SOLVE ET COAGULA IN A BIG, BLONDE WIG: AN ANALYSIS OF HEDWIG & THE ANGRY INCH
A musical whose film translation leaves a lot to interpretation, Hedwig’s book was written by the talented John Cameron Mitchell. As a gay man raised in the Catholic Church, Mitchell has doubtless throughout the course of his life struggled much with issues of sexuality and self-acceptance, as well as the idea of wholeness. When one is raised in a society which teaches a person is incomplete without a nuclear family, among other things, it can be difficult to justify the want for anything else. Even the simple effort of being an artist seems practically impossible. But the most Herculean effort of all is the effort we must undertake to discover—or, perhaps, remember—who it is we really are. That is, by and large, the theme which pervades this musical: Platonic themes of wholeness and Self are made explicit, as are mythological and alchemical themes. The clearest bit of symbolism utilized in the whole story, in fact, is the name of the main character’s apparent shadow: Tommy Gnosis. The script of the play explicitly states that Gnosis “bears a remarkable resemblance to Hedwig”, thus placing him on a kind of border between Mitchell and Hedwig; or, perhaps, upon its other side.
In fact, the key to understanding Hedwig and its interpretation lies, not in the character of Hedwig, but the character of Tommy Gnosis. Inspired by Mitchell himself, Gnosis was intended to be the main character of the work until, in shaping up the musical by taking a band from rock club to rock club, Hedwig organically overtook the musical and became its focus. Because Hedwig is our main character (and often played by Mitchell, himself, as she is in the film), it is easy to be deceived in the interpretation of the work, but the symbolic nature of the work’s main story makes the nature of the archetypes very clear: the premise is that the audience is attending Hedwig’s show which is, itself, in pursuit of the very popular and successful Tommy Gnosis. Playing in far more squalid venues than Tommy’s arenas, Hedwig reveals her story through her music and we learn that Hedwig was born in East Berlin as Hansel, and, following a botched sex change operation which left her with the ubiquitous Angry Inch, was able to flee to the West as the bride of a GI. This, naturally, was doomed to be temporary: in Junction City, Kansas, Hedwig is left on her first anniversary (her husband, Luther, leaves her for a man) and on the same day, the Berlin Wall falls. Devastated to know her suffering was needless, she turns to the Western rock music in which she took solace as a little boy, and, after truly embracing her femininity and amping up her flamboyancy, Hedwig founds the band The Angry Inch. Somewhere in there, after encountering Tommy Gnosis but before following him around on tour, she marries a Jewish drag queen, Yitzhak, who is a biological male (presumably) within the world of the play but a nevertheless female role. Talented Yitzhak held back by jealous Hedwig is a character to whom we will return later, but for now readers will have to settle into the notion that Yitzhak is a vital part of the alchemical triad being represented in the psyche of the play.
One paragraph and we’ve covered a lot, and we already need to pause. There are a handful of things I want to cover, thematically, and of those the first and most important is the concept of conjunction. This concept, represented in the solve et coagula of the alchemists, refers to distinction and subsequent union of opposites. In Jung’s alchemical masterwork, titled, yes, Mysterium Coniunctionis, he describes the process more thoroughly than this short essay might dare. By page 443 he has gone in-depth into the Spirit Mercurius many times, but in this section on Adam and Eve he takes special care to relate the alchemical Spirit Mercurius to the Kabbalistic sephirah, Yesod, and the nature of the Spirit as that which unites, like the hidden snake running between Yin and Yang. In his commentary on a particular text making this point by Abraham Eleazar, Jung writes, emphasis mine:
One conjecture that Eleazar had in mind the Apocalyptic figure of the Son of Man is confirmed to the extent that there is an illustration of the “fils de l’homme ☿” (Mercurius) in a French manuscript, bearing the name “Jezoth le Juste,” who is assigned the significant number 4 x 4 in the form of sixteen points (Pl.3). This refers to the four cherubim in the vision of Ezekiel, each of which had four faces (Ezek. 1:10, 10:14). In unorthodox fashion [the Son of Man] is dressed like a woman, as is often the case with the hermaphroditic Mercurius in alchemical illustrations of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Models for this figure are the visions of St. John the Divine (Rev. 1 and 4) and of Daniel (7:9ff). “Jezoth” (Yesod) is the ninth and middle Sefira in the lowest triad of the Cabbalistic tree, and was interpreted as the creative and procreative power in the universe. Alchemically he corresponds to the spiritus vegetativus, Mercurius. Just as Mercurius has a phallic aspect in alchemy, being related to Hermes Kyllenios, so in the Zohar has Yesod; indeed the “Zaddik” or “Just One,” as Yesod is also called, is the organ of generation. He is the “spout of the waters” (effusorium aquarum), or the “tube” (fistula) and “waterpipe” (canalis), and “spring of bubbling water” (scaturigo). Such comparisons mislead the modern mind into one-sided interpretations, for instance that Yesod is simply the penis or, conversely, that the obviously sexual language has no basis in real sexuality. But in mysticism one must remember that no “symbolic” object has only one meaning; it is always several things at once. Sexuality does not exclude spirituality nor spirituality sexuality, for in God all opposites are abolished. One has only to think of the unio mystica of Simeon ben Yochai in Zohar III, which Scholem (see n.290) barely mentions.
