Ah, romantic love; beautiful and intoxicating, heart-breaking and soul-crushing… often all at the same time! Why do we choose to put ourselves though its emotional wringer? Does love make our lives meaningful, or is it an escape from our loneliness and suffering? Is love a disguise for our sexual desire, or a trick of biology to make us procreate? Is it all we need? Do we need it at all?
If romantic love has a purpose, neither science nor psychology has discovered it yet – but over the course of history, some of our most respected philosophers have put forward some intriguing theories.
1. Love makes us whole, again / Plato (427—347 BCE)
The ancient Greek philosopher Plato explored the idea that we love in order to become complete. In his Symposium, he wrote about a dinner party at which Aristophanes, a comic playwright, regales the guests with the following story. Humans were once creatures with four arms, four legs, and two faces. One day they angered the gods, and Zeus sliced them all in two. Since then, every person has been missing half of him or herself. Love is the longing to find a soul mate who will make us feel whole again… or at least that’s what Plato believed a drunken comedian would say at a party.
2. Love tricks us into having babies / Schopenhauer (1788-1860)
Much, much later, German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer maintained that love, based in sexual desire, was a “voluptuous illusion”. He suggested that we love because our desires lead us to believe that another person will make us happy, but we are sorely mistaken. Nature is tricking us into procreating and the loving fusion we seek is consummated in our children. When our sexual desires are satisfied, we are thrown back into our tormented existences, and we succeed only in maintaining the species and perpetuating the cycle of human drudgery. Sounds like somebody needs a hug.
3. Love is escape from our loneliness / Russell (1872-1970)
According to the Nobel Prize-winning British philosopher Bertrand Russell we love in order to quench our physical and psychological desires. Humans are designed to procreate; but, without the ecstasy of passionate love, sex is unsatisfying. Our fear of the cold, cruel world tempts us to build hard shells to protect and isolate ourselves. Love’s delight, intimacy, and warmth helps us overcome our fear of the world, escape our lonely shells, and engage more abundantly in life. Love enriches our whole being, making it the best thing in life.
4. Love is a misleading affliction / Buddha (~6th- 4thC BCE)
Siddhartha Gautama. who became known as ‘the Buddha’, or ‘the enlightened one’, probably would have had some interesting arguments with Russell. Buddha proposed that we love because we are trying to satisfy our base desires. Yet, our passionate cravings are defects, and attachments – even romantic love – are a great source of suffering. Luckily, Buddha discovered the eight-fold path, a sort of program for extinguishing the fires of desire so that we can reach ‘nirvana’ – an enlightened state of peace, clarity, wisdom, and compassion.
5. Love lets us reach beyond ourselves / Beauvoir (1908-86)
Let’s end on a slightly more positive note. The French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir proposed that love is the desire to integrate with another and that it infuses our lives with meaning. However, she was less concerned with why we love and more interested in how we can love better. She saw that the problem with traditional romantic love is it can be so captivating that we are tempted to make it our only reason for being. Yet, dependence on another to justify our existence easily leads to boredom and power games.
To avoid this trap, Beauvoir advised loving authentically, which is more like a great friendship: lovers support each other in discovering themselves, reaching beyond themselves, and enriching their lives and the world, together.
Though we might never know why we fall in love, we can be certain that it’ll be an emotional rollercoaster ride. It’s scary and exhilarating. It makes us suffer and makes us soar. Maybe we lose ourselves. Maybe we find ourselves. It might be heartbreaking or it might just be the best thing in life. Will you dare to find out?
Okay okay you know how Veronica does the whole *finger guns* “by the way you were my first” thing with JD after Dead girl walking? Well imagine JD maybe a couple days later, when they’re getting used to each other and starting to really show affection and caring about each other, and they just spent the day together and JD has to leave. They’re in Veronica’s room and they’ve been joking around, cuddling, JD reciting poetry and comparing Veronica to it, them being disgustingly cute, and JD has to leave because it’s late and Big Bud had already got on his ass about not going home the night before and doesn’t want anything bad to happen to him. So sadly he’s gotta cut the night short even though all he wants to do is stay with her and hold her while she falls asleep in his arms like the night before. But he can’t, and he promises he’ll be back the next day. So Veronica walks him out and they’re at the front porch and he kisses her goodnight; it’s a gentle kiss and their foreheads are still pressed together when he asks her: “Veronica remember our first night together?” And she responds with a small laugh like “Of course you doofus” even though she’s still focusing on how close they are. And he smirks before he starts backing away and shoots his own finger guns at her and quips, “Well you were my first too.” And with that he runs aways with a small bounce in his step to get on his bike and make it home before big bud kills him leaving Veronica with a big, goofy grin on her face as she starts to realize she’s in love with this dork disguised as a bad boy.
