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Jason
Posted on Sunday, February 05, 2006 - 11:20 pm:   

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:2ndAngelLilith.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel_(Neon_Genesis_Evangelion)#Lilith

From a very interesting Anime called Neon Genesis Evangelion
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neon_Genesis_Evangelion

P.S. Anybody else think this Wikipedia is taking over the world? It's a fascinating experiment in anarchy.

waiting impatiently for Babyon...
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Jason
Posted on Sunday, February 05, 2006 - 11:24 pm:   

cut and paste all of
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel_(Neon_Genesis_Evangelion)#Lilith

waiting impatiently for Babylon...
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Richard Calder
Posted on Tuesday, February 07, 2006 - 02:52 am:   

Jason --

Thanks for that. You can see the Babylon cover up at this messageboard's 'PS Publishing' thread. (Publication is currently slated for April 2006.)
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lanxun
Posted on Friday, February 10, 2006 - 05:27 pm:   

Speaking of anime, the anime Rozen Maiden seems to have been inspired by the same spring of inspiration that you drank from, Richard. A series of living dolls are created by a mysterious dollmaker named Rozen in his efforts to produce the perfect girl. The dolls have magical powers fueled by energy vampirically drained from the humans they bond with and sleep in coffin-like caskets. One boy, Jun Sakurada, finds himself becoming attracted to these dolls rather than human girls... Add to that the decadent atmosphere of demonic toys, ornate gothic loli costumes, a harpsichord-rich soundtrack, an opening theme by Ali Project with lyrics full of sadomasochistic overtones, and I'm starting to think that Peach-Pit, the anime's creators, have the admirable goal of corrupting children's minds.

Also could mention seepages of the perverse into Chinese culture, like the much-loved movie "Chinese Ghost Story" and its many imitations (Tsui Hark does his bit to corrupt children's minds by releasing an animated version of this movie), demoness movies, and even an alleged sect of sex-magic-practicing Taoist fellatrices who refer to themselves as White Tigresses.

also waiting impatiently for Babylon
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Richard Calder
Posted on Saturday, February 11, 2006 - 02:44 am:   

Lanxun --

Sounds fascinating. I checked Amazon (both UK and US), but ROZEN MAIDEN is, alas, unavailable.
However, I'll keep my eye out for it when visiting 'Forbidden Planet' in London. (The anime seems based on a manga of the same name, also, I would guess, worth checking out.) Always interested to learn of a movie with Socratic potential.

'Chinese Ghost Story' is a favourite film of mine, ever since seeing it on late-night TV in the eighties. I lost my video edition long ago; I must get around to replacing it with the DVD version.

The 'White Tigresses' you mention seem those cited by a certain 'Hsi Lai' in 'The Sexual Teachings of the White Tigress'. I haven't actually read that book (my Babylonians doubtless have); I can see I'll have to do some catching up!
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Lanxun
Posted on Sunday, February 12, 2006 - 05:30 am:   

Richard,

Oops, confession time. You haven't been able to find Rozen Maiden because it hasn't been licensed for the US; I had to get it via bittorrent and play the video files on my computer. I'd happily buy it on DVD if/when it ever gets licensed, but I haven't heard that it ever will be.

The original 'Chinese Ghost Story' is one of my favourites and helped warp me during my impressionable years. Instead of the surface interpretation of ghost girls as unhappy victims and bad girls who should not be emulated, my younger self thought, "Ooh! Alternative role model!" Strangely, though almost the entire ethnic Chinese population in the world must have seen this movie, no other Chinese woman or girl I spoke to ever admitted to identifying with the demonic feminine as I do.

The animated 'Chinese Ghost Story' was an eye-opener about some of the strange standards the Chinese have for appropriate viewing for children. Perhaps Chinese people tend to be merely oblivious to the implications and possible effects of psychological undercurrents! The dark psychology of the predatory demonic female is actually more obvious in the animated film. Tsui Hark's animated Siu Seen can barely restrain herself from devouring Ning's soul, and the film implies that she emotionally manipulates her victims into falling in love with her and they consummate their love by way of the men knowingly and willingly consenting to die to please her. The censors didn't bat an eye at idealising Siu Seen as a romantic heroine for a children's film! :-) I suppose they thought that having no graphic violence or nudity made it OK.

