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PostSubject: Red Dragon Wed Feb 17, 2016 1:55 pm

Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris - discussion, interpretations, opinions....

Francis Dolarhyde - Character Analysis

Intro - Dolarhyde's background

Francis Dolarhyde is the novel's antagonist, a serial killer at the start of his ‘career’. He is born with a cleft lip and palate and a flat nose, as well as having altered speech. His mother abandoned him and he was adopted by his grandmother, who was neglectful and vented her sadistic tendencies on Francis. In one instance she threatened to cut away his penis with scissors after he wet himself in sleep. Despite that, he loved his grandmother and placed the blame on himself for disappointing her. He imagined scenarios in which he would protect her from danger and thus redeem himself in her eyes. One night he took an axe and stood by his grandmother's bed, awaiting burglars to break in so that he may strike them down and prove himself as a good boy to his grandmother. This is when in his mind the aggressive drive to kill and inflict physical harm, and the feelings of love and a sense of protection towards his grandmother, mixed and blended into one, leading him to conflate love and hate. Feeling an overflow of what he called „love“, he proceeded to walk out of his grandmother's bedroom and kill one of her chicken with the axe, calling this an outpouring of his love.

Hate is love, love is hate

When Graham is angry, he buys presents for others. The contrast here should be noted – while Graham converts his hate into acts of love, Dolarhyde converts his love into acts of hate. Or, more generally, Francis Dolarhyde corrupts emotions generally regarded as good by directing them into acts of evil, while Graham purifies those generally considered evil and manages to direct them into acts of good.

It is interesting how such emotions like love and hate, placed on the opposite ends of a proverbial spectrum of human emotion, can in reality get so easily mixed up and mistaken one for another. Perhaps it goes to show how little we really know? Or even indicates that love and hate are, in reality, intertwined and dependent on one another, perhaps even originate from a same source, and that it is human constructs that attempt to explain reality, which introduce sometimes contentious separations?

Red Dragon, murder, sex, and mortality

Thomas Harris says in the book something along the lines of: 'funerals make people want sex'. Immediately I associate it with the idea I encountered on KT that reproduction (which happens by means of sex) is nature/evolution's answer to mortality, and the events in Red Dragon support this idea as well, as I’m about to show.

Underlying Dolarhyde's desire for transformation is his repressed fear of mortality, which erupts when he notices his hands growing old. He copes with this fear by submitting his will and therefore his capacity to choose to the Red Dragon, symbolizing a transcendent, Godlike being, guiding Dolarhyde's becoming and making him immortal while simultaneously shedding him of all responsibility in the process. Ironically, Dolarhyde strives to attain power and strength akin to that of a dragon by abolishing his self and relegating it to a subordinate, feminine role while the non-existent Dragon represents Dolarhyde's (non-existent) masculinity in this context. Therefore, what he's really doing is substituting his self with an imaginary character and only further contributing to the decline of his already sensitive mental health. The desire to become the Red Dragon is misguided as it is a consequence of fear, not a genuine desire for self-improvement or self-extension, making it ineffective in reality outside of Dolarhyde's delusional mind. The means by which Dolarhyde attempts to transcend his mortality and advance his becoming are sexually charged murders. He deals with his mortality by committing acts which are sexual in nature, bringing us back to Harris's assertion that people tend to want sex after attending a funeral. And what does a funeral do but force people to contemplate their own mortality? The connection between the awareness of mortality as a cause for increased sexual drive is affirmed. If we take into consideration that sex evolved so that organisms can reproduce themselves - make more copies of themselves, the explanation clearly follows: Sex is an answer, or at least a response to mortality, a way for organisms to deal with their own mortality by producing biological extensions of self.

