Woman on the Edge of Time ( 1976)
Marge Piercy


C. The future (2137) --community + individualism, no hierarchy, no institutions

I. Mouth-of -Mattapoisett

1) language:

-- about human identities: "ownfed," person, per, intersee
--> "Person must not do what person cannot do." 101
-- about family: comother, sweet friends, mem, core, 
-- ceremonies: kidbinding, naming, 115; Thanksmaking 174
-- name: only one word for a name (no family name), can change names.  (e.g. Rose of Ithaca, Luciente and Bee and Jackrabbit ) pp. 76; choosing different names (different from Connie's sense of her names) 121-22; 
-- others (frequently nouns used as verbs): worming (struggle p.101), bottom, fasure, kenner, red, compost, Yif, suck patience (57), "Craze me"; trance, body one's feelings; 
-- suck patience 213

2) pluralism, individualism + communication: sender/catcher: p. 42; being in contact 52; 

-- individualism 101; 136;
-- naming e.g. p. 121; Innocente p. 114
-- free self-expression of "I want" p. 123
-- personalities: each with different traits, e.g. Jackrabbit with artistic tendencies; weaknesses (Jackrabbit's 124; Dawn's shyness, Luciente's jealousy 176)
-- dialogic communication (negotiation) as mothering
worming 207 -- in order to discover and eliminate the sources of hostility between individuals.
Connie: "Don't you people have nothing to worry about besides personal stuff?" One of the community members then points out the connection between individual and national warfare:
[W]e believe many actions fail because of inner tensions. To get revenge against someone an individual thinks wronged per, individuals have offered up nations to conquest.

Note: Sara Ruddick on mothers and peace:

"Out of their faiture as well as successes, mothers develop a conception of relatinships that undermines the paranoid conception of individuality that fuel conquest. . .They not only modify aggression in the interest of connection but develop connections that limit aggression before it arises. The self who desires other selves to persist in their own lively being is a self at least capable of respecting the lives and life-connections of quite different others." (254)

3) Community Culture and Ecological Concerns

Sexual and family arrangement:

  • family with individual private spaces;
  • comothers and sweetfriends 74; man breastfeeding 134; 
  • love and sex: love more than one per 133; "person never stales on anybody" 148 (e.g. Erzulia and Bee)flirting in public 123; 
  • allowing children to experiment sex 138-39
  • the brooder 101 - severs the connection between genes and racial culture

"Decisions were made forty years back to breed a high proportion of darker-skinned people and to mix the genes well through the population. At the same time, we decided to hold on to separate cultural identities. But we broke the bond between genes and culture, broke it forever. We want there to be no chance of racism again. But we don't want the melting pot where everybody ends up with thin gruel. We want diversity, for strangeness breeds richness." (96)

  • examples: the ceremony of naming; children-- naming ritual and then they go away ("They body our sense of good." 117)
  • Shaper vs. Mixer pp. 226

    Culture and Arts

    --pluralism 178, affirming different cultures
    -- preservation of racial cultures 100 ( hunting); 102; 103;104-06; Zuli follows voodoo; Sappho an Indian believer;  150; confirming the past e.g. J's art work 180-81; *other examples of holi(visionary artwork) pp. 180, 265

    Environmentalist/Ecological views of Nature
    -- use either solar energy or gas from decomposed waste
    --communication with animals 98-99; animals Tilla 98
    -- decompost or re-cycle things p. 55;
    -- use spinners to make fences.

    Few Private Properties
    Fooder --
    Pleasure and Luxuries --circulated or decomposed (flimsy p. 171); coffee 195; luxuries determined by credits or productivity 247-48;

* Their view of Connie's world (its need for love): 251; (car and loneliness) 245-46
-- work and study pp. 130 - 31
--pleasure in dresses 175-176
-- food -- everybody well-fed; p.173 (cook--a job to be rotated)
-- child's sex p.138

Problems and Death
--"Some problems you solve only if you cease being human." (125)
-- ritual of dying 156
-- children and older people on both ends of life p. 132

4) place-bound communities without contraints or social institutions:  They do have organization; e.g. for environmental protection; for being own-fed.
  • rituals and holidays pp. 120, 173
  • joining a base 123-24; 
  • education 53; 
  • madness:  "Our madhouses are places where people retreat when they want to go down into themselves -- to collapse, carry on, see visions, hear voices of prophecy, bang on the walls, relive infancy -- getting in touch with the buried self and the inner mind. We all lose parts of ourselves. We all make choices that go bad....... How can another person decide that it is time for me to disintegrate, to reintegrate myself?" (p.60)
  • planning for the township 151; representative chosen by lot; decision made by voting; the winner treats the loser.
    * their law 208-209 (healing those committing assault or murder)
  • garbage p. 55
  • close to nature: 125

5. Healing and Medicine

Erzulia -- into voodoo and medicine

II. the World of Gildina
-- clues: "We are only one possible future," Luciente 177
chap 15: marriage as contract 290; life expectancy 291; use of drugs 292; levels 292; HG; no window, no view 294-95; SC (sharpened control); monitored by the Securicenter; multi; 

Woman on the Edge of Time.  NY: Fawcett Crest 1976.  22nd printing 1991.