Your nemesis is not your enemy.
Your enemy is a brutalizing force, a bulldozer that flattens you before you have enough time even to think about what is happening. Your enemy is indiscriminate, it cares nothing for you, only what you represent, or what you have, or what stands behind you. To an enemy, you are merely a nameless, faceless obstacle. The thing standing in the way of his victory.
Your nemesis, though, knows you. Holds you close with one arm while it undoes you with the other. Her poison is intimate. It was designed specially for you. Her hatred burns bright in her breast, and only your downfall, your complete annihilation, will please her.
I find it no surprise that Nemesis in mythology was a woman.
And so with this new issue of Spolia, we explore this loving violence, and we start with the true story of the French artist Claude Cahun. While on occupied Jersey Island with her lover Marcel Moore, she became the Nazis’ nemesis. She did not resist their infiltration with bombs and guns. She and Marcel got up close. They slipped notes into their pockets, they psychologically dismantled them. It wasn’t the Nazis’ deaths they wanted, but their defection, the breakdown of their entire religion and philosophy. For the first time, her prison letters appear here in English.
In Amelia Gray’s “On the Lives of Ghosts,” the ones we love and have passed on return to maintain their grip on our lives and psyches, keeping us from moving on and living our lives. And in Carolyn Son’s “The Sound of Wings,” it is a friend who finds artistic success while the narrator languishes that causes him to become so frail and brittle.
For our art portfolio this month, we have gone with society’s nemesis, the feared yet compelling witch. The woman with total freedom (and magical powers) who can terrorize the straight-laced with just a glance. From Dürer to Carrington, the witch has been the artists’ muse, and we present some of our favorites here.
As always, we hope you enjoy.