To paraphrase Fred Savage’s character in The Princess Bride, severed heads are good.
Finally, finally some stuff really starts going down. Sure, everyone is still inexplicably drawn to Kurtz and we don’t know why, but at least Marlow gets to see severed heads on posts. Fun times.
Then we finally see Kurtz. On a stretcher.
Conrad points out Kurtz’s mistress, a native in elaborate garb, and has the Russian trader blames her for the trouble with Kurtz. Of course, he blames her. Of course, Conrad uses a black woman to symbolize the “heart of darkness” and how native people corrupt white people. On the one hand he’s complimentary of the woman, citing her beauty and how “superb” and “magnificent” she is. On the other, I feel as though that’s to primarily represent the temptations of imperialism. Of course, later the white fiancé will be all perfect and sheltered. And this is an aspect of the novel that makes me want to barf. But I get ahead of myself.
Okay. My big WTF moment with this book is when Marlow hears the manager carry on about how Kurtz—once the golden boy—has messed everything up and will be reported. Marlow then sides with Kurtz, a man he’s never met. I don’t get it. I mean, Marlow clearly doesn’t like the company or any of those folks by that point in the book, and he’s also been suspicious of Kurtz. He’s seen the aforementioned severed heads on a pike. I think I would’ve decided to be Switzerland and get out of Dodge. Now, the Sparknotes analysis says that Marlow chooses Kurtz over the other Europeans because Kurtz represents “outright perversion” as opposed to the “hypocritical justifications of cruelty” of the trading company. I suppose I can see that. How about telling them both to shove it, steaming back down the Congo, and going somewhere that is else?
So then I took a look at the themes and motifs according to SparkNotes. (You can read them here if you would like http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/heart/themes.html ) On the surface something like “The Hypocrisy of Imperialism” makes this novel sound like something I want to read. Here’s the problem: the book is just as bad as the concept. Conrad is saying, basically, that the native peoples are as much, if not more, to blame rather than the exploitative practices of colonialism. What? As Sparknotes says, “It can be argued that Heart of Darkness participates in an oppression of nonwhites that is much more sinister and harder to remedy than the open abuse of Kurtz or the Company’s men.” Seriously, Conrad’s disdain for nonwhites bleeds through this entire book, and I think that is one of the reasons I have a hard time stomaching it.
Conrad’s disdain for women is also evident. As I mentioned above, the Russian trader essentially blames the native woman for leading Kurtz astray. He wants to shoot her, for heaven’s sake. Then Marlow goes to see Kurtz’s fiancé—Hello…McFly…anyone else have trouble with Kurtz being a cheater?—and oh my gosh is she not something? She loved him. She idolized him, and Marlow can’t break that illusion. I can only think, “Oh, hon. You are so much better off without that crazy piece of work.” I just cannot with this book.
Finally, I’ve already mentioned my problem with the framework. What in the blue blazes is the point of having the story filtered through so many different characters? “We have lost the first of the ebb?” Is that supposed to mean those guys were so enamored of Marlow’s story that they forgot to do their job? And then, in case you missed it, let’s hit you over the head with the theme one more time: “and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky—seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.” I think the ending would be far more poetic for me if I hadn’t already read the expression “heart of darkness” about 700 times in a novel that’s only 74 pages.
Now I’m going to take all these sour lemons and make some lemonade if it’s the last thing I do because I believe no experience is wasted if you can learn something from it. In this case, this is the fourth time I’ve read this book. I will admit that there are subtleties of prose that I’ve discovered and appreciated this time around. There’s an occasional sly and wry humor that I enjoyed in spite of myself. I can also appreciate, on some level, what Conrad set out to do. These are all improvements. Here are the things I liked about Part III:
- “It appears their intercourse had been very much broken by various causes.” (Huh huh. He said intercourse. Like 3 lines after Marlow implies the Russian trader and Kurtz share a special kind of love. Yes, I am sometimes a 13 year old boy at heart.)
- Severed heads on posts is good. There’s some darkness for you. Also, Conrad stops and really gets into that description. Fun times.
- Russian trader: “I am a simple man. I have no great thoughts.” Ah, truer words were never spoken.