It’s their seventh year at Hogwarts,
and Sirius wants to see her at midnight in the Astronomy Tower. They’ve met in
a lot of place in last last year. Each other’s dormitory, secluded cornerns, empty
classroms, or deserted corridors, but never in the Astronomy Tower. It’s not
because they wanted to keep their relationship in secret; it’s more like
because their relationship wasn’t serious. At least both of them tried to show
this, as Sirius was playing around with a lot of girl and Y/N’s heart was an
icy piece of stone from so many disappointment she had to experienced earlier –
but behind every stolen
kisses, and every naked cuddles at late nights, and every ’You know I’ll love you forever’ what disguised as a joke, was
hiding a feeling that none of them wanted to. A feeling that burns their chest
and made their hearts beating faster, a feeling that forced them to smile if
they made the other one happy, a feeling that made their legs shake with anticipation
after every little touch they exchanged.
Y/N huffs as she steps in the
slightly windy Astonomy Tower. It’s spring – the days are warm but the nights
are chilly, and she scolding herself for came here without at least a light
jacket. Her steps so light Sirius haven’t noticed while she was climbing up on
the many stepping stones, only when she’s already there, standing behind him.
„I hope you have a really good
reason to dragging me here at this time.” – she says with a little despise on
her voice and a tiny, cheeky grin on her face.
Sirius walks closer to her
with a smirk which is almost a kind smile, something that not a lot of people
could experience from him. He grasp her soft hand, leading the girl to the
railing when he stops next to her, shoulder to shoulder, looking up in the
clear, stairy night sky. She frowns at him before turns her gaze to the starts
too. She doesn’t understand.
„Are we going to stand here in
silence all night long?” – she asks, not even realizing she doesn’t cold anymore
as the boy’s body heat and his simple presence warmed her up minutes ago.
He smiles and looks down, like
he was searching for an asnwer between his boots, before he looks up in the sky
„I just wanted to show you
something.” – he starts, wrapping a hand around her waist and resting his chin
on her shoulder. His voice is low and almost husky as he continues. – „Do you
see that star, over there?” – she follows his gaze, finding a bright little dot
in the distance. – „It’s called Sirius. The Brightest Star.”
Y/N stares at it for a long
moment in silence before a laugh burst out from her. These words sounds so
unrealistic from his mouth. „So this is why you wanted to meet me here?” – her tone
isn’t disapproving, but it still causes Sirius to lift up his head and take a
step back, though his arm reamined around her.
„I thought it’d be, you know…
Y/N looks into his dark, grey
eyes; eyes that could hold a millions of secrets and feelings and he still
could magane to hide it all if he wants. But not from her, not now, not
anymore. „Since when you are a romantic?”
„Since I knew I’m in love with
you.” – the words fell from his mouth easily, like every bit of them wanted to
escape for a long time.
Y/N’s smile vanishes. She
closes her mouth, choking back the urge of grinning wildly or confessing her
feelings instantly. Biting her lip, he looking up at Sirius; the brightness and
the confidence fading away from his eyes with every second that pass without
her love’s respond.
„It’s okay.” – he said
finally, not bearing the painful silence anymore. His eyes examining his feet
again. – „I just had to say it.”
Her heart beating fast as she
fights an internal battle with herself; she’s afraid, but how many times she
wanted to hear these words from him? „Do you really love me?”
His eyes sparkles in the
moonlight as he suddenly snapped his head up. „Yes.” – he nods, his voice sweet
and honest, his expression remains worried.
For a split second, Y/N
considered to run away from him, or lying that „Sorry, I don’t love you.”, but her feelings are much stronger than
her. The idea for a happy relationship made her drunk, causing to forget there’s
chance for pain too.
„Come here, my Brightest Star.”
– she laughs, pulling him closer for a tender kiss, but Sirius’ lips are hardly
moving on hers. – „I love you too.” – she whispers against his skin, her eyes
fixated on his; a few long seconds passed before his lips finally moving for a
smile, and Y/N kisses him again, though it’s much harder as none of them could’ve
stop themself from smiling.
Y/N beaming. Sirius watches her
as she hangs a small, ugly painting on the wall, right above the fireplace. At
least Sirius think it’s ugly – Y/N loves it because it’s funny, unique, and
this is the first gift they recieved for their first apartment. The house is
tiny; there’s only one bedroom, but that’s enough since it’s theirs. There are
no neighbors. A forest and a brook is nearby, and they can watch the stars
whenever they want to. Because dark times are coming, and they need some peace.
Two years have passed, they’re
nineteen, and they’re still live in the same, small house, which now is cozy
and warm. Y/N walks in the kitchen, laughing loudly as the smoke fills the room.
„No need to mocking at me.” – Sirius says
in a sulky voice as Y/N made the light grey smoke vanish after his boyfriend
tried to bake her a cake for her birthday – in a muggle way, since he doesn’t
know cooking spells. Turns out the oven isn’t his best friend. She starts to
eat the half-burnt birthday suprise, and Sirius laughs at her commitment, his
enegry, his positivity – even now. She light him up.
