Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Origin Of Love [the song, the poem, thoughts etc.]

I watched John C. Mitchell's Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001) again last week and it somehow sent me on a craze (as some of you know already!) and I decided to spread to craze, or at least, write about the The Origin of Love, for those who don't know it. I discovered The Origin of Love (the poem) back in 2002, when I was in my first year in India and Reena had sent me a letter with the lyrics in it because we used to send each other very long letters at the time! I was in-fact thrilled by the poem, which got me to see the film. [As an aside, I am glad to say that watching Hedwig after all these years that included two years of film-studies, film-theory and some film-making, I still found the film astoundingly wonderful! It's a master-piece!]

The Origin of Love is based on Aristophanes' speech in Plato's Symposium (yeah, the one where they are all drunk and having a party and talking about love between men amongst others!) Stephen Trask both composed the music and wrote the lyrics, and in my opinion, there has never been such a powerful rendition of (the origin of) love. The way love itself is captured by the end of the song is simply out-of-this-world, so I shall not try to describe it. Instead, I shall leave you here with the poem itself, and I long hesitated between posting the audio track or the video from the film or Rufus Wainright's outstanding cover of the song; and I decided to go for the video from the film. My students keep saying that they are a "visual" generation, so I shall go by that! Oh, and for those who haven't figured out the hew header to the blog, it may just give you some insight into why it's there!

Happy Aesthetic Experience:

When the earth was still flat,
And the clouds made of fire,
And mountains stretched up to the sky,
Sometimes higher,
Folks roamed the earth
Like big rolling kegs.
They had two sets of arms.
They had two sets of legs.
They had two faces peering
Out of one giant head
So they could watch all around them
As they talked; while they read.
And they never knew nothing of love.
It was before the origin of love.

The origin of love

And there were three sexes then,
One that looked like two men
Glued up back to back,
Called the children of the sun.
And similar in shape and girth
Were the children of the earth.
They looked like two girls
Rolled up in one.
And the children of the moon
Were like a fork shoved on a spoon.
They were part sun, part earth
Part daughter, part son.

The origin of love

Now the gods grew quite scared
Of our strength and defiance
And Thor said,
"I'm gonna kill them all
With my hammer,
Like I killed the giants."
And Zeus said, "No,
You better let me
Use my lightening, like scissors,
Like I cut the legs off the whales
And dinosaurs into lizards."
Then he grabbed up some bolts
And he let out a laugh,
Said, "I'll split them right down the middle.
Gonna cut them right up in half."
And then storm clouds gathered above
Into great balls of fire

And then fire shot down
From the sky in bolts
Like shining blades
Of a knife.
And it ripped
Right through the flesh
Of the children of the sun
And the moon
And the earth.
And some Indian god
Sewed the wound up into a hole,
Pulled it round to our belly
To remind us of the price we pay.
And Osiris and the gods of the Nile
Gathered up a big storm
To blow a hurricane,
To scatter us away,
In a flood of wind and rain,
And a sea of tidal waves,
To wash us all away,
And if we don't behave
They'll cut us down again
And we'll be hopping round on one foot
And looking through one eye.

Last time I saw you
We had just split in two.
You were looking at me.
I was looking at you.
You had a way so familiar,
But I could not recognize,
Cause you had blood on your face;
I had blood in my eyes.
But I could swear by your expression
That the pain down in your soul
Was the same as the one down in mine.
That's the pain,
Cuts a straight line
Down through the heart;
We called it love.
So we wrapped our arms around each other,
Trying to shove ourselves back together.
We were making love,
Making love.
It was a cold dark evening,
Such a long time ago,
When by the mighty hand of Jove,
It was the sad story
How we became
Lonely two-legged creatures,
It's the story of
The origin of love.
That's the origin of love

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