- Kudos to having the patchwork Russian continually refer to Marlow as his “brother seaman.” It reminds me of the Looney Tunes cartoon where the little dog follows the big one around going, “What are we going to do today, Butch? Huh? Huh? Huh?”
- Love how Marlow threatens to bash Kurtz’s head in only to realize he doesn’t have anything to do the trick.
- I will give Marlow some points for whistling so the Company jerks couldn’t shoot people like sitting ducks. Kinda the least he could do, but still.
- This is an excellent line, even if it is the antithesis of everything I believe: “Droll thing life is—that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose.”
- I’m also fond of “I know the sunlight can be made to lie”
- Props to Conrad for the irony of having the Intended say “He died as he lived” followed by Marlow’s “His end was in every way worth his life.” Because….yes.
And thus concludes my reading on Heart of Darkness. Perhaps my hatred isn’t as intense, but we’re still not besties. Next week I plan to cleanse the palate with
Their Eyes Were Watching God. Here’s the schedule—let’s hope this schedule works better than the last one:
April 25—Chapters 1-5
May 2—Chapter 6-10
May 9—Chapters 10-15
May 16—I shall be at RT so catch up if you fell behind
May 23—Chapters 16-20 and a wrap up.
Forget about the Chitauri, there’s a new enemy in town…head lice!
Our heroes struggle with this relentless new enemy.
And tentative allies become closer friends.
But some of the Avengers are close to the breaking point.
Until an enemy makes an unexpected offer.
Stark’s idea comes late, but will his technology prove to be the perfect back up plan?
Find out more in Avengers 1.5: Against All Odds, a story that will hopefully never come to a theater–or home–near you.
Confession time: I have actually enjoyed parts of Heart of Darkness this time around. Maybe I had to read it when it wasn’t required? Maybe I had to do my time with Faulkner before I could stand Conrad’s dense prose? Who knows. I’m not going to throw an “I Love Heart of Darkness” Party any time soon, but I have found some aspects to appreciate. Here are my random thoughts:
- At this point, I’m thinking Marlow’s obsession with Kurtz, a man he hasn’t even met, is a bit much. I keep thinking of a Foreigner parody. “I wanna know who Kurtz is…I want you to show me.”
- Conrad uses some permutation of the phrase “heart of darkness” at least three times in this little section. Such overuse still makes me roll my eyes.
- Good use of description: “In a few days the Eldorado Expedition went into the patient wilderness, that closed over it as the sea closes over a diver.”
- Also “Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings.”
- Also mad props for “There was no joy in the brilliance of sunshine.”
- Boo hiss for “The earth seemed unearthly.”
- Am I supposed to be scandalized by the cannibals? Is it wrong to hope the cannibals mutiny and eat everyone on board?
- More good stuff: “No fear can stand up to hunger, no patience can wear it out, disgust simply does not exist where hunger is; and as to superstition, beliefs, what you may call principles, they are less than chaff in the breeze.”
- But then after that excellent quote. Conrad keeps going. *Face Palm*
- Every time I start to like Marlow he fanboys over Kurtz and I gag.
- And then this happens “They—the women I mean—are out of it—should be out of it. We must help them to stay in that beautiful world of their own, lest ours gets worse.” To this I say, Bite me. I’ve given birth twice. I’ve got your beautiful world RIGHT HERE.
- What the what is this supposed to mean: “Of course you may be too much of a fool to go wrong—too dull even to know you are being assaulted by the powers of darkness. I take it, no fool ever made a bargain for his soul with the devil: the fool is too much of a fool or the devil too much of a devil—I don’t know which…” and HE KEEPS GOING. For the love, Conrad, when you make a point don’t belabor it. Let me help you: Some people are too stupid for evil.
- Am I supposed to like Marlow more because he grudgingly likes his helmsman? I don’t. Look at Huck Finn. He, too, exists in a world where everyone who isn’t white is a second class citizen. He owns his friendship with Jim. (Side note: according to SparkNotes, Marlow compares his helmsman to a poor British man. I didn’t see that on my own. Maybe I’m a poor reader. Maybe this book and I just don’t get along.)
- Bonus points for “He positively dances, the bloodthirsty little gingery beggar.”
- Also bonus points for Marlow pointing out that the steam whistle was more effective than shooting into the brush.
- I do like the joy over the returned Towson book because…book.
