Hannibal, Lucille Bluth, And The Best Bad Mommy Money Can Buy

Why, so often, the impulse to say, this fictional character is like that fictional character? Why, so often, Imagine if she said what he had said? Imagine that. What if X, but Y? Sometimes – in this instance, at least – the point of the joy of discovery is the identification of pure Mommy energy, of the place where transfeminist horror studies and the sexual dynamics of my marriage intersect. Because the emotional withholding, meticulous dress, desperate desire for control/restriction/beauty when it comes to food and the body of both Hannibal Lecter (as portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen on NBC’s Hannibal) and Lucille Bluth (as portrayed by Jessica Walters on Fox/Netflix’s Arrested Development) are the same exquisite flower, blooming twice. Because Will Graham is part Lindsay Bluth (erring daughter, undisciplined in mind and body, in constant need of chastisement) and part Buster (cherished son, lost to himself, beyond hope, a mere extension of the maternal body, disempowered by its own lack of maternity). Because you can’t have it until you learn to ask for it. Also, same hat.


WILL GRAHAM: Tell me the truth. There’s been a lot of lying in this family.

HANNIBAL: And a lot of love.


MICHAEL BLUTH: What kind of victim forgives the killer at the moment of death?

LUCILLE BLUTH: A mother.


WILL GRAHAM: These are my awards, Hannibal. From FBI.


LUCILLE BLUTH: Perhaps you didn't come here looking for a killer. Perhaps you came here to find yourself. You killed a man in this very room.

LINDSAY BLUTH: I stared at Tobias and the space opposite me assumed the shape of a man filled with dark and swarming flies. And then I scattered them.

LUCILLE BLUTH: At a time when others fear their isolation, yours has become understandable to you. You are alone because you are unique.

LINDSAY BLUTH: I'm as alone as you are.

LUCILLE BLUTH: If you followed the urges you kept down for so long, cultivated them as the inspirations they are, you would have become someone other than yourself.


HANNIBAL: There were 250cc’s of your father in that banana stand.


HANNIBAL: He’s stable. But they don’t know if he’s due for another heart attack soon. It’s his own fault. What kind of diet is this? It’s too much meat. I want all of you off this immediately. [To Will] Except you.

WILL GRAHAM: Taste is housed in parts of the mind that perceive pity. Pity has no place at the table.


HANNIBAL: Will, do you remember when we were kissing last night?
WILL GRAHAM: It was a wild, wild ride. But is this something we can do? Is this something society will allow?
HANNIBAL: I don't care what other people think. My God, for the first time in years, I felt like I was standing on solid ground.
WILL GRAHAM: You know, my panic attacks have decreased. I feel confident. I'm feeling proud even. I mean, for the first time in my life…[He jumps through a window.]
HANNIBAL: I’ll call Dr. Du Maurier.

On Finally Watching HANNIBAL

There will be more fully-fleshed out thoughts later, of course, but one has to begin somewhere. (I’m still on season 1 but I’m sure I’ll be done by the weekend, given my current rate.)

HANNIBAL

JACK CRAWFORD: “As you know, the FBI in this world – much like in Twin Peaks – runs on empathy, feelings, and psychic impulses. As the head of the I’ve Got A Feeling About This One division, I’m authorized to hire anyone who catches my fancy on a 400k yearly Instinct Retainer.”

WILL GRAHAM: “The FBI hired me because I have more feelings than anyone else in the world.”

THIS TRANSMASCULINE VIEWER AT HOME, NERVOUSLY: “This sure better not awaken any of my inner shame about the slashfic-to-gay-trans pipeline.”

WILL GRAHAM, closing his eyes: “This killer….he enjoyed killing.”

MADS MIKKELSON: “I’m an exquisitely-dressed European genius with prominent cheekbones whose meanness and approval you demand in equal measure. No, not your wife.”

