March 9, 2011

Lost Girls - Alan Moore

LOST GIRLS


“Desire’s a strange land one discovers as a child, where nothing makes the slightest sense” (Book 1: VI, 3). Forget everything you knew about desire, this is one of the most lucid approaches anyone could ask for about a most fascinating subject.


We have heard much about how controversial Alan Moore’s Lost Girl was and still is: forbidden in some countries, withheld by custom officers in others, we could easily dismiss it as a polemic work and thus leave it forever imprisoned into whatever mental drawer we put our taboos and scandalous items. Nonetheless, it would be a gross error to do so. Moore’s work is highly literary and profoundly intellectual, it has nothing to envy to “serious” novels or academic authors. Using well-established literary creations such as Alice (from Wonderland), Dorothy (from the land of Oz) and Wendy (from Neverland), this long-bearded British man has, once again, made an innovation in the 9th art that perhaps will go unnoticed by some.


Let’s make a quick review, chapter by chapter, of what exactly are those innovations, and why is it that Moore has put so much thought into each and every one of these lavishly illustrated pages.


Everyone familiar with bedtime stories knows about mirrors. A Mirror is a magic and powerful thing. But then again, in real life, mirrors are that which help us define ourselves, at least according to psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. In Lacanian theory, the mirror stage starts when the child is between six and twelve months old: unable to walk properly, to talk fluently, unable even to control sphincters and thus bodily emissions; the child, indeed, is a clumsy, messy, unfinished creature, not at all like the adults he sees constantly. Then, one day, the mother will point at the mirror and say “that boy in the mirror is you”. This means that a reflected image turns into the first “self” (at that age, to perceive oneself as a whole is quite a task), but this is nothing but an ideal image, for the boy is not the reflection captured by the mirror. However, in the mirror he is whole, he is that which the mother wants him to be, and thus, submitting to the desire of the mother, the child faces the intense dynamic of inter-subjective desire. But why should any of this psychoanalytic mumble-jumble have any relevance to “The Mirror”, the first chapter of Book One? Because every frame in this chapter is, indeed, a mirror, Alice’s mirror, that reflects what’s going on in her life. Her casual lesbian encounters, her masturbatory sessions, but also the desire of the mother, translated into the desire of the mother’s servants, who besiege Alice and affirm that no lady with such good upbringing should act like her. Indeed, by violating every taboo of a society too true to Victorian ideals, Alice defies the desire of the mother (she admits being “most unladylike”), and thus rejects that idealized image of her in the mirror.


“Silver Shoes”, the second chapter, deals again with childhood experiences and the conformation of the “self”. Here Dorothy, a young woman from Kansas, arrives to the Himmelgarten hotel. There, a good looking gentleman woos her, complimenting her on her lovely silver shoes. Is this man fixated on high heels? Well, of course he is. Footwear has always been one of the main fetishes in classic psychoanalytic theory. Freud, for example, used to say that all women desired the man's penis (he was no feminist, of course). A woman was somehow incomplete because of the lack of penis. Other authors have stated that foot fetishism starts at a very early age: A child, any child, is playing on the floor and raises his head to look at his mother, looking through the mother's skirt, he realizes she does not have a penis, and therefore she is incomplete. And the young boy suffers as he stumbles upon this discovery. And he suffers so much for it that he wishes to fill that void, to replace that lack of penis with something else, hence he looks down to the floor again and he stares at her mother's shoes, and unconsciously he turns those shoes into the penis, thus replacing the absence with something else. The shoes could be seen as a symbolic penis; Lacan, for example, would later re-elaborate the theory explaining that the high heel shoes would function as the mother's phallus, a phallus which has been previously denied by the father. It’s no wonder, then, that Dorothy is seduced by Mr. Bauer, and while walking in the gardens, she gives in to the man’s advances. She, however, cannot foresee that all that Bauer cares about is ejaculating onto her precious silver shoes. It would be fair to assume that only fetishism drives Bauer around.


The third chapter is titled “Missing Shadows” and is linked to one of Alice’s earliest assertions on Plato’s philosophy. If we remember the cavern allegory in “The Republic”, then we will accept that the “real world” is but a world of shadows, “mere reflections” that could barely bear some resemblance to the “ideal world”. Only one of the smartest writers could pull this off so coherently. Moore has already let us know Alice’s opinion on Platonic theories. And in this chapter, the world of shadows becomes more real and intense than reality. Wendy arrives to the hotel with her white-haired husband, who pays little attention to her and seems more concerned with an erotic book filled with lascivious illustrations. Melinda Gebbie’s talent shines even more displaying many different artistic styles here, the one referring to the erotic publication is reminiscent to illustrators of the 19th century, and even the details of the capital letters are revealing: every letter shows men and / or women engaged into some form of sexual activity creating with their bodies the silhouette of a given letter. There is indeed a great deal of unresolved sexual tension in this marriage, as it’s made obvious by dialogue and facial expressions, but the best part is the shadow game. In front of a source of light, Wendy plays with a needle, gives her husband a sealed document, and takes some clothes out of her luggage, meanwhile her husband holds the document, wrapped up as a cylinder, talks to her, and in the end lets the seal fall to the floor. This apparently harmless scene, however, is seen as a very graphic fellatio and anal penetration, as the shadows behind them mirror not what truly happens but that which is sexually repressed. We must not forget either, the typical game of Peter Pan chasing after his rebellious shadow, and Wendy then stitching it back to his owner.


The next two chapters are a wonderful exercise of different perspectives coming together to tell one complete story. Chapter four, “Poppies”, shows the moment in which Alice, known by all as Lady Fairchild, invites Miss Gale, the young American, to her table; the girl from Kansas, of course, is no other than Dorothy. In a nearby table, Wendy and her husband Harold are also having dinner. After the meal is over, the two women retire to Lady Fairchild’s room. In there, after smoking laudanum, they start caressing each other, it’s not long before mutual cunnilingus absorbs their attention completely. As they reach climax, they hear strange sounds coming from the next room, the room which houses a certain married couple. Chapter five, “Straight On Till Morning”, shows what happens in Wendy and Harold’s table. There he complains continuously about the effeminate characteristics of Art Nouveau, as well as the mild mannered gestures of the hotel’s owner; once they finish eating, they go to their room at the same time Alice and Dorothy reach theirs. Overhearing part of what’s going on in the next room, Harold imagines the two women naked, one with a whip and the other on the receiving end. Then, as things progress, Harold enters into even more wild fantasies, while Wendy goes over arithmetic procedures in her head. At one moment, she gets into the tub and cries out. Her husband asks her what’s wrong and she answers that the water was too hot. This moment, however, is interpreted as a post-coitus conversation by the two women in the previous chapter.


In chapter six, “Queens Together”, Alice and Dorothy are having sex outdoors, but amidst the bushes they sense someone else staring at them. The two women quickly confront the voyeur who turns out to be Wendy. The three of them then take some time to talk about personal issues and share confidences.


“The Twister”, chapter eight, focuses mainly on Dorothy, as she narrates a paramount moment in her childhood. At 15 years old of age, an enormous twister menaces to shatter her house. Fearing for her life, she regrets dying a virgin, and soon finds herself aroused and decides to do that which she is not supposed to do (she also uses the word “unladylike”): pleasuring herself. She admits being wet down there and proceeds to satisfy herself with her fingers. Her orgasm also marks the twister’s disappearance but also her relocation to what she believes to be the Land of Oz. It’s Wendy’s turn in chapter nine, “Come Away, Come Away”; in this occasion she remembers her first encounter with a boy who had knelt down on top of a naked girl “shoving backwards and forwards”. At night, talking about this weird moment with her two brothers, she finds out the same boy climbing up to her room. There, the three of them receive them and ask for an explanation. To this, Peter Pan lowers his trousers and proceeds to explain the nature of “happy thoughts” while Wendy’s brothers start rubbing each other penises. Wendy also touches Peter Pan’s “affair”, as she calls it, and a few minutes later, her brothers ejaculate onto her bed, while Peter Pan does the same over her body. Finally, in chapter nine, “Looking Glass House”, Alice explains how a friend of her father invites her to accompany him. The bald, anxious man then proceeds to teach her to seat down as ladies should, but of course, that’s not enough, he makes her drink a mysterious liquid that never ends, and as she starts feeling hot, the man suggests that she should remove her clothes. During this “statutory rape” scene, Alice imagines that a girl identical to her comes out of the mirror to have sex with her.


The last episode of Book One “Older Girls” is chapter ten, “Stravinsky”. Here, Lady Fairchild has invited Wendy and Harold, as well as Dorothy and Mr. Bauer to the ballet inauguration in Paris. There, while ecstatically admiring the dancers, Alice, sitting in the middle, will proceed to kiss Dorothy, at her right, and then Wendy, at her left. Of course, then she will place one hand on Dorothy’s thigh, and the other hand on Wendy’s bosom. As the two men grow bored watching the ballet, the three women have the time of their lives.


Books two and three of Lost Girls dig even deeper into the three women’s psyche. Sex plays a fundamental part in this psychic and physical exploration. Sex humanizes characters such as the scarecrow, the lion and the tin man in Dorothy’s Land of Oz. Nonetheless, sexual acts become potentially dangerous in Wendy’s Neverland; after all here Captain Hook is a pedophile whose main goal is to molest Peter Pan and Tinker Bell is more of a sexual victim than a fairy. Finally, Alice finds refugee in the home of a mature lesbian that will force her into acts of such depravity that at the end will become insufferable.


When Austria’s archduke is assassinated World War I is upon the protagonists, but when everyone flees from the hotel the owner (a gay writer of erotic books) and part of the staff stay behind, only to partake in wild orgies for entire days. With unflinching ease, Dorothy will understand the power of sex; Wendy, previously seen as a shy and subjugated character, will no longer feel ashamed or diminished; and at last, but not least, Alice will reevaluate her entire life thus feeling more comfortable with her sexuality than ever before.


In a thoroughly orchestrated journey, this elliptic narration draws near to the end as the penultimate chapter mirrors the first one: it’s all about mirrors and what do they mean. In this case, Alice’s mirror no longer reflects the characters we met on the first pages, since they have changed and evolved. If the mirror was the key in identity conformation, then it’s no surprise to realize that once these women have reached their true selves, the idealized images on the glass surface are no longer vital. Last chapter is, perhaps, a subtle but touching adage that reminds us that, although some may doubt it, to make love is always a better option than to make war.


________________________________________________________


LOST GIRLS


“El Deseo es una tierra extraña que uno descubre de niño, en donde nada tiene el más mínimo sentido” (Libro 1: VI, 3). Olviden todo lo que sabían sobre el deseo, por fin existe un trabajo totalmente lúcido sobre un tema complicado pero fascinante.


Lost Girls de Alan Moore es una obra controversial: prohibida en varios países, retenida por aduanas en otros, fácilmente podría ser descartada como uno de esos trabajos polémicos que quedan encerrados en algún recinto de nuestra mente en donde guardamos nuestros tabús y pensamientos escandalosos. Pero sería un grave error hacer justamente eso con esta novela gráfica. Utilizando creaciones literarias bien establecidas tales como Alicia (del país de las maravillas), Dorothy (de la tierra de Oz) y Wendy (de la tierra de nunca jamás), el conocido autor británico ha logrado, una vez más, innovar el noveno arte.


Hagamos una rápida revisión, capítulo por capítulo, para entender por qué Moore le ha dedicado tanto tiempo y reflexión a estas páginas.


Todos los que estén familiarizados con las historias infantiles, sabrán reconocer la importancia de los espejos, estos objetos mágicos y poderosos que a menudo juegan un papel clave. Los espejos también nos definen, al menos de acuerdo con psicoanalistas de la talla de Jacques Lacan. En la teoría lacaniana la etapa del espejo hace referencia a un niño entre 6 y 12 meses; es decir, una criatura incompleta, vulnerable, incapaz de caminar con soltura o incluso de controlar sus esfínteres: la viva antítesis de los adultos que lo rodean. Hasta que un día la madre señala al espejo y le dice “ese niño de allí eres tú”. Esto significa que su imagen reflejada se convierte en su primer ideal del ‘yo’; en el espejo él es un ser completo, es lo que la madre quiere que sea; y de este modo enfrenta por primera vez la intensa dinámica del deseo intersubjetivo. Pero olvidémonos de todas estas charlatanerías teóricas, ¿qué importancia tendrían en relación al primer caso? El libro uno comienza con “El Espejo”. Cada viñeta de este capítulo es, de hecho, un espejo; en realidad, es el espejo de Alicia que refleja los eventos cotidianos de su vida: sus furtivos encuentros lésbicos, sus sesiones masturbatorias, y la desaprobación de la moral tradicional, representada aquí no por una madre hostigadora sino por las sirvientas de la madre que nerviosamente se preguntan cómo una dama de buena educación puede caer en situaciones tan aberrantes. Cuando Alicia rechaza su imagen idealizada también desafía el deseo de la madre.


El segundo capítulo, "Zapatos de plata", se centra también en experiencias de la infancia y en la conformación del "sí mismo". Cuando Dorothy, una joven de Kansas, llega al hotel Himmelgarten, es seducida por un apuesto caballero que elogia su calzado plateado. ¿Se trata de un hombre con un fetiche por los tacones altos? Vaya que sí. Se trata, desde luego, del fetichismo más clásico. Freud (que por supuesto no era feminista) afirmaba que todas las mujeres envidiaban el pene del hombre; la mujer, de algún modo, estaba incompleta al no tener pene. Un niño jugaba en el suelo y, de casualidad, levantaba la vista, a través de la falda de su madre descubría que había una ausencia de pene; así, descubría que su madre era un ser incompleto, por ello el niño, desesperado por suplir esa falta, al bajar la vista veía los zapatos de la mujer, y por lo tanto reemplazaba simbólicamente al pene con esos zapatos. Para Lacan, estos zapatos de tacones altos servirían como el falo de la madre, un falo que habría sido previamente negado por el padre. Cuando Dorothy cede a los avances del señor Bauer no es capaz de predecir que la única intención de su compañero es embadurnar con semen sus finos zapatos argentados.


"Sombras perdidas" nos remite a una de las afirmaciones de Alicia sobre teoría platónica. Si recordamos la alegoría de la caverna, aceptaremos que el mundo real es un mundo de sombras, simples reflejos que guardan una vaga similitud con el mundo de las ideas. No obstante, aquí el mundo de las sombras es mucho más intenso y real que la propia realidad. Wendy llega al hotel con su esposo, un hombre canoso y amargado que no le presta atención y que parece más interesado en un libro con ilustraciones eróticas que encuentra en su habitación. La tensión sexual no resuelta es evidente en la pareja. De pronto una fuente de luz proyecta sombras en la pared de la alcoba; Wendy está zurciendo calcetines, guardando ropa de las maletas, y alcanzándole un documento (envuelto de forma cilíndrica) a su marido; no obstante, las sombras muestran algo muy distinto: una fellatio y una penetración anual. Y es que las sombras no muestran lo que sucede sino lo que realmente ocurre al interior de estos personajes. Además, no deja de ser divertida la referencia al juego de Peter Pan y su sombra rebelde, y a la habilidad de Wendy de coser la sombra al cuerpo de Peter Pan.


En los capítulos siguientes vemos cómo las tres mujeres se conocen, y cómo cada una de ellas recuerda estas experiencias mágicas y extrañas de su pasado. Así, para Dorothy, el momento en el que un tornado amenaza con destruir su granja en Kansas sirve para que ella se cuestione sobre la utilidad de morir virgen (como una dama), y cómo la excitación sexual la recorre mientras decide, ya que no tiene nada que perder, masturbarse libre de culpas, como nunca antes. Mientras Wendy recuerda su primer encuentro con Peter Pan, a quien ve desnudo y "agachado" sobre una chica, mientras ambos practican movimientos que la niña no logra comprender. Cuando Peter Pan aparece en la habitación de Wendy, procede a explicarle a ella y a sus dos hermanos la naturaleza de los "pensamientos felices" (esos que son necesarios para volar), mientras los hermanos de Wendy se masturban mutuamente, Wendy se encarga de facilitarle dicha labor a Peter Pan, hasta que en una escena final los tres eyaculan juntos. Finalmente Alicia explica cómo la inesperada visita de un amigo de su padre la toma de manera desprevenida, especialmente cuando este sujeto calvo le sujeta las piernas con el pretexto de enseñarle a sentarse "como una dama", mientras que la hace beber un líquido misterioso que no parece acabarse nunca para luego desnudarla y proceder a otras actividades.


Los libros dos y tres indagan mucho más sobre la psique de estas tres mujeres. Y el sexo se convierte en la clave de esta exploración física y psíquica. El sexo humaniza a personajes como el espantapájaros, el león cobarde y el hombre de hojalata. Sin embargo, los actos sexuales son potencialmente peligrosos en el entorno de Wendy, sobre todo cuando el capitán Garfio es un pedófilo que solamente quiere ultrajar a Peter Pan (y de paso a Campanita). Finalmente, Alicia encuentra refugio en el hogar de una lesbiana que la obliga a participar en actos de tal depravación que ella no podrá soportar...


