We interrupt this broadcast with a brief word from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road

The “Setting Scene” post for A Handmaid’s Tale is in the works (winged bonnet construction delays, ya feel me?).  However, the next text on deck is even more chock-full of grim dystopian fun, this time post-apocalyptic (though it’s not technically on my MFA reading list—-a throwback, if you will).

While past texts lent themselves nicely to food inspiration, gourmet de Road would be limited to expired canned goods or baby-on-a-stick.  Mmmmm.  I went directly to plan B on this one.  Because the world is ending in this novel, and with it what’s left of humanity, I decided to focus on artwork. After all, what do we study of civilizations past? What better than the arts to depict humans as evolved—-different from beast?

Below I’ve paired famous paintings inspired by scenes or themes from the text.

“There was a lake a mile from his uncle’s farm where he and his uncle used to go in the fall for firewood.  He sat in the back of the rowboat trailing his hand in the cold wake while his uncle bent to the oars…This was the perfect day of his childhood.  This the day to shape the days upon.”

rowboat on the seine, monet

“Rowboat on the Seine,” by Monet

Image taken from here.

The next passage could possibly be interpreted as a tower/library of babel reference, hence the accompanying painting.

“Years later he’d stood in the charred ruins of a library where blackened books lay in pools of water. Shelves tipped over. Some rage at the lies arranged in their thousands row on row. He picked up one of the books and thumbed through the heavy bloated pages. He’d not have thought the value of the smallest thing predicated on a world to come. It surprised him. That the space which these things occupied was itself an expectation. He let the book fall and took a last look around and made his way out into the cold gray light.”

Brueghel-tower-of-babel

“Tower of Babel,” by Brueghel

Image taken from here.

The next piece is about as literal as a literal interpretation can get—-it says carrying fire, here is a painting of carrying fire.  But if the Promethean shoe fits…

“We wouldnt ever eat anybody, would we?
 No. Of course not.
 Even if we were starving?
We’re starving now.
You said we werent.
 I said we werent dying. I didnt say we werent starving.
But we wouldnt.

No. We wouldnt.
No matter what.
 No. No matter what.
 Because we’re the good guys.
 Yes.
 And we’re carrying the fire.
 And we’re carrying the fire. Yes.
Okay.”

prometheus “Prometheus Brings Fire to Mankind,” by Füger

Image taken from here.

The final piece is not one of my favorites (I mean, that baby is ripped, the feet all look gnarly, and amidst all the nakedness there is a noticeable absence of a thing or two), but is an apt representation of the struggle to remain good, and the man’s vigilant efforts to keep his son from harm.  The white eyes of the evil angel are also reminiscent of the cave-beast in the text: on the hunt.

“He sat there cowled in the blanket. After a while he looked up. Are we still the good guys? he said.
Yes. We’re still the good guys.
And we always will be.
Yes. We always will be.”

The Good and Evil Angels 1795/?c.1805 William Blake 1757-1827 Presented by W. Graham Robertson 1939 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N05057

“The Good and Evil Angels,” by William Blake

Image taken from here.

Now… aren’t you glad we didn’t barbecue babies?

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood: Hope and Lotion

photo

The above cover art is by Amelia Jude (though I messed with it a bit).  See more of her work here.

I have something to tell you, and you’re not going to like it. This is the first time I’ve read The Handmaid’s Tale.  Go ahead and book-shame me if you must: I understand.  But it’s not like I’ve been cheating on you with 50 Shades of Twilight, or anything as barbaric–I mean, we’re good, right? Right?

Ahem. Right. Totally cool.

So. Now that I have read it, I can’t believe it’s been sitting oh-so-innocuously on my shelf for years.  A dystopia fueled by religious extremism and the misemployment of feminism? Yes, please.

The inspiration for this project was taken from the following passage:

“As long as we do this, butter our skin to keep it soft, we can believe that we will some day get out, that we will be touched again, in love or desire. We have ceremonies of our own, private ones.”

As Offred mentioned in the text, while butter can work as a moisturizer in a pinch, it does make one smell like rancid milk eventually, and I couldn’t subject you to my neuroses,reading list shortcomings, and rotten dairy all in one post.  Below you’ll find a recipe for homemade lotion that you’ll actually enjoy using.

IMG_5582

Homemade Lotion

The following recipe was taken from Wellness Mama.  Here’s the original link.

Here’s my version:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup almond oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup beeswax (you’ll want the pastilles)
  • 1/8 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 7 drops tangerine essential oil

*The last two ingredients are just for fragrance; feel free to experiment with your own essential oil combos.  I chose these particular scents  as they relate to the novel: vanilla for motherhood, evoking the heavenly smells of baking in the kitchen; and tangerine for the oranges that were considered such a luxury when they were available at Milk and Honey.

Directions

Combine ingredients in a pint sized or larger glass mason jar.

Fill a medium saucepan with 2-3 inches of water and place over medium heat.

Put a lid on the jar loosely and place in the pan with the water.

As the water heats, the ingredients in the jar will start to melt. Shake or stir occasionally to incorporate.

When all ingredients are completely melted, pour into whatever jar or tin you will use for storage. Let cool.

Use within 6 months.

Don’t take that silky, smooth skin for granted.