6.3. Which is the Missing Bone?
What does Averoes discover from the Bible? He finds out that woman is made of man’s rib, which accounts for the fact that all men have a missing bone in their body: “From the rib he took from man’s body God made a woman and brought her to the man” (57) – the Bible says.
Averoes, however, whose sexual life is known from the witness’s reports, doubts this part of the mysterious book he had received, i.e. believes that the transcriber has made a mistake about the place of the bone in the body. Since every man has a missing bone, and Averoes is a man, he can check on himself what his missing bone of all men is. And he concludes that the missing bone is not the rib, but the fecund bone.
This part can certainly be read allegorically: the way no Adam in the world has a missing rib (the number of ribs is even), thus no Adam in the world has a bone in his penis (it is, as is well known – an ordinary, though much appreciated muscle). What Averoes is complaining about is not the lack of a bone in this muscle, or organ, but the lack of an appropriate penis. Therefore, “he was seldom found in bed” (60).
6.4. (Religious) Castration
At this point we approach psychoanalysis and the so-called syndrome of castration. In the essay “Dostoevsky and Patricide”, as well as in other parts of his book “Totem and Taboo”, Freud discusses patricide considering it the oldest and most frequent crime of humankind and the individual and in it lies the main reason for the feeling of guilt and the need to suffer (245). Averoes, as the story clearly tells, constantly suffers and tortures himself – “at night the cry would become louder and the painful lament in which the whole sorrow of the world was contained was unbearable to listen to” (57). Patricide appeared because of the son’s need to identify himself with the father: the son wants to kill his father so that he takes his place. (According to Freud’s psychoanalysis one of the main reasons for that is the desire to be the lover of his own mother.)
But, “when the son feels desire for patricide he faces a powerful obstacle, when, at a particular moment he realises that the attempt to defeat his father as a rival can result in castration on behalf of his father” (245) wrote Freud. Because of this fear of castration, and in the interest of retaining his manhood, the son gives up the desire to own his mother and murder his father. That is the normal destiny of the so-called Oedipus’ complex.
In order that there is a threat of castration there should be a father, and in the story concerned there is none. Yet, this is only what it looks like. Although there is not the character of Averoes’s biological father, in the story we encounter his religious father, who is, at the same time, the father of all the sons in the world, and that is God.
Averoes realises that as a son he is under a constant threat of castration from the Father, but also that he, as his son, has already been castrated! For, had Averoes been born with a “castrated” penis, the only who castrated him can only be the Father-God and no one else. Thus, there has been an act of religious castration over Averoes.
The syndrome of castration, in Freud’s view, is mostly felt in the case of a severe, brutal, cruel father (247), and when God speaks in the Bible he leaves no chance for denial.
What kind of a threat does Averoes present to the Father, that made the Father perform a castration on him, is an appreciative question. But thirsty for knowledge, Averoes could easily with his obsession from pure knowledge reach for the absolute knowledge, for only absolute knowledge is pure. Absolute knowledge, however, is accessible only to God, so we may presume that Averoes had wished to gain the identity of the Father God, as any questor for knowledge is likely to do. It turns out from this that any questor for knowledge is castrated on a certain level by the Father God, who has to look after the order of the world and the harmony of things. These conclusions, however, takes us away from the subject of Averoes. This story parodies the myth of our days: length, and the absent length – castration.
7. Instead of an End
This essay has no intention of bringing to the attention all the disparate forms of existence of the fantastic story in Macedonian literature, which has an abundance of motives and topics. All that is left to do is to sum the results from the five stories analysed here.
The first three stories published in the 1970s (“The Ghost Who Was in Love”, “A Vampire” and “A Requiem for Rubina Fain”) speak of the most frequent subject of fantastics: transition between the matter and the spirit. Love is directed towards a dead person. The moment they face death or absence, the characters continue to love the dead/absent and follow the signs that person leaves behind consciously, or they (in the case of Rubina) find independently. In the story “The Ghost Who Was in Love” there is a variant of necrophily (not taken here to mean love towards a corpse), and in the story “A Vampire” there is a play with the motive of the vampire (another classical fantastic topic) which shows here a specific belonging of the dead towards the living.
