Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Chris Port Blog #136. Oedipus Wrecked

© Chris Port, 2010

What is horror but a locked door ajar?
A childish sneak into a parent’s room.
A slow rearrange of the mirror’s art 
and your mother creaking in purple gloom.
Who would think a birth-cord could be so strong?
Or the slipper-thin gap beneath her toes
or gobstopper eyes and liquorice tongue
or aniseed piss, a pinch on the nose… 
Make all detectives of their undoing,
maybe the hangman, hooding your own drop.
Call the defective God who’s been gluing
babies together and tell him to stop.
Now you can’t handle the world isn’t nice,
Put out the candle - then put out your eyes.

I’m always surprised at some people’s wilful and poorly read misunderstanding of Oedipus Rex (probably the hubris of a classical education, unfortunately). It’s not (as some moral paranoiacs panic) about incest. This is just a convenient taboo and a Freudian skeleton, long before that Viennese closet-shaker started rattling the hairbrushes of neurotic young women and clipboard boxtickers.

Oedipus Rex is probably the earliest and greatest detective story ever told: the stubborn protagonist relentlessly uncovering the truth... and the destruction of himself and his loved ones (see Angel Heart, Get Carter etc...).

To save his people? Or hubris - pride cruising for a bruising? Fate versus free will? Prophecy? Predestination? Do the gods kill us for their sport? Should we let sleeping dogs lie?

Interesting questions, still being asked to this day. But they all miss the real point. Whatever we do, the truth will always out... So, how are you going to deal with that...?

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