Thursday, October 30, 2008

ATALANTA: The Food Huntress Inspiration

My blog is turning one year next month. I opened this blog in 2007 in a century- old library, and I do admit that there was a time when I have been a little worried if I had the staying power to sustain it. But as it shows, my counter continues to roll- many thanks to all of you out there in the world who took time to read my page.

I think it is quite timely to write here a few facts on how this blog alter ego came to be. It all started with this little illustration of Atalanta, a Greek myth character, whose story I have been reading since… I can’t remember when. From this picture emerged the name ‘food huntress’ – a woman holding a spear about to shoot a boar - all of which speaks a lot about my psyche more than sheer fascination for this literary character. And lately I started living in that fantasy as this year I got into a masculine gathering of men – being the only woman in a male- dominated kitchen brigade- as Atalanta has been with the hunters of Arcady. Indeed, we become the reality we create.

One true conscience of this blog page is my dramatic/ romantic side. While garnished with a little surrealism, it intends to indirectly illustrate that dimension which is innate in each one of us: our natural and unpretentious tendency to be appreciative of beautiful things, good food, and our natural inclination to love. Why Romeo and Juliet are immortal, why the Taj Mahal was built, why some foods are termed aphrodisiacs, and why the human race lives on - all of these respond to that primitive nature of the human heart.

Legend has it that whoever could beat the swift- footed Atalanta in a foot race would be the one she’s set to give her heart to. Those who don’t win were executed. Apparently it is not my intent to beat a man in a foot race nor any duel (hahaha) for him to earn my affection, though I admit, I do most of the time imagine the adrenalin rush of it. Atalanta’s legend goes perfectly with my kind of love story which is not the type where an egomaniacal necrophiliac Prince Charming (haven’t we noticed that Prince Charming is a womanizer? He’s the one and the same prince that helpless princesses are linked to) makes love to a sleeping princess, nor the Madame Butterfly martyrdom, but more of this wonderful Greek myth where the hero was measured by his courage and the pureness of his intentions.

At some point in my life I have become naturally nonchalant with men- either treating them respectfully as plain comrades or with hands down indifference that such attempts for courtship die even before they start. I am not sure if our Greek heroine had similar attitude, but for this blogging food huntress, albeit we have the tendency to be blinded by self- indulgent infatuation, it is quite easy to distinguish the borders of passion and friendship. When you work with men every day, such numbness for manly companionship grows that it makes you wonder how different you are from any other female to have attracted this fate.

Atalanta runs like a gazelle but there wasn’t a record in history that she had pursued men. And what was it that Japanese warriors have taught us to relate with honor and self respect: they’d rather die than stand the shame of defeat (or of hanging around where we’re not wanted). She is neither a Madonna nor a whore. She is a man’s dream- not as a woman per se- but her feats and athletic victories that come naturally are the same things that the male ego wants for itself. Men like her (she was known to have many suitors) because she is unconceitedly beautiful- more preoccupied with the things of the wilderness than looking at herself on the mirror “As for her face, it seemed too maidenly to be that of a boy, and too boyish to be that of a maiden…” On the other hand, men dislike her because “ (some of the heroes resented her presence and) felt it beneath them to go hunting with a woman…”

Atalanta’s story the only classic plot I knew that has a strange twist. The contenders became lovers after competing. There was only one rule- outrun her and she’s yours. Melanion, (a.k.a Hippomenes) the lover, doesn’t run as fast as the huntress, but he used his head to outdo her. Ah, give way for love, give way! As for food, there were the golden apples, a product of the Melanion’s genius and Aphrodite's help, which was the cause of Atalanta’s fall.

I think the story’s one lesson is that it takes a kind of man to beat the odds in order to win a woman’s favor – especially if she has a reputation of being his equal. Our strengths after all are counterbalanced by the many events and people who arrive in our lives, for while Atalanta delighted in her many triumphant adventures and presumed that no man alive could outrun her in a foot race, Melanion’s essence is that of quiet confidence. Quite the opposite of the typical Alpha male who’d proclaim himself as lord of the jungle. What sets him apart is that he disregarded the fact that Atalanta could hunt and shoot and wrestle , instead focused on his desire to have the girl - true to his heart - even if it meant risking the consequence of losing in a race against her, or beseeching the help of the gods. To take risks is in itself a manifestation of courage, and courage has genius in it.

Filling up this blog turned my life around in ways that so much creation – whether of thought or things material- sprouted out of it. What a genial way this idea is to write ideas, to get connected to people, and above all, to discover what you are made of.

I am too fascinated by this character that I decided to place her on my header (does it require a copyright permission?) - like what the gods did to hunters and heroes – they were placed as constellations in the night sky.

- Thank you.

Illustrations by Steele Savage lifted from MYTHOLOGY: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton


Manggy said...

Happy anniversary to your blog! For a while there I thought you were trying to figure out what we were made of, when I realized you were talking about yourself, heh :)
I'm not sure about the image use. I think since it's very old, it has no copyright, but I'm not very sure.

foodhuntress79 said...

Thank you Manggy. Haha. Yes it's about myself - now I don't have a hard time figuring out what costume to wear on a Halloween Party- it's that huntress costume - with a spear! :P