[THREE EPISODES IN A ROW PROMINENTLY FEATURE A VULNERABLE MALE CHARACTER DISORIENTED AND FRIGHTENED IN A NIGHTIE]

THIS TRANSMASCULINE VIEWER AT HOME, NERVOUSLY: oh NO

[Most of this transmasculine viewer’s at-home secret fic consumption, 1998-2015]: what if there was a boy who was SO vulnerable and had SO many feelings and no one EVER listened to him and he was SO thin he could never grow breasts and he didn’t understand what kind of gay he was and he passed out ALL THE TIME like a Victorian protagonist and his mind simply shut off when he started to imagine something he wasn’t allowed to imagine and YOUR fantastical relationship to male fragility is causing real problems in your personal life and [file not found]

WILL GRAHAM: I am forty years old but my sexually-intimidating best friend calls me “dear boy” and “little moppet” and “tiny Nemo lost in Dreamland” and “changeling-fledgling” and “Jane Eyre” and “little teacup”

THIS TRANSMASCULINE VIEWER AT HOME: come on, man

"Then hunger did what sorrow could not do": Happy Father's Day From Count Ugolino and his Sons in the Tower

sorry it's about Father's Day

I’ve spent the last six weeks half-convinced each upcoming Sunday is supposed to be Father’s Day — it’s one of those unfixed-feet wandering holidays I can never quite remember — and end up getting all wound up on a Saturday afternoon for nothing. I thought I’d feel prepared, or at least quippy, by this week. Forewarned is forearmed. And I’ve been revamping all those distressing Bible anecdotes about wheels and bones, spending three consecutive days a week in therapy since January. Surely I’m due to see some return on my investment. But I have today no peace of mind, no sangfroid, no resilience.

I think: The last time I spoke to my father, he told me the man he’d been secretly and unofficially treating for pedophilia by encouraging him to work with children was “a hero. The last time I spoke to my father, when I suggested this man should stop working with children and start seeing a therapist, he accused me of trying to “ruin his life.” Then: My father issued a proxy to address his congregation who said that trans people are deluded, suicidal, and in need of Jesus. I think: Those things cannot possibly be true. They cannot all have happened, they cannot all have happened this year, they cannot all have happened in my life. I think: My father used to say he loved me all the time. I think: My father would not do that to me. So often I say to myself, My father would never do that to me. The question follows: What are the things your father would never do? The question follows: What are the things your father is capable of? The question follows: If you didn’t know this, why should you trust your own knowledge of your father? And then I think: Sylvia Plath wore this territory out, and better, a while back. And then I think: There’s a reason I avoided fatherliness in my work for so long. And then I think: Well, that didn’t work. Finding the concept of father issues tiresome is no protection against them, as it turns out. And then I think: Did I find them tiresome, or was I terrified? Against my father I have no resilience, just like everyone else.

Dear John Mayer,

For the lyrics “Fathers be good to your daughters / Daughters will love like you do,” the Council of Wronged Transmasculine Sons find you utterly guilty. We do urge you to repent before we kill you.

I think of the things my father has: The same job he had six months ago, the same million-dollar inspirational Christian book deals, the exclusive support of every blood relative we share between us, a healthy grandson, a Labrador retriever, the exclusive loyalty of my mother, an obedient eldest daughter, a dependent youngest son, a pleasant singing voice (a light but un-reedy tenor), proxies, cronies, collaborators, assistants, teams, networks, a thundering velvet hand, a devoted congregation quick to pity, the consolation of many loyal friends, pastoral authority, remit, a parking space at church reserved specially for him.

She loved me for the dangers I had passed, 

And I loved her that she did pity them.

This only is the witchcraft I have used.

One of the most contested lines in the Inferno comes at the conclusion of Count Ugolino’s tale: “Poscia, più che ‘l dolor, poté ‘l digiuno.”

  1. Then hunger did what sorrow could not do

  2. Then fasting more availed than sorrowing

  3. Then famine silenced my grief by death

  4. Till famine, more severe / Than grief itself, and more alert to kill, / In three days more concluded my career

“Did Dante intend to say that although grief did not kill him, hunger did so? Or was he implying that hunger overcame the reticence of grief and sorrow, driving Ugolino to eat the flesh of his deceased offspring before he, himself, died?”

“And I heard locking up the under door

Of the horrible tower; whereat without a word

I gazed into the faces of my sons.

I wept not, I within so turned to stone;

They wept; and darling little Anselm mine

Said: 'Thou dost gaze so, father, what doth ail thee?'

Still not a tear I shed, nor answer made

All of that day, nor yet the night thereafter,

Until another sun rose on the world.

As now a little glimmer made its way

Into the dolorous prison, and I saw

Upon four faces my own very aspect,

Both of my hands in agony I bit;

And, thinking that I did it from desire

Of eating, on a sudden they uprose,

And said they: 'Father, much less pain 'twill give us

If thou do eat of us; thyself didst clothe us

With this poor flesh, and do thou strip it off.'

I calmed me then, not to make them more sad.