Some days are not so cheerful,
when they open a Daily Prophet during breakfast, and read the names – finding a friend, somebody they
knew, somebody who always said hello, somebody who had to die without a reasonable
cause. Maybe they just wanted to fight for making the world a better place,
maybe they just wanted to survive, maybe they were just in a bad place in a bad
time. It doesn’t matter, because there’s war.
Lily is freaking out, because
she’s pregnant. She’s crying to Y/N, because she isn’t ready, because James isn’t
ready, because it’s the worst time
for it. Sirius and Y/N comfort them; everything’s will be fine, they’re just
young, and it’s okay to be afraid –
and Lily and James finally
calm down, and they’re happy, because they’ll have a baby.
They’re twenty, and they have
to leave their first home to move in a safe place. Their first home, which
meant not only home, but love, peace, shelter, and held too many memories about
just the two of them, and even more with their friends. They leave everything
there. „After it’s over, we’ll come back.” – Sirius tries to cheer Y/N up. It’s
late night, and she glance up to the Canis Major before they left.
And she happy she did, because
from the city lights they can’t see the stars here. Every morning before they
left each other, every time when they separated for doing something for the
Order, they’re prepared they’ll never see each other again. Still, after every
minute late Y/N’s heart starts beating faster, because she holding onto a hope
what never will let her go. And Sirius always come home.
Y/N watches in astonishment how
good is Sirius with Harry. He never was a fond of kids, and she never could
imagine him as a dad, but seeing him like this making her thinking that maybe
one day they also could have this.
Sirius watches Y/N too,
laughing at her when she’s too afraid to take Harry in her arms – „He’s so small!” – but once she do, it’s
so easy and naturally. He stops crying quickly as she talks to him quietly.
Sirius can’t take his eyes off them.
When they’re twenty-one, it
isn’t safe anymore meeting with their friends every time they want. By now,
mostly it’s just parchments and words, carefully drafted to not writing down
anything too dangerous.
This is the first Halloween
without them. They’re curled up in the couch, drinking hot chocolate, but Sirius
is worried. „I’ll go and check on Wormtail.” – he says, jumping up suddenly as
they haven’t heard from their friend so long. Y/N wants to go too, but Sirius
convince him it isn’t safe or necessary – he’ll be back soon. He kiss her on
the forehead before he left –
and never came back.
The next time when the door
open it’s Remus. Hair disheveled, clothes wet from the rain, eyes red from
crying. „At least tell me you didn’t know about this.” – he starts without
saying hello, and Y/N doesn’t understand; her legs shaking from a bad feeling.
Her friend tell her everything, and she couldn’t beleive – Lily is dead, James
is dead, Peter is dead, and Sirius; even worse.
Remus catches her before she
could collapse on the hard wooden floor, and now she’s crying, uncontrollably
and without stopping even for a second; and he has to hold her face and almost
shouting at her firmly because she can’t breath, she’ll choke on his tears. An
eternity later she’s still crying on Remus’ shoulder before she finally find
„He couldn’t do it.”
But he doesn’t believe her. He
leaves, and Y/N is all alone.
A month later the public is happier. The Dark Lord is gone, but Y/N doesn’t care about it
anymore. She lost everything. Leaving the house what they called safe place,
she moved back to their first home. It’s dusty and dark, but she can’t imagine
any other place to live in now, or anymore again. She’s cleaning, and she’s
okay, until the ugly painting above the fireplace laughing at her face; she
seize it and break into tiny pieces, because Sirius hated it, and this was the
first thing they have together.
Every night she sits on the
porch, searching for Sirius’ star, and crying when the sky is cloudy and she
couldn’t see it.
Recently I’ve re-discovered my love for “Phantom of the Opera.” It started after I saw the 2017 rendition of the tale that’s as old as time “Beauty & the Beast,” which lead to my re-reading of favorite childhood novels, “Beauty” & “Rose Daughter” by Robin McKinley. Low & behold, right next to them on my book shelf was one of my all time favorites, Gaston Leroux’s “Phantom of the Opera.” It had been a while since I’d read any of them & in re-reading them with a slightly more wise, adult POV, & a bit more life experience, I was overjoyed that the experience felt much like the 1st in the fact that I realized many details in the stories that I’d missed when I was younger. It’s nice, leaving a favored stories behind for a while & then taking it back in with a fresher perspective.
Throughout this vast re-read, I had also at the time been doing research in Greek Mythology (for another project) & also happened to be reacquainting myself with the Hades/Persephone tale. The thing about mythology is that the stories alter in certain details over time. It’s not so different from books like “Phantom of the Opera” that have so many adaptations that they all get jumbled together in their influence over our interpretations of them. When it came to Hades/Persephone what irked me in my research was discovering that Zeus was lauded throughout history. In too many interpretations/re-tellings Zeus is seen as the caring father-figure, the loving grandfatherly-figure (if we’re talking about Disney’s animated Hercules), or the seductive all power God-King. He’s someone to respect. Right? Not really!