Yes, 'The Sexual Teachings of the White Tigress' is the book I'm referring to. You'll see a surprising number of common traits that they share with your catgirls.

I have recently become a fan of the British band Queenadreena, fronted by the frenetic Katie Garside, who is gifted with a versatile voice that is equally capable of girlish whispers or furious and ecstatic screams. The song "I Adore You" (from the _Taxidermy_ album) reminds me of Lilim adorning themselves in nymphenburgs awaiting the Elohim lovers who will court and kill them. "Pretty Like Drugs" (from _Drink Me_) sounds like televised Lilim executions.

If you were including me as one of your Babylonians, I feel very honoured indeed! All my life I've felt like an exile from another dimension or planet, stuck in a body that is incongruous with my instincts. It would certainly explain my idiosyncracies. I could explain in more detail, but I fear that even you might consider me mad. I dearly hope I am a lost Babylonian and not simply insane.

Hoping I'm Babylonian,

Lanxun
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Jason
Posted on Monday, February 13, 2006 - 02:15 am:   

Wow you might have a lawsuit on that one. ;)
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Jason
Posted on Monday, February 13, 2006 - 02:17 am:   

(Rozen Maiden)
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Richard Calder
Posted on Monday, February 13, 2006 - 02:32 am:   

Lanxun --

Oh, for more exposure to texts, movies, or music, that 'warp' us (or let's say, infect or change us), especially vehicles for 'the dark psychology of the predatory demonic female'. Tsui Hark's animated version of 'Chinese Ghost Story' seems well worth seeing -- but alas, after checking Amazon, I found that it too was unavailable. (Damn.) However, I haven't yet seen 'Chinese Ghost Story 2' -- do you rate this as highly as the original?

I now have 'The Sexual Teachings of the White Tigress' on order -- along with Queenadreena's
'Taxidermy'. (Who could resist a soundtrack to 'Lilim adorning themselves in nymphenburgs awaiting the Elohim lovers who will court and kill them'?) Many thanks for pointing these things out. Discovering *new* texts, movies and music that correspond in some way with one's own imaginative concerns is like discovering another piece of the palimpsest that promises to reveal a secret, half-forgotten history -- of that 'other' dimension or planet that you mention -- and that calls 'lost' Babylonians home.

'Sanity is madness put to good uses; waking life is a dream controlled.' (George Santayana)
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Richard Calder
Posted on Monday, February 13, 2006 - 02:36 am:   

Jason --

Yes, there's something of a congruence of theme there, for sure ...

I've been meaning to take a look at NEON GENESIS EVANGELION for some time. (Lots of people have recommended it.) I really will have to get the DVD ...
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Lanxun
Posted on Monday, February 13, 2006 - 09:10 am:   

Richard,

'Chinese Ghost Story 2' is good fun with flashy magic, but has very little of the demonic female. The actresses play disappointingly human characters.

'Chinese Ghost Story 3' features Joey Wong in the ghost girl role again, except this time she is a conscienceless lascivious coquette, a welcome change from the first movie's guilt-ridden good-girl ghost who only preys on men under duress. Of course, correspondingly, in response to the heightened menace and sexual tension, her co-star Tony Leung's innocent monk is visibly afraid of her, which makes for excellent chemistry. Joey Wong as Lotus has an interesting line of dialogue accentuating the similarity of ghost girls to prostitutes: "It isn't so bad. I eat well and dress well," sounding for all the world like a brothel girl who is disappointed to hear that her young beau cannot afford to buy her freedom from the brothel.

