half-jack and half-jill

Dresden Dolls, originally uploaded by mind on fire.

I don’t get out much.
I’ve only been to like three concerts in my entire life
And when I see the price of tickets I usually convince myself that CDs are far cheaper

We sat closer than I’d expected.
So close that the fog machine gave me asthma
So I didn’t sing much, rarely yelled, whistled, or cheered
Just let the music work its way through me
And when my heart dropped right out of my chest
onto the floor between my feet
pulsing and beating with the entire theater
breathing together and open
I thought:
I want to play the drums, I want to play the piano, I want to be like her and like him and never leave this place.
I want a rock n roll life (their rock n roll life)
And nothing else seems this real
At the beginning of the show they said that when Amanda sings
you feel like you are a part of her
I get that now

A few random observations:
I expected a bit more of a theatrical “show” and a bit less music given the vids and clips of the DDs that I’d seen online. Other than a brief bit of theatrics at the beginning (masks and trenchcoats) it was just the music. Occasionally Amanda would pick a few flowers from the bouquet under her keyboard and walk around with them in hand, but that was it.

She was taller than I expected. More down-to-earth. Incredibly unselfconscious on stage. Brian was more of a showman with his wild drumstick manouvres.

The final song was “Half-Jack.” Though I’ve grooved to this tune many times, I really hadn’t wondered what it meant until singing along last night. I went online and found out that its about being half-father, half-mother. Word is that Amanda had a troubled relationship with her father (perhaps he abandoned her and her mother at a young age?). And that she’s always resented the part of her that’s “Half-Jack” or half of him.

So as I was singing along this morning I reflected on how my new understanding of the lyrics now affected my experience the song. And I thought about my own divided self, wondering which half of me was “half-Jack” and which part was “half-Jill.” But what struck me was not so much the genetic duality of myself. What struck me was the tension that I’ve so long felt in my psyche between myself my carnal self and my altruistic self. I used to see this duality as my godliness vs. my sinfulness. I no longer see it that way, but I still feel the definite pull of my “two-ness.” It reminds me of the quotation from black writer W.E.B. DuBois who spoke of the split consciousness of his identity:

“After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,--a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness,--an American, a Negro; two warring souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.
The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife,--this longing…to merge his double self into a better and truer self.” (excerpt from the Souls of Black Folk).

I feel that struggle daily, those “warring souls” and “unreconciled strivings.” I am both madonna and whore, lover and hater, parent and child, generous and cruel, male and female, mystic and atheist, ambitious and lazy, closed and exposed, rebel and conformist, peace-loving and war-mongering, patient and dismissive, intelligent and ignorant, mature and naïve, loving the light and craving the dark. Every day I am growing and every day I am dying. I am strength and I am weakness. I am human and I am a machine. I am half-you and I am half-me.

The lyrics of the song read, in part:
two halves are equal
a cross between two evils
it's not an enviable lot
but if you listen
you'll learn to hear the difference
between the halfs and the half nots
i'm halfway home now
half hoping
for a showdown
cause i'm not big enough to house this crowd
it might destroy me
but i'd sacrifice my body
if it meant i'd get the jack part OUT

Those last few lines illustrate the tension, the desire to rid oneself of the duality. Yes, I wish that I wasn't part good and part bad, sometimes selfish more than self-less, full of hubris often more than humility. I've tried to sever the halves, to embrace only one side of the dicot, but this only seems to result in a withering of self, a descent into self-destruction, depression, torpor.

Ironically, perhaps, I can embrace, with some confidence, my identity as a Jack-Mormon. Or maybe that's a Jill Mormon for those of us radical feminist types.

(photos by my other half)


Bored in Vernal said...

Profound and thought-provoking. I related to your poem, words and lyrics on a very deep level. Gems like this are why I keep reading you every day even if I'm not really into looking at pics of flowers. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you liked it. I rarely have the time or mental energy for such long posts these days. Flowers are far easier. :)

Anonymous said...

Okay, now I'm stuck in a YouTube vortex doing serial DD videos. I'd like to blame it on you, but I do have free will, supposedly... ;)