birth of a personal self. Just as the great old feminists made the personal political, you have made the personal essay historical. Wow. Just wow.

    • I am totally fascinated by the idea of writing the apologetic letter to your future self–apologizing for being a nerd, etc. It’s most interesting that you anticipated the shame would carry, rather than dissipate and be replaced by triumph. After all, isn’t the story that the cool girl always forgets where she came from/tries to bury it?

      That letter is a testament to the way that a contemplation of origins plays into your life. It also demonstrates in a way that time is not linear: our origins are always living in our present.

    • Becky Carleton

      “It also demonstrates in a way that time is not linear: our origins are always living in our present.” – Oh, that just blew my mind. 🙂

    • RH: Actually, the ‘sacrificial lamb’ thing is fascinating, because as I’m sure you know, many primitive cultures rationalize(d) that sacrificial animals were volunteers who simply weren’t able to articulate their wishes directly. However, your prenatal instructions could also be more metaphorical, e.g. you are someone who is sympathetic to sacrifical lambs, or perhaps you are the person doing the sacrificing.

    • Elizabeth

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    • Eric Eicher

      There is much to be struck by here, but what jumped out the furthest for me tonight was this: “In his Ars Poetica, the first-century BCE poet Horace emphasizes the importance of starting a story in medias res—in the middle of things…”

      It's a little stunning how things like this happen–that a specific artistic dictate just hit centuries ago, stuck (sometimes for no completely discernible reason), and became not just another idea on a given aesthetic topic, but the default artistic practice of multiple cultures across giant stretches of time. Given that only such a small percentage of ancient thought even survives, you have to wonder if there weren't predecessors or contemporaries of Horace who had completely different ideas about how to start a story, whose ideas might have accidentally become the de facto template instead of Horace's, had their writing somehow survived instead of–or in addition to–his. Thank you for reminding me of this piece of weirdness, not to mention for the rest of this interesting essay.

      • Rachel Hile

        Rachel B.: You wrote “It's most interesting that you anticipated the shame would carry, rather than dissipate and be replaced by triumph. After all, isn't the story that the cool girl always forgets where she came from/tries to bury it?” In your narrative, the triumph and shame go together, don't they? The triumph is public, and the shame is private. I just spent half an hour looking for that letter—that letter, along with another thing I wrote on a piece of lavender paper at around the same time, have both stuck in my memory as important, but they seem to be truly lost, unfortunately. When I first read your comment, I thought, “Cool girl? Huh? Is there a cool girl in the room?” But that was in fact the possibility I foresaw, that there might come a point in the near future when I would start fitting in and being like everybody else. I suppose that if that had actually happened (I stopped waiting for it a while ago), probably nothing I could have written to myself would have breached the gulf that there would be between those two selves—so you see, here I come back to the idea of a consistent self.

        Eric, thanks. Of course, Horace is being somewhat descriptive in his prescriptiveness, by giving the example of Homer, but yeah, it definitely stuck as a rule, not a suggestion. But I loved your question about another culture that would value a different way of beginning a story, because it makes me think of the Hebrew Scriptures and the Gospel of Matthew. You can't really start more at the beginning than Genesis, and then Matthew starts his book with Abraham, and with both of those specific examples, there's such a sense of using narrative to create identity.

    • Eric Eicher

      There is much to be struck by here, but what jumped out the furthest for me tonight was this: “In his Ars Poetica, the first-century BCE poet Horace emphasizes the importance of starting a story in medias res—in the middle of things…”

      It's a little stunning how things like this happen–that a specific artistic dictate just hit centuries ago, stuck (arguably for no completely discernible reason), and became not just another idea on a given aesthetic topic, but the default artistic practice of multiple cultures across giant stretches of time. Given that only such a small percentage of ancient thought even survives, you have to wonder if there weren't predecessors or contemporaries of Horace who had completely different ideas about how to start a story, whose ideas might have accidentally become the de facto template instead of Horace's, had their writing somehow survived instead of–or in addition to–his. Thank you for reminding me of this piece of weirdness, not to mention for the rest of this interesting essay.