Suddenly faced with his own impending death, Dolarhyde's sexual drive reacts to it by seeking an outlet upon which to release the pent up sexual energies. But because his sexual drive is merged with his drive for aggression, this results in the actions he takes to satisfy it being both, aggressive and sexual in nature – violent murders with erotic connotations. Red Dragon is the symbol of this perverted fusion. When Dolarhyde has ordinary sex with Reba, he experiences sexual relief without the violence that usually accompanies it, shattering his oneness with the Dragon and initiating the identity split. The promise of reproduction and immortality has switched from being grounded in rituals and transcendence, necessitating his union with the Dragon, to a more practical and realistic solution which allows him to retain relative freedom – a female uterus. This rendered the violent aspects of Red Dragon redundant and so Dolarhyde attempted to purge himself of the Dragon by eating the picture. This is a symbolic reversal – whereas previously Dolarhyde was assimilated by the Dragon, now the Dragon has been ingested by him. For a short time he rejoiced at his restored control over his destiny and the ability to choose. This change in Dolarhyde is also made evident in the new way he conducts himself, such as choosing not to kill in the museum, when he had the opportunity to do so. Bloom said this suggests that Dolarhyde is trying to stop, and I'm inclined to agree with him.

Still, remnants of the Red Dragon linger in his subconscious - a monster underneath the thin layer of human skin, protruding violently and abruptly at times of Dolarhyde's weakness, mercilessly exploiting it. The monster has been forced out of plain sight, but is far from defeated. The Red Dragon ultimately emerged victorious and took complete possession of Dolarhyde when the latter noticed that Graham is about to discover his identity. Harris's comparison that 'Dolarhyde is no more capable of expressing his feelings anymore than a scar can blush' suggests that his past has determined him to be what he is and that he cannot be any other way. His alternate identity, the Red Dragon, ended up replacing his actual one. The events that followed were simply the inevitable outcome of it. A moment of sanity doesn’t vindicate and negate a history of insanity and abnormality.
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PostSubject: Re: Red Dragon Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:14 pm

Outsider wrote:
Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris - discussion, interpretations, opinions....

Francis Dolarhyde - Character Analysis

Intro - Dolarhyde's background

Francis Dolarhyde is the novel's antagonist, a serial killer at the start of his ‘career’. He is born with a cleft lip and palate and a flat nose, as well as having altered speech. His mother abandoned him and he was adopted by his grandmother, who was neglectful and vented her sadistic tendencies on Francis. In one instance she threatened to cut away his penis with scissors after he wet himself in sleep. Despite that, he loved his grandmother and placed the blame on himself for disappointing her. He imagined scenarios in which he would protect her from danger and thus redeem himself in her eyes. One night he took an axe and stood by his grandmother's bed, awaiting burglars to break in so that he may strike them down and prove himself as a good boy to his grandmother. This is when in his mind the aggressive drive to kill and inflict physical harm, and the feelings of love and a sense of protection towards his grandmother, mixed and blended into one, leading him to conflate love and hate. Feeling an overflow of what he called „love“, he proceeded to walk out of his grandmother's bedroom and kill one of her chicken with the axe, calling this an outpouring of his love.

Dolarhyde has unburdened himself of the past/nature, by unloading the shame and suffering upon others, which he then makes sacrifices, absolving himself of this painful embarrassing inheritance.
He regains control of his fate, at least in his won mind, using this method.
His "becoming" reflects the Modern idea(l) of choosing your own destiny, your own identity, by killing your past, in the image of an other.

We find this present in most Moderns, infected by the nihilistic meme.
A psychosis obsessing over control, as in Will to power, reinterpreted as a declaration of one's own dominance, one's own wilful power over destiny, over the determining past, over the uncertain fluctuating, chaotic present.

Red Dragon is Dolardyde's chosen identity - his way out of his predicament.
He will not be satisfied by living his life within this delusional subjectivity, he wants the world to pay homage, to acknowledge his becoming - as in the manner in which these gurus declare themselves this or that, and then demand to be taken seriously, cannot just believe in their own subjectivity but require validation in others.

I've said this elsewhere, many times, Nihilism having no external reference points to validate their abstractions becomes dependent, obsessed, with convincing, coercing, as many minds into their psychosis as possible.


