The uncanny halls of Madame Tussauds are stranger than they appear…
Intro to Media
The song I chose for our class Spotify playlist is “On Melancholy Hill” by Gorillaz. At the moment and for the last few years this is one of my all time favorite songs and Gorillaz is my favorite band. I think this song can speak to a lot of different people in different emotional situations and can lend itself as aid in many situations.
To be completely honest this song’s true meaning definitely has something to do with the band’s third phase and the album Plastic Beach, which has a lot to do with commentary about consumerism and the pollution of the Earth. However, the way I chose to interpret the song is how I wish others would listen to it so they understand what it means to me.
“On Melancholy Hill” has a rather upbeat tune, but the lyrics darken the mood. The singer speaks about he can’t live without, but who seems to be able to live without him.
He says: “Well you can’t get what you want
But you can get me
So let’s set out to sea
‘Cause you are my medicine
When you’re close to me“
He is begging this person to stay with him because they mean everything to him, they fix all his problem. He wants to set out to sea; to escape from all their problems together.
However, by the end of the song he says: “If you can’t get what you want
Then you come with me …. “Just looking out for the day
When you’re close to me”
At the end of the song the person has already left him and moved on to better things and better people. He now sends an offering into the wind for them, that if it doesn’t work out from them, they can always come back to him. Now he sits and waits for their return, in melancholy.
The meaning of the song is not as important to me however as the feeling of it is. I don’t know if I can explain it but the emotion of the song to me always comes out as strangled and desperate and it calls to me in a way. I guess the best way I can describe it is, the song feels very raw, I feel as if I am simultaneously looking into the singers heart and mine at the same time, and I think that is something everyone should be able to experience. The absolute emptiness and loneliness this song portrays is quite hard to quantify and explain. At the same time, as mentioned the song’s actual melody is quite upbeat. I guess what I am trying to say is that the duality of “On Melancholy Hill”‘s upbeat loneliness is something I never quite expect, and somehow always strikes a chord in me. Somehow this song creates an emotion that is so human I feel as it might become part of me someday.
Lewis, Peter. “Body of Water Across Trees.” Unsplash, 28 Feb. 2017, unsplash.com/photos/1L_m0MpmpEM.
Gorillaz. “On Melancholy Hill.” Plastic Beach, deluxe ed., Virgin Records, 2010, track 10. Spotify, open.spotify.com/track/0q6LuUqGLUiCPP1cbdwFs3.
Every year, people wear costumes on Halloween of their favorite character. What are the implications of this and how do we become a double?
Doppelgängers and Doubles
The summer before my seventh grade, my sister introduced me to a show that wormed its way into my life one way or another, called “Doctor Who”. For those who aren’t aware of the show (who are you?) I’ll do my best to explain it.
Doctor Who is a TV series that follows the adventures of a “Time Lord”, who calls themselves ‘the Doctor’. The Doctor themselves is the last of the “Time Lords”, as all the other died in the Time War. The Doctor always has some sort of companion who comes with them on these adventures, which typically involve the saving of people or a planet (not always though!).
What I would like to focus on today is the part of the show where the Doctor “regenerates”. Every so often, when the Doctor gets fatally injured, is of old age, or has an illness they “regenerate”. This can be either voluntary or involuntary. When this process happens the Doctor completely changes appearances/bodies but keeps the same mind and memories. However, their personality can change. They are both different people, and the same.
So how does this “new doctor” become a double of the old one? As mentioned, they are technically, in terms of the mind, the same person. However in the show, each doctor is still fundamentally different. The ninth doctor (or “Nine”) has just come fresh out of the Time War and is bitter and angry about all the transpired. However, when he regenerates into Ten, he is completely different. Ten has learned how to live again, to laugh again. While it is the same person, they have changed, they have grown.
In the basic terms, each new regeneration of the Doctor is a double of themselves. While they are essentially the same person, they are closer to doubles than twins. Each holds a bit of reflection of the other, to create a doubling effect within their personalities and their way of thought. While often times doubles happen out of inconvenient circumstances or become idealisms of horror, the regeneration of the Doctor, like earlier stated, brings growth.
While most doubles cause an emotional terror and despair of those who experience it personally or through another person, the Doctor’s way of doubling only brings positive effects. The Doctor will always be the same and simultaneously will always be different, and I think most people can say the same of their own selves. Don’t let a stagnant appearance make change impossible. Be like the Doctor’s double and grow.
