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HOME BOYS

Anywhere I hang myself is home.

—The Replacements

WHILE AWAITING THE RETURN of Odysseus, Penelope calms her impatient suitors by claiming that she'll choose among them when she's finished with her weaving, and then prolongs the labor by unraveling her work at the end of each day. Clytemnestra’s murder of Agamemnon is made possible by the cloth she uses to bind his arms before she stabs him, and images of string, fabric, carpets, and netting are interwoven into the verses that precede the event. Medea also uses cloth as a weapon, in her case taking the life of her estranged husband’s new bride with a poisoned wedding gown; and when Arachne challenges Athena to a weaving contest, the latter responds to her hubris by turning her into a spider.

The early history of sewing as a figure is not, then, entirely a matter of darned socks and samplers, not confined to representations of a world

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