Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I Am Addicted To "HOUSE MD": A Shamed Confession


As mes fidèles lecteurs aimant know, I do not watch television, except when it is necessary (the Academy Awards, for example). However, because you know everything about moi (my life is an open book with only some of the pages torn out), I feel I must throw myself on your mercy and confess:

I have become completely addicted to the television programme "House MD," starring Hugh Laurie. Last night I even pleaded a headache to an important event so that I could stay home and watch the latest episode! I have NEVER done that, dear readers!

For an intimate evening, yes, but never for television.

I became aware of Hugh Laurie on television as the idiotic twit Bertie Wooster (along with Stephen Fry) in the delightful British series "Jeeves and Wooster," based on the P.G. Wodehouse stories. In fact, I only saw Hugh Laurie playing idiotic upper-crust twits, in the many variations of "Blackadder" starring Rowan Atkinson, the gentleman leering at the top.

So it was a complete shock to see him, with stubble and gruff American accent, playing Dr. House. So much so, in fact, that it took me over a year to be able to watch the programme without giggling whenever Hugh Laurie spoke, and not because of the wit of the dialogue. He seemed so deeply miscast.

Although he is a huge improvement over Alan Alda, who annoyed me in "M*A*S*H*", as a child, the few times dear darling Mama let me near a television set. (She disapproved and preferred that I read elevating books or fashion magazines.)

But then a close friend, who felt sorry for my isolation while I am engaged in my literary endeavors, gave me the first three seasons on DVD. Dear readers, I watched him. And soon I was, as they say, hooked. I will not be writing about it much in this blog-thing, because for one thing my assistant can hardly contain her snickering--


Excusez-moi. As I was saying, I will not be writing about it here, because I am already embarrassed enough, and this is a place to discuss Fashion In The True Sense. Medical shows do not have much of that (particularly with all of that blood--ugh). However, I will opine that Lisa Edelstein's wardrobe is particularly lovely, and for a slender woman she does have a divine bosom.

Dieu merci, they keep that skeletal Olivia Wilde in a hospital coat much of the time. In any event, last night's episode had me on the edge of my divan, and I look forward to more.

I feel so cleansed. Merci, dear readers. (And one hopes that Dr. Taub does indeed commit suicide, as they keep hinting, although that seems a tad obvious.)

Elisa & Bucky the Wonderdog


Sister Ray said...

i would venture to guess that you are most enamoured of this character thinking of his direct line to classical greek theater. of course, at first blush, one would think of the tragedies, which would be inaccurate: epic poetry.

house is, in point of fact, a direct descendant of philoctetes. you may recall, he was the warrior who was snake-bitten, wounded on the way to troy, thought to be another augury of the angered olympians, and summarily left behind on the island of Lemnos with his weapons: the bow-&-arrows of Heracles. only after arriving at the topless towers of Illium came the revelation that the gods had double-whammied the situation: a prophesy that the greeks could not win the war without those weapons. thus was odysseus sent to retrieve them and--

well, you know the rest.

note the snake-bite on the foot? the tell-tale limp, the symbol of the caduceus, and his role as being the only one capable of solving the situation? somewhere between the endless reworkings of Aeschylus and Euripides, Andre Gide and Wordsworth, philoctetes became a bitter sage as well, grousing about the island followed by odysseus and his retinue, dropping pearls of wisdom and venom at his former compatriots.

and no, he was not, despite the perhaps "fey" references above, a homer-sexual.

Hoardmeister said...

Gad, sir, your erudition continues to astound me!

Beth said...

I am just peeved by the fact that they have chosen to show 13 as having emotional sex only with a man (vs. her emotionless sex with women).

Hoardmeister said...

Well, it is one of those tell-tale signs that the creator of the show is a man. "What she needs" and all that.

Anonymous said...

While everyone is entitled to an opinion, there are several problems with this analysis. Philoctetes is wounded in the ankle and not in the thigh as House is. There are sufficient instances of thigh injuries, in world mythology, that we do not need to confuse the ankle with the thigh. Thigh injuries in mythology typically are symbolic of loss of life and/or sexual function. House, as we know, nearly loses his life and also his girlfriend (Stacy) as a direct result of his thigh surgery.

While House's sexuality is never compromised, his sexual relations with the opposite sex are generally limited to liaisons with prostitutes.

