Monday, September 26, 2011

Sun and Moon, and American Stars

Among the several staggeringly beautiful pieces in the musical Miss Saigon is "Sun and Moon." Kim sings:

You are Sunlight and I Moon, Joined by the gods of fortune
Midnight and High Noon, Sharing the sky
We have been blessed--you and I

Now, we instinctively accept Chris as Sun and Kim as Moon because Mythology abounds with the Moon as the Feminine Principle. It is embedded in our psyches as an archetype. Apollo is the Sun god and his twin sister Artemis is the Moon goddess. (In my novel A Place of Brightness, a brother and sister use the code-names Apollo and Diana [Roman Artemis] in their anti-communist insurgency.)

Now, the Moon as a feminine principle certainly also springs from the parallel of the feminine menstrual cycle, lasting roughly the same as a lunar month.

Artemis, the goddess of the Moon for the Greeks, is a perpetual virgin. She is nonetheless a symbol of fertility, such as we see with the Artemis of Ephesus, a multi-breasted goddess.

It occurs to me that this archetypal paradigm may account for the tendency for modern culture to continuously venerate some current blonde-haired (like the silvery Moon) and large breasted (symbol of fertility) woman, as if offering lunar worship by proxy.

 Now, you may ask, if this is the case and if it is true, why just modern culture? Where is the buxom blonde venerated in the Colonial period?

I'm going to suggest that biblicist Protestant America was sublimating this archetype through a condemnation of all symbolism. But outside Protestant culture, this impulse had found a holy expression in the veneration of the Blessed Virgin. Now, I am an active practitioner of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. I hold and cherish all articles of faith regarding Mary the Mother of God. But that said, if humans have surging within them a primal need to worship the Feminine Moon, Mary gives a wholesome vent to that longing. She embodies all that the pagan Moon goddess was and more. She is Ever-Virgin. She is the Perfect Symbol of Fertility, bearing a child without male seed. And then it is no accident that iconography depicts her standing with the Moon at her feet.

Denied the ability to venerate Mary the Mother of God,
Protestant and now post-Protestant America have latched onto pale substitutes. Some woman matching the description of the archetypal Feminine Moon has been in constant public attention throughout the entire modern period of American history. And it is also no coincidence that their very names make the connection to the original objects of veneration.

We currently have Lady Gaga.
Now, she is an artificial marketing creation.
And the choice of "Lady" (i.e., Our Lady) was no accident.

Before her, we had Madonna.
That's actually her given name, and she was raised Catholic.
But by my theory, she would not have been able to tap into the Lunar Archetype if her name had been Brenda.

Before her, we had Marilyn Monroe. Blonde, buxom, and with a last name that isn't very far from the moon itself. It's certainly also not a coincidence, then, that Elton John memorializes her with the light image of a "Candle in the Wind."

And before her, finally, we had Mae West. She is, perhaps, the first emergence of the Blonde, Beautiful, and Buxom American Superstar. Perhaps I press my point a bit, but Mae (given name Mary) West's name also matches both the Mother of God and also a directional point. West evokes the horizon, where we may watch the moon arise. I'm not saying any of this resonated on a conscious level. But she emerged as capable of drawing the adoration the archetype suggested.

Finally, is it possible that even Lady Diana, whose title and
name tapped into this archetype, captured hearts and minds though the subconscious support of this concept?
If my theory is correct, that stardom can be achieved or at least maximized by some subconscious appeal to a Jungian Archetype, the implications are staggering. But at the very least, this suggests that, some years after Lady Gaga has worn out her welcome (which, by the way, I
wouldn't suggest is any time soon; I actually believe she has genuine talent), the combination of a beautiful, blonde, buxom, starlet with a name that evokes the Mother of God or the pagan Moon goddess will probably yet be a winning formula.