Sunday, February 28, 2010

Brother and Sister

I haven't posted since December. It's enough to say that I've been overwhelmed with work and with a continuing lack of privacy and time to think of something worth saying. So I had decided to simply put up a humorous post saying I was still alive. I've done it before, about a year ago, with a picture of Madeline Usher from Roger Corman's House of Usher. I just spent a fruitless half hour looking for another picture of Madeline and didn't find one that suited my fancy. As I was looking, though, I began to wonder why I'm fixated upon this particular story. Hmmm...

An artsy but ineffectual male has a twin sister who is rendered ineffectual by her lapses into catalepsy. She appears to succumb, and he puts her into a coffin which is placed deep within the bowels of their ancestral mansion (read consciousness). This coffined-up sister comes to, and with superhuman strength pushes off the coffin lid and forces open the huge oaken door of the dungeon to which she has been consigned.

"Oh whither shall I fly? Will she not be here anon? Is she not hurrying to upbraid me for my haste? Have I not heard her footstep on the stair? Do I not distinguish that heavy and horrible beating of her heart? Madman!” — here he sprang furiously to his feet, and shrieked out his syllables, as if in the effort he were giving up his soul — “Madman! I tell you that she now stands without the door!"

As if in the superhuman energy of his utterance there had been found the potency of a spell — the huge antique panels to which the speaker pointed, threw slowly back, upon the instant, their ponderous and ebony jaws. It was the work of the rushing gust — but then without those doors there did stand the lofty and enshrouded figure of the lady Madeline of Usher. There was blood upon her white robes, and the evidence of some bitter struggle upon every portion of her emaciated frame. For a moment she remained trembling and reeling to and fro upon the threshold — then, with a low moaning cry, fell heavily inward upon the person of her brother, and in her violent and now final death-agonies, bore him to the floor a corpse, and a victim to the terrors he had anticipated.

I keep coming back to this story -- have done so since I first read it decades ago.

I wonder why.

I wonder if my alter-ego, who is so protective of me and of whom I am so fond, has anything to worry about.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get out of this bloody nightgown and take a shower.


Abby said...

Oh, yes, please do. You'll feel so much better once you get clean. ;-)

Cassidy Brynn said...

because you're twin sister, your true self, is taking over the house! i relate...

Gillian said...

Abby - It did wonders.

Cassidy - I've often said that my existence is like having a roommate and having forgotten who actually holds the lease. I think, though, that after so much time of being kept sequestered I am about to burst. When Madeline finally made it out of the coffin, she must have been filled with an unearthly fury. I've been essentially put back into the closet for the past two years because of the presence of two children in my one-bedroom apartment. (It's a long story.) My alter-ego has bourne it with a modicum of patience, but I'm about to burst with anger and resentment. Poe and Hawthorne and others explored the results of denial and subterfuge, and they're not pretty. It may not be in my stars to transition, but I cannot be coffined and denied.

Anonymous said...

It's so nice to see you writing once again. I hope the time you have had away from blogging has helped.

The 'Usher' tale is wonderful isn't it?

Look forward to reading more.
Helen xx

alan said...

So many keep so much pent up these days, be it for purposes of livelihood or the comfort of those we love. 40 years ago I had thought that by now we'd all get to "be" and be accepted if perhaps not understood.

I've often found comfort in Winterson and Woolf; Shakespeare chronicled most of human behavior before it was named such. I hadn't really thought of Poe or Hawthorne but your words ring true!

It's nice to find you here again!


Anonymous said...

Actions speak louder than words. ........................................