Tsui Hark also made 'Green Snake', which is based on the Legend of the White Snake. Maggie Cheung as Green Snake steals the show from Joey Wong in her portrayal as the younger, more brazen sister whose seductive charms even manage to distract the Buddhist monk Fa Hai despite his best efforts. (As a side-note, in some tellings of this legend, Madam White Snake first meets her lover Hsu Hsien in heaven where they were immortals. White Snake and Green Snake are dragon goddesses in all but name, having all the powers traditionally attributed to dragons like control over the weather and power over water and all watery creatures. However, on earth they are snake demonesses and have the power to fatally drain a man of his sexual essence - truly a combination of the divine and the infernal!) The snake sisters' battle against the monk is also a sexual combat, female sensuality against male austerity, Green Snake's flirtation against Fa Hai's self-control.

'House of Flying Daggers' is another one I'd recommmend. Zhang Ziyi plays Mei, a brothel girl-cum-revolutionary who finds herself forced into treachery - either to betray her people or betray her heart. There is even an interrogation scene when she gets arrested by Andy Lau's government official Leo. Andy Lau, by the way, would make a great Elohim for a Calder film, showing a sadistic pleasure in this scene, whispering threats of torture tenderly into Mei's ear like a lover. There is even a wry comment on the similarity of matriarchies to brothels.

Barry Hughart is a fantasy writer who did a lot of meticulous research to skillfully evoke an ancient mythical "China that never was" in his books -though it is my own opinion that it exists on the same plane as Babylon - magic, deities, demons, and all. Each of his three books (_Bridge of Birds_, _The Story of the Stone_, and _Eight Skilled Gentlemen_) features a goddess/whore that the young hero Number Ten Ox falls in love with. Each of his inamoratas either is or has a connection with a goddess whose purview relates to sex in some way: The Weaver Girl, ancient star goddess of romantic love, appears in _Bridge of Birds_; Golden Lotus, patron goddess of prostitutes, and Nu Kwa, ancient creator goddess of the sky who created the human race and invented sexuality, both appear in _Story of the Stone_; and Xi Wang Mu, ancient goddess of sex magic, death and transcendance, makes an appearance in _Eight Skilled Gentlemen_.

In my opinion, Xi Wang Mu and Ishtar are one and the same, and that the paradise Kunlun and Ishtar's Babylon are one and the same. They both had a role in legitimising kings with their sexual favours, they both rule over paradises, and they are both goddesses of sex magic. Xi Wang Mu protected women, especially ones outside the protection of the Confucian respectable family like prostitutes and other female entertainers. If Ishtar's animal was the lion, Xi Wang Mu's was the tiger, and in the earliest texts she had tiger's teeth and a leopard's tail. Of her three direct disciples who were minor goddesses of sex magic, one was called Dark Girl (also can be translated as Mysterious Girl). There was an interesting legend I read somewhere about Dark Girl teaching her mortal husband the arts of love and war, revealing her connection with death. Lilith, the dark side of Ishtar, also has the epithet of the Dark Maid. The White Tigresses, if they exist, claim to be the modern carriers of Xi Wang Mu's spiritual lineage.

I'm not sure if the following books will be to your taste, but they also deal with love relationships between humans and non-humans. Tanith Lee's _Silver Metal Lover_ is about the forbidden love between a teenage girl and an android gigolo, one of a new kind of robot made with a hitherto unseen level of technology that is programmed to be a superlative artiste as all great courtesans traditionally are - as a musician, actor, or dancer. The human protagonists in most of Sheri Tepper's novels engage in romantic or sexual relationships with aliens. _Six Moon Dance_ stands out in particular for being set on a planet with an elaborate, highly developed system of male courtesans, one of whom falls in love with an alien dancer.

Sorry for the long post
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Richard Calder
Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - 04:09 am:   

Lanxun --

I'll certainly have to view the sequels to 'Chinese Ghost Story' -- both 2 and 3, though 3 sounds by far the most interesting. I rather like the idea of a correspondence between 'ghost girls' and prostitutes. (The words 'girl' and 'prostitute' can sometimes be synonymous, as in the French *fille*, and 'whore' was once simply used to describe a woman living outside the confines and traditions of marriage and maternity: a *puella aeternus*, if you like.) And thanks for the other recommendations. It's ridiculous, but I simply haven't seen 'House of Flying Daggers' despite the massive puiblicity it's received here in the UK. I totally agree with your assessment of Andy Lau, by the way: he exudes the dangerous, lupine charm of an Elohim or Black Knight. (Loved him in 'Fulltime Killer' and 'Infernal Affairs'.)

