Myth and the Erotic
Shapeshifters and the Animal World: Foxes and Swans
Man has always had a psychologically and mythically complex relationship to the animal world. Is there even such a thing?--there are two creation stories at the beginning of Genesis; in the first man, meaning male and female, is created along with the other mammals; in the second, man is a separate creation. If we are different, how? The Greeks credit Prometheus and the gift of fire. In Genesis, aside from the separate creation, there is the knowledge of good and evil, the gain of knowledge, and the loss of innocence. Is it worth it? Apparently so, at least according to those stories in the previous unit in which various water spirits are willing to give up immortality to gain a human soul.
We are not entirely happy with the separation, however. It involves us in a sense of cosmic loneliness. This fact is indicated in primitive cultures by the many stories in which humans speak and interact freely with the rest of the animal kingdom, and by the proliforation of other orders of beings, such as elves, nixies, sirens, and countless others, and in modern times by our fascination with the idea of space aliens, and of other human forms such as Neanderthals. And all through history there have been stories of shape-shifters. We usually think of these as humans taking on an animal nature, as in the Wolfman movies, and assume their relevance is psychological, that the traits that come out in the Wolfman or in the Cat People were actually there already. In older stories, however, it is just as often, or perhaps even more often, that it is the animal that takes on a human appearance.
In the far east, foxes are the most common shapshifters. They are called "kitsune" in Japan, and though the Western articles about them call them "fox spirits," in fact they seem to be merely foxes that have reached sufficient age and maturity to have shapeshifting and other powers. Their maturity is indicated by a coat that is more gold than red, and by growing multiple tails up to as many as nine. (Tails, the two-tailed fox in the Sonic the Hedgehog video game probably is a sign of Japanes influence.) The most common form to assume is that of a beautiful young woman, though they can take male forms as well. If a man meets a strange young woman on a road at night, she may well actually be a fox. Fox possession can drive a person mad, and in some cases they can drain the life force from their victims. On the other hand, in some cases they become wives, sometimes very good ones, and remain as long as the husband does not discover their true identity.
There is an interesting Eskimo story of a fox who takes up residence with a man, faitfully filfilling all the duties of a wife until he complains of a musky smell in the house. At that point she leaves and never returns. This could be the archetype asserting itself independently, but just as likely it represents an arctic circle cultural complex of myth and legend involving both North America and Asia.
There are fox stories in the West as well, but not as many. There the animal bride is far more likely to be a swan. The pattern, though, tends to be similar. The man finds the swan-woman bathing and hides her feather cloak, so that she cannot resume her bird form. She remains with him as his wife, sometimes for many years, until one day she finds her cloak, dons it, and flies away. Among the Germanic people there seems to be a confusion between swan maidens and Valkyries, Odin's battle maidens. In the Edda, Vakyries sometimes appear in swan form, and in the lost Lay of Kara the Valkyrie-wife aids the hero Helgi by flying above his head during the battle. The story ends tragically for both Kara and Helgi when he accidentally wounds her fatally with his sword.
The most famous, and most erotic, swan story, however, is from the Greeks, the story of Leda and the swan. Leda was the wife of Tyndareus, and queen of Sparta. She attracted the notice of the God Zeus, who took the form of a swan and raped her. Altogether, she had four children, the divine twins, Castor and Pollux, and two daughters, Helen and Clytemnestra. Helen is a daughter of Zeus, but there is disagreemen on the others. One common view is that Helen and Pollux are the children of Zeus and Castor and Clytemnestra the children of Leda's mortal husband. In any case, Helen marries Menelaus, and her sister Clytemnestra marries Menelaus' brother Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, and most power ruler in Greece. Later, Helen is kidnapped, or perhaps seduced by Paris, a prince of Troy, leading to the Trojan war. After the war, Helen and Menelaus return to Sparta and settle down peacefully. Agamemnon, however is murdered by his wife immediately upon his return.
This story has always been a huge favorite with painters, poets, and sculptors, though considering the objectionable nature of the story, one might suppose they would steer clear of it. In fact, several of the most celebrated paintings were later destroyed and only exist in copies A few of the representations are fairly decorous, but many are surprisingly explicit.
