Xiane Sierocka-Stock 740 days ago
" ( ... )The concept of Matrix exemplifies the multivalent capacity of the sacred sign. By Icons of the Matrix I mean several things. One is the matrix of time and space, which various cultures call Mother Nature, Priroda, Prakriti, Aluna, or Tao. The Tao Te Ching describes it as “the creating Mother of everything that exists under heaven, upon which myriads of beings depend for their birth and existence.”
The Latin word matrix originally meant “womb,” from the same Indo-European root that gives mother, mater, meter, matr, mat’ and other equivalents. Matrix also encompasses a sense of kinship systems based on “mother-right,” that are matrilineal, matrilocal, and egalitarian. I call them “matrix cultures” because for many people “matriarchy” implies a mirror image of patriarchy’s relations of domination and subordination.(1) The social sense of “matrix” connotes other meanings: a life-support network within the maternal kindreds, which are cooperative and communal, and circles of exchange that reach beyond it. These are core values in the matrix cultures.
Any discussion of the nearly omnipresent female figurines must address the vexed problem of interpretation, the storm center of much controversy. Much current analysis still subscribes to doctrines that relations of domination and subordination are unavoidable and that human society has always functioned on patriarchal principles. These beliefs entail assumptions about who women are, what they must be and do, and perhaps more crucially, what they have or have not done. (And even though men get credited with creating civilization, they are also cast as natural bullies.) To contradict these assumptions by asserting that patriarchy was a historical development is to risk accusations of “golden age” utopianism. Nor is it considered realistic -- or acceptable -- to speak of the ancient female iconography as sacred.
Polarized conceptual constructs have a compelling magnetic power. The computer world calls it the “snap-to-grid” command. Philosophers know it as the “bifurcation fallacy”—if it’s not this, then it could only be that—which forces information into predetermined, polarized categories. Even the terminology has a built-in bias; everyone knows about phallic symbols, but what is the name for symbols of female potency? Insistence on terms like “fertility idols” or “Venus figurines” flattens our perception according to well-worn cultural scripts of female shame and anti-paganism. The old Eurocentric standard of interpretatio romana still holds sway in the common usage of “Venus figurines” (like the famous “Venus of Willendorf,” the “Venus of Malta,” the “Jomon Venus” of Japan, and many others). The Roman goddess Venus calls up patriarchal notions of the feminine; her power is fixated on seducing the male, or evading his gaze. But the Greco-Roman statues of women attempting to cover their nakedness with their hands have little in common with the potent, self-contained icons of the neolithic. ( ... )"