Regina Saphier: Worldview, Intuition and Depth of Field


As I promised, I am working on transferring my old freeblog content to wordpress. I am doing this with the help of The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and my old laptop, because unfortunately the service provider took the servers offline without notifying users and without providing a generally usable transfer method of the latest content that thousands of people produced. I already posted my live TED conference blog posts via my TED blog. On my Virtual Humanism blog I am starting with two quotes from Virginia Woolf (“The room of one’s own” and “Orlando“). In addition to her words, I will explain what I discovered while transferring these lines below. Finally, I am adding an old letter to an old friend.

A room of one’s own

All I could do was to offer you an opinion upon one minor point—a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; …”

“There was another ten–shilling note in my purse; I noticed it, because it is a fact that still takes my breath away the power of my purse to breed ten–shilling notes automatically. I open it and there they are. Society gives me chicken and coffee, bed and lodging, in return for a certain number of pieces of paper which were left me by an aunt, for no other reason than that I share her name.”

“Food, house and clothing are mine forever. Therefore not merely do effort and labour cease, but also hatred and bitterness. I need not hate any man; he cannot hurt me. I need not flatter any man; ...”

(Virginia Woolf: A room of one’s own)




at which Orlando woke.

He stretched himself. He rose. He stood upright in complete nakedness before us, and while the trumpets pealed Truth! Truth! Truth! we have no choice left but confess—he was a woman.

The sound of the trumpets died away and Orlando stood stark naked. No human being, since the world began, has ever looked more ravishing. His form combined in one the strength of a man and a woman’s grace. As he stood there, the silver trumpets prolonged their note, as if reluctant to leave the lovely sight which their blast had called forth; and Chastity, Purity, and Modesty, inspired, no doubt, by Curiosity, peeped in at the door and threw a garment like a towel at the naked form which, unfortunately, fell short by several inches. Orlando looked himself up and down in a long looking–glass, without showing any signs of discomposure, and went, presumably, to his bath.

(Virginia Woolf: Orlando)


Regina Saphier: The Writer’s Epiphany (my notes on April 6, 2014)

As I was preparing to repost these two posts on my Virtual Humanism blog, I had an epiphany while reading this line here: “Chastity, Purity, and Modesty, inspired, no doubt, by Curiosity, peeped in at the door and threw a garment like a towel at the naked form which, unfortunately, fell short by several inches.

When you first look at it, you think that the Virtues were unable to cover the body with the garment:

Chastity, Purity, and Modesty, inspired, no doubt, by Curiosity, peeped in at the door and threw a garment like a towel at the naked form which, unfortunately, fell short by several inches.

Vita Sackville-West in her twenties, by painte...

Vita Sackville-West in her twenties, by painter William Strang (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


But when you read it like this, a completely new message appears:

Chastity, Purity, and Modesty, inspired, no doubt, by Curiosity, peeped in at the door and threw a garment like a towel at the naked form which, unfortunately, fell short by several inches.

Nine years ago, when I became a blogger, when I read this text in 2005, I only “read” it. Of course I understood that this was about a gender transformation and that it was related to social criticism and women’s frustration with a male dominated society. It was all completely clear to me.

However, now, in 2014 I had a completely different automatic process of observation for the same text. I did not only read the text and imagine the character described by the writer. No. I imagined the writer standing in front of the mirror and I used empathy for the writer herself, not for the abstract character. I imagined Virginia observing herself, seeing her masculine characteristics and feeling like she was missing something, a few inches, a male body part that would make her a complete man, and a favored member of society that she could not be without those inches. I was blown away by the simplicity of this message “hidden” in plain sight, not even really hidden, yet it is not something that you immediately grasp while reading the text, not even with an understanding of her psyche and life story. I never came across an analysis of this text that pointed out this double meaning. When I read the text with a writer’s eyes, instead of a reader’s eyes, I could see the message jumping out of the text.

Why is this important to me? It is important because it demonstrated how my brain changed after 9 years of regular writing and an increased level of introspection and during a more withdrawn and more introverted life period. My worldview, my intuition and my depth of field has changed fundamentally and I am happy about that. 

