How We Could Miss Her With Our Fingers Firmly Grasping the Remote
The premise behind The Alphabet vs. the Goddess, by Leonard Shlain, is that as a result of advances in the media and the increasing prevalence of visual imagery in movies, magazines and on the Internet, we are moving away from a linear-thinking culture, and more towards a visual, imaginal, right-brained society.
While I thought the book was very thought-provoking and written excellently, I'm not sure I buy the entire premise. I'm hesitant to go along with the idea that visual media (for example television and film) are a vehicle to "return" to a more feminine state. I agree that visual imagery is more right-brained, but whether the effect of that imagery is actually beneficial to us, or more feminine-honoring, I think is uncertain still. I also don't think it's a loop "back".
My personal instinct is to follow the senses. As primates we relied heavily on smell, and also touch - smell being the oldest, most rudimentary sense, purely instinctual. Then, as we developed spoken language, more significance was given to hearing and sound - storytelling, chanting, music - tones became more sophisticated, oral traditions developed, and our memories became phenomenal. Then, as Shlain says, we developed writing, a visual-motor skill. And as we became able to communicate across time and space via paper and stone, our thinking patterns changed - the infinite variety of tonal nuance was lost, and I think our memories suffered, while rational, systematic thinking developed.
Now we are creating an environment of mainly imagery accompanied by recorded narration and music. It's more right-brained, but it is still also communication across time and space. For example - the pre-historic storyteller could still touch and smell the listener, and the listener the storyteller. The 2nd senses (hearing and sound) were linked to the 1st (smell). When writing developed there was clearly a desire to capture the tonal nuances of storytelling. Hieroglyphs, Chinese pictograms, Semitic calligraphy, the Runes... The Greeks wrote dialogues, and a lot of early "Roman" writing was intended to be read aloud or was in the form of poetry. Cadence and meter were important, and vocabulary mushroomed to substitute for tonal variation. The 3rd sense (rational-visual) was thus linked to the 2nd (hearing/tonal nuance). But notice how we started losing the connection to the 1st senses, smell and touch....
Shlain proposes that the new media (television and film) is a catalyst for the next development (irrational-visual) that will reconnect us "back" to our feminine sides and potentially make the culture more heart-based. But I propose that ANY development that doesn't bring us closer again to our bodies, to smell or to touch, cannot make that claim.
Shlain confuses the feminine archetypes of Neptune: nymphs, faeries, and mermaids, with the archetype of the Moon, the Mother, the true great goddess. The Mother is the Earth. I may need to swim in my irrational and intuitive right brain, but that is not the same as being confronted with your smell, your textures, here and now, not across time or space. And what is heart without a connection to ground, to reality? The heart pulses, and pulses are both heard and felt in the body. Birth is bloody and sweaty and messy, not sweet and dreamy at all. The Mother is the Earth is my Body. And these are the avenues through which heart is known.
So in my opinion, anything which takes us further from our bodies, from the basic senses of smell and touch - irrational, right-brained or not - cannot truly be of the Mother. Neptune is "feminine", but the Moon is THE Female.