As for your comments on Xi Wang Mu ('ancient goddess of sex magic, death and transcendence'),
especially on how she corresponds to Ishtar: wonderful stuff! 'Tiger's teeth and a leopard's tail'. Hmm. I've always rather thought that, given significant advances in plastic surgery, many women might take to sporting a genetically-engineered feline tail. Quite a fashion accessory, I'd have thought.

Anyway, thanks. I'll have to read up on Xi Wang Mu, Kunlun and all else that suggests an interpenetration of myth, symbol and history. And that includes 'Golden Lotus, patron goddess of prostitutes'. ('Golden Flower' or 'Golden Lotus', in Thai, is used as an insult, meaning 'bitch' or 'whore'.)

Oh, don't apologise for a 'long post': I'm grateful for all the pointers!

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Lanxun
Posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2006 - 08:22 pm:   

Interesting. In the old days, *Gu niang*, the Chinese word for 'maiden', as well as being a title for unmarried girls, was also a euphemism for prostitute. This also carried over to the modern-day equivalent, *xiao jie*, unmarried woman or girl (also a title), being used as a modern euphemism for prostitute.

Hmm, I suppose catwomen and wolfmen are more pertinent to western cultures, as they are comparatively rare in Asia. However, *se lang* 'coloured wolf', is Chinese slang for lecher. Bossy, dominant women might be called 'lionesses' or 'tigresses'. Women of loose morals, especially those who pursue married men, risk being called 'fox spirits'. Good-looking men are 'tomcats'; hence, Elvis Presley was called the 'Cat King'. 'Tiger-wolf years' refers to the years of a woman's sexual peak in her 30's and 40s.

I would agree that there must be at least a few Babylonian women - sorry, girls I should say - born in western cultures who'd love to have a cat-tail. Speaking for myself, I'd prefer to have a reptilian scaly tail and draconic wings, not unlike one of your Malignos, as I fancy myself to be draconic (in case you were wondering, Chinese dragons eventually do grow wings, in spite of artistic convention to depict them without them). It's annoying not having wings to flap when my instincts say they should be there and that they need stretching; I have a perpetual feeling in my upper back of muscles cramped from disuse because human back muscles aren't configured to move that way. I'd also prefer to be oviparous since mammalian-style pregnancy fills me with disgust, but I guess that's too much to hope for.

The biggest difference between the Chinese form of the feminine demonic and the western catgirl type you depict is that Chinese demonesses prefer to be dominant rather than submissive. The ones married to dominant male demons never seem happy; the ones in liaisons with submissive human men invariably are. Helpless human scholars seem to be just their type.

The western demonic female, however, does share a highly developed aesthetic sense with her eastern sister. Your Lilim adored 18th-century fashions and furniture. Chinese demonesses adore most the aesthetic of the T'ang dynasty (see the clothes of 'Chinese Ghost Story' to get a good idea), as do other Chinese people, since no other time in their history has rivaled it in beauty and elegance in literature and all the arts. Chinese demonesses and ghost girls are invariably dressed in garb of this era when they appear in celluloid.

Chinese types of demonic female: foxes and snakes are best known, but there are also dragons (though they are goddesses, not demonesses), spiders are mentioned by _Journey to the West_, which also lists a few less common ones as well: a scorpion, ermine, and a bone-spirit. I've also found one rare story about a tiger woman, another about an ant woman In _Journey to the West_ one sees that demonesses are especially aggressive when pursuing a man blessed with spiritual power, for example, kidnapping a monk and holding him captive. I found one clue linking female dragons with courtesans: they were believed to be skilled in music, dancing, and other erotic arts. Even dragon princesses were accomplished dancers, surprising in Chinese society where respectable women were traditionally forbidden to dance. _Journey to the West_ contains more demon species than any other work I can think of. Other goddesses were also known to seduce mortal men (the most famous of them being Xi Wang Mu!)

