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Pandora's Box - Sound Project - Anita Wallace

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Her Dilemma: Pandora's Box - an experimental sound project by Anita Wallace

The title of this project is taken from a poem by Thomas Hardy. Initially I was going to title the piece Pandora's Dilemma, but found a painting and poem that I didn't much care for with the same name, so I changed it. When checking if there was something already titled "Her Dilemma" I found Hardy's poem, but since it pleased me, I decided to keep it.

Her Dilemma (by Thomas Hardy)

The two were silent in a sunless church,
Whose mildewed walls, uneven paving-stones,
And wasted carvings passed antique research;
And nothing broke the clock’s dull monotones.

Leaning against a wormy poppy-head,
So wan and worn that he could scarcely stand,
—For he was soon to die,—he softly said,
“Tell me you love me!”—holding hard her hand.

She would have given a world to breathe “yes” truly,
So much his life seemed hanging on her mind,
And hence she lied, her heart persuaded throughly,
’Twas worth her soul to be a moment kind.

But the sad need thereof, his nearing death,
So mocked humanity that she shamed to prize
A world conditioned thus, or care for breath
Where Nature such dilemmas could devise.

This sound project explores the site of metaphorical space on multiple levels at the opening the mythical Pandora's Box as cultural, historical, social location. In Greek mythology, Pandora is the first woman, created out of revenge for the theft of fire. Like Eve, Pandora is blamed for bringing evil to the world, because of her insatiable curiosity. Many versions of the myth exist with many variable interpretations. In some versions, it is said, that perhaps Pandora did not open the box, that is was a man that opened the box, and that what was released was dreams and not illness and evils. That hope was the only dream left in the box.

What is interesting to me is the notion that perhaps this story emerged during a period of history in transition from a matriarchal to patriarchal society. I'm particularly interested,in this context, in the idea of Pandora (as the first woman) facing a logical dilemma, a form of argument in which two or more alternatives are presented, each of which is indicated to have consequences, sometimes unfavorable, for the one who must choose.