Zeus is a man who often came down to Earth to consort with human women (those who denied him its hinted that he raped them) & was NEVER faithful to any of his wives. What, you thought Hera was his only wife? The Greeks viewed him in a traditional Patriarchal sense & that has extended throughout each new adaptation of his character. However, after reading up on Zeus, he actually had a lot in common with his father Cronus, the tyrant Titan King (Cronus may have swallowed his own children, but guess what, so did Zeus - i.e. Athena). Throughout history, literature, & Hollywood he’s portrayed as a hero, an authority figure to be lauded (& perhaps that’s our own Patriarchal society influencing us). Zeus, is in reality, extremely unfaithful, hinted as being a seducer of women & a rapist, had much in common with a former tyrant (his father), etc. Hades is typically chosen as the epitome bad guy. I mean, he had to be bad, since he ruled the Underworld (a job he never even wanted)! Right? It was actually Hades’ power, strength, natural leadership & strategy skills during the 5 yr. war between the Olympians/Titans, the Titanomachy, that enabled the Olympians to win - it was also what caused Zeus to fear Hades & trick him into ruling the Underworld (which inevitably made people wary of Hades & eventually vilified him).
When Hades meets Persephone, falling madly in love with her, he’s unsure how to proceed. Hades actually goes to Zeus, telling his brother that he’s found a potential bride but is essentially uncertain how to proceed. “I’ll just ask my womanizing big brother, Zeus, he knows how to woo women.” (I’m paraphrasing, obviously, but you get the gist.) It is actually Zeus who suggests that Hades should kidnap Persephone. Which in itself, says more about Zeus than it does Hades, IMO!
Hades takes his brother’s advice & does as Zeus suggests, kidnapping Persephone. What’s interesting is the fact that while this 1st half of the story remains pretty consistent throughout the fogginess of history (myths do like to alter throughout time with each new interpretation of them) the 2nd half is open to much interpretation due the latter half being unclear of certain events. It’s a toss-of-the coin, a 50/50 chance; many philosophers & historians believe Persephone was taken against her will, while just as many of them suggest that Persephone saw Hades taking her to the Underworld as rescuing her from her overbearing, controlling mother, Demeter. Demeter also threatens to leave the world in a perpetual state of winter, essentially driving all of humanity into starvation, The same speculate as to whether Persephone knew what would happen if she ate those famed pomegranate seeds.
For any story that leaves room for speculation, I’ve found that it’s what people theorize that’s far more telling of THEM as people than it is of the actual story! When people theorize that Persephone was a victim, that she was tricked, that says more about the theorist than it does Persephone, b/c the theorist is the one that is turning Persephone into the victim, not necessarily the actual story. When theorists interprets/speculates that Persephone had an intelligence that enabled her to know what she was doing, that she made her own choices, it lends Persephone the agency she deserves as a person rather than choosing to victimize her! The story also hints that Hades truly loved Persephone given that he was pretty much the only Olympian who was faithful to his wife!
Moving forward, as I re-read “Phantom of the Opera” (as well as reading “Phantom” by Susan Kay for the first time) I began noticing parallels not just with stories like “Beauty & the Beast” but also Hades/Persephone.
The most obvious parallels being: in comparison to “Beauty & the Beast” an ugly (cursed) man seeking the companionship of a woman who can love him in spite of his ugliness; in comparison to Hades/Persephone, when the Phantom absconds with Christine, taking her down to his lair to make her his bride. The latter parallel also reminds me of the french epic poem “Eloa” who is an agel that falls in love with a disguised Satan - he takes her to hell, not believing she could truly love him now that she knows the truth, but instead she chooses to stay with him regardless.
In particular the parallel to Hades/Persephone seemed to fit considering this particular quote from Leroux’s novel, “You must know that I am made of death, from head to foot, & it is a corpse who loves you & adores you & will never, never leave you!” Hades was often referred as Lord of Death since people feared speaking his actual name.
My foray into the various “Phantom of the Opera” adaptations also enlightened me to other aspects of parallelism & details that, as a child, I had not thought of until now with an adult perspective.