Copy of Michelangelo's lost "Leda and the Swan"
Rubens' "Leda and the Swan"
Compared to the pictures above, Leonardo da Vinci's Leda and swan look quite domestic. The story has a great many nuances and implications, and many, perhaps most, artists have not been especially interested in painting it as merely a rape scene. On the other hand, what other excuse could a respectable lady find for getting it on with a large bird?
Copy of Leonardo's lost "Leda and the Swan."
Notice, there is a dove in the lower right-hand corner of the picture. Adding a love bird doubly emphasizes the cosy domesticity of this scene. Francis Boucher's 18th century painting plays up the erotic element the story, and also does not look like a rape scene. Many artists take advantage of the phallic quality of the long neck and head of the swan, but none as explicitly as this one does.
Francois Boucher. "Leda and the Swan." mid 18th century.
William Butler Yeats, in his famous sonnet "Leda and the Swan" treats the subject with equal explicitness, but with far greater seriousness. Boucher's picture sits at the edge of soft core porn; Yeats gives the theme back its mythic resonance. Yeats sees human history and development in terms of a series of cycles of approximately 2,000 years apiece. The end of the last cycle, dominated by Christianity, is happening now, and is the subject of what is probably Yeats' most famous poem, "The Second Coming." This poem hearalds the beginning of an earlier cycle dominated by Greek/classical culture, a cycle that begins with the first big unified action of the Greek world, the ten year war against Troy, which begins with the abduction of Helen, the offspring of Leda's mating with the swan. Writing almost in the language of dream, Yeats morphs the violent imagery of sexual climax into that of the city falling and burning:
A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower,
And Agamemnon dead.
On Google, go to "Leda and the Swan+Tumblr." Read the whole text of the poem--it's not very long. There are also several further Leda pictures, including a very striking bronze statue which seems to me sexier than any of the pictures above.
Also, go to Wikopedia and look up "Leda Atomica." This 1949 painting announces the coming of the atomic age, and was inspired by the dropping of the atomic bomb in W.W. II. Thus Dali's take on the theme is quite similar to Yeats', though Dali does not have the elaborate scheme of world cycles.
There is a great deal more that could be said about the swan other than this story. In spite of the fact that swans are not silent, there is a long tradition that swans sing only once, right before they die, thus the term "swan song" for someones last successful performance. There is also a lot of emphasis on the whiteness of the swan, though there are black swans. Also, swans are primarily a mythic image of purity. But in myth everything contains its opposite, so we also finds swans associated with extreme lechery. They are creatures of three elements, air, earth, and water, and like other things that fall between, they are magical.
For more on the swan archetype read Dr. Doubleday's essay below:
1. Is the artistic impulse for the subject of Leda and the Swan primarily erotic, or does the
story truly have an archetypal significance beyound the erotic?
2. Is the symbolism Yeats and Dali give it to some degree inherent in the subject, or is this
strictly personal symbolism?
3. "Leda Atomica" is a fairly well known painting. Does it justify its fame? Is it on a level
with the paintings above, or even superior to some of them?
Myth and the Erotic
Horses, Centaurs, and Pony-girls
Religions evolve, and many gods of later religions once had an animal identity. How fully they were identified with the animal is difficult to say from our late perspective. According to Sir James Frazer, correctly I think, in asserting that the animal habitually sacrificed to a god was once the god himself. (Frazer, The Golden Bough, ch. xliii.) Early man did not make as strong a distinction between man as unique being, and animals as everything else as later people have, and therefore not only see the other living forms as equal citizens of the world, but even as beings in many ways superior, and so it did not seem strange to identify gods with animals--Poseidon with horses and bulls, Dionysus with the goat, Hera with the cow, and so on. In Egypt this animal identity is illustrated by hybrid figures of the gods, Anubus as jackal-headed, for instance. With time, and shifts in human attitudes, the animal, or sometimes plant, identity of the god is moved to the background, though it seldom entirely disappears. Even streams, mountains, and the ocean once had a divine identity, though later people came to think of the divinity as living in the stream, rather than being the stream itself. It is much to Longfellow's credit that in his book-length poem Hiawatha, Hiawatha wrestles not with some "god-of-the-corn," but with the corn as a god.