Yesod has many meanings, which in the manuscript are related to Mercurius. In alchemy Mercurius is the “ligament” of the soul, uniting spirit and body. His dual nature enables him to play the role of mediator; he is bodily and spiritual and is himself the union of these two principles. Correspondingly, in Yesod is accomplished the mystery of the “unitio” of the upper, Tifereth, and the lower, Malchuth. He is also called the “covenant of peace.”…Yesod unites the emenation of the right, masculine side (Nezach, life-force) with the left, feminine side (Hod, beauty). He is called “firm, reliable, constant” because he leads the emanation of Tifereth down into Malchuth.
Jung, Carl, Mysterium Coniunctionis, pg 442-444
Hedwig’s nature as the Spirit Mercurius is, in light of the text above, particularly self-evident when we consider the lyrics of the song “Tear Me Down”, the first song in the show and the one which makes clearest our themes of bringing together a duality. She begins the story willfully dividing (solve), and will end it in combining (coagula). The background of the story is itself based in the true, psychologically profound duality with which all humanity struggled, and indeed still continues to struggle: the separation of West and East, then represented visually in the Berlin wall. Directions, themselves, are symbolically significant, but we will cover that in a moment. For now, what is most important is Yitzhak’s interlude in the opening song, which very blatantly lays out Hedwig’s role and symbolic meaning for the audience, and Hedwig is in agreement:
On August 13th, 1961,
a wall was erected
down the middle of the city of Berlin.
The world was divided by a cold war
and the Berlin Wall
was the most hated symbol of that divide
Reviled. Graffitied. Spit upon.
We thought the wall would stand forever,
and now that it’s gone,
we don’t know who we are anymore.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Hedwig is like that wall,
standing before you in the divide
between East and West,
Slavery and Freedom,
Man and Woman,
Top and Bottom.
And you can try to tear her down,
but before you do,
you must remember one thing.
There ain’t much of a difference
between a bridge and a wall
Without me right in the middle, babe
you would be nothing at all.
Pretty clear—even clearer when we consider that Hedwig, upon her transformation and the lost of most of her penis, moves from East Berlin to Junction City. That the character of Hedwig is based on a real military divorcee who Mitchell knew and did indeed turn tricks in Junction City is one of those many delightful synchronicities presented by the universe to creative types. The angry inch itself and its loss can be compared to yet another Jung passage, this one from volume 9.1 of his collected works, Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, which I highly recommend reading prior to Mysterium if possible. In it, he describes a fairy tale concerning a pair of horses, one which has four legs and one which has three, and around page 244 makes mention of the idea that the horse’s three-legged condition, in addition to indicating a masculine trait to an otherwise female horse, indicates the imperfect translation of the unconscious archetype into the conscious psyche. When the fourth leg is ‘lost’, it represents something being lost in the transition: an aspect being left behind in the unconscious. When Hedwig is forced to leave 5/6ths of her phallus behind, there is a disconnect between consciousness and the material as much as between creativity and implementation: but, more than that, the Spirit Mercurius has lost the very means by which she connects the opposites. The psychological ability to reconcile the state of the Self must be replaced. As Hedwig takes on a more female, material identity, very deliberately re-crafting her image (demonstrated by “Wig in a Box”), she becomes obsessed with re-discovering her missing masculine aspects and reclaiming them in the form of Tommy Gnosis, then Tommy Speck, a Roman Catholic teenager for whose family Hedwig babysits.
