Femme fatale vs. femme vitale


The end of a story is like a death for its characters and our relationship to them. And so we start the story anew, we return to the book again, and make its world alive to us again. Retelling the story, and suspending thereby the true end of it all, keeps the story and its figures alive. It keeps them alive and it keeps us alive. And so God tells the story of Adam, and before we reach the true and final end of it all he tells it again in Abraham, and then again in Isaac, and then in Jacob, and so on in the story of Israel, of the Christ, and then of the Church who is the Israel in Christ, all along keeping us just short of the full end of the story that would be our end too. As readers, we fear that end as we fear the rocks at the end of the siren's song.

The femme fatale tradition, that tantalizing woman who cannot be had, that symbolic marker of our pessimism regarding what will happen to us at the end of our waiting, stands opposite the hope of the Christian faith. For the world of the Christian faith is the world of waiting for the femme vitale, the new Lady Zion and Mother Jerusalem who is the very home and bosom of glorified and satisfying and perfected union with God in Christ by the Spirit. The siren song we fear as waiters stands cynically in the space stolen from the melodic leading notes of an endless ode sung by the saints in bliss. And there is no tragic end of that story to fear, no tragic end to that song.