That day we all were silent, and the next.

Ah! obdurate earth, wherefore didst thou not open?

When we had come unto the fourth day, Gaddo

Threw himself down outstretched before my feet,

Saying, 'My father, why dost thou not help me?'

And there he died; and, as thou seest me,

I saw the three fall, one by one, between

The fifth day and the sixth; whence I betook me,

Already blind, to groping over each,

And three days called them after they were dead;

Then hunger did what sorrow could not do.”

When he had said this, with his eyes distorted,

The wretched skull resumed he with his teeth,

Which, as a dog's, upon the bone were strong.

In November of last year my father ate me alive. My father has strong teeth like a dog’s. Do you remember the episode of One Tree Hill where a dog eats Dan’s heart before he can get a transplant? It was like that, and I have no body now. My father has so long to live, two hearts, and I am old, old old. My father love love loves G.K. Chesterton, who wrote:

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

My father never gets tired, my father is always hungry, my father is making daisy chains and he is not tired, I am not strong, I am nearly dead from repetition, the sun does not do what I tell it to, the moon is not listening to me, my father is abounding, my father is free, my father and children, my father and children, my father wants children repeated and unchanged, my father says “Do It Again” at me and I feel nearly dead. Christ, what an asshole.

It is a little funny. Eat your heart out.

[Image via]

The Family of Elkanah

Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim, of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. This man went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. Also the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there. And whenever the time came for Elkanah to make an offering, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the Lord had closed her womb. And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.

Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”

A. In a cylindrical womb with radius 1/2m, the sons are rising at a rate of 3 sons/s. What is the rate of increase of the value of husbands?

B. Given Peninnah = 6 and Hson/Hdaughter = 0, find P/PH (r2h).

C. Hannah has not eaten in three days. The rate of husband-value over son-value increases every four days. How many days will it take Hannah to eat Elkanah?

D. Hannah is standing on the edge of the Jordan river. She has ten sons. Her husband Elkanah is on the other side of the river and weighs ≥ ten sons. The boat can bear the weight of four sons, or a wifely double portion. Elkanah cannot ride in the same boat as Hannah’s sons. How many trips will it take her to reach Shiloh?

E. Is Elkanah better than ten sons? Show your work.

Ezekiel and the Bones

Previously: Ezekiel and the Wheels.

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”

Hand of the Lord took me; hand of the Lord took me out. Hand of the Lord came over me (over/out) and brought me out-in (first out, then in/outside the inside/the interiormost aspect of the exterior part of the Spirit of the Lord). Hand to Spirit, hand to God. Hand upon me, out-Spirit in me, down in the valley. Bones everywhere.

(“How many bones were there?”)

As someone who passed by them all around, beholding: very many. Valley was full of ‘em, open and shut.

(“As dry as they were many.”)

Then the Spirit said, Bone-Boy. Do these bones live.

I just work here. You know.

And the Spirit said, Go ahead and ask. You’re the one with the bones. Maybe they’ll listen to you. Tell them I’m offering sinews and brought-flesh and skin-covers and full breath and life-result. Remind them of their situation, and mine.

I just work here, so: I worked here. From command to prophesy and from prophesy to noise and from noise to rattling there was no distance. Bones came together. Bone on bone. Sinew-sprout, sinew-wrap, fleshfulness, muscle-marble, meat-begetting – put together, stacked by row, but yet breathless. All skin, no steak. Light in the ankle joints. Dry. Jerky.

Talk to the breath, then. Prophesy directly to the breath, bone-boy, address it directly. Get it on its feet, suggest a compilation to the four winds, and get some breath on these bone-stacks.

I just work here. I prophesied, breath came in, subsequently they lived, subsequently they stood on their feet, subsequently an exceedingly great army.

Then the Spirit said: These bones are the bones of the whole house, and they say, ‘We know our bones to be dry.’ Therefore tell them that I tell them that I will open their graves, that in opening their graves I will cause them to come up from their graves and escort them elsewhere; they will know me when I have opened their graves, and in the opening of graves I will make them mine. I will put my spirit in them and they will live. Tell these bones to tell the bones of Israel. Keep the bones talking to each other.

And I said, I’m telling the bones this? Or the bones are telling me this? Or the bones are telling someone else’s bones?

Unclear chain of command. Unclear order of operations. First outside, inner last.

Tell everyone. Last-minute sale on bones. All graves must go. Otherwise what was all the breathing for?

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