I am back again at that most famously frozen hero, other than Han Solo’s episodic encounter with carbonite: Narcissus. The story as known from Greek myth provides the dominant interpretation of the character, and this (of course) provides the basis for that most popular of current social maladies, narcissism. In fact, as I see it, narcissism is the fundamental human thought crime. To be a narcissist is to radically over-value oneself, at the expense of everyone else.
It’s the flaw Claudius accuses Hamlet of in their first encounter, in the second scene of Act I:
‘Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet,
To give these mourning duties to your father.
But you must know your father lost a father,
That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound
In filial obligation for some term
To do obsequious sorrow. But to persever
In obstinate condolement is a course
Of impious stubbornness. ‘Tis unmanly grief.
It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,
A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,
An understanding simple and unschooled.
For what we know must be and is as common
As any the most vulgar thing to sense,
Why should we in our peevish opposition
Take it to heart? Fie! ‘Tis a fault to heaven,
A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,
To reason most absurd, whose common theme
Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,
From the first corse till he that died today,
“This must be so.”
Hamlet, in short, is unwilling to just move on. He’s frozen; and in his frozenness has has placed his own self-image over all else.
The Gnostics had a different read on this character, though. For them, this figure locked in self-reflection was the divine Man of Light, who looked down into the material creation of the planetary archons, and, seeing the human image the archons had created, became frozen in a sense of identification with this reflection. The image of Narcissus locked in gazing at his own reflection was an image of the fall of the Eternal into Time.
Narcissus and Echo are Adam and Eve are Hamlet and Ophelia.
I don’t have the time or focus to make any more sense of this right now. Sitting in a Starbucks in Raleigh, NC, I need to get back to some paying work, and throwing out messages to strangers in other states, in hopes of arranging a house concert or two somewhere down the road.
This is the central issue, though – the axis of the whole journey, both for myself and Bigly.