Fantasy vs. Reality…
In “Beauty & the Beast”, the ultimate reward for Belle in loving the Beast for who he is (not what he is) in the end, is that he transforms back into his handsome Princely self. As a children’s story B&B gets the message across; that beauty is more than just skin deep, teaches lessons of seeing beyond the obvious, acceptance & tolerance. But the ending is the real fantasy, the lie as it were, b/c in the real world the Beast would not become a Prince again. The real reward for Belle in reality would simply be the Beast’s love, not an alteration in his physicality. These fundamental changes in childhood stories are true within the concept of tales like “Beauty & the Beast” in comparison to whether we’re looking at the story with a child’s gaze or through an adult’s POV. There’s the fantasy we interpret as children, then there’s the reality we see as adults! This comparison is reflective between various adaptations of “Phantom of the Opera” & “Beauty & the Beast.” The fantasy being B&B where the beauty is rewarded for loving such a creature by him transforming into a handsome Prince, while the Phantom stays as he is.
In “Phantom of the Opera” Raoul is referred to as “foppish boy,” that “insolent boy” but a boy all the same! His youth, education, title & wealth are the very things that most women think of in an ideal man. His overall role in Christine Daae’s life represents the sweetness of childhood. Raoul is, at 1st, presented in a very real aspect: his brief history with Christine, his lac of mystery making him seem normal; there’s no supernatural element to his character. However, as Raoul become a Love Interest to Christine, he’s rendered a sort of fairy-tale quality. The reality being that a man of Raoul’s social standing would likely not be able to/or even think to marry someone of Christine’s much lower social standing (he’s a Vicomte, she’s a mere chorus girl). That particular element gives their “love” a Cinderella” feel rendering Raoul as a sort-of Prince Charming. Erik, the Phantom, is flawed & referred to as the man of the story - he’s older, wiser, more experienced (even if those experiences have made him bitter). Leroux even calls Erik, “The man’s voice.” Raoul become less of a reality & more of a fantasy love, akin to a Prince Charming in a fairy-talewhile Erik, becomes less of a fantasy throughout the story & something far more tangible; he’s brutal & honestly flawed, an ugly reality of the world.
Each adaptation that I’ve come across seems to present Erik/Raoul to the reader as polar opposites. You have Raoul who Christine sees quite obviously as a real person (he’s not an Angel of Music, he’s not some Opera Ghost), he’s real flesh & blood, a youthful young man. They have some history together which solidifies Raoul’s presence as a normal guy in Christine’s life. There is no air of mystery. Yet, they come from completely different classes of society. Not unlike how Darcy, in reality, would never marry someone of such low social standing as Elizabeth Bennett (”Pride & Prejudice”). That’s the fantasy - the Prince Charming, Cinderella effect of the Raoul/Christine relationship. Where as there is no real social separation between Erik & Christine. Any expectations society gives for Christine to choose Raoul are the very things that make him a fantasy love: wealth, title, handsome, youth, etc. The fantasy itself is the very thing that lends an illusion of realism to Raoul as Christine’s love interest! He’s a fantasy that exists completely under an illusion of realism, IMO!
Christine: Growing Up…
This is where the jumbled various adaptations of a story become harder to separate, in this regard I’m essentially taking in a bit of every adaptation (this reminds me of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” where in the original novel he’s not as handsome as Dracula is later perceived in later adaptations). In Leroux’s novel Christine has only known Erik, her Angel of Music for a few months (though at times it seemed like she’d known him much longer) whereas other adaptations show Erik being in Christine’s life much longer. As a child Christine looks upon Erik with a child’s gaze. 1st as her Angel of Music, seeing him as a literal Angel. Quickly morphing into the guidance of a teacher, & while he still remains her “mon ange” (my angel), he has also become her Maestro. At the same time he’s become the Opera Ghost. With each stage of Christine’s psyche, the illusion of Erik melts away; from Angel, to Maestro, to Phantom, until he is just a flesh & blood man. Where as Raoul remains a representation of Christine’s childhood & their “love” eludes to that youthful mindset - a childhood infatuation that’s as fleeting as the emotions experienced by other teenagers. Not unlike the comparative romantic relationship in “Gone with the Wind” (Scarlet clings to Ashley who represents life before the war, the last part of her childhood, of a time long gone; while ignoring her very real feelings for Rhett which represent something far more lasting & mature. You have Ashley, the idealist & Rhett, the realist). Raoul represents Christine’s past, her childhood idealism; Erik represents Christine’s growth b/c he’s seemingly a part of every phase of her life.
Christine’s Early Childhood - Raoul (varies with each adaptation)
Christine’s Later Childhood - Erik as her Angel of Music.
Christine’s Teen Yrs. - Erik as he Angel but also now taking on the role of Maestro, her teacher, while also being the mysterious Opera Ghost (something darker, more mysterious than the purity of an Angel).
Christine’s Adult Yrs. (moving into womanhood) - Erik, the illusions have fallen away & he’s now just a flesh & blood man!
The role Raoul seems to chiefly represent in Christine’s life is her past, there’s not much growth in their relationship beyond Raul wooing her. B/c her relationship with Erik changed over the yrs. it represents real growth in character & personality for Christine which is the reality of growing up. By choosing Raoul, Christine chose the illusion of living her life through her childhood & is therefore stuck in the past. Raul essential hinders Christine’s growth as a character, IMO.