Other than the occasional male fox spirit, male demons didn't usually pursue human women, preferring demonesses. More commonly, gods sometimes seduced or married human women. This is how it is believed dragon genes entered the Chinese human population, and the reason that emperors were believed to be descendants of dragons. The brides sacrificed every seven years to the river god He Bo were shamanesses, and it was probably a great honour to be chosen. Most of the odes in the _Nine Songs_ by Ch'u Yuan seem to be in the form of love songs addressed by shamanesses to a god they would court for a romantic relationship. I remember reading of a shamanic cult in which human children were dedicated to mountain deities as spouses. Some forms of Taoism had a type of hierogamy in which the divine spouse would instruct the human spouse in spiritual practices.

Also included in the feminine demonic are stories of women coming back from the dead to return to their lovers or husbands, like Edgar Allan Poe's 'Ligeia'. Since women were yin, they could theoretically cross the boundary between life and death more easily. Stories of men coming back from the dead do exist, but they are comparatively rare, and the men involved usually required divine assistance.

In films set in a modern setting, the feminine demonic is more difficult to find and sadly is exhibited with less flair, but it still shows up in the form of jokes about men being raped by women. ('Flirting Scholar' has an entire sub-plot about this; 'La Brassiere' has no less than 3 jokes about this.) The feminine demonic in modern setting films might not be visible, but its invisible presence is still felt in the way some scenes are written as if to appeal to a Chinese demoness voyeur, namely scenes of helpless men in a state of undress. Even a hyper-masculine triad gangster movie like one of the 'Young and Dangerous' series had a scene with Ekin Cheng shirtless and on his knees awaiting a painful corporal punishment for sexual congress with another gang member's wife. (Doesn't that look like a textbook S&M scenario?) I'm sure that wasn't written to appeal to the heterosexual male demographic!

(Side Note: Chingmy Yau plays a wonderful treacherous gangster moll in 'Young and Dangerous 2', who is sometimes a victim, sometimes an oppressor, and eventually gets killed by her lover Jordan Chan as an act of mercy.)

In a similar vein, in the X anime, while Kamui is bound in barbed wire like a martyred saint, his former friend Fuma sadistically gloats over his helplessness and leans down to lick blood off his neck. Another scene that struck me was in _Jungle wa Itsumo Nochi Guu_, where the lust-crazed old crone Dama scuttles on spider legs to attack Dr Clive, terrifying him and ripping his clothes slightly in the process.

For more information on Xi Wang Mu (also spelled Hsi Wang Mu), try _Transcendence_&_Divine_Passion:__The_Queen_ Mother_of_the_West_in_Medieval China_ by Suzanne E Cahill. Maximilia reminds me of her; far from the aristocratic image that later medieval Taoists made her into, during the Han dynasty, the peasants considered her a peasant female messiah who instructed them to start a rebellion.

Golden Lotus's Chinese name was Pan Jing Lian (also spelled P'an Chin Lian), and she was one of the main characters in the famous Ming dynasty erotic novel _Jing Ping Mei_. The novel inspired at least a few movies, most of them titled something like 'Golden Lotus'. She also appears in _The Water Margin_, also titled _Outlaws of the Marsh_.

Nu Gwa the creator goddess was half-snake from the waist down (like some depictions of Lilith), and in some stories she and her brother-husband Fu Xi were the ancestors of the human race.

Many real-life women, as if inspired by Xi Wang Mu, became 'castle-toppling' seductresses for whom kings literally lost their kingdoms (and their lives). Xi Shi and Yang Guei Fei for example. But the most spectacular success of all was achieved by Wu Ze Tian, the only female emperor in Chinese history, supposedly a raving nymphomaniac who seduced and murdered her way to the throne. She casts a long shadow; even now, 13 centuries after her death, Chinese men still say her name with fear. This discovery during my teens was the definitive moment that infected me, when I heard my grandfather say her name with fear, laughing nervously. I hypothesised that other Chinese men and boys fear the feminine demonic and proved it by frightening disrespectful, importunate boys with the 'demoness act'.

