“Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music.”—Germaine de Staël
“From the eve of the French Revolution until the Bourbon Restoration, Germaine de Staël held the limelight as a political power, a philosopher, and an uninhibited heroine. J. Christopher Herold vigorously tells the story of the fierce Madame de Staël, revealing her bold philosophical ideas, her whirlwind affairs with the great intellectuals of her day, her courageous opposition to Napoleon when it seemed that she alone in all of France dared oppose him, and her idealistic rebellion against all that was cynical, tyrannical, and passionless.”
Winner of the National Book Award, my copy of Mistress to an Age, by J. Christopher Herold, bears heavy underlines and ample annotations, waiting on my studio shelf to be read again. What a woman!
Before discovering Germaine, I mostly embraced a solitary view of my life and work. I considered myself an activist only to the extent that I held myself accountable to a generous standard of integrity. I denied myself a voice and doubted the worthiness of my perspective—except with my family.
Blessed, I grew up in a tranquil, loving home where my parents modeled authentic gender parity, respect and generosity. They encouraged and supported each of their three children to be bold, free and truthful. Nicknamed Page the Rage by my family, I believed in myself; and believed I had a destiny to fulfill.
My youthful ebullience and faith that society would adore and respect me as my family did, ebbed away by degrees until one day my proud, beautiful version of my capable self felt fragile and desiccated, something to withdrawal from the world and protect.
I published Babe Effect for my two nieces and two nephews. Loyal to my family, I revealed my vulnerable, true self as a generosity and service; a commitment to give back to the source of my strength and success. The wisdom of experience—my true wealth and advantage.
Then Germaine came into view, polishing an apple a few branches up my family tree, and I began to consider the whole organism, not just my page in the book of life.
My next story begins as a continuation of Germaine’s. I am able to share my voice today because she demanded, sacrificed and fought for that right. Her work is not finished; freedom still needs defending. Inspired by gratitude and responsibility, I willingly shake off the shackles of self consciousness to honor her gift; a gift lived for all of us. To honor all the brave companions throughout history who rebelled against all that is cynical, tyrannical and passionless. To make living my Art—and my rebellion.