In “At Home in the World” [January 1995], Peter Matthiessen states that “the Bosnian Muslims and Serbs have been fighting for hundreds of years, and human nature hasn’t changed in forty thousand years.” His statement demonstrates both ignorance of, and unconscious longing for, the sacred feminine.
Bosnian Muslim and Serb men have been fighting for hundreds of years. But have the women been fighting? Since the beginning of the conflict, Serbian men have raped approximately sixty-four thousand Bosnian Muslim women as a matter of military policy.
Matthiessen also ignores the growing archaeological evidence that men’s culture of domination is a relatively recent development. Scholars such as Riane Eisler in The Chalice and the Blade, Marija Gimbutas in The Language of the Goddess, and Eleanor Gadon in The Once and Future Goddess strongly suggest that this pattern of domination is only five thousand years old, and that it was preceded by thirty-five thousand years of peaceful, creative, woman-centered society based not on aggression but on partnership.
Matthiessen later describes his creative process using a metaphor of female procreation, likening himself to a hen laying an egg. I wonder if he sees the irony.
Thank you for Jonathan White’s interview with Peter Matthiessen [“At Home in the World,” January 1995]. At a time when the environmental debate seems to have degenerated into double talkers versus paper shufflers, it’s refreshing to hear Matthiessen’s voice of experience, insight, and humanity.
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