And here is an old and relevant post from 2007:

Regina Saphier: “Room of Their Own” (based on my letter to a friend)

Is your marriage in trouble? I hope you find a solution. In my life marriage does not work as a formula (I never wanted to be married). I was just thinking about Frida Kahlo, Virginia Woolf, Amrita Sher-Gil, and Simone de Beauvoir. They all had “room of their own”, you know, as Virginia wrote it. Amrita, an Indian, Hungarian (she was actually born in Hungary), Jewish (her mother was Jewish) bisexual (I read her letter to her mother and she denied this) modern painter was married and probably a miscarriage killed her at age 28, or her husband… or an STD, or some other illness… we don’t know. What we know is that she had many affairs (for example with Malcolm Muggeridge). And Frida, the Mexican, German, bisexual painter, loved and married (twice) Diego, who fucked around all the time (even fucked Frida’s sister, and in turn Frida also had many lovers), but she still wanted a child from him, and lost her pregnancies (due to the earlier accident at age 18)… they had two houses and a bridge connected the two. Their initial creativity was increased by their extramarital relationships. I read an article about this. Boring marriages and estranged partners come alive, and creativity increases just by thinking about infidelity (it’s measurable)! Simone never wanted a husband; she explained her opinion this way: marriage is an obscene bourgeois institution. She was infamous of her bisexual love triangles with Sartre (the third person was always a woman with no income of her own). They wrote cynical letters about their affairs and were lifelong soul mates (when she died, her adopted (!) lover, a woman, published the letters, and unfortunately many were still alive among those who were involved with her or him). Sartre basically kept a few vulnerable living sex toys in close proximity to his apartment, and spent his income on them. And Simone used them too. One of the most famous existentialist feminist writers, Simone used young women to satisfy her need for love and sex, probably because she knew that this is the only way to keep Sartre in her life; this is the way they were sexually connected… She turned into exactly what she was against: she has become a man, who was using women. Virginia was married, but probably never slept with her husband; she had powerful sexual traumas caused by her brothers. She was also bisexual, and just as the existentialists in Paris, she also felt encouraged as a member of the Bloomsbury group in England to have sexual encounters with several people, especially women. She expressed these feelings in Orlando, which is based on her love to Vita Sackville-West. The book is basically a love letter to Vita. Later Virginia killed herself, because she heard a bit too many voices in her head. No doubt, these women were extremely creative and hugely deviated from the so called “normal” in every possible way. But were they happy? Who knows? And is happiness a goal if you are meant to be creative? Is creativity a goal, if you are meant to be happy?

So, when you tell me about your sulky husband and having no time of your own… tell me …, is the previously drafted alternative list better? You are a creative woman or a happy woman? Can you really be both? You have a loving husband. You have two wonderful kids. You have a normal life and extremely high intellectual power. Can these things go hand in hand? Would you like to be free and alone? Haven’t you been that? You can have your freedom, you can work. But why did you choose to have a family if it is not a good match for your abilities and personality? I wanted to believe the theory that a highly talented woman can also have a family. Is it only a theory? Could be. Marriage is a tool to “approach” or “pretend” safety for the sake of ones children, and so for ones financial and genetic future. It is said to be safe emotionally, but based on what I see… I have my doubts… If you keep wanting to be free, prepare to leave the nest as soon as your kids are grownups and live their own lives. Build your future so, that you have your savings and space to become free and highly creative again. You don’t have to spend your life being a mother. It is clear that your husband loves you (even if this is not the kind of love you need or find satisfying), and that your children need your love and empathy, but there is a reason why many highly talented women search for deeper soul mates in women and sometimes, or more often than we think, the spiritual closeness turns into a love affair, and they never have kids to be able to use their time and energy in other ways. You know about Eleanor Roosevelt… she had her share of such relationships. Other talented women find feminine male partners, to be served, and cared for. Men become the women, and women become the men in such relationships. These men are often feminine to the point of impotence, but they are much more caring, than machos. Human life is much more complex than we know about it with our very conservative upbringing, no matter how open-minded we think we are. I know that in your case it looks like its all about time, space, and creativity. But trust me: there is more to your problem than meets the eye.

The question: Is the own room or the own creative space a good omen? Did feminism step over its own shadow and did we come to realize that we need a partner and a family for a normal life, and it is not such a good thing to be alone… If we can not shut the door, are we able to create? I look at these extremely talented and creative women (listed above), and I can clearly see that they were men and women at the very same time (and not just some women, but incredible ones regarding their gender, or “social” sex), but none had children, and I see my friend in Budapest, who followed the expectations of our society and married, had a super little girl who is hyperactive, so this woman is unable to finish her PhD. She feels empty, drained and cold. So, perhaps it’s impossible to be professionally creative, have kids and be a mom and wife… She used to be extremely lively…

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