Aside from gods as animals, there are also other mythical beings that seem to have always been hybrids--centaurs, for instance. A centaur is half horse, half human, and is often identified with passion. That is not surprising, considering the horse's archetypal significance as the life force, that which carries us through the passages of life. One of the most famous events involving the centaurs was the battle, which they lost, with the Lapiths, a neighboring, and apparently related tribe. Invited to a wedding of the Lapith prince Pirithous, the became drunk and attempted to rape the bride. This event involves a number of famous names, Theseus, Pirithous, Nestor, and Peleus. Another centaur story shows similar tendencies. Hercules, traveling with his wife Dejaneira, comes to a the river Euenos where a centaur named Nessus offers a ferry service. He carries Denjaneira across, but once across attempts to rape her. Hercules gives chase and brings the centaur down with a poisoned arrow. Before he can get to the fallen centaur, however, the dying Nessus tells Dejaneira to dip her cloak in his blood, and to throw it over Hercules if she ever feels he his unfaithful, and that will bring him back to her. Some time later she does throw the cloak over Hercules, and it grips tight and burns like acid, causing his death.
Botticelli. late 15th century. "Pallas and the Centaur."
The picture above is generally thought to be allegorical. Palls (Athena), represents intellect, while the centaur represents the passions. In other words the picture represents the higer mental functions controlling the lower ones. In spite of her association with intellect, Athena is also a warrior goddess, which is indicated by the axe. This is a very individual interpretation of the goddess, for neither the axe, the costume, or the general appearance are at all typical of either Greek or Renaissance representations of the goddess. She does look very much like Botticelli's Venus, a reflection of the fact that he used the same model.
The association of the centaurs with the passions is shown above, but in myth things are also their opposite, and so we have the alternate of centaurs as wise and restrained. Achilles's tutor was a wise centaur named Chiron. We might also remember the Houyhnhnms from the Fourth Voyage of Gulliver's Travels. In this story, horses are the model of intelligence, reason, virtue and rationality, while the humans, the Yahoos, are savage, brutish, and stupid. The physical description of the Yahoos, though highly unpleasant, is actually an only slightly exaggerated picture of the human form, and their various nasty behaviors are only cruder versions of all too typical human behavior. The common term "horse sense" seems to support the rational image of horses.
Another famous horse from classical mythology is Pegasus, the winged horse. Pegasus was fathered by Poseidon (Neptune) in his role as horse god on the gorgon Medusa. Rather than a normal birth, it is said that he sprang from the blood of Medusa's neck when Perseus cut off her head. When he steps on the earth, his hoof makes a spring of poetic inspiration. He was captured by the hero Bellerophon who rode him in his battle with the chimera. Unfortunately, the hero then decided to ride to Olympus. Zeus caused a fly to sting Pegasus, and Bellerophon was thrown to his death. Zeus, however, kept Pegasus to carry his thunderbolts.
In the story of Perseus, the hero fights the sea monster wearing Hermes' winged sandals, but in later versions Pegasus provides the locomotion instead. Painters more often prefer the winged horse, and in the story of Roger and Angelica the hippogriff, a horse-lion-eagle is used in a similar rescue. Winged sandals have little mythic resonance; a winged horse does. Pegasus has been used widely as a symbol, and as a marketing image. For many years Mobil oil's red Pegasus was one of the most familiar commercial images in America.
If horses represent the life force, winged ones represent it in overdrive. If most horses cannot fly, however, western films have a long tradition of leaps across chasms and leaps from cliffs into rivers, coming as close to flight as reality will allow. Go to the link below. It is a story with a horse that represents the life force, and though it can't fly, it does talk.
The idea of the horse as almost a part of one's identity is shown by the fact that the names of heroes' horses are nearly as well known as the hero himself. Below are a few examples.
Don Quixote-- Rocinante
Alexander the Great -- Bucephalus
Robert E. Lee -- Traveler
Sir Gawain -- Gringolet
The Lone Ranger -- Silver
Tonto -- Scout
Gene Autry -- Tony
Hoppalong Cassidy -- Topper
Sigurd the Volsung -- Grani
Odin -- Sleipner
Roy Rogers -- Trigger
Dale Evans -- Buttermilk
This list could be extended indefinitely, and undoubtedly I've missed some very famous ones. Notice that the heroes named come from very different times and traditions.