Erik (the Phantom) is a lot like Severus Snape - an unlikely sex symbol of the story! He’s also acts as a sort of metaphor for Christine Daae’s evolution in discovering her sexuality.
The fundamental growth of Christine moving away from her childhood & into a woman is connective to how Erik encompasses various phases of her life. When Christine looks upon Erik as an Angel it represents the purity of a child’s mind. He’s her friend, her companion of comfort that get’s her through the loneliness after her father’s death (the Musical & 2004 film). When he grows into her Maestro - her teacher - he becomes her confidant, a source of wisdom (this is especially prevalent in the Charles Dance mini series). As she grows into her teen yrs. & Erik becomes the Opera Ghost, he represents something darker, more mysterious in nature; he’s no longer the pure Angel. By the time Christine sees Erik, the flesh & blood man, he’s fallen in love with her which shows his representation of Christine moving her mindset from the fantastical (Angel/Phantom) to something more real (a man). This development, I feel, is the opposite of Raoul. Raoul starts off seeming realistic & morphs into the fantasy of a sort-of Prince Charming, showing that Christine looks upon Raoul the way she would as a child, as a fairy-tale ending. Whereas Erik starts out as something unreal/otherworldly (Angel/Phantom) later becoming something tangible & real. It shows how with Raoul, Christine moves backward but with Erik she moves forward into adulthood - womanhood (though, that’s just my interpretation).
That moment of adulthood is when Erik reveals himself to being a real man & takes Christine down to his lair for the first time. (Leroux) “The moment she took his offered hand she was no longer a child.” In the musical, this is shown in the song “Music of the Night” in it’s purely sensual nature & tone of the song where we see Erik caress & holding Christine repeatedly throughout the scene. Many speculate that this strongly hinted that Christine & Erik were actually lovers in the most intimate sense, given that during that time period what differentiated between being a girl & being a woman was the marriage bed. Both the quote & song hint at a deeper connection between the 2.
This is reflective throughout much of Christine’s relationship with Erik. In the musical, the songs become more sensual in nature & far less metaphorical. One theory I found was the speculation that “Music of the Night” was metaphorical to Christine loosing her virginity. Interesting.
The song “Past the Point of No Return” is a bit more blatant in its lyrics if still a bit poetic in how it addresses the concept of physical/sexual pleasure. The fact that it’s a duet between Erik/Christine further shows a more sexual nature to their relationship. It’s the opposite of the duet shared between Raoul/Christine “Say you need me…” which is far more innocent in nature & tone. Where as the songs/scenes between Erik/Christine radiate passion! In “Love Never Dies” adaptation, the song “Beneath a Moonless Sky” is downright blatantly descriptive of the sexual intimacy between Erik/Christine (no longer metaphorical).
As little girls we’re fed stories, fairy-tales of gentle love. Even books like Twilight capitalize on the interpretation of young love as something pure where the teenage male is (rather unrealistically) a perfect gentleman & other books where the man is the only one perceived as having a sexual nature. “Phantom of the Opera” in its own way shows that women are sexual creatures, too. By representing the innocence of her childhood, Raoul is in a way repressive of Christine’s sexuality while Erik enables her to embrace certain desires.
What furthers the sexualization of Erik - whether it’s when he’s Christine’s Angel…
the Opera Ghost…
or just the ostracized, scarred, tormented, isolated flesh & blood man, Erik…
- is the fact that throughout various adaptations of the story there is a great deal that appeals to popular erotic fantasy.
There’s the eroticism of the Phantom’s aesthetic in adaptations like: Webber’s Musical, the Charles Dance Mini Series, the 2004 film, even the poetic prose of Susan Kay’s novel lends a romanticized interpretation of the character: He’s tall, dark, mysterious with an edge of danger. And in terms of physicality, the Phantom is far different from that of Raoul. While Raoul would likely be a handsome athletic man for the time period, he is also what was considered the typical handsome, the typical athlete. Males in society within Raoul’s social class were physical in that they likely had formal hunting parties (ever watched Downton Abbey?) & knew how to fence. But his wealthy likely meant he never had to do any form of real physical labor. In the Charles Dance mini series, ‘04 film, Webber’s Musical, & a novel by Fredrick Forsyth, the Phantom is decidedly more physical: from building & adjusting the Opera House’s architecture, roaming around the Opera House in unlikely places (climbing onto the rafters), not to mention how he moves large pieces of furniture like an organ all the way down to his lair; the Phantom’s backstory as an assassin in Persia! He is very much an active man who’s dealt with physical labor & hardships his whole life & therefore has a sense of strength that Raoul’s luxurious lifestyle would probably NOT enable him to have.
Let’s not forget that enigmatic mask of his!
Not to mention the cape!
And of course the sexualization of the student/teacher-protege/mentor relationship!
