Sunday, April 17, 2011

Queer Theory: I and my Shadow

"I am entirely alone. I and my shadow fill the universe." 
 Angela Carter (The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman)

I realize that this isn't exactly a comprehensive quote, but it does exemplify one of the largest themes of the book in such apt summation that it cannot be ignored. Simply analyzed, this quote shows the feelings of isolation that our protagonist experiences (for whatever reason) and also his inability to identify with anything in his world besides his shadow, quite literally the only representation of himself that exists in a world where mirrors are banned. This ban on mirrors raises the point that a shadow is the closest thing to oneself that anyone would see in the world that Angela Carter created; if I recall properly there is even a scene where Desiderio sees himself in a mirror and is taken aback. So what is it that this representation of the self reveals? This shadow is the part of Desiderio that is never in the light, it represents his "hidden" being and reveals itself only when his self is most exposed to the light - if we go with the traditional definitions of a shadow. These definitions, however, fit well with out analysis. The shadow is the part that, while never "brought to light" so to speak, is always constant and would always follow it's maker. The shadow is, in a sense, more of a doppelganger that exists within the mentality, the confines of one's mind or soul. So what does Desiderio's shadow show? This shadow that is perceived as the only other entity existent in the world is the inner workings, the true meat of Desiderio. The shadow represents the part of Desiderio that enjoyed his foray in the van with the Moroccans, the part of him that desired the Ambassador rather than Albertina herself, the part that can never be brought to light. This shadow is a strong argument for the underlying homosexuality of Desiderio and would be an excellent topic for further exploration.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with this idea in that one of his quotes is never explored again in the book. When Desiderio first begins to talk about the city he was in when he was raped by the acrobats, he says, "And, in this holy city, I was fucked in the anus, against my will (as far, that is, as I was conscious of my desires)" (Carter, 115). From the way this statement is phrased, it seems apparent that, at least at the unconscious level, Desiderio may have enjoyed his experience. However, the issue is not raised again, placing it back in the dark. Desiderio also finds himself attracted to Albertina while she is still in the form of the male ambassador. So, despite the fact that there are evidences of Desiderio's homosexuality, he never fully discloses any information, placing the subject back into the "shadows".