If you were an English major, as so many of us writers were and are, no doubt you spent more than your share of time pouring over Lit Journal articles for your papers. And no doubt you more than once stared at some critic’s interpretation of something in a book and went, “Huh?” I mean, it is funny, right?
That cigar that Sally Seton smokes in Mrs. Dalloway is much more than a cigar. It’s an appropriation of a male power symbol. What about those muddy drawers in The Sound and the Fury? Hawthorne’s scarlet letter A? Or, as my friend Michael asserts, the lighthouse in To the Lighthouse is definitely phallic (no, I’m still not talking about the bloody lighthouse in my thesis, Michael!).
I could, of course, go on and on. Sometimes these things are illuminating. Sometimes they’re mind-boggling. And sometimes they are downright amusing.
In the latest issue of ELN, pride of place goes to an article by Jason Sellers entitled Dracula’s Band of the Hand: Suppressed Male Onanism. “I argue,” Dr Sellers announces, “that the mediation of the unavailable lover and the subsequent urgent need for autosexual satisfaction is the sexual force that propels much of Dracula.
“I will explore both the physical and psychological autoerotic imagery with which the novel suppresses, in light of that taboo, the masturbatory endeavour pursued by Dracula’s vampire-fighting crew of men – our, by way of physical allegory, manly Band of the Hand.”
The article gets even funnier after that, but I shan’t spoil the fun by posting what he says about Sellers’s theory. You’ll have to go check it out for yourselves.
And speaking of academic blowhard stuff, my thesis bar down there keeps creeping upward. I passed the 10K word mark yesterday. I can’t wait to be done with this thing! Goal for today is 4 pages, though I’ll certainly take more if the muse is feeling inspired.