Ana Fernandez, Kathryn Dohrmann
Contained/ Released
mixed media on paper
32" x 40"
The Pandora Memos
                  
To: Erasmus

From: Pandora

Re: Mistranslation

It has come to my attention that you have translated my
“biography,” that unauthorized bit of theodicy by Hesiod.
Unfortunately, you have compounded his errors with one of
your own, confusing
pithos, my great storage jar, with pyxis,
meaning box. Now we have dreadful, "Pandora's Box,"
circulating about history, tarnishing my reputation,
branding me into eternity with a scarlet P. More than you
might guess or imagine,
pyxis lives, spreads like a virus, misinforms
multitudes. I request correction and apology.


To:  Erasmus

From:  Pithos

Re: On behalf of Pandora

I am no box! I may seem a humble jar, but I hold every
earthen gift—olive’s oil, wheat’s berry, vine’s grape. For I
am of the earth, its clay, its water, almost human in form and
function, body’s curve, belly’s round.  I fit gently on the
lip—wine’s chalice, broth’s ladle, water’s cup. I afford the
hand, the artist’s brush. Although the box can hold and
contain, I am more. I am motion. I pour, stream, flow,
decant. And, I am numinous! My interior is the blackred
darkening of fermentation, birth, mystery a box can never
know.  I am womb and sepulcher, beginning and end of all.

To: Erasmus

From: Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Re: on behalf of Pandora

Having devoted several years of my life to Pandora, painting
and drawing her portraits, writing her sonnet, I am stunned
to hear of this mistranslation.  How I labored over her
hands, those beauties—how cunningly they are clenched,
frozen in their death grip, twisted like a vulture’s claw.  The
box was key!  The hands must be redrawn, and I fear that
this is only the beginning. I will have to rethink
everything!
The lost and melancholy face, deadly vapors, dark
prophecies—meaningless! Scholars say that in my work,
Beauty is interrogated—as emblem of desire, cultural
signifier, touchstone. Now my strokes, my words—all will
be in question.  What Beauty is this? What of the end,
Erasmus, indeed?

To: Erasmus

From: Eve

Re: on behalf of Pandora

When it comes to mythical inversions and bad raps,
Pandora’s got company!  There are old stories about me, too,
you know. Nobody hears them these days, but the Gnostics
had it right.  The snake and I—we were buddies. He was
The Instructor. Sometimes my lover, sometimes my helper.
Sometimes he just watched me being Me, the original Know-
It-All.   If you had an inkling—and I suspect you do—of
what I really know, about matter and time and desire, you
might be tempted to bring me down. Still, if you aren’t
afraid to look deeply, into those places where, like Will said,
there are tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons
in stones, and good in everything, you’ll find me. Pandora
too. We’ll make you a cup of tea. We’ll talk.


To: Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamos

From: Jane Ellen Harrison

Re: on behalf of Pandora Anesidora

What’s in a name, Gerrit? Gerrit Gerritszoon, the
Netherlandish far behind you now.
Desiderium, longing.
Erasmus, beloved.  Roterodamous, Rotterdam, city of birth.  
Lofty, enduring sobriquet. Assumed name, pseudonym,
nom de
plume, nom de guerre.
The criminal behind an alias. Parents
pondering the one right name. Given name, maiden name.
Son of. Daughter of. Family, genus, species—Linnaeus
naming the Garden. Making a name for himself.  All the
grand onomastic efforts of our lives. Consider then, Her
rightful names. Pandora,
all-giving, Anesidora, she who sends
up gifts.
 What’s in my name, you might ask?  Remember me
not only as Jane,
gracious, Ellen, bright one, but also as
Zaetaetaes Alaethaeas,
seeker of truth.


To: Erasmus

From: Gaia Anesidora

Re: On behalf of Pandora

It is Ours to say.  We are Two-In-One, Duality, Mother and
Maiden, One-in-the-Same.  In spring Pandora rises like a
hyacinth from the hide of the sleeping earth to renew the
world. In time she flowers, fruits, ripens into Fullness of Self,
into Gaia, Mother of All, Creatrix, Origin, Deep-Breasted
One, Ground of Being.  Know this: her bud is my rose, her
blossom, my apple, her green, my gold.


To: Erasmus

From: Pandora

Re: Mistranslation

Do you not have a thousand, brilliant questions? Have I
asked too much? Hoped too strongly? Do you know that
you walk upon my ancient drum, that my plants and
animals offer themselves for your hunger, that my rivers and
streams flow for your thirst, that you warm yourself with
my precious gift? Shall we begin anew? Do you think that
Truth can be known from words? What is budding in your
beautiful heart?  O, Erasmus, are you not curious?




                                              ---
Kathryn Dohrmann



Endnotes:
Erasmus (1466-1536), Dutch theologian, “Prince of
Humanists”  “theodicy” addresses the question of why
there is evil in the world  Hesiod (@ 700 BCE), Greek poet
and rhapsode, told the story of Pandora twice—in the
Theogony and in Works and Days  Dante Gabriel Rossetti
(1828-1852), poet and pre-Raphaelite painter  “Tongues in
trees, books in running brooks…” is from
As You Like It
Jane Ellen Harrison (1850-1928) British classicist, linguist,
feminist  some phrasing in the last memo is after Hafiz
(1320-1389)
                                                      COLLABORATIVE STATEMENT
                                        Artist Ana Fernandez and Poet Kathryn Dohrmann

Writing, more writing, then images
                                                                                          our images & writing led to the idea
the idea of Pandora & her myth
                                                                                                   a possible epistolary exchange
an epistolary exchange featuring Pandora
                                                                                               & famous/infamous personalities  
& an exchange between two modern women
                                                                                              in whose work there are questions
questions of gender, roles, identity,
                                                                                               questions of truth, culture, myth
asking if a myth could be retold
                                                                                             asking if a myth could retell itself
Pandora herself speaking
                                                                                              speaking history & her unfolding
we here could be her voice
                                                                                           a voice for those who live her myth