- “This man has enlarged my mind!” Yes, I rolled my eyes. Again.
So here’s my take. There is a good story in this novel. I still firmly believe it’s hampered by all of the filters (first person narrator telling us about another man tellingus a story which is presented as a flashback) and by Conrad’s writing style. I can’t stand how Marlow and the other characters treat the indigenous people, but I know that’s part of what Conrad is getting at. The middle section has better description and better pacing than the first, so that’s good.
I would still be okay with the cannibals winning, though.
When I think of the books that have shaped me over the years, I always go back to The Value Tale of Fairness: The Story of Nellie Bly. That woman inspired me. She marched into the office of The New York World fearlessly. She promised to feign insanity in order to infiltrate an infamous asylum on Blackwell’s Island to report on the conditions. Later she made her own journey around the world in 80 days. I would’ve called it the value of badassery, myself.
But there was more to Nellie’s story that I didn’t know.
Born in Pennsylvania in 1864, her real name was Elizabeth Cochran. In addition to working as an investigative journalist, she was also an inventor and a novelist. But I get ahead of myself…
Elizabeth got her first job when she wrote a scathing response to an article in the Pittsburgh Dispatch entitled “What Girls Are Good For” and signed it Nelly Bly.* The editor liked the writing so much, he invited in the man who wrote it to come speak to him about a job. Once Nellie showed up, he tried to renege, but she managed to talk her way into a job anyway. Since it was a dangerous time to write under her real name, she kept the Nellie Bly under which she’d written that first response.
Of course, once she got the job she was relegated to the women’s pages. So she did what any sane woman would do (not), she traveled to Mexico to report on
conditions there under Porfirio Diaz. She didn’t pull any punches about his treatment of the Mexican people and almost got arrested. All of this at the tender age of 21.
She made it back to the States, and you’d think the newspaper in Pittsburgh would promote her to regular news reporting after her heroic stories from Mexico.
You would be wrong. Back to the women’s pages she went. So Nellie went to New York and started looking for a job there. She found one at The New York World, and one of her most notable assignments, as mentioned above, was to pretend she was insane.
I remember the pages about her treatment in the insane asylum very well. You see, once Nellie convinced everyone she was insane, she quit acting. The people who worked at the asylum, for the most part, didn’t seem to care. Patients had to sit on stiff benches without talking or interacting. They were fed nasty gruel and spoiled beef and forced to endure cold showers. What Nellie endured for the opportunity to tell a story that might stir compassion really impressed me as a kid. You can read more about the experience in Nellie’s own words here.
After her trip to Blackwell’s, Nellie next embarked on an attempt to beat Phileas Fogg’s 80 days around the world a la Around the World in Eighty Days. She took a dress or two, several changes of underwear, and toiletries—nothing else no doubt to help prove a woman can travel without luggage. She got to meet Jules Verne, visited a leper colony, and bought a monkey in Singapore. Now, the Value Tale didn’t tell me that another female journalist, Elizabeth Bisland, was racing her to see which would get there first, but we’ll get to the problems with the Value Tale version in a minute. What you need to know for now is that Nellie made it in a little over 72 days. She also did it by herself, going against the social norm that women needed a chaperone.
Then things on the Wikipedia page got interesting and sketchy. The 30 year old Nellie married a 70 year old manufacturer. She has at least one patent under her belt. When embezzlement (um, I’d like to know more about this, Wikipedia) bankrupted the company, Nellie went back into the trenches to cover both World War I and the suffragist movement. There’s a tale about a woman leaving Nellie a baby? I’m going to have to find some better biographies, that much I know.
So let’s talk about what you do when you want to find out more about a figure that history has largely forgotten. Blessedly, there’s a new book called Eighty Days that tells of Bly and Bisland’s race to make it around the world. That’s hovering near the top of my TBR pile, and you can be sure I’ll write a review and or blog about it. Then there are primary texts like the one about the asylum above. I haven’t finished that version, but it’s surprisingly readable considering its age. I also have my eye on a biography by Brooke Kroeger. I want to find out more about a woman who would do just about anything in the name of a good story!
And, while I suppose this was pretty progressive for 1977, I’d love to get a picture of who Nellie Bly was without this
sort of illustration creeping in. Here’s to Nellie Bly. When I write about pole dancing, Mirena, or whatever craziness I blog about, she’s an inspiration. What about you guys? Any crazy things I should try out or any inspirational folks you remember from childhood biographies?
