Jun 20, 2009

The Swiss Army Knife of Narcissus

The mythology of many cultures is filled with tales of twin deities, and indeed, the very concept of homosexuality has a strong "twin" nature to it. Gay men are often accused of spending too much time in the mirror, attempting to perfect our reflections, which takes me all the way back to the myth of Narcissus, cursed to love his own reflected image.

This is a moral tale in which the proud and unfeeling Narcissus is punished by the gods for having spurned all his male suitors. It is thought to have been intended as a cautionary tale addressed to young men. Until recently, the two sources for this version were an epitome of the works of Conon, a Greek contemporary of Ovid, preserved in the Bibliotheca of Photius and the segment in Pausanias, about 150 years after Ovid. A very similar account was discovered among the Oxyrhynchus papyri in 2004, an account that predates Ovid's version by at least fifty years and is thought to have been recorded by Parthenius.

In this story, Ameinias, a young man, loved Narcissus but was spurned. As a way of rebuffing Ameinias, Narcissus gave him a sword, which Ameinias used to kill himself on Narcissus' doorstep; he prayed to Nemesis that Narcissus would one day know the pain of unrequited love. This curse was fulfilled when Narcissus became entranced by his own reflection in a pool. Completing the symmetry of the tale, overcome by repentance, Narcissus took his sword and killed himself. --wikipedia

The twin gods above are Konstantin and Oleg, via Gods Amongst Men.

They both work at the same large Russian gym. Oleg is loquacious whilst Konstantin rarely speaks. In this picture, however, Oleg looks to be the shy one whereas his brother has a mischievous face.

The human brain is a kind of twinned organ, with the left and right hemispheres looking at one another across the Corpus collosum - the great divide. This division of the brain - between the Ego and the Id - is a theme I am drawn to again and again. I am writing this from the left (analytical, egoic) brain, but I am writing about my creative muse, who comes from the right side. Am I writing about my lovely twin?

The Corpus collosum is the glandular representation of the Fall - the infamous division - the War of Heaven. The Great Divide is merely a few molecules across, but it might as well be the Grand Canyon to us - an impassable boundary that usually speaks to us in maddeningly obtuse dreams and visions - "through a glass darkly", as the Apostle Paul put it.

Yesterday I found a powerful catamaran synch (catamarans = twin hulls = joined hemispheres) because I found this wild Swiss catamaran, campaigned by Victorinox - of Swiss Army Knife fame. (the pic is obviously photoshopped, but the catamaran really does exist). The Swiss "white cross" are no strangers to Gosporn, see here. Switzerland is a corrugated, mountainous country, and attempts a certain "neutrality" in European politics. In WWII it played the part of diplomatic "bridge" between the Axis and the Allies, a sort of concretized Corpus collosum?

Perhaps homosexuals (and all artists) are like the Swiss - the shadowy diplomats between these two realms, between the Twins. We're trying to work things out, make some peace. We're like the Haley Mills of the Psyche! If there isn't peace in the bedroom, there won't be peace in the boardroom!

I was reading the classifieds in the new Woodenboat mag today, and noticed a small wooden rowing/sailing boat called "The Norseboat" that advertises itself as "The Swiss Army Knife of Boats", and it made me think about the concept of a Swiss Army Knife - it changes itself into any tool you desire. It's a Transformer!

Those Transformers are all seriously after the Allspark, and I am reminded how a spark plug fires across a very tiny gap, to power the magical internal combustion engine. So it makes me wonder... is my brain an internal combustion engine? And if it ever gets running properly on both (twin) cylinders, just where might this engine be capable of going?


Devin said...

Haha:)that last video reminded me of that line from Rose Royce? car wash-you might not get rich but its better than diggin a ditch-Id work at a car wash with those two any day:) and OMFG the Russian bros-just exquisite-that's my new gay word for the month can't stop saying it-next stop for me Aeroflot haha! Great thoughts about the way the mind is divided-it really made me think of how some people are ruled by their thoughts/emotions (me) and others can go through life with this cool and calculated logic that has always defied my comprehension. i also thought your thoughts on Switz were very intriguing-if the world/matrix/universe is built on holographic principles that would make a lot of sense that things as different as nations/brains/economies/societies-well you get my point (i hope-a little tired and goofy today as if you couldnt tell:) would have their equivalent aspects in the world-I am having a lot of trouble concentrating lately also worry/insomnia and wonder if there are many people going through this right now? best to you and Varen as always and thanks so very much for the great article and beyond handsome men!!

Michael said...

Hi Dev, thanks for the great comment! The car wash thing reminds me of the White Swan car wash post from last month - note they are washing Chevy (bow tie) cars.

The holographic universe principle is always hanging around - archetypes and symbols repeating in a fractal-like pattern. So yes, I think countries, economic systems, etc. will tend to manifest the unconscious nature of us. I was thinking about the Americas in that vein, and how N. America is mostly Ego, with the left brain dominating (science, analysis, defense) and how S. America is the "twin", being more spiritual, religious, passionate, and artistic. This would make Central America the Switzerland - Corpus Collosum - of the Americas? :-) We'll note that Costa Rica has also attempted a sort of diplomatic immunity over the years. Maybe that's why I've always felt drawn to the South, felt more at home there...

ViølatoR said...

Good ideas on the twin theme. I was pondering how there's the 'initiate' and his reflection in the veil (which I've compared to water and ice and a mirror), and as the initiate moves towards the veil (like Narcissus towards the water), his reflection does the same, until they merge as one (or "The One," Neo, in The Matrix). Thanks for this, it's got my corpus-collosum tingling with activity!

Esperanto Grrl said...

One of the best pieces of bric-a-brac in my apartment is a pair of Yoruba Ibeji, African twin-figures. Amusingly, the Yoruba have the world's highest twin birthrate, an incredible 150 per 1000 births.

Intriguingly, male/female twins are actually far more common in mythology than single-gender pairings. Apollo/Artemis, Phrixus/Helle, the Egyptian twins Geb/Nut, the Dogon Nummu (who represents a merger of male and female characteristics as a higher and more ideal state, an idea that is echoed in European alchemy).

There haven't been any gay twins to my knowledge...the closest was possibly Enkidu and Gilgamesh, and even they weren't actually twins.

Michael said...

ViolatoR - thanks for commenting.

EG - "gay" and "straight" are modern concepts that had no meaning back then, especially to the ancient Greeks, who seemed to be the first metrosexuals.

Eros and Anteros were nearly identical brothers who were "twin-like". This myth is perhaps another version of Narcissus and Ameinias, as is:

"An altar to this god (Anteros) was put up by the metics in Athens in commemoration of the spurned love of the metic Timagoras who was rejected by the Athenian Meles. Upon hearing Timagoras' declaration of love for him, the young man mockingly ordered him to throw himself down from the top of a tall rock. Seeing Timagoras dead, Meles repented and threw himself down from the same rock."

The erotic (Eros) twins are certainly a perennial theme in homoerotic fiction, and I wouldn't know if the same theme often appears in heteroerotic fiction.

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