An important part of the life force is the sex drive, and therefore there is a strong association between horses and sexuality, especially sex of a passionate and violent nature, or of a sadistic or masochistic nature. For a symbolic and dream-like story in which massive and powerful horses crown their way out of an abandoned pigsty, and a beastly groom bites a pretty servant girl on the cheek, then kicks down a door to get to her and rape her,
read Franz Kafka's "A Country Doctor."
For interpretive notes on the story, go to:
For a film that not only develops the sexual aspect of the horse-archetype, but also has a mythic/spiritual dimension, watch the 1977 film Equus with Richard Burton. Inevitably it loses something in being translated from a play into a film, but is still a dynamic and disturbing work. In this film a troubled young man has intentionally blinded six horses, and is being interviewed by a psychiatrist. The Doctor discovers that the young man, who does have real mental problems, also has a rich spiritual inner life in which horses are not only an expression of his sexuality, but are also gods. In the play they are represented by figures in stylized horse masks, which gives the imagery a more primitive and archetypal feel than the real horses in the film do. If the young man can be cured, will he lose his spiritual dimension? This is a particularly troubling consideration for the Doctor, who himself has suffered his whole life from the lack of any genuine spiritual experience. He has tried to compensate by immersing himself in the rich intellectual and artistic world of ancient Greek culture, but his engagement is a sterile one. This latter theme was developed earlier in the more light-hearted 1960 film Never on Sunday, in which Homer, a young American attempts to instruct the Greeks, especially a popular and life-affirming prostitute named Ilya, on the proper way to be a Greek, based on his readings of classical literature. His efforts do not turn out well.
Question for discussion:
Exactly why does the young man blind the horses?
A contemporary version of the horse as expression of sexuality is the ponygirl. A ponygirl is a human treated as a horse, a kind of play with strong sexual and sado/masochistic overtones. There can, of course, also be ponyboys, but these seem to be far less numerous. Ann Rice, in her Sleeping Beauty trilogy, devotes considerable space to a ponyboy story. The author, however, is a woman, and she puts herself in the place of the ponyboy by narrating in first person, so that this story can hardly be considered an expression of masculine imagination. Ann Rice also tends to identify with the male in her vampire stories.
There are three ways to imagine a pony or horse identity--actual transformation, simply being treated like a horse, or something between. The last of these is the most disturbing concept--a person whose body has been altered either magically or surgically to partially give it a horse-like form, hooves, for instance. This might seem perverse imagining transforming someone else, but it seems considerably more so if the one doing the imagining is the object of the transformation. The most common idea, however, is the third, perhaps because this is something that can actually be carried out in reality. And in fact it is, as you will see if you check out the numerous ponygirl photos online.
Looking for parallels in myth and ancient literature, I did not find a lot. In Apulius' Metamorphoses (2nd century AD) the hero is turned into a donkey by Thessalian witches, undergoes numerous sordid adventures, and is finally restored to human form by intercession of the goddess Isis. The book is satiric and emphasises the seedier aspects of Roman life, but the section dealing with the appearance of the goddess is mystical and rapturous, and strongly mythic. A donkey is not the same archetype as a pony or horse, however, so this example hardly counts.
A better example comes from the Arabian Nights. In the "Story of Sidi-Nouman," the calif sees Sidi Nouman violently abusing a horse with whip and spurs and demands to know the reason. Sidi Nouman tells him that he had discovered that his wife was a magician and an eater of corpses, and in a rage she had turned him into a dog. He is restored by a good magician, and his wicked wife turned into a horse. Since that time, he has ridden her thus every day. I am not sure that the horse element is particularl important in this story, since the collection includes a number of stories of guilty people, male and female, being turned into animals and whipped and otherwise abused as punishment, especially into dogs.
Most ponygirl stories not only involve performing as a pony, but include a great deal of physical and sexual abuse. This theme points up the ambiguous nature of our relationship with the horse. On the one hand, the horse is thought of as an image of nobility and freedom,but at the same time there is a definite element of domination. The horse is controlled, whipped, spurred, and wears a leather harness and a bit in the mouth, is ridden or made to pull a cart or racing sulkey. This is fertile ground for sado-masochism, and if one identifies with the horse, the role is definitely masochistic. This kind of play is generally represented in real life as relatively gentle and whimsical, but the fiction that goes with it is mostly fairly hard edged, cruel, and violent, whether the writer takes the point of view of the dominant or of the pony. The lifestyle that is imagined with pleasure is one that would be utterly unbearable to live. This theme like so many others in this course shows the complexity and ambiguity of human sexual nature.
