Helen of Troy: Writing The Woman

The philosophical meaning of Helen’s story: literature and emancipation

What is a woman? Is she just the antithesis of a man, a non-male living thing? No. A woman is much more. Every woman is more woman than every man is a man. A woman is not just a rib taken from the side of the chest of a man. A woman is exactly that point in the side, it is that small pair of centimetres below the armpit. It is exactly where a man feels to be a man.

It is a silver drop that falls in a round edgeless pool. It waves the water and slowly, from that point, exactly from that point, the contact point between the eternal and the corruptible, between life and death, the pure womb of life, a perpetually changing series of concentric circles are raised. There is a rhythm on the background: drums made of human skin are played with bones by weird ethereal figures with blind eyes and untouchable hands. It is the rhythm of life. It is a circle. It is a hundred of circles that chase each other in a pool, on whose bottom, she lays down.

And I have seen her: there are no words to describe her. There aren’t at all. I could stay here to celebrate her, saying that she’s beautiful and divine, but every word is a too small mock up for her being so full of herself. Words. They’re too inconsistent for her. But one day a great thinker1 said that words, in spite of their small and meaningless body, can do divine things. They can stop the fear, cancel the pain, increase the joy and raise the mercy. And it was a woman to teach this: her name was Helen (ἙeYic).

Helen was beautiful, her beauty was stolen from a god and never hidden. She was proud of it, she would show it off across the streets of the city, at home, in private and public environments. She was teasingly austere, beautiful and untouchable, easy but not easy-going. Multifaceted and impenetrable, but, at the same time, simply Helen. And this complex simplicity was the goal of many suitors, until one came, who managed to posses her.

Probably we will never know why Helen gave up to his flatteries, but understanding this is definitely the most difficult thing in this world: investigating, examining and catching the secret of the sweetest simplicity is above our possibilities. Rationalizing the power of love, explaining it. It is impossible. Even if love has millions of shapes and millions of faces. But, again, it is impossible to get to a final truth, to a definitive explanation of the word love. Words. Probably Helen was victim of some kind of spell, kidnapped in the depth of two eyes, probably she was forced to be possessed, but she was certainly, as the old thinker says, inducted by the power of words.

And it is wonderful to think how Helen is somehow linked to the idea of words, how she holds the meaning and the secret of every word. Helen’s kidnap has never had and never will have a negative meaning: it is and forever will be the triumph of love and communication against the solitude. Helen is an open book. Without any writing but full of meanings, a paper without any point, both the meaning and the beholder of the meaning of every word. Yes, because Helen was the first woman to emancipate, the first woman to live as a woman, the first profoundly woman, the first novel.

The most prolific season for novels was born from the elliptical definition of a wise luminary2, who stated that a novel is a romantic book. The novel is the ecstasy of a Muse, who leads the hand of the artist, who translates his creative orgasm into words, into the facts, into the story. But as the woman is not only the sarcophagus of the female, so the novel is not only a romantic book. These are two definitions that chase each other, they are tangled but they never get in touch. They are self-tangled. But when are two ideas self-tangled? In a lack of principles.

So hasn’t the novel, as well as the woman, got any principle? Is it anarchical, is it absolute? Is the woman so much full of her own identity to be anarchical? The answer is in the middle. Helen is in the middle. Seduced by the words, moved by transgression, Helen was the author of the first romantic novel of history. Not simply a romantic book, but a truly proper novel.

The woman and the novel are absolute, because they annihilate every other gender and type, they are two important revolutions in the course of history of mankind. They have defeated obstacles, they represent the mirror, the outburst and the sweetness of every man. But, at the same time, they can lower themselves to a humble level and get lost in the chaos, so they also hold the roots of anarchy. They both delete any principle, to face only the facts, the stories of men. They mark a universe which has lost its core, which is bending towards a nominal-ish dispersion, which is losing every guise, every solid shape, which is playing a perpetual contradictions game with the truth and its demands. They both get to compromises with the perpetual and constant change.

The woman and the novel do have a very strong connection with the creativity philosophy, with the multiform ethics of inventing, re-inventing and self-inventing. But it is from a sense of negativity which is expressed in every drop of the truth of a woman and in every written but not printed word of a novel, that it is possible to pull one single story out of too many ones, that it is possible to achieve the idea of the non-temporal and perfect novel, the idea of the Woman, the idea of Love, the idea of Helen.

Both the cosmic forces are united in one single hive, and then Helen will be synonymous of truth, as well as true is the sun3 that she holds in her name. Helen was never the subject of the temptation’s menace, never forced by coercion, but simply victim of a non-verbal love, that transcends every dialectical and logical plan.

Helen’s story is the mother of every single story. Helen is the mother of everything: mother of the novel itself, the desperate try of a soul to entangle all the notes of its life and, therefore, personal story of uncountable individual and collective events. The Genesis of every genesis, which holds in its womb the meaning of every existence. And, from this point of view, the novel is the perfect bridge on the hiatus between transcendental and empirical; the medium used by Helen in order to transmit her offspring the sense of every heritage. Because sense and truth will never be able to belong to each other.

The history is unavoidably plural, there is no one that can hold us all, but all the stories head to Helen and they look for an order in their development, an order which is given during the development itself. Therefore, every single story is worth to be written because writing means being part of Helen and catching a fragment, even if insignificant, of her ethical example.

Writing depends on time and on the sense that was missing before, but that now, thanks to the memory of Helen, it is raised again for the first time in the perpetual hunting of the truth which institutes it and it is transcended by it. The novel is contradicted, Helen takes it to a contradiction, to contradict its non-temporality in the time.

The truth becomes history, it becomes unique, it becomes events, which are both the events themselves and the events of Helen’s love. The story of Helen is therefore the prototype and the limit of the novel, contradictory and sparkling, agonized and sweet becoming event of the Truth.