Voices - Luisa or The Unlikelihood of Loving

Ares, God of War, Voice in Man

Writing the book I created voices. Literally so, as I have Ares, the Greek God of War, speak out as man's voice. The voice in man is looking for the voice in woman (the voice in woman is also from Greek mythology). Ares' searching for an outspoken voice in woman is a story within the love-story between W. and Luisa. When Luisa laughs he hears this voice most clearly. Following Luisa, desiring to hear her laugh again, he ends up spreaking from W.'s head as W. and Luisa fall in love. When Luisa leaves the university town of Swansea, Wales, at the end of the year (and W. remains), this love slowly disintegrates. Much to the chagrin of Ares, who needs to identify Luisa's inner voice to return to the Olympus.

It is tough explaining what Greek mythology is doing in a book about a boy and a girl falling in love and seeing this love fall apart. To me, reading the previous paragraph, it also seems a bit silly. Although, obviously, I am of the opinion that it works, that it does not disturb the main story, but instead adds something to it, what I want to write about here is the experience of creating this voice.

Ares Introduced

Ares is introduced in part iv. The first 1,5 paragraphs of this section I include here. Ares is just a voice, and thus he is speaking:

I am an immortal image from the skies, I have a godlike figure, and I am in man. In the beginning there was Chaos, or earlier still Mist, or perhaps my grandfather Kronos, for how can there be a beginning without Time. Out of this confusion the Olympus was created, and on that Olympus was my beginning. There was unrelenting power, and all too few friends. My father Zeus is the master of the sky, the most spirited, the wisest, and the measure of justice. My mother is the queen of heaven, goddess of marriage and the life of woman. All around me --- nothing but sex and violence.

I am Ares, God of War, spirit of battle, personification of brutal slaughter, unloved by everyone, and a victim of my upbringing. Raised on incest and bloodlust I was spoon-fed my fate. How can I be blamed for opening my eyes? For wanting to be as my family?

The first few sentences hint at the opening of the book in part i, where the writer of the book/letters introduces himself (after a quote from Genesis):

I was a `creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth' and my parents had dominion over me. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth --- on that earth was my beginning, and there was authority, and there were friends.

Ares' Story

That apart, writing these Ares-bits was very exciting. How does a God speak? Without consideration for his listeners! He is the authority (not just a God, but the God of War at it). I read quite a bit of mythology to make these sections, and Ares' quest, fit in with the known stories, and as such I feel I have actually created some mythology. To make a long story too short, Ares is caught sleeping with Aphrodite, married to the unattractive Hephaestus (born from Hera without the aid of man), the God of Smiths and crippled by Zeus. This ruined Hera's plan to send Hephaestus to mankind, with his beautiful wife, and start a worship centered around Hera (who has yearly baths to regain her virginity), as a brilliant way to punish Zeus for his infidelities. Caught by a devestated Hera, his mother, she explains what she had in mind, what he thus ruined, and how she will punish him:

Suddenly turning to me there was a hate in her eyes that instinctively made me step back. ``Liar!'' she yelled at the top of her voice. ``Liar, who do you think I am! I am the Queen of Heaven, and you, you are nothing!'' My attempt had failed. ``First your father throws him from the Olympus, and now you can't stop yourself from publicly fucking the woman that should give him at least a shred of credibility! But you will pay for this Ares. You will pay for destroying my last chance of eternal worship. My virginity, my begetting Hephaestus all by myself, all for nothing, all of it! Oh yes, don't you worry, you will be punished!'' [...] ``Yes, Ares, you wouldn't know how it feels when your husband sleeps around, now do you? You don't know how it makes a woman feel to be exchanged for each new set of dancing bulging breasts. Well Ares, it makes you feel like Minotaurshit! I cannot take it much longer, my jealousy is asking too much of me. I want to be worshiped as a goddess, not as the wife of a sex-maniac. Oh, to think I got so close. First I miraculously gave birth without sleeping with your father, and then my child would descent to live among humans, starting a religion centered around me, Hera, Queen of Woman. Me, the Holy Virgin, high on the mountain top. Oh, I had it all figured out. My Hephaestus was never handsome to look at, not like you, but he loved me Ares, he loved me dearly. The only one of my children to hear me when I screamed for help. He is a good boy Ares, you should not have done it. When your father threw him of the Olympus and the fall crippled him, I had put all my hopes on Aphrodite. To send a cripple among men, they will think he is the devil. No, for virgin-worshiping I needed Aphrodite by his side. Who would resist to worship a virgin if you ended up with such a radiating woman?''