Questions for discussion:
Why is this primarily a female fantasy?
Most dog stories are written for boys, most horse stories for girls--why?
Myth and the Erotic
Age, Baldness, Disabilities, and Deformities
We tend to think of gods as images of physical perfection. In this we are influenced by Greek and Roman art, which puts great stress on the physical form, but we would probably suppose so anyway. If a god is a superior being, why not physical perfection? Some physical differences, however, have archetypal symbolism, and such symbolism is likely to carry over to our image of the gods. In fact, not all gods are a physical idea.
Age: After a point the human body loses some of its ability to renew itself, and begins drooping, coming apart, and otherwise showing the effects of gravity and general wear and tear. Men of ambition, intelligence, and force of character, however, tend to grow in wealth and power beyond the point the body begins to decline. The archetypal image of masculine authority is a man of somewhere between forty and fifty-five. The human female is hard-wired to respond on the one hand to youth and virility, and on the other to wealth, power, and mature self-assurance. Unfortunately the two don't coincide, and though most ultimately go for youth, there is a certain attraction to the other as well. The older man also shares the female's image of the father, usually the first male she has interacted with. The father is also the image of power and authority for males as well, even though they be ambiguous about whether they want to emulate or kill him. Thus if we have a religion dominated by male gods, there is almost inevitably a father god, who is older than the physical ideal. And these father gods are often pictured as sexually quite active. The most notorious case is Zeus from the Greek pantheon, who produced children by a wide range of goddesses, titanesses, and mortal women. (If a god has a child by a mortal woman there seems to be no rule about whether the offspring will turn out to be divine, mortal, or something between. There are examples of all three.) As we saw earlier, Zeus' age is no bar to his being a subject of erotic imagination.
In Norse/Germanic religion the father god is Odin. ("Woden" in German) (If you've forgotten him by now, go back to unit 2 and read the poem "Odin and Billing's Daughter.") Odin too has a number of episodes with other women, though usually, or at least in the stories we have, these tend to be connected with some larger strategy, rather than being mere lust.
For images of mature power (and sexuality) see below.
Ingres. 1811. "Jupiter and Thetis"
Jupiter(Zeus) as God the Father
Since men more than women tend to gain in power with age, male divinities are typically represented as older than female ones. Thus Zeus usually is pictured as between forty and fifty, his sisters, Hera and Demeter, who should be the same age always appear as between twenty-five and thirty. The same is true of younger gods. Apollo looks like he is between twenty-five and thirty, while his twin sister, Diana, appears to be at least five years younger.
On the right is an eagle, symbol of the sky god. The throne is among the clouds, and Zeus is holding a staff or spear, both phallic image, and symbol of power. The broad torso suggests middle age, though the dark, thick hair suggests virility. The figure is roughly in the form of a V, with the broad shoulders and extended arms at the top, and one foot at the bottom. I am not sure why but the V at an approximate forty-five degree angle is an image of power, a fact that Harley-Davidson has taken advantage of with its cylinder layout. Starting in 1932 Ford also used the V over an 8 as a symbol of its powerful and innovativeV8 engine. Finally, of course, there is the V for victory symbol of holding up the hand with two fingers spread.
Ingres. 1806. "Napoleon"
Napoleon as Zeus
Note the same icon-like frontal pose. The eagle is here as well, pictured in the carpet. The two staffs both have iconic significance; one is the scepter of Charles V, thus connecting Napoleon with the Holy Roman Empire; the other is the ivory hand of justice once owned by the Emperor Charlemagne. Aside from their individual roles as symbols of power, and as phallic symbols, notice that they also form the classic V, symbolizing power.
Modern resin-bronze statue of the god Odin.
Again we have the frontal pose, though softened a bit; Odin is not quite the authority figure that Zeus or Jehovah is. Again we have the V of power, doubled this time, both with the position of the legs, and above that, the left leg and the spear, Guignir, phallic image, and symbol of Odin.
Odin is being presented as an authoritarian sky-god, but it is not a perfect fit. Instead of the sky god's eagle, Odin has ravens, corpse eating birds, suggesting a connection with death and the underworld.