Outsider wrote:
Hate is love, love is hate

When Graham is angry, he buys presents for others. The contrast here should be noted – while Graham converts his hate into acts of love, Dolarhyde converts his love into acts of hate. Or, more generally, Francis Dolarhyde corrupts emotions generally regarded as good by directing them into acts of evil, while Graham purifies those generally considered evil and manages to direct them into acts of good.

It is interesting how such emotions like love and hate, placed on the opposite ends of a proverbial spectrum of human emotion, can in reality get so easily mixed up and mistaken one for another. Perhaps it goes to show how little we really know? Or even indicates that love and hate are, in reality, intertwined and dependent on one another, perhaps even originate from a same source, and that it is human constructs that attempt to explain reality, which introduce sometimes contentious separations?

Graham is also in a state of becoming.
Like Dolarhyde Hannibal is the stimulating, inspiration, to delve deep into self and pull out their deepest, most repressed nature.
Graham is divided by his empathic ability to enter another's mind, without sympathizing.
He must compartmentalize his social self, his character, with his private self, his personae, and has a hard time keeping them separate.
Hannibal senses this in him...this division, this internal conflict between primal and civility, noetic and phenomenon, public and private self.
This conflict is what he exploits, not knowing what "will" emerge.
He can only exploit what is present, he cannot create weakness...he is no god, but a Satanic figure.
Hannibal does not fabricate will's secret, repressed ego, he brings it out, he un-covers it.
He diagnoses, he convinces...he does not infect, or coerce.


Outsider wrote:
Red Dragon, murder, sex, and mortality

Thomas Harris says in the book something along the lines of: 'funerals make people want sex'. Immediately I associate it with the idea I encountered on KT that reproduction (which happens by means of sex) is nature/evolution's answer to mortality, and the events in Red Dragon support this idea as well, as I’m about to show.

Indeed...nurses are the most vile, Dionysian, sexually motivated females out there, because they deal with death daily.

Another example of body/mind disparity.
Just as menstrual cycles begin to harmonize when females live together, and more boys are born after a war that takes the life of many men, so in this case the body seems to have a logic, a judgment of its own.
Contact with death makes females even more sexual.
The baby boomers being evidence of it.


Outsider wrote:
Underlying Dolarhyde's desire for transformation is his repressed fear of mortality, which erupts when he notices his hands growing old. He copes with this fear by submitting his will and therefore his capacity to choose to the Red Dragon, symbolizing a transcendent, Godlike being, guiding Dolarhyde's becoming and making him immortal while simultaneously shedding him of all responsibility in the process.

The irony being that death, fear, mortality, underlies all parts of human activity...something Freud discovered too late in his obsession with the erotic.
Beneath the erotic death lurks as a motivator.
With no chaos, order would be insignificant.
Life is the continuous struggle against death, just as strength is a measure of weakness, and knowledge a measure of ignorance. Fear is the mother of all emotions...and Dolarhyde is not unique in this.
Perhaps he is overtaken by this fear, and he copes with it with an exaggerated courage - he unburdens himself of this fear by making others fear him, and his mortality becomes an other's death.


Outsider wrote:
Ironically, Dolarhyde strives to attain power and strength akin to that of a dragon by abolishing his self and relegating it to a subordinate, feminine role while the non-existent Dragon represents Dolarhyde's (non-existent) masculinity in this context.

His boyhood emasculation, faced by millions of boys raised by single mothers, infected by feminism, is compensated for with an idol - the dragon.
A hyper-masculine idol similar to what Nietzsche has become for many of these emasculated men-children.
Jesus was one...God another.
Nietzsche the Modern substitute for pseudo-intellectual effete males, seeking maleness in other.
But as real other will not do....he must be extraordinary, dead to facilitate the process of purification, of making the mortal into a divine force with no failings, no weaknesses, no faults.