    • Eric Eicher

      There is much to be struck by here, but what jumped out the furthest for me tonight was this: “In his Ars Poetica, the first-century BCE poet Horace emphasizes the importance of starting a story in medias res—in the middle of things…”

      It's a little stunning how things like this happen–that a specific artistic dictate just hit centuries ago, stuck (arguably for no completely discernible reason), and became not just another idea on a given aesthetic topic, but the default artistic practice of multiple cultures across giant stretches of time. Given that only such a small percentage of ancient thought even survives, you have to wonder if there weren't predecessors or contemporaries of Horace who had completely different ideas about how to start a story, whose ideas might have accidentally become the de facto template instead of Horace's, had their writing somehow survived instead of–or in addition to–his. Thank you for reminding me of this piece of weirdness, not to mention for the rest of this interesting essay.

    • Rachel Hile

      Rachel B.: You wrote “It's most interesting that you anticipated the shame would carry, rather than dissipate and be replaced by triumph. After all, isn't the story that the cool girl always forgets where she came from/tries to bury it?” In your narrative, the triumph and shame go together, don't they? The triumph is public, and the shame is private. I just spent half an hour looking for that letter—that letter, along with another thing I wrote on a piece of lavender paper at around the same time, have both stuck in my memory as important, but they seem to be truly lost, unfortunately. When I first read your comment, I thought, “Cool girl? Huh? Is there a cool girl in the room?” But that was in fact the possibility I foresaw, that there might come a point in the near future when I would start fitting in and being like everybody else. I suppose that if that had actually happened (I stopped waiting for it a while ago), probably nothing I could have written to myself would have breached the gulf that there would be between those two selves—so you see, here I come back to the idea of a consistent self.

      Eric, thanks. Of course, Horace is being somewhat descriptive in his prescriptiveness, by giving the example of Homer, but yeah, it definitely stuck as a rule, not a suggestion. But I loved your question about another culture that would value a different way of beginning a story, because it makes me think of the Hebrew Scriptures and the Gospel of Matthew. You can't really start more at the beginning than Genesis, and then Matthew starts his book with Abraham, and with both of those specific examples, there's such a sense of using narrative to create identity.

    • Rachel Hile

      Rachel B.: You wrote “It's most interesting that you anticipated the shame would carry, rather than dissipate and be replaced by triumph. After all, isn't the story that the cool girl always forgets where she came from/tries to bury it?” In your narrative, the triumph and shame go together, don't they? The triumph is public, and the shame is private. I just spent half an hour looking for that letter—that letter, along with another thing I wrote on a piece of lavender paper at around the same time, have both stuck in my memory as important, but they seem to be truly lost, unfortunately. When I first read your comment, I thought, “Cool girl? Huh? Is there a cool girl in the room?” But that was in fact the possibility I foresaw, that there might come a point in the near future when I would start fitting in and being like everybody else. I suppose that if that had actually happened (I stopped waiting for it a while ago), probably nothing I could have written to myself would have breached the gulf that there would be between those two selves—so you see, here I come back to the idea of a consistent self.

      Eric, thanks. Of course, Horace is being somewhat descriptive in his prescriptiveness, by giving the example of Homer, but yeah, it definitely stuck as a rule, not a suggestion. But I loved your question about another culture that would value a different way of beginning a story, because it makes me think of the Hebrew Scriptures and the Gospel of Matthew. You can't really start more at the beginning than Genesis, and then Matthew starts his book with Abraham, and with both of those specific examples, there's such a sense of using narrative to create identity.

    • Pingback: Begin at the Beginning: Thoughts on autobiographical material and story structure « Write Livelihood()

    The Author

    Rachel Hile

    rachel.hile
    Rachel Hile lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where she is assistant professor in the Department of English & Linguistics at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. She has published articles on Renaissance English literature and has edited a collection of essays, Parenting and Professing: Balancing Family Work with an Academic Career. She lives with her two children. View all Revolving Floor contributions by Rachel Hile.

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