Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Greek Chorus of My Skull

The most recent Of Montreal radio appearance confirms something I'd heard already - "Triphallus, to Punctuate!" was named after something having to do with ancient Greek theater. Consequently, anything that follows is pretty clearly more about my reaction to the song lyrics than authorial intent, but, hey.

As far as I can tell, "Triphallus, to Punctuate!" is the only song on Skeletal Lamping that includes any end punctuation. And it's an exclamation point. Is an exclamation point phallic punctuation? Well, it's more phallic than a period or question mark. As an adolescent, I dreamt yearningly of a visit from one of my favorite imaginary characters. I frequently wrote (in car windows, on pieces of scrap paper) "[Her name] wuzn't here!!! (yet. . .)." The three exclamation points after "here" were a vital part of the phrase; in fact, I'm still in the habit of carefully making sure, whenever I use multiple exclamation points in any other context, that I'm not using three. And so I can't help but think that a triphallus that punctuates is three exclamation points, signaling the arrival of my own personal Messiah -

And right there we fall into my Lacan obsession. Wikipedia says, "The Name-of-the-Father is the fundamental signifier which permits signification to proceed normally." This makes it kind of synonymous with the phallus; a Lacanian Wiki explains that the phallus "is a particularly privileged signifier because it inaugurates the process of signification itself." The Lacanian Wiki points out that "the rexpression [sic] is. . . a semi-humorous religious allusion." Which seems obvious - "the fundamental signifier which permits signification to proceed normally" is your father the father in Freudianism, God the Father in religion. So a Triphallus is the Trinity.

This could easily be just a joke - like my Christian/history of critical theory joke - Q. What is the definition of the sublime? A. Jesus necrophilia! But it's a little more infuriating than that, because of the religious allusions that do make it into the body of "Triphallus, to Punctuate!" (the lyrics here aren't, IMHO, entirely right, but they'll do, and I like that website). "The senseless killings gifts God gives us have no one to love them?" What are these "senseless killings gifts?" What do they have to do with God? "Damascus blade" is obviously NOT a religious reference - only coming so soon after the mention of God, it really makes me wish that it had something to do with Paul. I can't think why it would - Damascus blades are, like, a thing, having nothing whatsoever to do with Paul - but I wish I were wrong. And then "heaven's patience glaring down at us, filling your womb with black butterflies?" It's like a creepy birth of Jesus story. Jesus is black butterflies, and God isn't very happy with Mary? And then maybe the black butterfly Jesus is the senseless killings gifts God gives us? And then what? Is there a way you can fit the chorus into this story? Maybe it's Joseph singing to creepy alternate Mary? After all, Joseph supported Mary back before she ever became famous, right? He waved her flag when no one else did, didn't he?

Anyway, I guess there probably isn't a coherent way to interpret the lyrics to this song as having to do with Christianity. But I can't help but try. I blame Xenogears. If it weren't for XG, I wouldn't immediately think Christianity whenever I hear "phallus." Surely?

1 comment:

Lonin said...

for some reason i just laughed all over again tonight when i remembered that you wanted to make sure you protected the identity of one of your fictional characters....