Hannibal is Dorarhyde's Nietzsche.
a living representation of the immortal abstraction of godliness, the absolute masculine spirit - Jesus as the son of God on earth.


Outsider wrote:
Therefore, what he's really doing is substituting his self with an imaginary character and only further contributing to the decline of his already sensitive mental health. The desire to become the Red Dragon is misguided as it is a consequence of fear, not a genuine desire for self-improvement or self-extension, making it ineffective in reality outside of Dolarhyde's delusional mind. The means by which Dolarhyde attempts to transcend his mortality and advance his becoming are sexually charged murders. He deals with his mortality by committing acts which are sexual in nature, bringing us back to Harris's assertion that people tend to want sex after attending a funeral. And what does a funeral do but force people to contemplate their own mortality? The connection between the awareness of mortality as a cause for increased sexual drive is affirmed. If we take into consideration that sex evolved so that organisms can reproduce themselves - make more copies of themselves, the explanation clearly follows: Sex is an answer, or at least a response to mortality, a way for organisms to deal with their own mortality by producing biological extensions of self.

Sex is central because it is the only answer to mortality, like love/lust is the only solution to fear.


Outsider wrote:
Suddenly faced with his own impending death, Dolarhyde's sexual drive reacts to it by seeking an outlet upon which to release the pent up sexual energies. But because his sexual drive is merged with his drive for aggression, this results in the actions he takes to satisfy it being both, aggressive and sexual in nature – violent murders with erotic connotations. Red Dragon is the symbol of this perverted fusion. When Dolarhyde has ordinary sex with Reba, he experiences sexual relief without the violence that usually accompanies it, shattering his oneness with the Dragon and initiating the identity split. The promise of reproduction and immortality has switched from being grounded in rituals and transcendence, necessitating his union with the Dragon, to a more practical and realistic solution which allows him to retain relative freedom – a female uterus. This rendered the violent aspects of Red Dragon redundant and so Dolarhyde attempted to purge himself of the Dragon by eating the picture. This is a symbolic reversal – whereas previously Dolarhyde was assimilated by the Dragon, now the Dragon has been ingested by him. For a short time he rejoiced at his restored control over his destiny and the ability to choose. This change in Dolarhyde is also made evident in the new way he conducts himself, such as choosing not to kill in the museum, when he had the opportunity to do so. Bloom said this suggests that Dolarhyde is trying to stop, and I'm inclined to agree with him.

Dolarhyde's meeting with the blind negro female is the controlling mechanism.
In her the entire spectrum of human victim-hood merges in a single individual - the absence of sight is an absence of the predator in her....binocular seeing being the quintessential sense of predators, and she a representation go humanity's lowest member in the hierarchy - black, female, and physically disabled.
Dolarhyde cannot help but see himself, his own pain, in her.


Outsider wrote:
Still, remnants of the Red Dragon linger in his subconscious - a monster underneath the thin layer of human skin, protruding violently and abruptly at times of Dolarhyde's weakness, mercilessly exploiting it. The monster has been forced out of plain sight, but is far from defeated. The Red Dragon ultimately emerged victorious and took complete possession of Dolarhyde when the latter noticed that Graham is about to discover his identity. Harris's comparison that 'Dolarhyde is no more capable of expressing his feelings anymore than a scar can blush' suggests that his past has determined him to be what he is and that he cannot be any other way. His alternate identity, the Red Dragon, ended up replacing his actual one. The events that followed were simply the inevitable outcome of it. A moment of sanity doesn’t vindicate and negate a history of insanity and abnormality.

The creation has to kill the creator, the son overcome the father...to become fully what it is meant to be.

