From Cosmetikos to Cosmetics: The Menstruant's Ordering of Chaos

Read how mindful menstruants "created the the world."


This is metaformic theory presented by Dr. Judy Grahn. Excerpted from Blood Bread & Roses: How Menstruation Created The World (1993):




The body arts that taught us how to think and act as human beings underlie our everyday lives. We are so dependent on them we hardly give them a thought. Cosmetikos gave us the body paint, ornamentation, and clothing that so strikingly differentiate us from other creatures. It also provided the paraphernalia that became kitchenware and household goods. More surprisingly, cosmetikos created our manners and formalities at table; our various methods of cooking, brewing, and preserving; and even the nature of the foodstuffs we gather and grow. Most important, cosmetikos gave us the ideas with which we regulate our bodies, chiefly in terms of paired opposites that are also polarities of the menstrual cycle (bleeding/not bleeding) and the lunar cycle (dark moon/light moon). Some of the pairings of cosmetikos include unclean/clean, sick/well, inauspicious/auspicious, hot/cold, raw/cooked, unlucky/ lucky, and cursed/blessed. The word "cursed" is still directly related to menstruation, in common jargon; and the word "blessed" is as well, deriving as it does from German "blood-song," blessing. Both sides of the equation derive from menstruation, not just the "negative" or dark moon, but the full moon as well. Menstruation has created so much of what we are, including our capacity to judge abstract qualities of good and bad. The institutions of cosmetikos are worldwide. Even if human culture shrank to three people who spoke three different languages, they would probably recall how to handle fire, make a knife, a pot of gathered foods, clothing, body decoration, huts, a chair. They would understand these forms whether or not they discussed their meanings. But to remember mathematics, to tell stories, to solve geometry problems --- for these things, cosmetikos might not help them. They would need to bring the set of arts and sciences I call narrative, which began in cosmetikos but developed into a unique set of metaforms. Are the narrative metaforms connected to my rejected cosmetic case? Only if you add my mother's sewing kit, and a knife or sharp flint.

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