Yet, despite all the illusions, the many faces Erik wears, he is far more tangible & real than Raoul. Raoul, who’s personality floats somewhere between entitled brat to nonexistent; Raul, whose entire character is defined by his wealth, his good looks & his past with Christine. Where as Erik, the Phantom has a backstory, a tortured life that makes him the man he is now. Erik who is ever changing & complex in personality & character no matter how enigmatic he’s portrayed feels far more real. Even down to how people treat him & the cruelties he’s endured simply b/c of what he looks like is a reality of our world!
As for the love Erik has for Christine - in Leroux’s novel Erik seems consumed with loneliness & desperate for companionship which makes his feeling for Christine appear obsessive in nature. Though, even at the end they are both moved to tears & Christine shows him great compassion. It’s possible that the lack of human contact that Leroux’s Erik has endured is parallel to that of extreme isolation which can psychological alter a person’s sanity. So, is it the abuse he’s faced throughout his life, the horrors he witnessed in Persia, or his isolation that has made insane? Perhaps all three in Leroux’s novel.
In other adaptations Erik’s love is portrayed as something far more pure. He loves Christine for her talents (singing, ballet, artistry) & not her physical beauty like Raoul. As a woman, I can’t tell you how annoying it is when people, men in general, comment on my looks. When someone tells you you’re pretty/beautiful, your looks aren’t something you really have control over (genetics), therefore the compliment falls flat a lot of the time. Where as if you compliment someone for their accomplishments, something they’ve worked hard for, it’s far more meaningful. The relationship between Erik/Christine in various adaptations appears to be built on companionship, trust, respect, the love of friends, the love of student/teacher, romantic love, the appreciation they have for each other’s talents, & at times their own mutual loneliness (Erik in his solitude & Christine in the sadness of her father’s death). The Raoul/Christine relationship many times focuses on how beautiful Raoul thinks Christine is. In the 1990s TV mini series adaptation starring Charles Dance, the Phantom tells Christine that Raoul is not worthy of her b/c, “He comes to the opera for the wrong reasons. He come for the sake of pretty faces rather than the music.” In a way, much like in “Beauty & the Beast” Belle/Christine at times deal with body image issues. Where as the Beast in B&B, & Erik in “Phantom of the Opera” are both judged for how they look, so are the characters Belle/Christine - both women are seen for their looks by their love interests Gaston/Raoul. Where as in the Musical, for example, Erik seems to focus mostly on Christine’s talents which he later becomes attracted to.
This was essentially my interpretation of “The Phantom of the Opera” in it’s entirety, including the influence of its various adaptations. I theorize with the more sympathetic, romanticized versions of the story mostly b/c my 1st exposure to it was the 2004 film & later Webber’s Musical. I read the book after that & so my mental via of the Phantom was decidedly different to that of what Leroux likely originally intended. To me the film, musical, mini series, & Susan Kay’s novel are the ones that are most influential of how I view the story/characters compared to someone who started out reading Leroux’s book 1st. Which was an entirely new experience for me in terms of how I usually analyze/interpret things b/c I almost always read the original novel before any other adaptation.
Every once in a while it seems as though Sherlock has feelings for Irene Adler, do you think he may be bisexual?
Sherlock Holmes has never once in his entire life been attracted to Irene Adler.
In the original story “A Scandal in Bohemia” written by Arthur Conan Doyle himself, Sherlock and Irene are in each other’s presence a total of two times. Both times, Holmes is in a disguise (he loves disguises). One of the two times, Irene Adler was getting married to ANOTHER MAN. Sherlock bared WITNESS to the ceremony.
There is literally NOTHING to insinuate ANYTHING between the two of them.
The concept of Irene and Sherlock being a thing was invented by old hetero filmmakers who want to put straight romance into everything even when there’s nothing to insinuate it was there in the first place. Especially in a story about two men hopelessly devoted to one another, living together in the nineteenth century.
Let’s stop making that mistake and maybe start questioning why they’re doing it and what they might be trying to cover up or distract from.
PS: When talking BBC specifically, the writers went out of their way to write Irene as a lesbian dominatrix, perhaps THINKING it would at least eliminate this theory of something happening between Sherlock and Irene and yet Here We Still Are.
i’ll never get over the fact that olivia literally fell in love with viola (disguised as sebastian) in she’s the man but had to settle for the real bum ass sebastian for the conveniency of the plot…. olivia 🗣 loves 🗣 viola 🗣 not 🗣 sebastian 🗣
So since I’ve gotten @dahm-sub into Michael Jackson, I want to share for her and for everyone some awesome, little known things about him.
1) Michael’s favorite store was the Salvation Army.
2) Michael personally paid for the funeral of a Chicago shooting victim
3) Michael’s daughter, Paris, is named so due to a bet he had with Kathy Hilton. “Whoever has a daughter first names her Paris.” Thus we have Paris Hilton and Paris Jackson.