Sorry about my focus being rather Sino-centric, but I don't know enough about the demonic tropes of other cultures to comment on them, and you no doubt know more of them than I do.

David Mack's Kabuki graphic novels are incredibly innovative in design and truly awe-inspiring. They focus on a group of masked female assassins working for the Noh Corporation. Some of them spend so much time wearing the masks, playing the roles, that they have difficulty remembering their former selves. These women have become their images. To complicate things further, the Noh assassins are also stars of a television series, and their masked images are on billboards all over Japan, creating a meta-narrative. Despite being celebrities, by the very nature of their work and the secrecy it necessitates, they are isolated from the rest of society.

On a personal note, I was almost dumbstruck that you had chosen Madeleine as the name for the protagonist of _Babylon_. This tallied with a dream in which I went to a paradise and met a goddess who told me I could call her Madeleine.

- Hoping I can hystericise my age before I get old

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Richard Calder
Posted on Friday, February 17, 2006 - 04:24 am:   

Lanxun --

The Thai phrase is 'Dohk Tong' -- literally, 'golden flower'. I was interested to learn that *xiao jie*, meaning unmarried woman or girl -- the equivalent of 'Miss'? -- is 'used as a modern euphemism for prostitute'. In 17th century England 'Miss' was used only to refer to small girl-children and prostitutes.

The mythic prostitute stands outside the family, is, perhaps, anti-family (and as such as much anti-matriarchy as anti-patriarchy); in that context, the appellation seems appropriate and logical.

'Se' is the Chinese signifier for 'colour'? (The same as in Thai? In Thai 'se-khow', for instance, is 'white'.) I know that there are quite a lot of linguistic correspondences between Thai and Chinese; I remember, many
years ago, walking through London's Chinatown and recognizing -- to my surprise -- Cantonese numbers being called out: neung, song, sam, see, ha etc. (Or maybe I've got that completely wrong!)

I'm aware of Japanese 'fox-spirits' or 'fox-girls'. I believe one legend concerns a wood-cutter who comes across two beautiful women playing a game of Go. He's so fascinated that he has to watch, but after a time he interrupts and the women vanish. The woodcutter then learns that several hundred years have passed. In 'The Place of Dead Roads', we learn that protagonist Kim Carsons 'knew that the horror of these
Demon Lovers was a gloomy Christian thing. In Japan there are phantom lovers known as "fox maidens" who are highly prized, and the man who can get his hands on a fox maiden is considered lucky. He felt sure that there were fox boys as well. Such creatures could assume the form of either sex.' In 'Report from the Bunker' Burroughs adds: 'Sex is physics. If anyone could push a button and receive an incubus or succubus, I believe that most people would prefer a phantom partner than the all-too dreary real thing.'

As for 'tomcats': the French *marlou* ('tomcat') can refer to a man who consorts with prostitutes, or perhaps a ponce or pimp. Walter Benjamin, in 'The Arcades Project', offers this generous assessment: ‘A marlou (tomcat)...is a handsome young man, strong and well built, knows how to defend himself, to dress well, to dance the chahue and the cancan with elegance, to be obliging towards girls devoted to the cult of Venus, and to provide for them in times of conspicuous danger...’

Ah yes, the beauty of the dragon! I think the Jim Burns artwork (for 'Malignos') depicting Satana and Lucifera (the malignos sisters) was wonderful. Devilish horns (as well as pointy tails) are devilishly alluring. There's a song by The Cramps called 'All Women Are Bad'; the chorus goes: 'All women are bad/They got groovy wiggly tails/Horns on their heads/All women are bad ...'

And the 'incomparable' Dejah Thoris was oviparous, so you're in good company ...