Another point to pause, this time to go into two songs: first, “Origin of Love”, which deals with Plato’s Symposium, and demonstrates to us a great deal of Hansel’s lonely childhood. The song provides a shortened version of the speech put by Plato in the mouth of Aristophanes. Hedwig explains it more adequately than I will:
Folks roamed the earth
Like big rolling kegs.
They had two sets of arms.
They had two sets of legs.
They had two faces peering
Out of one giant head
So they could watch all around them
As they talked while they read.
And they never knew nothing of love.
It was before the origin of love.
The origin of love
And there were three sexes then,
One that looked like two men
Glued up back to back,
Called the children of the sun.
And similar in shape and girth
Were the children of the earth.
They looked like two girls
Rolled up in one.
And the children of the moon
Were like a fork shoved on a spoon.
They were part sun, part earth
Part daughter, part son.
Those familiar with alchemical symbolism will not be surprised to realize that the children of the sun are all masculine, the children of the earth are all feminine, and the children of the moon (which is an astral body illuminated by the sun and thus a combination of the earth and the sun) are hermaphroditic. The song and myth both go on to explain that, as mankind began to scale Olympus to try and reach the gods, Zeus cut them in half and condemned them to feel empty without their other half. Although Plato may have intended Aristophanes’ speech to serve as comic relief, this story is quite powerful and profoundly archetypal. It describes, in a secret way, how in a society where we are distracted by sex and forever looking outside of ourselves for our mate, we are not able to reach our highest potential—not able to scale Olympus and overthrow Zeus the way Zeus overthrew his father. We must find our whole Self within ourselves, must find completion independent of other human beings. The phallus removed from Hedwig—her missing other half—was hers to start with, and is still in a sense a part of her, though physically removed. This image then becomes projected on Tommy Speck, who is the inspiration for a song Hedwig writes for a man to sing, “Wicked Little Town”. I won’t be spending much time on the inner City as the Self in this essay other than to note that the story’s traveling nature represents the unstable sense of self which is further emphasized by this particular song, in which Hedwig paints herself as a kind of guardian and guide to young Tommy. Promising to lead him through the ‘dark turns and noise of this wicked little town’, Hedwig introduces Tommy to real rock music and teaches him how to play. Together they write songs, including “Origin of Love”, which Tommy will later steal. Their bliss is short-lived, however, when Tommy discovers Hedwig’s inch, and he leaves her, horrified and disgusted.
Knowing what we know about the relation of Speck to Mitchell, it is easy to understand why Tommy is the shadow of this story when it is compared against its creator. Hedwig, the Spirit Mercurius, is the shadow of that shadow, the archetype in pursuit of its more prominent relation, and it is particularly apt, of course, that Tommy’s stage name, given him by Hedwig, is ‘Gnosis’, for that is what Hedwig and we, the audience, are really pursuing. This need for catharsis and self-understanding is the vehicle driving all the characters, but none moreso than self-loathing Tommy, whose Christian values prevent him from fully embracing Hedwig—but not from stealing her music. This is a pretty regular problem for the Spirit Mercurius, the source of all creativity, who, like the angel in the Temperance tarot card, pours creative waters from the vessel of potentiality into the vessel of the mind: the Spirit, the source of all creativity as Jung put it earlier, is seldom, if ever, given credit for its creations. Much as in Luciferian fashion Hedwig has been brought into conscious life condemned to live it without her full and true Self physically represented, so too is she condemned to toil like a tree producing fruit all that a farmer may come along and pluck her.
Hedwig’s resentment gets turned around on those closest to her, and when she runs out of people close to her, she finds new ones. Case in point, Yitzhak, with whom Hedwig has a deeply dysfunctional relationship, having consented to marry him out of apparent pity, or a general desire to have power over another human being:
I’m feeling a little isolated up here. Have I introduced my husband, Yitzhak? We met during my Great Croatian Tour of the early mid-nineties. He was the most famous drag queen in Zagreb. Phyllis thought he would make a great opening act. Billed as “The Last Jewess in the Balkans,” he lipsynched something from Yentl under the name Krystal Nacht. He was good. He was too good. His applause drowned out my introduction and I refused to go on. But on my way out, he begged me to take him with me. My face might have been my mother’s, it was so still. I said to him, “Krystal, to walk away, you gotta leave something behind. I’ll marry you on the condition that a wig never touch your head again.” He agreed and we’ve been inseparable ever since.
