Monday, November 26, 2007

Old Man Double Junk

I'm also reading The Black Dossier, the third volume of Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which has Mina Harker and Alan Quartermain living in 1960s London. Orlando, the Virginia Woolf interpretation, appears as well, after having cameoed ever-so-quickly in the second book. Like in Woolf's novel, this Orlando alternates between being female and male over the course of the many eons he's lived. Moore gives some background to the character, explaining that Orlando's father is Tiresias, the great seer of Greek mythology. While Tiresias's daughter inherited his gift for prophecy, Orlando gets the ambiguous gender. Which was odd, to me, since in all my reading of Greek mythology and stuff that alludes to Greek mythology, I don't recall ever hearing that Tiresias — a character who shows up a lot — is, to put it in modern terms, transgendered. This term works better if you imagine the word meaning "transcending gender. "Hermaphrodite" might be a better word, but don't confuse him with Hermaphroditus, with whom Tiresias could have apparently taken on a very interesting double date. Also, try not to conflate this Orlando with the other Orlando, who was partnered with Dawn, the entity that had one name but two bodies. Had only one half of Dawn been male, then Dawn would have been the perfect anti-hermaphrodite.

The double blossom of two fruitless flowers indeed.

5 comments:

  1. See the Sally Potter film of Woolf's Orlando. Tilda Swinton is the best gender bender ever. Oh, and legendary gay icon Quentin Crisp plays Queen Elizabeth.

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  2. I saw it after I read the book, and I did indeed think it was great, especially the ending that goes past where the book ends.

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  3. Tiresias's story is alluded to in Oedipus Rex if I recall correctly, and I'd be surprised if it wasn't mentioned in the Bacchae. But it's easy to miss if you aren't aware of the story ahead of time.

    I'm sure wikipedia can give you the scoop, but the seer was considered so wise partly because he had spent ten years as a woman in his youth.

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  4. The good news is Black Dossier serves as a side story to the series. A proper third volume is in the works for League. I also assume that you've seen Alan Moore's guest appearance on the Simpsons a couple weeks back. One of the funniest moments this season.

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  5. "Would you sign my copy of 'Watchmen Babies'?" Specifically "Watchmen Babies: V for Vacation."

    Yes, I did see it. It was amazing.

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