*Nellie signed her name Nelly after the Stephen Foster song Nelly Bly. Her editor misspelled it, and the spelling you see stuck.
P.S. Psst! I just discovered the Complete Works of Nellie Bly is 99 cents on Amazon.
As I was rereading Heart of Darkness for the fourth time, I thought of something one of my KSU professors would say. Ralph Wilson taught us to talk about what he “resisted” in each other’s poetry. This is a much nicer way of saying what we think stinks. No, seriously. I love the expression because it allows me, the reader, to be subjective without devaluing the work that I’m reading. That said, I resist Heart of Darkness hard core.
I always have. I have a feeling I always will.
But the challenge is this: Can I read Heart of Darkness and not hate it with every fiber of my being like this
The jury is still out. Now as I approach Part One, I need you, Gentle Reader, to understand something: I remember almost none of this book. I have the traditional “The horror! The horror!” I remembered there was a thing and a deal and a boat and the Congo River and Kurtz. Everything else I think I suppressed. I say that to say, my impressions may change as I go along because I might as well be reading this blindly.
I’m going to talk about this in PROs and CONs–otherwise this is going to devolve. Let’s start with the CONs since I’ve had FOUR (did I mention I’ve attempted this four times? This is more than a fair shake on my part, I believe) read throughs to collect those:
- lugubrious drollery–What the what? We’ve got native Africans forced into servitude and horrible living conditions and we are distracted from this by Conrad’s admittedly stellar vocabulary. Look, even I don’t use the word lugubrious. Or I didn’t until I read that passage to The Hobbit only to have him decide he likes this particular expression. Bonus: explaining what an oxymoron is.
- paragraphs with no end–Another distraction from Conrad’s writing
- dialogue insanity–I understand that the current method of setting off dialogue isn’t the only method, but it sure is a heckuva lot easier to read
- framework–I can only imagine an editor/agent today getting this manuscript: “Gee, Joseph, why don’t you tell the story in real time? I understand you’re looking to compare and contrast the river situations, but don’t you think all of the Romans coming up the Thames description has been laid on a bit thick? Now, why are we filtering this story through a flashback and a random sailor dude again?”
- woman bad–For. The. Love. With historical things, I try to be lenient. But then I run across lines like this “Then–would you believe it?–I tried the women.
I, Charlie Marlow, set the women to work–to get a job.” OR “It’s queer how out of touch with truth women are.” or the accountant who tries to teach the native woman to iron his clothes but she has “distaste for the work.” Yeah, me, too. Lots of distaste going on. I can’t help myself.
- hit you over the head imagery–Yes, there’s darkness. We’re going into the heart of it. I get it already. I can see Jenni McQuiston critiquing with Conrad and saying, “Did you know you used the word darkness 25 times in the first section alone? And, yes, flabby. We get it.”
- I disagree–Marlow has a distaste for what he’s seeing in Africa, but it’s for all the wrong reasons. He doesn’t lift a finger to help anyone. He throws around the “n” word which, again, I try not to be all upset about because it was a different time and blah blah blah, but I hate that word. Along with the “c” word (got too much of that one in Gone Girl) and “GD.” Those are some of my buttons. I’m old enough to understand that now.
Now for some PROs
- description–If you are into description, Conrad gives some good ones. Here’s one that caught my eye: “A narrow and deserted street in deep shadow, high houses, innumerable windows with venetian blinds, a dead silence, grass sprouting between the stones, imposing carriage archways right and left, immense double doors ponderously ajar.” Whew. I think I’m out of breath typing that. I could put this under CONs because….so not a sentence BUT I could see the scene he was setting. The words are more like poetry. Overdone maybe, but powerful.
head-measuring doctor–This amused me. I don’t know why, but it did. Is the doctor thinking Marlow’s head will come back shrunken?
- figurative language–every now and then I had to grudgingly tip my hat to Conrad. Now that I’ve done more writing myself, I can appreciate: “We called at some more places with farcical names, where the merry dance of death and trade goes on in a still and earthy atmosphere. . .” I also liked his description of the bricklayer as a “papier-mache Mephistopheles.” At first I didn’t, then I decided it worked.