In previous essays, I have discussed the relationship of alchemical Mercury compared against Salt, particularly as demonstrated in Shirley Jackson’s Lottery collection, where the Mercurial James Harris is perpetually paired with various emenations of Salt to whom he is—well, quite Mercurial, being at times abjectly cruel while at other junctures acting as an out and out spirit guide. We see something similar playing out here: Mercury and Salt are paired again, but this time, the Spirit Mercurius is withholding the Salt’s femininity because the Mercury overflows with an excess of it. Thus, the normally-feminine salt is rendered unwillingly masculine as a result of the process of becoming conscious, another state which can and must be reconciled. The desire of the Salt to emenate in feminine form is apparent not only in Yitzhak’s repressed desire to dress in drag, but also in the fact that Yitzhak is played by a woman: he is, quite literally, a woman on the inside.
Readers will further note that Hedwig met her husband while, essentially, touring the East, so we once more see this quality of Eastern, unconscious aspects being brought into Western consciousness. The symbol of West being more conscious than East and North being more conscious than South is a fairly regular one in alchemical texts, fairy tales and fiction: and yet, in a paradoxical venture, the pure, untouched East is arguably the same level of consciousness (or perhaps higher consciousness) as the far West. On our own globe, at one point does the West become the East, and East become West? At what point does Mercurius as prima materia fade into Mercurius as ultima materia, and vice versa? One need only think of Dorothy’s trip to Oz and the witch situation there to see a perfect example. In crushing the Witch of the East, Dorothy takes the position of Salt and thus renders an already-complete principle dead, and is forced to make the journey to assimilate the West in order to gain control over shoes the dead witch of the East already knew how to use. Therefore, the East is simultaneously an end point and a starting point, in that it represents the height of unattained knowledge: it is perfect ignorance, the other side of perfect understanding, and it is a point at which one can be said to know so little that the entirety of the truth is existent in a whole though subtle unit, that is, as the dead Witch, the dying King, the crumbling Pillar, or the defeminized Salt. Much as our sun must make the journey each day from East to West, thus realizing the potential of each day, so too must the Spirit Mercurius and the Salt move from East to West to realize the potential of their piece, their world, and Sulphur. Having previously so many times discussed the link between sulphur and shadow and the need of the shadow to be redeemed or purified, it should not be hard to understand that in this case, the Sulphur is Tommy Gnosis. His role as the sulphur is marked by the fact that he betrays Hedwig and must redeem himself by acquiring Hedwig’s forgiveness in his acknowledgment of her. To better understand, we turn to Jung’s Mysterium once more:
Owing to the theory of “correspondetia” regarded as axiomatic in the Middle Ages,the principles of each of the four worlds—the intelligible or divine, the heavenly, the earthly, and the infernal—corresponded to each other. Usually, however, there was a division into three worlds to corespond with the Trinity: heaven, earth, hell. Triads were also known in alchemy. From the time of Paracelsus the most important triad was Sulphur-Mercurius-Sal, which was held to correspond with the Trinity. Georg von Welling, the plagarist of Johann Rudolf Glauber, still thought in 1735 that his triad of fire, sun, and salt was “in its root entirely one thing.” The use of the Trinity formula in alchemy is so common that further documentation is unnecessary. A subtle feature of the Sulphur-Mercurius-Sal formula is that the central figure, Mercurius, is by nature androgynous and thus partakes both of the masculine red sulphur and of the lunar salt. His equivalent in the celestial realm is the planetary pair Sol and Luna, and in the “intelligible” realm Christ in his mystical androgyny, the “man encompassed by the woman,” i.e., sponsus and sponsa (Ecclesia). Like the Trinity, the alchemcial “triunity” is a quaternity in disguise owing to the duplicity of the central figure: Mercurius is not only split into a masculine and a feminine half, but is the poisonous dragon and at the same time the heavenly lapis. This makes it clear that the dragon is analogous to the devil and the lapsi to Christ, in accordance with the ecclesiastical view of the devil as an autonomus counterpart of Christ. Furthermore, not only the dragon but the negative aspet of sulphur, namely sulphur comburens, is identical with the devil, as Glauber says: “Verily, sulphur is the true black devil of hell, who can be conquered by no element save by salt alone.”
