Monday, October 22, 2018 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Elizabeth Hand

American writer, whose first story, "Prince of Flowers", was published in 1988 in Twilight Zone magazine, and her first novel, Winterlong, was published in 1990.
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Elizabeth Hand
I went to college to study drama where I discovered I had no talent and after a period of dropping out majored in cultural anthropology which of course meant more masks and dancing ... I studied what interested me and so I had to become a writer because my education had left me unsuited for a decent well-paying job.
Hand quotes
You read a lot of crap about photographic craftsmanship in those days, and technique; but you didnt hear shit about vision. I knew that I had an eye, a gift for seeing where the ripped edges of the world begin to peel away and something else shows through.
I've always had numinous dreams, and a lot of them feature a Dionysian character I named The Boy in the Tree. He first came to me when I was seventeen: I had a dream that I was on a flat featureless plane, mist everywhere. Then there was a blinding flash of lightning, deafening thunder, and I fell to the ground. Someone reached out to touch the middle of my forehead with a finger: I opened my eyes, the mist was gone, and there he was: the boy in the tree, this beautiful demonic figure with mocking green eyes. After that he would appear in dreams, sitting up in a tree and talking to me, and I'd have this incredible wave of emotion, a feeling I've only ever had in dreams the most amazingly intense combination of desire and loss and anticipation. Later I'd think (still dreaming) This is what I will feel when I die. And who knows? Maybe I will.
Then, while researching Winterlong, I found a reference to Dionysios of Boeotia, where the god was called the One in the Tree. So even though I rationally know there's no such thing as a Dionsyian god, or a universal unconscious, it's very, very easy for me to extrapolate them both from my own dream-experience. The roots of these myths of the dying or vegetative god are so ancient and so many that one can wander among them forever, I think, yet never find a single source. And the primary material in Greece is so fascinating and so dark The Bacchae, what we know of the Dionysian and Eleusinian Mysteries great stuff for writers.
For me personally, of course, Dionysos embodies all the themes that have always preoccupied me: mutable sexual identity, altered states of consciousness; madness, the theater, ecstacy.

Hand Elizabeth quotes
I had from earliest childhood a sense that there was no skin between me and the world. I saw things other people didn't see. Hands that slipped through the gaps in the air like falling leaves; a jagged outline like a branch but there was no branch and no tree. In bed at night I heard a voice repeating my name in a soft, insistent monotone. Cass. Cass. Cass. My father took me to a doctor, who said I'd grow out of it. I never did, really.
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