I Dream of Zenia with the Bright Red Teeth by Margaret Atwood
By Margaret Atwood
In the past, after they have been all much more youthful, Zenia stole a guy from every one of them. Then she died. Now she’s come again. Or has she? There’s much more than one type of ghost. Margaret Atwood revisits her vintage characters from The Robber Bride. This tale first seemed within the July/August 2012 factor of The Walrus journal.
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It may be a “god with a god’s power,” or it may be a “human malady” (a)nqrw/pinon no/shma) or a “mental ignorance” (yuxh==j a)gno/hma). Whatever it is, it, like speech, imposes itself with irresistible force. The inherent risk of communication generally is the possibility of either not coming to voice or not coming to audition. Cf. this timeless lament: “Everyone babbles the words, but few obtain thereby a stronger faith” (Johann Valentin Andreae 1622, in Sabean 1984: 1). Paradoxically and understandably, it is this detachment of rhetoric from the aims of serious pleading on high-stakes issues, whether intellectual, moral, legal, political, or religious, that would put the “serious” rhetoricians in the quandary of how to distinguish their honourable and noble speech-crafts from those rhetoricians who had usurped the very same techniques for unabashed theatrical performance, for entertaining “spin” and unscrupulous deception that treated the audience as mere gulls.