4) Michael’s “second family” were the Cascios… here he is giving free advertising for their Italian restaurant.
3) In their book, “Defending a King,” Michael’s former bodyguards tell a heartwarming story of when he pulled into a vacant lot in a limousine and handed out handfuls of $100s to homeless people
4) Lisa Marie Presley (who was married to Michael in the early 90s) bragged to her friends that Michael was a freak in bed, and loved standing up, roleplay, and was even a screamer.
5) Related: the 45th President allegedly has a tape of them having sex in one of his hotels
6) Michael’s 2nd wife, Debbie Rowe, was a nurse in his dermatologist’s office, and knew him for several years before she agreed to have his kids. Despite the rumors, she publicly tweeted once that they naturally conceived their children.
7) It’s well-known to Michael’s close friends that he lost his virginity to Diana Ross in the early 80s
8) Michael’s late friend, former husband of Liza Minelli, David Gest, said he had to take care of Michael several times after he got really drunk and started throwing up everywhere
9) Michael was best friends with Ryan White, a boy famous for contracting AIDS and spearheading the movement in the 1980s. He dedicated the song and video “gone too soon” for him.
10) Corey Feldman was friends with Michael for many years and remains to be one of his biggest defenders. He publicly admitted to being sexually abused by a producer, and alleges that Hollywood is full of pedophiles, but that Michael never did anything to him.
11) Michael was also good friends with Emmanuel Lewis of Webster fame.
12) Michael was a Jehovah’s Witness for most of his life and still went door to door during the height of Thriller, although in disguise
13) Michael loved going out in disguise because he could fool just about anyone, including his own family… this is from his brother Jermaine’s book “you are not alone”
14) Michael’s taste in women included: French women, Black/Asian biracial women, women from the Middle East, and Japanese women. The biological mother of Blanket, his 2nd son, was a nurse who was part Italian, part Mexican.
15) Michael once asked Katie Couric on a date, but she turned him down because she was dating someone else at the time
16) MICHAEL LOVED BEYONCE
17) Michael’s favorite meal was fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and green beans, and this dish was served almost daily at the Neverland cafe
18) Michael obsessively chewed Bazooka Bubblegum, and was in fact buried with some.
19) Michael allegedly tried pot after Barry Gibbs told him it enhanced creativity
20) Michael loved reading about Eastern religion, and was good friends with Deepak Chopra
21) Michael did several commercials for Pepsi, but he never drank it. This photo is also from his brother’s book and was taken backstage at the 1984 Victory tour.
22) Although hotly debated in the fan community, here is Michael in a secret recording (called the Glenda tapes) in which he mentions to a close friend that he had anorexia
23) Michael also suffered from Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE), which made it hard for him to heal after suffering third degree burns in 1984.
24) Michael sustained a severe back-sprain during a special concert in Munich in 1999, in which he fell 50 feet from a platform onstage. Despite being in horrible pain, he finished the concert before passing out and being rushed to the hospital.
25) Michael almost died from a stomach illness in 1995
26) Michael experienced an earthquake at his Neverland Rach in 1993, and called a friend panicking that it was the apocalypse
27) Michael is purported to have contacted medium Bonnie Vent after his death in 2009, and gave details which she verified with the help of Brooke Shields. (I’ve personally spoken to her, she’s legit)
Cast: -Leehom Wang -Crystal Liu -Joan Chen -Chen Hantian -Qiao Zhenyu -Xie Na (special appearance) -Khali Fong (special appearance)
Plot: Du Minghan has good ears, he’s a musician and a good one too, but he has never quite heard anything as satisfying as the sound of Song Xiaoqing’s zither that is even gave him visions of butterflies. After learning that she’s from a classical music academy, Du Minghan goes undercover as Ah Du who comes from some Nail Town from somewhere way beyond the borders of China, he sets out to find Song Xiaoqing and her zither.
Have I Seen This?: Yes. I’ve never bothered to watch this movie until I became a fan of Qiao Zhenyu. I knew about Leehom Wang already (who doesn’t?), and I knew Liu Yifei (again, who doesn’t?), but since I wasn’t big fan of theirs, I decided to skip it. And then recently I discovered Qiao Zhenyu and decided to watch this finally. It was worth it ! The comedy and romance scenes in this movie nicely balance each other out.
how many times can we coincide with heartbreak.
how many times can I watch the end of the world.
experimental wrinkles betrays me.
please, don’t disturb god!
his point of view is love disguised as undercover madness,
his fifth dimension a polished illusion
which will come true perhaps post mortem.
all I need is your filthy hands to cover me
and some imaginary friends who baptized my shadow
with sinister nicknames out of simple boredom.
we ran and ran until it dropped with soulless landscapes.
at last we stopped to watch for the last time
the end of the world.