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The Third Wedding: Woman as the Vortex of Feeling Nicholas Kostis To τϕίτο στεφάνι, the sole and extraordinary novel by Kóstas Taktsis, is about the destiny of Nina, a particular, private, and identifiable woman. On a deeper level, the novel includes the history of modern Greece, both culturally and politically. On a still deeper level, one observes the depiction of an ontological universe at the center of which stands woman. The essence of The Third Wedding is the male-female division as a creative function of existence, the sexual dichotomy as the arch metaphor for a process whereby existence is generated out of nothingness and then shaped into a sense of being by woman. Vaginal dynamics, combined with male energy, create human existence . The structure of this process which is built up obsessively and repeatedly throughout the novel—chapter by chapter, image by image, like a series of Wagnerian or Proustian leitmotifs—is intricate. Digging down through the strata of Greek consciousness, Taktsis reveals original female and male archetypes1 each of whose plight he sets forth in powerfully negative narrations of love and creation. It is woman, however, who stands at his ontological center, as evidenced by the following autobiographical passage from his collection of short stories, Τα Ï•Î-στα: Greece never existed as my fatherland but as my motherland: a Greece much earlier than that of the twelve gods of Olympus, a barbarous, primitive matriarch, fuU of black ignorance, black magic, mysterious worshipping of snakes, and human, or rather, male sacrifices. The center of this world, the source where everything, both good and bad, originated and ended—this was later confirmed to me by Kassiane*—was the female reproductive organ (1981: 172-173).3 Taktsis is not speaking here of a center of fertility or biological reproductive forces, but rather of a generative center, a vaginal spewing forth of consciousness. The vagina—consciousness—churns away at inventing daily events in order to bring being into existence. This ontological task, the critical work of the female, is more important Journal of Modern Greek Studies, Volume 9, 1991. 93 94 Nicholas Kostis than the physical procreation of the race. Otherwise the female's reproductive capacity would merely be equal to that of the male. Taktsis' concept fashions a dominant existential function for the female. It is a black sexuality enshrouded in mourning, for the male is sacrificed to the female process of generating phenomena: "the women sat at home like spiders behind their webs and waited for the lightheaded males to come in order to devour them, and their delight did not derive from the act of devouring but from the opportunity it gave them to wear black afterwards and to mourn" (1981: 173-174). The male is needed less for his sperm than for reacting to and acting out scenarios instigated by females. Without him vaginal consciousness would have no reliable correspondence in the world to amplify its creative pulsations. It would have no reactive agents to transform potentialities into tangible evidence of reality. Taktsis emphasizes mourning and not death. This is so because mourning signifies process and thus invites death, which is absolute nothingness, to be a phenomenon among the living. Mourning acts as a springboard to new feelings and actions (good or bad), that is, to existence, and hopefully to a new sense of being. The author plays much more with mourning than with death. In fact he ignores death in a certain way as irrelevant to the existential process because it lacks the dynamics of nothingness. Death is a non-functional nothingness. In Taktsis' universe, feeling is crucial. Feeling accounts for the difference between being and non-being. Being always takes on some form of feeling—suffering, hope, happiness, or despair—whereas nothingness assumes the form of death or the absence of feeling. What is important in Taktsis is that signals are actually forged out of nothingness. Here the role of woman is again critical. She engenders a sense of life. She conjures up and sustains an unbroken chain of signs and sensations. She defies the inertness of nothingness. Instead of Descartes', "I think; therefore I am," she proclaims, "I feel; therefore being, at least potentially, will appear." That this dynamic...


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