The Arabian Nights
King Shahriyar, betrayed by his wife, decides to choose the daughter of one of his nobles for his bride, performing a new nuptial ceremony every night. The next morning, he would have her killed, until Shahrazad, daughter of the vizier, imagines a solution: she will entertain the king every night by telling him a new story and postponing the end of the story to the next night. The experience works, and at the end of the ‘thousand’ tales, the king even forgot his hatred for women. So, Shahrazad saved the women of the country and saved herself, by simply finding a new story to tell every night. Ars narrandi, ars vivendi.
The narrative is hence proved to be an appropriate place for defeating death. On earth the perpetual fight is not only between eros (love) and Tanatos (death): there is an even more radical and decisive fight between Tanatos and Logos, that is, between death and word, between death and words. As long as we still have something to tell someone, we can postpone the occurrence of death by one day, and, perhaps, when it happens at the end of our story, we will find out that we still had a story to tell – it was the last, and it was hers.
Women are particularly gifted with words because they have a special familiarity with life. The reason could be that for millennia they have kept the house, and there they developed one of the key relationships while men were dedicated to the economy of productive and military relations outside. They changed the world by their word, they taught children to speak and to decrypt the whispers of the sick and the elderly. I am convinced that it was a Roman woman who had the idea to venerate a protective goddess of “mothers’ milk” (Edulica) and a protector god the ‘first word of children’ (Fabulinus). Even if it was the males who actually invented them, it was the mothers who certainly invoked them. In a time of worn out and weary words, if we want to rediscover the meaning of speaking and the meaning of words, we need to ask women afresh, to give us essential new initial words.