- rivets–I have to admit I enjoyed how Marlow toyed with the brickmaker and plotted to get his rivets. As of the end of part one it hasn’t worked, but I had to give him a little cheer for working the system. One day while in the middle of a meal, I’m going to say, “I demand rivets!” Just because I can. Bonus points if Ryan starts talking about a hippo with a charmed life.
So that’s what I’ve got so far. I only zoned out twice and only closed the book with a frustrated “grrr” three times. Maybe I’m maturing as a reader. Who knows?
Anybody want to join me? You know I’m always looking for a dissenting opinion and some solid discussion on these things. Nothing like four+ years of studying English to remind myself my opinion is not the end all and be all. That said, you’re going to have to do a LOT of convincing if you want me to think this novel is the worth the hype it receives. I have even heard people say it’s the best novel of all time. No way. I’m not buying it.
Addendum 3/27: Y’all. This is my “this is the way it is” post. I’ve appreciated all of the suggestions and sympathy, but I feel a little guilty. As bad as this may read to some of you, I know quite a few women who have it much worse. Think about that for a minute, and please think of them. I can handle this. It’s not pleasant. It’s not ideal, but I can handle it. This isn’t a topic often discussed so please think of my ladies who suffer so much more but aren’t as addicted to TMI as I am.
By popular demand, it’s time to level with you about my Mirena. I’m going to make a plea, too: please, please, please feel free to share your experiences. If there’s one thing I wish the medical community understood about women it’s that the more we’re alike, the more we’re different. For some reason, women have the widest range of reactions to medications. On the other hand, we’re also often ignored or brushed off for reporting symptoms. Oh, it’s fun to be a girl, all right.
Gentlemen, this little trip isn’t for the faint of heart. It’d probably do you some good to learn more about the intricacies of female plumbing, but if that ain’t your bag, baby, then you need to come back on Friday. As I said before, that’ll be uber manly Heart of Darkness day.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
Once upon a time there was a girl who went through all of the normal period-related things. Then she had two children. Then her lady parts decided they hated her (the feeling is now mutual) and decided to have a really heavy flow and to pinch a nerve that ran down the back of her legs on her heaviest days. Fun times. I bet Ryan can remember a day when we were waiting for the monorail at the Grand Floridian and I couldn’t stand, sit, squat, or hardly breathe—that’s how bad that pain down the back of my leg was. I believe that was also the trip I got to treat myself to new underwear because my supplies were no match for my monthly visitor. Ah, nothing like a trip to an amusement park on one of those days.
So, like a good patient, I told my doctor the problem, and he suggested the pill. I said, “You need to understand something about me and the pill. The pill makes me want to kill people.” He laughed. I was only half-joking. I get so hateful on the pill that I don’t even like myself. So then he starts pushing the Mirena. Justifiably, I’m not too keen on poking things through my cervix. I know, I know. I’m so old-fashioned like that. Then he breaks out the big guns. “Maybe you need to have uterine ablation.” He hands me a pamphlet. I see the word “blanch.” I, in fact, blanch at the idea of scalding my innards. Again, this doesn’t strike me as the best idea, but I like to keep an open mind. I take all the literature home and read over it. I talk to the womenfolk in my life taking an informal survey of my options, such as they are. I read things on the Internet and scare myself shitless.
I try the pill after being promised that this one, this pill, will be different.
By the three month mark I wanted to kill people. When I went in for my “are your anxiety meds still working for you” check up, my GP asked me if I were having suicidal ideation. I said, “Homicidal maybe, but not suicidal.” She laughed. I, once again, was only half-joking.
So I went off the pill. Again.
My monthly cycle ramped up until I was beginning to feel I had a deadly tsunami inside me. There would be days when I feared to leave my house for fear I would repeat that embarrassing day in junior high when I had an “accident.” (As a side note, can we stop calling them accidents? Makes me feel like a toddler who’s potty training. Seriously. This is the miracle of life. It ain’t an accident.)
Faced with the choice of blanching my innards or being poked with a plastic T, I caved to the Mirena. At least 3 women I knew loved theirs. (I’m hoping they’ll chime in with their success stories below.) The first month was. . . Interesting. I had spotting, but no cramping. I think that’s the last month I had the debilitating pinched nerve down the back of the leg.