-cf. Jung pg 185
The ‘blackness’ to which Jung refers represents, in this play, in self-loathing and homophobia: it is Tommy’s rejection and dismissal of Hedwig; it is Hedwig’s repression of Yitzhak; but, most of all, it is Hedwig’s loathing for herself, for her unbearable and improper condition when it is compared against what she feels inside, what she truly is and used to be, and what society expects of her. This loathing is what captivates Hedwig, what has brought her into being to begin with, and what must be dismissed in order for the completed Self to be integrated. Much as Hedwig is the force which hates, she has, also, the power to accept. The way to free Hedwig and Tommy of their hate is for Hedwig/Tommy to accept Yitzhak’s drag—indeed, allow and embrace it—and by that means does Salt conquer the ‘true black devil of hell’, that negative and poisonous aspect of Mercurius. I would refer readers also to a point earlier in Mysterium:
In the Aurora consurgens “sulphur nigrum” stands side by side with “vetula,” the first being a synonym for spirit and the second for soul…Together they form a pair roughly comparable to the devil and his grandmother. This relationship also occurs in Rosencreutz’s Chymical Wedding, where a black king sits beside a veiled old woman. The “black sulphur” is a pejorative name for the active, masculine sub stance of Mercurius and points to its dark, Saturnine nature, which is evil. This is the wicked Moorish king of the Chymical Wedding, who makes the king’s daughter his concubine (meretrix), the “Ethiopian” of other treatises, analogous to the “Egyptian” in the “Passio Perpetuae,” who from the Christian point of view is the devil. He is the activated darkness of matter, the umbra Solis (shadow of the sun), which represents the virginal-maternal prima materia. When the doctrine of the “Increatum” began to play a role in alchemy during the sixteenth century, it gave rise to a dualism which might be compared with the Manichaean teaching.
-cf. Jung, pg 38-39
Those who are familiar with gnostic symbolism will recognize that in the above passage, the symbol of ‘the devil’ and ‘the activated darkness of matter’ bears resemblance to the demiurge. It is the source of all tragedy and pain, and that which keeps Mercurius enslaved—it is the cause of Mercurius’ descent and also the cause of its enslavement and impurity. What is it in Hedwig? None other than her first husband, Luther. When Luther first met Hedwig, she was ‘Hansel’, a ‘slip of a girlyboy’, but a boy nonetheless. It is Luther who suggests to Hansel that he begin dressing in drag, because Luther has until that point in his life identified as straight, and is possibly not entirely comfortable with the fact that he is having sex with a man; it is Luther who offers to marry Hansel and bring him to America on the condition that he become a woman; and it is Luther who abandons her once she has become a woman and moved East, thus becoming ‘trapped in matter’ as described, again, in Mysterium:
The opus alchymicum recapitulates the secret of creation which began with the incubation of the waters. Mercurius, a living and universal spirit, descends into the earth and mingles with the impure sulphurs, thus becoming fixed:
“If I be clearly understood, your unknown Mercury is nothing other than a living innate universal Spirit which, ever agitated in aerial vapour, descends from the Sun to fill the empty Centre of the Earth; whence it later issues forth from the impure Sulphurs and, from volatile, becomes fixed and, having taken form, imparts its form to the radical moisture.”
But through his descent Mercurius is made captive and can be freed only by the art:
“But where is this golden Mercury, this radical moisture, which, dissolved in sulphur and salt, becomes the animated seed of the metals? Ah, he is incarcerated and held so fast that even Nature cannot release him from the harsh prison, unless the Master Art open the way.”
-cf., Jung, pg 339
The prison in question is, of course, Hedwig’s Western body, and the way back to the Eastern body, represented by Tommy, must be revealed by the great work. This symbolism of Luther as deimurge is all further enforced by the fact that Luther first encounters Hansel when he is sunbathing, and, at least in the film version, blocks out the sun when discovering him. Likewise, the Luther of the film is played by a black man, tying him visually to the aforementioned Moorish king and “Ethiopian” of treatises cited by Jung. There is even a distinct, ‘Eve in the garden’ style fall event, wherein Luther seduces Hansel by offering him gummi bears, drawing deliberate parallels between Luther and the fairy tale demiurge of the witch in the gingerbread house.
To further the metaphor, Luther’s position in the military echoes Hedwig’s absent G.I. father: much as Hedwig is the wellspring of both Gnosis’ and Mitchell’s creativity, Luther is the wellspring from which all the pain and self-loathing of Hedwig stems, and the absent demiurge whose shadow touches even those he has not met, for it is the shadow of society’s disdain for and repression of those who do not conform to its standards. After encouraging Hansel to change and becoming dissatisfied with the change he, himself, engendered, Luther is never heard from again. So the question, then, is how Hedwig will resolve these problems and how the conjunction will occur.
