Monday, November 23, 2015

Susanna Hislop

Susanna Hislop is an actor and a writer and the Artistic Director of Slip of Steel, and is an editor of the online literary quarterly The Junket. Her first book Stories in the Stars: An Atlas of Constellations was BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week over Christmas 2014. From her Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:

Why do you think we are all so fascinated with the sky?

It’s right on top of us! It engulfs us. It lights us, darkens us, rains on us, shines on us, feeds and kills us: and even now, in an age governed by science and reason, most of us – and certainly me – have absolutely no real sense of what it is or how it works. Mostly it just makes us feel, keenly, our place in some vast and greater truth, or rather chaos or untruth: filling us with magic and fear.

What do stories about the constellations really tell us about ourselves?

I think they tell us about our need to name things. To place things, make sense of things, and also, more darkly, to own things. We like to tell stories – lies in fact – about who we are and how we got here to make us feel as if we mean something. And of course historically, the differing constellation narratives tell us a huge amount about the different societies that invented them (I was particularly interested in tracing the socio-political metamorphoses of the women in stars). Having said that, one of the things I found most incredible researching the book, was how several constellation myths are in fact echoed across continents and time by entirely different people and cultures – these uncanny similarities tell us something essential about what it is to be human, and about the very profound – although in modern society, often ignored – relationship we have with nature, that very physical, animal instinct and understanding of...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue