Thursday, February 05, 2009


It seems to me likely that a folktale exists in which a pair of twins falls in love with the same woman. Or perhaps only one of the pair falls in love with her, but he can’t believe that everyone hasn’t fallen in love with her, least of all his brother. And it seems to me that the brother who wins the woman’s hand in marriage would demand from his brother a promise that he will not take advantage of their identical features to trick the woman into bed. At first the man would accept his brother’s word as assurance enough, but soon enough his jealousy would grow. They have the same face; he can’t trust him. He would demand that his brother scar his face to remove all doubt from his mind. Brothers in folktales, as sometimes in families, do remarkable things for each other, but I doubt that any man who scar himself so easily. I think that he would demand the right to sleep with his brother’s wife just once before he erases his brother’s face from his own. And does this mean that his brother was right and he wanted to sleep with her all along? Is this why he accepts the scar as his due? He will sleep with his brother’s wife, and his wife will know him even though he is not yet scarred, but she will sleep with him because her husband didn’t trust her. The brothers must fight in the end, and I think the first brother will lose. One will be scarred or both. Some will tell it one way, and some another.

Or perhaps—and this rings perhaps more true for those who do not accept the time- compressing properties of guilt—a brother discovers his twin sleeping with his wife. The lover swears that he tricked the woman; she believed he was her true husband. The man demands that his unfaithful brother scar his face to erase all such misunderstandings in the future. This will be his revenge. The guilty brother balks, but in the end agrees. When the man once again discovers the lovers together, he will know that the only misunderstanding was that he believed his wife ever loved him and not his brother. And this is his brother’s revenge.

Or perhaps the story is about the woman, and her husband has been killed in battle. She has washed out his wounds, the fist-size hole in his chest and the face-wide scar like a second pair of lips. While her husband’s cleaned and perfumed body cracks like popcorn in the fire, his parents comfort the woman, telling her that her husband’s brother will come to marry her before spring. She will vow that she will never love the brother like she loved her husband, who she watches jealously, bleeding greasy tears inside the fire. The brother will arrive on a long winter night, and by firelight, the woman will see that he is exactly like her husband. At first she will hate him and curse him because he looks exactly like her husband. But she will quickly come to love him. This could happen in one night by the light of one fire, or it could require more. Every day, the brother will huddle all day inside blankets, as if the sun is cold to him, coughing in the smoke because his chest is weak. As the days lengthen, the woman will see a scar spreading across his face. She will be pregnant by then, and it will seem to her that her husband has always been his brother and always been scarred.

This post is an installment in a continuing series of content coordinated by theme or motif with posts from Enoch Allred of Chiltingham, John Allred of clol Town, Jon Fairbanks of Funkadelic Freestylings of Another Sort, Eli Z. McCormick and Miriam Allred of Modern Revelation!, John D. Moore of Whatnot Studios, Joseph Schlegel of Sour Mayonnaise, Sven Patrick Svensson of Sadness? Euphoria?, and William C. Stewart of Chide, Chode, Chidden. This week's theme: 'Disfigurement'.


Blogger Logan said...

It does seem likely.

5:50 PM  
Blogger Ideas Man, Ph.D. said...

Have you read the Double by Jose Saramago. Something like this happens... minus the disfigurement --- and they're not twins.

6:14 PM  
Blogger Miriam said...

Blindness is the only Saramago that I've read so far, but I enjoyed it very much. The movie made me sad that it was made instead of your version. Have we talked about the movie that came out? I can't remember. But I think it made a mistake in that it tried to reproduce the blindness of the book with visual tricks. The book was actually quite visual. The blindness was more a moral blindness, I thought, a feeling of not knowing how to react to what is happening. A better cinematic equivalent would have been to leave out the music, since the soundtrack is what tells you how to feel.

And I like it that evidentally it is more than likely that something like this story exists. It is true.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Ideas Man, Ph.D. said...

I refuse to see it because it will make me too sad. How do they reproduce the blindness?

11:21 AM  
Blogger Ideas Man, Ph.D. said...

And yes, I agree it is a very visual book

11:22 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home