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PostSubject: Re: Red Dragon Thu Feb 18, 2016 10:18 am

Nietzsche, Friedrich wrote:
For me the Doric state and Doric art are explicable only as a permanent military encampment of the Apollonian, only [as] incessant resistance to the titanic-barbaric nature of the Dionysian. (BT,p.47)

Sloterdjik, Peter wrote:
What is happening here?
Before our eyes, Nietzsche splits the Dionysian  throng into two severely differentiated, almost oppositional choruses,which relate to each other like culture and nature or like civilization and barbarism.
According to the author, a"monstrous gap" separates the Dionysians of Greece from those of the  barbarians, a gap the highly cultured individual will never again bridge  will never even be able to want to bridge.
This gap  will take on immeasurable significance for the theory of tragedy.
We can convince ourselves of this when ever we wait for the moment at which the fictive procession of the approaching god with its followers rolls toward us, only to be divided at the very  second at which the winged (beschwingt) classical philologist is attempting to join it.

The element that had fascinated the philologist in the distant and as yet undivided view of this chorus of Dionysian throngs is too evident to require an explanation.
For,from a distance and presuming a grandiose disregard for details, the vulgar chorus is condensed into a humanistic dream image with an irresistible power to entice:

Under the charm of the Dionysian not only is the union between man
and man reaffirmed, but nature which has become alienated, hostile, or
subjugated, celebrates once more her reconciliation with her lost son,
man.    
Now the slave is a freeman; now all the rigid, hostile
barriers that necessity, caprice, or"impudent convention" have fixed
between man and man are broken.
Now, with the gospel of universal
harmony, each one feels himself not only united, reconciled, and fused
with his neighbour, but as one with him, as if the veil of maya had been
torn aside and were now merely fluttering in tatters before the
mysterious primordial unity.
In song and dance man expresses himself
as a member of a higher community.  (p.37)

...Henceforth, the old Dionysian forces are permitted to overflow with a new licentiousness --- place of licentiousness --- the riverbed of symbolization.
No wonder, then, that the path to Greek tragedy is accompanied by the "greatest exaltation of all symbolic faculties," indeed, by a "collective release of all symbolic powers. Through this elevation into the symbolic, the world becomes more than it was.
The substitution is superior to what it replaces; what has arisen from the original surpasses it .
"The essence of nature is now to be expressed symbolically; we need a new world of symbols"
(BT,p.40).

In short, the barbaric he-goat has advanced to the status of civilized goat, and,if he were to think back on his wild youth (although this would have to be delayed apriori), could say to himself as a poststructuralist, "A symbol has inserted itself between me and my intoxication, a language has preceded my ability to be present only as myself, a discourse has taught my ecstasy to speak. But isn't it worth lamenting the fact that lamentation itself has become --- a discourse?"


---Thinker on Stage

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PostSubject: Re: Red Dragon Thu Feb 18, 2016 10:43 am

Sloterdjik, Peter wrote:
Only now does Nietzsche's Dionysian undertaking again come into play.
After Doric precensorship and Apollonian resistance have done their job and erected adequate defences, the author's fascination for the Dionysian component is able to reenter, a component that has become completely music, completely dance, completely mystical participation and beautiful suffering - in short, every higher form of stepping outside oneself that the reverential traditional term "tragedy" sidesteps.

Just as soon as a distance from the vulgar procession of the satyrs has been symbolically reestablished, the transfiguration of the Dionysian begins anew.
Bracketed within aesthetic parentheses and dramaturgical quotation marks, the singing he-goats are no longer libertines who regress to bestiality.
Rather, they have been rejuvenated into the media for effecting a fusion with the foundation of being and the subjects of a musical socialism.
The magic is repeated within a secure framework that serves as protection against the risks involved in an actual enchantment.
From this point on, everything appears in its "second edition" ---Dionysian revellers in place of Dionysian revellers, unification in place of unification, orgies in place of orgies. This process of "standing in place of something" is, however, conceived of as a process of beneficial substitution and not merely as a forfeiture of the original.  Within the context of this gain, culture begins to affirm itself as  "culture-instead-of-savagery" and this quality of standing in place of something becomes the key to the mystery of the civilizing phenomenon.

---Thinker on Stage

The "stand in the place" of nouemenon, for phenomenon converts civilization into a linguistic project, built upon metaphors.

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