Cover picture for Conan the Liberator
Here we have Conan the Barbarian as all the above. Conan has now reached middle age, and gone from a ruffian and thief to king of a powerful nation. Again we have the iconic frontal pose. The V is less pronounced, but suggested by the sword and the position of his left forearm. Conan is not a sky father, and there is a lion's head at the top of his throne rather than the eagle. The sexual aspect of power, suggested by Thetis' plea in the Zeus picture is made explicit here, with a number of nearly nude girls at Conan's feet.
Read: Why All Ingres is Erotic--ARTnews www.artnews.com/issues/article.asp?art_id=2107
One of the images of age is baldness, a primarily negative quality, since hair is emblamatic of youth, health, and virility. There are no bald gods. The nearest thing is St. Peter, keeper of the keys to heaven. For the long traditon of portraying him bald, and it significance, go to the link below, which takes you to "St. Peter, the Phallic Apostle."
There are, of course, bald disciples, the Hari Krishnas, for instance. Since hair is emblamatic of virility, the choice of baldness is perhaps symbolic of giving up worldly interests, such as sex. The priests of the Alcis (the ancient Germanic equivalent to Castor And Pollux) are also said to have been bald, as well as transvestite, and so probably wore a female wig for rituals. Transvestitism is known from various fertility religions.
Fortunately for the bald, in myth everything also embodies its opposite, and so we have a tradition of bald vitality and lustfulness. But this too is discussed in the essay on St. Peter.
Blindness has fewer compensations than baldness. There is one blind god, Hodur, the Norse god who accidentally kills Baldur. And though darkness is favored for sex, and blindfolds are sometimes used in sexual play, actual blindness has little erotic content. The one erotic connection is a negative one. Blindness is the punishment for breaking a sexual taboo by seeing that which you are not meant to. Oedipus, who gouges out his own eyes after learning that he has borne children by his mother is the classical example. Peeping Tom who spied on Lady Godiva is another. By a considerable stretch, this mythic punishment was extended to boys who masturbate. Even some more or less reputable medical books endorsed this piece of medical nonsense. It also seems a bit of a stretch to exend it to adultery. In Shakespeare's King Lear, however, the Earl of Glouster not only has an out-of-wedlock son, but jokes about it. Perhaps it is the attitude as much as the act that brings down divine retribution:
The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices
Make instruments to plague us:
The dark and vicious place where thee he got
Cost him his Eyes. (King Lear V. iii 170-174)
Being one-eyed, however, does seem to have a certain mystique. Moisha Dayan, the Israeli general, with his Yul Brynner bald head and eye patch was long an iconic figure. Popeye the sailor is the very essence of virility. The virile and cunning god Odin is also missing an eye. Of course there is a phallic association--the penis is sometimes called a one-eyed snake. Altogether, there seems to be an association between masculine vitality and being one-eyed.
Unlike the Norse gods, who are somewhat battered from their wars against the Jotuns and the Vanir, the Greek gods are images of perfection. "Like a Greek god" is a common way of describing a nearly perfect body. But even they have one physical defect--the lameness of Haephestus, the blacksmith god. This feature puzzled the Greeks, and so they decided that it was from being thrown from Olympus for interfering between a quarreling Zeus and Hera. The anthropolgist Claude Levi Strauss, however, has shown that lameness=earth-born. People, gods, and other entities born from the earth are lame, because the earth does not easily relenquish its grip. Lameness, however, has little erotic appeal, in spite of the fact that Haephestus is married to Aphrodite (Venus), goddess of love and beauty. Her affair with Ares, and being caught in a net by the wronged husband, however, was discussed in an earlier unit.
Missing limbs are also uncommon among gods, though the Norse god Tyr is one-handed. Another god, Mimir, is worse off. Given as hostage to the Vanir, a rival set of gods, he got his head cut off. Odin kept the head for its advice and ability to predict the future.
Finally, we will consider hunchbacks. This is a serious and fairly uncommon condition, so it is surprising how often they appear in stories, especially love stories. The hunchback is a complex archetype, and requires a full essay. Read "Hunchbacks and Lovers" at the link below.
Here again we have the "V" and eagle as symbols of power, as in the paintings of Zeus and Napoleon above. This time it is in the form of a pin and a postage stamp, both intended to boost the troops in World War II. Archetypal patterns never go away, they just keep coming back in new guises and contexts.