ta sotte muse, avec ta rude lyre

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Abgeschickt von Birgit am 16 Maerz, 2005 um 18:35:42:

"For there are residences in which distress is not released. If carried into concealment, if carried into a wilderness, if carried into a wood, if carried into a dark place; for these are the residences of thieves and outlaws. Until every distress is brought into light and manifestations, it is not released."

(QP, Part 3, Chapter III, Chapter heading)

In light of the recent debate I've been thinking some more about Lymond's behaviour in QP. Trying to figure out just why seeing his excessive behaviour solely in the light of alcohol abuse seemed, to me, an inadequate explanation. Although it plays an important part in it, there's no doubt about that, I had the feeling that there was more to it, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. With two points in mind, a question Nancy brought up, why Lymond had chosen the persona of Thady Boy, and something Mara once said, that Lymond was probably more in danger of losing himself in his music that he was in danger of losing himself in alcohol, I picked up QP again.

In one of life's strange coincidences I did this on Rose Monday and Shrove Tuesday. With the carnival revelry going on all around me I began to notice the parallels. I had never realized before to what extend DD plays on the carnival theme. The masquerades, the processions, the various masks, the reversal of roles, the changing of identities, the drunken revels.

Even more so, when you look at the timeline. When Lymond is cornered by Richard he tells him: "I have promised to ride in the Mardi Grass procession two weeks from now. On the following day I shall go home." "Mardi Grass was two weeks away...", weeks filled with new excesses and charades, leading to the masquerade ("...dressed..in mask and a cloak of green feathers, he rode with a party of twenty Aztecs an das many Turks.."). on "a raw night on the Saturday before Shrove", culminating in the events of the Tour des Minimes, ending in darkness and in the "unmasking" of Thady Boy. Lent follows, and ultimately Lymond is "resurrected" as Vervassal...

There is, however, a darker, more frenzied aspect to Thady Boy in QP, which is not quite in compliance with the frivolous, but essentially cheerful revelry more associated with carnival.

Carnival has its roots in the Roman Saturnalia, a festival where the social order was inverted, restrictions were relaxed, often ending in revelry and debauchery, as well as the the Bacchanalia, frenetic celebrations that became occasions for licentiousness and intoxication, the most popular Roman way of worshipping Dionysos. Which in turn takes me back to the original Greek Dionysos.
And indeed, there is something downright dionysiac in Thady Boy's behaviour.

Dionysos is the god of wine and of madness, of intoxication and creative ecstasy. But he is an atypical Greek deity. While the Olympian gods are bright beings of sunlight, Dionysos is a creature of mystery, his very essence an enigma. His realm is shadowy, and his followers flirt with madness, drunkenness, and death. He is the patron deity of the Maenads (or Bacchantes), the wild women, roaming the mountains, tearing apart living animals in their trance of divine possession.

His preference for appearing masked emphasizes the fact that he is a stranger, believed to have come from the wild Thrakian north. He is a god who comes into and changes, often irrevocably, the normal community life.

He is a god of the liquid element, the god of wine. But water is also a part of Dionysos' domain. THe sea is a refuge for Dionysos. Water is the element in which Dionysos feels at home, as like him it betrays a dual nature: being bright, joyous, and vital for life, while also having a side that is dark, mysterious and deadly.

Dionysos has introduced the grapevine, is the wine-god, and thus should be a pleasant fellow, a benefactor. But wine has both positive and negative aspects. It makes people drunk, causes them to behave in strange ways. The Greeks were well aware of the dual nature of wine, mirrored by the dual nature of its god.

He roams through the wilderness, followed by bands of ecstatic women, the Maenads, and Satyrs (or Silens). Dionysos often seems to stand somewhere between male and female, between god and man, between death and life. He is a male god, but he is mostly surrounded by women, his chief worshippers. His worship involved transvestism and the blurring of sex roles. Men and women both dressed in long robes covered by fawnskins, and women, as maenads, left their normal sphere of activity, the home, and danced madly on mountainsides. Dionysos even looks somewhat ambigous sexually; Pentheus in the Bacchae comments on the god's effeminacy: his long curls, his pale complexion.

One unique characteristic of Dionysos is that he is the god who dies and is reborn: he is killed and torn to pieces by the Titans and later resurrected by Zeus.

He is the god of theatre. The duality of Dionysos is related to another of his attributes, which is that of loss of identity. The actors in the plays performed for Dionysos were masked; the masks symbolizing the submersion of their identity into that of another. Wine also has the effect of submerging the normal personality of the person who drinks it. Dionysos made a habit of stealing the identities of his worshippers; the maenads dancing on the mountainsides have no separate personalities; they are mad, crazed, they have been taken over by the god; and they are all alike. In this respect they are behaving in the same way crowds often do, in which the individual is sublimated by the mob. Dionysos induces mass hysteria, he is the god of mob fury. This loss of individuality is demonstrated in the theatre not only by the masks which the actors wear, but also by the chorus. They dance and sing in unison, all chanting the same words. The members of the chorus have no identity, each is merely an insignificant part of the whole, with no separate will. All individuality and willpower must be given up to Dionysos, when the god choses to take it.