Month 2: More spotting.
Month 3: More spotting.
Month 4: The spotting gets better—yay! But the moods….am I detecting a hint of the homicidal?
Month 5: The spotting gets worse—more unpredictable. I still haven’t been able to figure out a schedule, and my cycle usually runs like clockwork if left to its own devices.
Month 6: weird things, man. Things I’d never seen, and let’s keep in mind I’ve given birth twice. My OB-GYN humors me and does an ultra-sound to prove that everything is where it should be.
Month 7: I expect things to get better since that’s what the literature promised. The literature promised that things would even out around month 6. They promised!
Month 8: I’m on day 14 of a light period/spotapalooza. I want to club baby seals. By next month I will be the Wicked Witch of the West.
So here are the top things I would tell you about my Mirena experience.
1. You will lose some hair. The OB-GYN looked at me and said, “I haven’t heard that one.” Obviously, he hasn’t been reading the Interwebs because it’s there. I only freaked a little. Okay, I freaked a lot over just a few missing strands. Essentially it was like when you lose hair after having a baby and has since leveled off.
2. Inserting the Mirena will hurt like a sonuvabitch. At least it did with me. It was a sharp pinch, but it would be worth the hassle if the thing worked. I merely feel compelled to tell you it was not pleasant.
3. No panties are safe. Just put up your pretty panties. You’re going to be living in the granny panties you save for those special days. You’ll never know when or where Aunt Flo will show up. Periods on Mirena are like ninjas: popping up when you are without supplies then dashing away and leaving you off balance as to which particular feminine plumbing product you really need.
4. The hormones are there. If the birth control pill makes you so pissy that Oscar the Grouch starts to look like a better companion, then the stuff in the Mirena will eventually catch up to you. It took me about five months, but I’m squarely in Ranty-McRanterson-Let’s-Go-Punch-Puppies territory.
5. Getting rid of it will be a pain. So that’s where I am. I want to pull the plug on mine, but that will mean a fifth trip to the gyno in less than 12 months. Look. Once a year is enough. I’m currently trying to wait it out for another 4 months for 2 reasons: 1) I could get my pap smear and be OB-GYN free for another year and 2) like the ever-optimistic sap that I am, I hope for my periods to go away. Read the fine print on the Interwebs, though: only 1 in 5 women see their periods go away after the first year. What awesome marketing to promise women the possibility of getting rid of her periods! I think it’s all lies. I think the boys at Bayer all have their pants on fire. And yet I still hope. That’s how much I don’t want to return to the days of the elephant tampons.
That’s where I stand with the Mirena. I spend about half the month spotting and the other half living in fear that I will start. And things seem to be getting heavier instead of lighter.
But that’s not the scary part.
The scary part is what’s to come. Based on my Internet research, I took a risk. Many women report the real problems begin when you take the Mirena out. Now, some of you are asking why I would even try the Mirena in the first place. My answer? One gets sick of using the aforementioned elephant tampons and still having to have a pad as back up. As my friend Janette and I have often said, “That is not okay.”
*Steps up on women’s studies soapbox*
People, look at how many drugs there are to cure erectile dysfunction:
Now take a look at the options for women who have trouble orgasming: (BTW at least one studies suggests 10% of women have never orgasmed. Ever. And not from lack of trying.)
Now here are your options for heavy periods. Note how many of these are invasive. I bet even the few men intrepid enough to read this far will have to cross their legs.
I have a little suggestion: how’s about we study women a little more? How’s about we put some time and energy into figuring out why some women have wacky heavy periods and how to treat them? Or how to help women orgasm? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that men would get greater use out of those ED drugs if women could a) orgasm, b) have periods that really only lasted 3-5 days, and c) didn’t turn into raging homicidal hate monsters due to the hormones in their contraceptives.
I mean, bad enough we have to put up with people making comments like “Are you on the rag or something?” any time we get the least bit irritated, it’s another that sometimes we genuinely have every reason to be irritable and can’t show it. And, yes, I’ve gone off on a tangent. Just think about how strong women really are to put up with the regular b.s. Of life as well as periods and child birth. We got this.
Oh, and suck it, Mirena. Bring on the damned elephant tampons.