In the story “A Requiem for Rubina Fain” we encounter obsession with a woman/apparition. Tzvetan Todorov, when talking about the fantastic topics in Teophil Gotije, says: “Love towards the dead woman (…) goes, in Gotje, along with love towards the sculpture, the image on the picture, etc. and is called necrophily” (Todorov, 1987: 140). Therefore, following this attitude of Todorov, we could say that the love for a dead person, as well as the love for an apparition comes down to the same, although Todorov speaks concretely of Teophil Gotije’s prose: Rubina’s character is, as Vangelov shows, the epitome of polymorphism, gaining, by that very fact, wider spiritual dimensions.
Madžunkov’s story, instead of the opposition matter-spirit (as was the case with the previous three stories) and obsession by absent love, introduces another opposite system: ideology (money) – anthropology (kindheartedness, love). This story raises the issue of transforming the cliché of love monogamy. This story owes such elements to its partly symbolic character, but in it we also come across fantastic elements.
The 90ies announce that all is possible, from the changing the myths of male sexuality (so, the stories deal no more with love, but, more often, with implicit sexual issues) to parodying God’s order of things. Thus, this postmodernist story confirms the idea of Linda Hutcheon that parody is one of the essential subversive strategies of postmodernism (Hutcheon, 1996: 378). This story also confirms, in an interesting way, Hamvas’s idea (Krstev) that modern people observe things around them as if they are constantly looking in a mirror, i.e. in all they see they only see themselves. In this way, the story of Averoes, apart from fantastic elements of Averoes’s transformation into an angel, also contains the symbol of the mirror in which the character sees his own ideas, but also the ideas of the modern myths for the length and the absent length.
1. Živko Čingo, The Ghost Who Was in Love and other stories, Narodna knjiga, Belgrade 1976, 35-55.
2. Slavko Janevski, A Coffin, Nasa kniga, Skopje 1976 13-27 (and: 73-85).
3. Petre M. Andreevski, Unfaithful Years, Kultura, Skopje 1974, 119-125.
4. Mitko Madžunkov, Kill the Talkative Dog, Misla, Skopje 1988, 22-24.
5. Venko Andonovski, Frescoes and Groteques, Makedonska kniga, Skopje 1993, 55-60.
6. Wayne Booth: Rethorics of the Prose, Nolit, Belgrade 1976.
7. H. L. Borges, Oral Borges, Rad, Belgrade 1990.
8. Atanas Vangelov: The Fantastic of Slavko Janevsk, in: Microreadings, Makedonska kniga, Skopje 1993.
9. Zdeslav Dukat: Sofocles, Globus, Zagreb.
10. Intertextuality & Intermediality, ZZK, Zagreb 1988.
11. Peter Krasztev: In Search for Swallowed Time, Myth and Nothing, Budapest, a text downloaded from the Internet.
12. Nada Petkovska: The Drama of Kole Čašule, Detska radost, Skopje 1996.
13. Mario Prac: The Agony of Romanticism, Nolit, Belgrade 1974.
14. Borislav Pavlovski: Masters of the Labyrint: antology of dreams, desires and fantastic stories, Zagreb, Naklada MD, 1988.
15. Tzvetan Todorov: Introduction to Fantastic Literature, Pecat, Belgrade 1987.
16. Vlada Urošević: The Night Coach, Kultura, Skopje 1972.
17. Vlada Urošević: The Underground Palace, Makedonska kniga, Skopje 1987.
18. Vlada Urošević: Demons and Galaxies, Makedonska kniga, Skopje 1988.
19. Frojd, Sigmund: „Dostojevski i oceubistvo“ во: Iz kulture i umetnosti, Matica srpska, Beograd, 1969.
20. Hacion, Linda: Poetika postmoderne, Svetovi, Novi Sad, 1996.