Dionysos, a god of the liquid element, the dual nature of water (the sea imagery again!) an also the dual nature of wine. Bringing on creative ecstasy (the music, the acting) but also intoxication and madness. And the persona of Thady Boy is inextricably connected to wine, in fact, the very first description of Thady Boy is: "...asleep, in a poisonous aura of wine". Countless others follow.

The various masks - Lymond appearing masked at the meeting with Tom Erskine at Jean Ango's house, and later when summoned by Mary of Guise. The Aztec mask, that plays such an prominent role (the alien Aztec mask, Quetzalcoatl, Lord of the Toltecs - the ultimate stranger).

The French court, roaming, moving from place to place. Thady Boy leading his followers around in their drunken revels, not in the wilderness or on mountains, but think of the roof-top race in this context!

As he descends further into dionysiac madness, O'LiamRoe sees him as "This thick-faced Silenus, pouch-eyed...", and delivering the poisoned Thady Boy to O'Liam Roe in his room: "They revolved around him like Bacchantes, screeching, and one whipped off the bedsheet and, draping himself in a rough copy of O'LiamRoe's tunic and freeze...they scuttled round the room in search of more wine and, finding it, poured it over each other and attempted to pour it over him."

Or, again, the events leading up to the Tour de Minimes. Which leave Thady Boy "broken-slack, a mess of scarlet-stained feathers, like a week-old kill in some queer, spiral mews." (the maenads tearing apart deer with their hands, Dionysos being torn to pieces by the Titans)

The duality of Dionysos, the loss of identity. The masks worn by the actors in the play symbolize the submersion of their identity into that of another. Wine also has that effect of submerging the normal personality of the person who drinks it. Lymond puts on the "mask" of his Thady Boy persona, acting at first, but (with the help of wine) as his wilful descent into "dionysiac madness" continues, the lines get blurred. His identity as Lymond is in danger of getting submerged by the Thady Boy part of his being. FOr Thady Boy is more than an act, it is the darker, wilder side of Lymond, unleashed, and let run rampant. Not created by wine and dionysiac madness but unleashed by it: "There was a long silence. Then Thady Boy Ballagh and Lymond, the ONE fused at last into the OTHER..."

I may be going out on a limb here, but let me just voice this little theory: There's another interesting aspect here. Dionysos is the focus of various mystery cults and initiation rituals. The basic idea of an initiation ritual is generally taken to be that of death and rebirth. Dionysiac initiation puts the emphasis on purification and change of status, even change of identity. It is very much a form of psychosomatic therapy. Traumata of the past are treated by ritually induced "divine madness", which leads to an outburst of repressed emotional forces. Relief is brought through violent emotion, "purification" bringing katharsis in the end.

I'm thinking here of something Diana once said, noticing the amount of anger, pain and hurt that can be sensed in Lymond in QP. Ever after Solway Moss he's been busy simply surviving, and later restoring his good name. He hasn't really had a chance to come to terms with everything that has happened to him, has had no emotional outlet. This goes a long way in explaining his behaviour in QP and may well be why he so wilfully an recklessly abandons himself to this "divine madness".

In this context I find the chapter heading I cited at the beginning very intriguing. It heads the chapter following the disaster at the Tour des Minimes, when Lymond finds himself broken-boned in the house in Blois.

On a final note - another interesting angle on the ice-water metaphor theory: It seems that Thady Boy is consistently described in soggy, warm, watery terms. "a soiled raindrop", "a soggy gristle next to sugar plums", damp, soggy, a shabby bundle of sops, clammy hot, sodden clothing.

What a contrast to his Vervassal persona: "piercing and concentrated as a needle of ice", "a detachment as dark and icy", "Lymond himself, looking like ice".

After the dionysiac Thady Boy, Lymond is getting a grip on himself, taking it to the other end of the spectrum, to his most Apollonian, with his Vervassal persona. The perfect psychological counterpart. Which here is really another overreaction, taken to the extreme again. And very much the prototype of the Voevoda Bolshoia in RC.

DD even spells it out quite clearly in the text in QP; those two opposing attitudes, labelled Dionysian and Apollonian by Nietzsche:

Lymond, upon his return to Dieppe as Vervassal, visits la Belle Veuve, Martine, who greets him: "Well, Dionysos. You are yourself again."

and a while later: "...Francis,' said Martine who in her own way was a great and powerful woman, 'You are Hell's own Apollo.' "



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