I was rather amused by the idea of Chinese demonesses having a yen for 'helpless human scholars' who are 'just their type'. Regarding the dominant/submissive dichotomy: it's certainly true, catgirls display many submissive traits, but they're also assertive and have a rather no-nonsense attitude about what they
want. I can't imagine them 'submissive' in a domestic sense. They stand in opposition to the normative world. No slaves to matrimony, they. And no slaves to standard, prescriptive ideas of 'romance', either (a form of pornography -- insidious, because hypocritical -- that their own pornocracy stands in opposition to). They're bad girls, outsiders, wildcats.

18th-century fashions and furniture: I believe my Lilim reserve an affection for such ambience because the 18th century was the most feminine of centuries. I have a great love of 18th century French painting -- Watteau, Boucher, Fragonard. (A vandalized copy of Boucher's 'Girl Reclining on a Couch' crops up in 'Dead Boys'.) When the Goncourts talk of Watteau, they might be describing a Lilim nymphenburg: 'The grace of Watteau is grace itself. It is that indefinable touch that bestows upon women a charm, a coquetry, a beauty ... All the fascination of women in repose: the languor, the idleness, the abandonment, the mutual leanings upon one another, the outstretched limbs, the indolence, the harmony of attitudes ... the breasts' elusive, receding contours ... the pliancies of a woman's body; the play of slender fingers upon the handle of a fan, the indiscretion of high heels peeping below the skirt, the chance felicities of demeanour, the coquetry of gesture, the manoueuvring of shoulders, and all that erudition, that mime of grace, which the women of the preceding century acquired from their mirrors ...' And then there is the 18th century institution of the salon -- a feminine institution -- presided over by hostesses like Madame du Deffand and Madame Geoffrin. The equation with the T'ang dynasty is something I must look into!

Thanks for pointing me to the Cahill book (_Transcendence_&_Divine_Passion:__The_Queen_
Mother_of_the_West_in_Medieval China_), such films as 'Young and Dangerous 2' (that *does* sound interesting), and the novel _Jing Ping Mei_.

You write of David Mack's Kabuki graphic novels that the masked female assassins 'spend so much time wearing the masks, playing the roles, that they have difficulty remembering their former selves. These women have become their images.' I've always been fascinated by this idea. The spiritual quest of a catgirl (and I would call it spiritual) is one of self-transcendence: she longs to become an image, to acquire a two
-dimensionality that is paradoxically deeper than the life offered by the normative world.

My Babylonian heroine is called Madeleine in honour of the Magdalene, who, in my own Babylonian mythology, was the priestess of Ishtar repsonsible for seducing Christ and having him crucified -- symbolic of the Babylonian sacred prostitute's demonic puruit of having man crucified on the crucis lingam of his own sexuality. For Babylonians, the Magdalene was the true Messiah.
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Lanxun
Posted on Monday, February 27, 2006 - 08:36 pm:   

Richard -

Yes, 'xiao jie', as well as meaning 'unmarried woman or girl' was also a title like 'Miss', so before I married, I was sometimes referred to as 'Xu xiao jie' or 'Lanxun xiao jie'. Chinese honorifics, like Japanese ones, are suffixes appended after the name.

*Shen nu*, literally 'goddess', is another slang term for prostitute. However, the most common term now is probably *ji*, 'chicken', while a male prostitute is a *ya*, 'duck'.

Interesting point about the prostitute being outside the family, whether matriarchal or patriarchal - I'm also remembering that Chinese ghost girls are often trying to escape from the control of oppressive supernatural matriarchs (as Primavera tries to escape Madam Kito).

Yes, *se* means 'colour' in Chinese. I guess it shouldn't surprise me that there are linguistic correspondences between Thai and Chinese, given that there's a substantial ethnic Chinese population in Thailand. I don't know if you have the Cantonese numbers right - I'm Chinese-American; my parents' native dialect was Mandarin, of which I speak a little, but my only knowledge of Cantonese is a few words and phrases culled from Hong Kong films.