Throughout the show, the audience has watched Hedwig on the stage (in recent productions, in the abandoned set of the fiction Hurt Locker: The Musical, which Hedwig has been graciously allowed to use) while in the distance Tommy Gnosis plays a magnificent, overhyped venue, and throughout the concert, Hedwig has shared her story scene by unfolding scene. After Tommy discovers Hedwig’s inch in the trailer and rejects her, however, we next observe a moment of conjunction which begins first with the conjunction of time: that is, the past and present merge as Hedwig comes to the end of her past’s narrative and Hedwig, unable to vocalize, watches her accompanist sing “The Long Grift”, the song Tommy was writing when he left Hedwig. After joining in, Hedwig studies her husband, defeminized Salt, and is spurned when he refuses to conjoin with her, an act which she knows is not the one she is meant for, at any rate. Nevertheless, her offer emphasizes the union of opposites.
It’s nice over here. Out of the spotlight. You and me. Singing backup in our oven. Couple of survivors. The German and the Jew. Think of the symmetry. Think of the power. Think of the publicity. The gods would be terrified.
When Yitzhak’s response is to spit in her face and walk away, Hedwig sings her lament, then the song “Exquisite Corpse”, and at the song’s climax rejects her feminine trappings by stripping off her dressed (her wig has already been removed) and taking tomatoes out of her bra, revealing a form which is physically masculine and resembles almost identically Tommy Gnosis, or arguably is Tommy Gnosis. This is because, as mentioned by Jung, “The “black sulphur” is a pejorative name for the active, masculine substance of Mercurius and points to its dark, Saturnine nature, which is evil.” This self-loathing inherited initially from Luther is not the entirety of Tommy, for the black sulphur will be purified to the red sulphur of Hedwig’s long-sought success by the perfect conjunction of the play’s end, but it is a large portion of Tommy and what he stands for; thus, it is up to Tommy to make the first move of compassion, and up to Tommy to make the first move of acceptance. Only after he sings a variant of Hedwig’s “Wicked Little Town” which emphasizes the needs of the Self to be contained within it (“and there’s no mystical design/no cosmic lover, pre-assigned/there’s nothing you can find/that cannot be found”) is Hedwig, who has sung “Wicked Little Town” as Tommy Gnosis in a moment of cathartic conjunction, able to feminize the Salt, because both Tommy and Hedwig have been able to reconcile their sexuality and gender with their sense of Self; thus, the Salt, which was until that point forced to overcompensate for the femininzed Mercurius and insecure Sulphur, is allowed to take the form of Mercurius by accepting Hedwig’s wig and finding herself transformed into a glamorous woman. The wig, a golden headdress not unlike the headdress of the High Priestess in the Tarot, could be considered a kind of crown: a symbol of wisdom, connection to the divine, and the achievement of the highest Self.
With the Self liberated and vindicated by this act of self-acceptance, the conjoined ultima materia Mercurius leaves the stage, all opposites, past and present, man and woman, East and West, straight and gay, combined in one perfect, nameless person. Thus we see the profound significance of Tommy’s stage name: Hedwig and the Angry Inch is not only about self-acceptance, but it is about the incorporation of gnosis. Not just self-knowledge in the physical, bodily or sexual sense, but self-knowledge in the divine sense: self knowledge in that sense which surpasses all linguistic comprehension, and which, as Hedwig sings in the climactic “Midnight Radio”:
Know in your soul
Like your blood knows the way
From your heart to your brain
Know that you’re whole
No matter who we are or how we identify, Hedwig’s story is undeniably a captivating one because it reaches to the core of every human. We are all full of dualities, of conflicting ideals and personas, and alchemy, the great work, is the art of combining these things into a greater whole. In Tommy’s reprise of “Wicked Little Town”, he sings explicitly about the changing Self and the struggle this change causes. It is when we learn to go with the flow of the change—to swim with the stream, rather than fight it—that we are able to learn who we were always meant to be.
As a fun fact for regular readers of this blog, the Los Angeles production of Hedwig was, evidently, co-produced by none other than the late, great magician, David Bowie. Regular readers will also likely have noted by now the proliferation of ‘4’s in page citations throughout a great many essays, which I can assure you is as coincidental as it is delightful. Keep checking back every two weeks for more essays, and in the meantime read DELILAH, MY WOMAN while waiting for its follow-up to receive an agent, and then waiting for that agent to find a publisher.