Cuando el archiduque de Austria es asesinado, empieza la primera guerra mundial. Mientras todos huyen, el dueño del hotel (un escritor gay de literatura erótica) y su personal organizan orgías que incluyen a las protagonistas. Así, Dorothy entenderá el poder del sexo; Wendy, previamente vista como una mujer subyugada e insegura ya no se sentirá avergonzada de nada; Alicia reevaluará su vida y aprenderá a sentirse por fin cómoda con su propia sexualidad.


La narración elíptica de Moore conecta las primeras páginas con el penúltimo capítulo, nuevamente centrado exclusivamente en el espejo de Alicia. Pero la superficie ya no refleja a las mujeres del inicio de la historia, sino a personajes que se han redefinido, que han madurado y que al fin se aceptan a sí mismas. Ya no hace falta estar a la altura de la imagen idealizada del espejo porque ellas por fin pueden ser lo que realmente son. El último capítulo es un sentido adagio que nos recuerda por qué, en última instancia, es mejor hacer el amor que hacer la guerra.






14 comments:

  1. Que bonito todo...

    saludos,
    raulito

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  2. Melinda Gebbie es una artista extraordinaria.

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  3. ¡Hola!

    Qué interesante, me han encantado las imagenes, muy al estílo shunga (pinturas japonesas de representación sexual).

    Lo que más llamó mi atención, fue el hecho basar y crear todas esas situaciones tan controversiales a partir de personajes de cuentos infantiles. Me encantaría leerlo.

    Gracias por la recomendación.

    Un gusto, como siempre.

    Saludos

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  4. Lo genial de Gebbie es que es sumamente versátil como artista, y eso es algo que se ve en las distintas imágenes que he seleccionado.

    Definitivamente la idea detrás de la obra es bastante singular, personajes ligados a la literatura infantil crecen y entran en el orden de lo sexual.

    Es realmente un gusto leer tus comentarios.

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  5. bellisima obra nos regalas, esta asturiana te da infinitas gracias por ella y por los bellos comentarios dejados en mi bloc y esta asturiana tambien se hace tu seguidora, un besin muy muy grande.

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  6. Hola!

    Muy interesante tu blog también.

    Entraré a leerlo detenidamente. Ya me he hecho seguidor. Te espero por el mío ;)

    Un cordial saludo. Nos leemos...

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  7. Soy fan de Alan Moore pero no me he decidido aún a comprar Lost Girls... no sé por qué, me gustó pero creo que no lo suficiente...

    Los cómics que tengo que se refieren al erotismo son en su mayoría de Milo Manara y algo más fuerte de Eric Stanton, me parece muy buena la propuesta de Alan Moore pero aún así no acabó por atraparme...

    Saludos!

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  8. OZNA-OZNA: muchas gracias, y recibe mis más cordiales saludos desde Lima.

    Scotty: Sin duda yo también estaré revisando tu blog con detenimiento.

    Pipiripunk: Lost Girls es, de hecho, una obra distinta a las que Moore suele escribir; pero la verdad es que he aprendido a encontrarle el gusto a sus distintas facetas de escritor. Espero que vuelvas a visitar el blog.

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  9. You call this a quick review?!

    With that out of the way, the review itself reads quite well. The books sound like Moore had some wet dreams that he wanted to share.

    The individual first experiences sound... well, interesting :)

    Dunno if I want to buy this, usually I just get books I can read on the train, and this kind of open and graphical work creates some awkward reactions from my train co-travelers.

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  10. I know, it's not too quick... And don't forget the format is huge and quite heavy, so definitely it's not something you can take on the train. Thank you for posting, my friend.

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  11. Its probably too big a book for a quick review anyway. I haven't read it myself, but it really struck me (reading the initial reviews and press it got when released) that Moore seems to need to anchor himself in some established work before he can get started. Of all his major works V for Vendetta is the only truly original one.

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  12. He has other important works, such as Halo Jones (almost as many pages as V, if I recall correctly) which is entirely Moore's creation, but certainly you make a valid point.

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  13. Puse un enlace para este post en mi blog. Hacía tiempo que estaba por publicar algo sobre Peter Pan, y ahora me diste el envión final.
    Un abrazo, Arion.
    Sos siempre una inspiración.
    http://antinoomontevideo.blogspot.com/2011/03/peter-pan-de-nino-hombre.html

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  14. Muchas gracias, justamente en mi último post también hablo sobre inspiración.

    Ya dejé un comentario en tu blog.

    Saludos.

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