Cover Friday: Songs for lonely two-legged creatures



When I first read it, I really resented the suggestion made by Aristophanes in Plato’s Symposium. I didn’t want to be told that I’m an incomplete person limping around while looking for my other half. The Greeks presented a wealth of good things to work with as far as the development of Western civilization, but they burdened us with a heavy amount of baggage with that one. Plus, that whole fear of our makers? That’s been a big success in crazy.

But the older I got, the clearer it became that Plato may have been onto something. Even the most well-adjusted and confident of my friends came into their relationships with various chips on their shoulders. We were all broken in our own ways. So we stumbled around for years in search of the mysterious signifier, whatever it might be, that illuminated that certain person. Maybe not the one whom we lost due to the merciless nature of deities, but the one who could cradle our feeble lopped-off limbs for a few minutes and make us feel like no harm could ever touch us. And if that person ended up being the one who hurt us the most? Sometimes it could cause the search to be called off entirely. Or it made our honing devices even more unreliable. And all the while, we cower in our tracks in anticipation of some ruthless swipe of fate to tear our halved selves apart again.

Why are we supposed to celebrate Valentine’s Day again? Are we cheering the presence of love in our lives, whether it’s eros or agape or any other word Plato himself intoned? Or are we really congratulating ourselves for maintaining the appearance of someone who isn’t horribly wounded and monstrous?

Even if I don’t categorically agree with the story, I love the way they sing it in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Mainly, I’m a fan of the honest conclusion of the song – that Symposium describes “the sad story of how we became lonely two-legged creatures – it’s the story of the origin of love.”  It’s about as honest an assessment of the entire mating ritual as I can name. And I love that, like Hedwig, Rufus Wainwright can belt out standards in stilettos as if he’s been doing it since the dawn of mankind.

Rufus Wainwright’s opera, Prima Donna, will be staged in July at the Manchester International Festival this summer.

  • Rufus Wainwright ~ Wig in a Box ~ Off

The Origin of Love


1 Response to “Cover Friday: Songs for lonely two-legged creatures”

  1. 1 Danielle February 16, 2009 at 7:45 PM

    You hit the money with this one. Kick ass.

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