This might be a random coincidence, but while watching _Monkey King: Quest for the Sutra(2002)_ (starring Dicky Cheung), a TV programme based on _Journey to the West_, I noticed that the Monkey King often gets cursed by his ex-girlfriend as *sei ma lou* - 'damned monkey' in Cantonese, so *ma lou* is Cantonese for 'monkey'. The Monkey King, in some tellings of the legend, is a charming, flirtatious playboy caught in a love triangle between a demoness and a female immortal.

After a re-examination of your novels, I admit that your catgirls usually do get what they want. Even when they get killed, it is usually because of their inherent death-wish. Romance novels disgust me, as well, not least because they encourage women to disenfranchise themselves and remain helpless, leaving it to men to rescue and protect them rather than learn to protect themselves, which callously puts men at unnecessary risk. I agree that women readers of romance novels are hypocritical in that they can remain 'good girls' if they timidly limit their erotic consumption to steamy romance novels rather than risk social censure by consuming erotica or pornography.

Speaking of the love/hate between your Elohim and Lilim, I'm also remembering that demonesses sometimes flirt with and sexually taunt their male human hunters. (In the movies, no man has any hope of hunting down or harming a demoness unless he himself has magical training.) Yin/yang theory itself states that yin and yang fight each other as well as complement each other. I've already mentioned _Green Snake_ (note the sexual dynamic between Green Snake and Fa Hai), which also has the equation of misogyny with racism (or speciesism) as a theme, but I remember another. In _A Chinese Legend_, Sharla Cheung, as a foxgirl, pulls at the collar of her robes, threatening to expose her breasts to the Taoist magician's gaze, just as Lilim use their exhibitionism to taunt men and Elohim. While the shocked magician covers his eyes with his sleeve like a gentleman should, she disappears. The rest of Sharla Cheung's performance in this film is also memorable.

Lam Kit Ying gives an arresting and truly frightening performance as 30th Madam, a spider demoness, in _A Chinese Odyssey Part One_.

The 18th century is an aesthetic that I like as well, and its passing, and the scarcity of elegance in modern times, are things I miss.

"Kubla Khan" by Samuel Coleridge has always been one of my favourite poems.

I would also recommend the anime Princess Tutu, which hides a lot of feminine evil within a seemingly harmless magical-girl shoujo package. Eponymous good-girl Princess Tutu competes with bad-girl Princess Kraehe (think Odile from Swan Lake) for the affections of Prince Myuto. Princess Kraehe, as well as being a sultry femme fatale, is even unscrupulous enough to corrupt or 'poison' the Prince with an evil enchantment, transforming him from his once kind, gentle self into a cruel seducer that girls literally die for. Sinister storytelller Drosselmeyer manipulates all of the characters for his amusement and sometimes sends his doll-girl Edel to give enigmatic advice and magical assistance to Princess Tutu. Each episode is prefaced by a narrator's voice reading the beginning sentences of a classic fairy tale, which sets the tone for a darkly beautiful and violent ambience like that in the unexpurgated original fairy tales. It also borrows heavily from classical ballets, from which music is used.

One of these days, I've got to see _Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan_. The heroine seems to have been destined for the profession with the name Ai Nu, 'Love Slave'.

Your catgirls' quest to become an image reminds me of the Zen phrase, “Sit like a Buddha, and then, because you sit like a Buddha, you will become one." Similarly, White Tigresses imitate the image of an immortaless, and hope to thus become one.

The dying gods of other religions usually were sent to their deaths because of a goddess; compared to them, it is conspicuously odd that conventional Christianity left out the role of the goddess in Christ's crucifiction. It would be a reasonable hypothesis that Jesus was crucified because of the Magdalene.

The Magdalene being the Babylonian messiah links in with one of the roles of Xi Wang Mu - only with her approval can an aspirant become a Taoist immortal, and she was the one to register all newly-made Taoist immortals to enter paradise and formally invest them with titles and duties. The most worshipped deity in the Chinese-speaking world today, Kuan Yin, the bowdlerised Buddhist answer to Xi Wang Mu, is also considered a Saviour, She Who Hears the Cries of the World. (Even saintly virginal Kuan Yin spent at least one lifetime incarnated as a prostitute.)

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