Verrecchia, Fabrizio. “Prague, Gold, Clock and Circle.” Unsplash, 26 Dec. 2016, unsplash.com/photos/Ai7sV3SSMIQ.
“Regeneration.” Fandom, tardis.fandom.com/wiki/Regeneration.
Doppelgängers and Doubles
Recently I holed myself up in the Bizzell Library’s Great Reading Room for five hours to read The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I got off the phone with my sister at two, walked in, sat down, and didn’t finish reading until seven. I’m not sure I could have stopped reading even if I tried. This book was harrowing, and I can’t lie, I haven’t cried quite this much because of a novel in a long time. It hit me somewhere deep and personal; it has been constantly on my mind ever since.
The book clearly focuses on doppelgängers and doubles of different characters, in fact it’s the main plot line. This is such an integral, important part of the story that it cannot be glossed over. But I think it is also important to focus on how it mirrors the reader, and why it causes such a powerful emotional reaction (at least to me).
Let’s point out the obvious double of the whole book, the portrait of Dorian. This portrait takes on the appearance of all of Dorian’s sins and all of his signs of aging instead of him. In a way, the portrait becomes the real Dorian, as it is the one with the more truthful appearance. When Dorian decides to destroy the painting, he also destroys himself, a knife found in his chest, the appearance of the painting now showing on his body and his young face on the painting. Dorian and the painting become interchangeable doubles, both revealing something horrifying about the other….how many sins did he commit?
On the other hand, Sybil and Basil also become reflections of each other. Both Sybil and Basil are in love with Dorian, both are artists, both fall by Dorian’s cruel hand. What can this doubling tell us about these characters? About the world? In this way, Sybil is seen as the more socially correct lover. She becomes engaged to Dorian, she is young and beautiful, and when she dies, it is by her hand and not purposeful on Dorian’s part. She is put to rest in a respectful manner, not acknowledging that it was suicide (as this carried stigma). On the other hand, Basil died cold and alone, bleeding from the knife Dorian struck into his head. Basil, for one, was a man, presumably older than Dorian, and therefore seen as sinful and offensive. His funeral was never held, his body was simply gotten rid of by Dorian’s old friend, and his existence was wiped from their world. This haunting double of Sybil helps us better understand Wilde as a writer and how society viewed homosexual love at the time.
“Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.”– Oscar Wilde
This book also doubles in Oscar Wilde’s life as seen in the quote above. Wilde saw himself in all three of these characters- or does he become the characters themselves? He saw himself as Basil because he too was an artist who ” put too much of [himself]” into his work (Wilde 2). (Read the subtext guys…) Wilde famously had male lovers and was put into prison at one point for that reason. He perhaps put a little too much of himself into Basil and his love for Dorian. As for being seen as Lord Henry, it may just be the disdain many people have for artists, as Wilde was. What I find interesting is his want to be Dorian, which I simply cannot understand. Why would one find curiosity in a being so cruel? What advantages does Dorian’s lifestyle hold beyond power and loneliness?
Finally I come to the question of how can one find doubles of themselves in this novel? (The question I might be asking is closer to: why did I cry six times reading this?) Maybe you find a mirror of yourself in one of these situations or characters, maybe you find yourself relating to this book for various different reasons. For me, I saw in myself Basil, I wept for him. There is nothing I felt more sharply than his dejected goodbyes after speaking his truth to Dorian. I felt so strongly for his character and there was nothing I wished more than for his happiness, maybe in the same way I wish for mine. Upon first light Basil seems nothing more than a pining, pitiful character, but in this novel he becomes a mirror, or perhaps a projection of the reader’s true self.
There is probably no words I can write that will help you understand how important and impactful this novel was to me. It feels like Oscar Wilde has captured my soul. I feel this novel in my bones, deep and resonating, causing a strange impact. I don’t quite know why The Picture of Dorian Gray nestled its way into my heart, but maybe it’s because I can see my own face on the pages, staring straight back at me.
Titto, Nico. “Furniture, Human, Person and Closet: HD Photo by Nrd (@Nicotitto) on Unsplash.” Beautiful Free Images & Pictures, Unsplash, 25 Nov. 2018, unsplash.com/photos/eFkCdJ3U15M.
Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Edited by James Gifford, McPherson Library, 2011.