Ares' Punishment

And then the punishment:

''No Ares, your days on the Olympus are over. Consider yourself palaceless. Now that you have made Hephaestus's descent impossible it will have to be you. You, Ares, I will send you among the mortals. Yes, you will dwell among the humans, you will lend them your spirit, your nature captured inside the skulls of the vulnerable. You will reside in man!''

Ares' Riddle

But there was a way out. Ares can return to the Olympus, if he solves this riddle:

``Mom..., is there a way I can ever come back?'' She stared at me, her gaze as void of compassion as my own. She thought a while and then presented me the enigma: ``When war leads not to victory but to freedom, when fighting your equal you become victor in defeat, when facing the cause and victim of all wars you will call her by her name --- only then can you return. And now go my son, just leave. Away from here, away from me.''

The Tragedy of Perfection

How this riddle is solved the book will have to tell you. With all these quotes I am digressing a bit. These Ares bits allowed me to write with power, using his authority to state things that would raise eyebrows if a normal character (W.) would say them. That turned out to be great fun. At the very very end of the book there is another mythology figure saying this:

All that is perfect is perfect because it ends in tragedy. Without tragedy no perfection, without tragedy no Gods. The birth of tragedy, hence, equals creation, and believing in God accepting he will die. God is dead --- a tragedy long in coming.

I could only write this because of the weight of the God speaking out. A reader would dismiss it if I would say such a thing, but in the book it is stated with an authority that might give it the benefit of the doubt. My point here is not that what the paragraph states is true, it is that I can write it without having it sound ridiculous, or make me look ridiculous. Or so I hope of course.

Frank The Voice Sinatra

There is one more special voice in the book. That is the voice, Frank Sinatra, who through his lyrics (the occasions created by the voice that is Ares), brings W. and Luisa together. In the next snippet W. and Luisa are together in W.'s room, W. has kissed Luisa, who is taken aback (and with boyfriend back home in Germany), and Frank speaks out:

When it was time for her to go she got up, and said that she felt she was just a number to me, the next in line. I might have been open, above all I was stupid. ``But I didn't love her, I love you,'' I wanted to scream, realizing it was both true and inappropriate. Instead I quietly murmured, that if she could feel what I felt, at that moment, holding her, our bodies forming a Y, she wouldn't say that. And at that moment of our intense silence Sinatra's voice, until then entirely ignored, suddenly spoke from the speakers: `Faithful, true as the stars above/And while I live, I shall give all my love/So faithful, praying that evermore/You'll love but me as the sea loves the shore.'

I finally managed to keep my mouth shut and refrain from commenting on this contingency, and let these words work as she saw fit. She needed to catch her bus, so I gave her her coat and turned Frank off mid-sentence. Like my own, Frank's comments were little more than a couple of words in correct grammatical order. Unless she would attach meaning to them, that is what they would remain forever.

Frank Sinatra is present on quite a few occasions with relevant texts. I actually read about 1500 song texts, all sung by the voice, to come up with the quotes that befitted the story.

The entire voice-part of the book (Ares and Frank Sinatra), writing it, was, I guess, both the most exciting and the most creative time in had working on Luisa.

Luisa

From part iv  Luisa's letters are (partly shown) to the reader. A female voice, with a different style (a different train of thought). These letters, once written, I had to leave more or less untouched. I could not correct them the way I correct W.'s letters. Luisa speaks from the heart, and she doesn't want to write an essay with each letter. 

In the third volume all Luisa's letters are shown.