Furthermore, Odysseus tricks Philoctetes into giving up the bow and arrow of Hercules. Even metaphorically, House never receives the bow and arrows of Hercules. House is weak, not the strongest man in the world, at all (note his dependence on Vicodin). House's father is not Zeus (the King of the gods) but, rather, a miserable and cantankerous old man. House's mother is not Alcmene, even metaphorically, because Alcmene is tricked into sleeping with Zeus, not once but three nights in a row, while House once describes his mother as a walking lie-detector. And House is always the tricky one, never the victim of a trick -- not the type of trick that would, for instance, deprive him of his most valuable weapons -- access to his personal staff (the arrows) and to the hospital's facilities (the over-arching bow).

It is true that House is lonely and isolated, at times, perhaps even most of the time, but that is a matter of choice, not of trickery. House is never left behind on an island -- summarily or otherwise -- but rather creates his own little island to which all are invited and into which many enter. I could go on deconstructing the analysis but that would be cruel and pointless.

Now, if you really wanted to equate House, at any level at all, with some character from mythology, particularly Greek mythology, you would be well-advised to look at the Greek god, Hermes. Unlike Philoctetes, who is a good guy, and just decent-looking, Hermes is amazingly intelligent and stunningly attractive (to goddesses and women alike), extremely tricky, a terrific liar, the son of Maia (Maia is quite literally a star -- one of the Pleiades) and, above all, a great healer. Hermes (from whose name we get the words "hermit" and "hermetic" meaning, roughly, "isolated" and "sealed-off" respectively) carries the caduceus, (a winged staff with snakes wrapped around it in the form of a double-helix -- the double-helix now, of course, is strongly associated with genetic structure as well as the structure of destructive sequences in nuclear weapons). The caduceus, interestingly, not only heals but also turns everything it touches into gold. Hence, many, if not all of House's patients "turn into gold" -- they become amazingly productive and happy people once he "touches" their lives with his healing skills.

Snakes, in mythology, even prior to the Garden of Eden story, have long been associated with female sexuality just as rods are typically associated with male sexuality. Hermes, as already noted, is popular with women. The wings on the rod symbolize freedom from duality or, by extension, "normal" life. We do see women wrapping themselves (symbolically, anyway) around House. We also see House is not "normal" but "different". If you remember, there is an episode with a paralyzed musician and, toward the end of the episode, the musician tells House that they have something in common -- both are focused on ONE thing (music or medicine) and are therefore not "normal" as they don't experience the "other side" -- wife, kids, friends, etc.

Sister Ray said...

re: the anonymous educator's fine breakdown of my little whimsy.

not to shine on ed mcmahon, but: you are correct, sir! (or madam..as the case may be) ...as far as it goes--

my objection would be primarily in the assumption that all must be in unadorned accord in order to make the comparison. this belies the fact that fiction fluctuates, flutters, even, around a nimbus of ideas. perhaps yours are better than mine, strictly speaking, as to lineage and results, but that was not where i going, ever.

we extend to our heroic icons many gifts, the chief one being conferring them a status as icons, as metaphors, allusion--all the good stuff which deals with ideals. and, in that, we also imbue them with a grand, over-arching nature, which is pretty much delineated as you will...then fill in the day-to-day stage business with quirks and tics to put the asses in the seats. story and schtick; take your pick--but don't try to shovel me with your trick. when you refer to "deconstructing" my jot, i would wish you luck as even jacques derrida has no convenient explanation for what that is except to say that the tools of its analysis are the substance of itself and so if you can change my thoughts into the implements aforesaid, more power to you.

yes. where i was pointing was house representing the ongoing struggle of the creative spirit. in your roll call of hellenic objections, you failed to cite wordsworth or gide, see? myth may start in the wine-dark sea, but it gets polished in the whole of the western canon. if you want the whole picture, you gotta add in the frame, no? philoctetes represents the primal injury of the artist, the 'supporating wound', as it has been called, that which cannot be healed. this is exactly what he shares with the artist (here, a musician) and what sets him apart from his fellows. (not his medication schedule.) so, in your summation that he is "different", however, i am in full agreement.

now, if he truly were a god, i would say: metaphysician! heal thyself!--sadly (or perhaps, gladly?--for how could we enjoy him if he were perfect?) he is not. merely a demi-version. and neither are you-- well-informed, if rather unforgiving of those with insights which are "different".

but thanks again!