by Joyelle McSweeney on May.18, 2011
This is from my favorite snuff film, The Merchant of Venice. I pretty much have this song in my head all the time, because one summer when I was at the beach asleep in the sand, it crawled in there and laid eggs, and when I tried to get up my head caved in instead. And then a lot of sand got in my hair and neural matter!
(This is a photograph of me from that sweet summer)
Similarly, as you will no doubt remember from undergrad, this song is sung by the major asshole Portia and her servants to the major asshole,Bassanio, so that he will choose her image from a lead casket (!), where her dead father put it to control her from beyond the grave:
Tell me where is fancy bred,
Or in the heart or in the head?
How begot, how nourished?
All: Reply, reply.
It is engender’d in the eyes,
With gazing fed; and fancy dies
In the cradle, where it lies.
Let us all ring fancy’s knell;
I’ll begin it – Ding, dong, bell.
All: Ding, dong, bell.
WTF, Shakespeare! Conception (that is, fucking, that is, engenderment) via the eye, gestation of a baby (Fancy! Baby Precious!) in the eye, where it feasts on gazing, then it is by implication excreted from the eyes, then dies “in the cradle/where it lies” after birth, and then we ding dong bell her, or ring her knell, a kind of necrophilic/pedophilic-flavored mourning via-onomotopoetic ejaculation which repeats and multiplies. Ding dong bell, indeed! And of course this infanticidal pointless pupation is also Art’s lifecycle– engendered in teh eye, fattened, excreted, torn apart to make new shit-art, in this case onomatapoesis.
Or, as Shylock postulates (pustulates): “Hath not a Jew eyes?” To which Portia more or less says: I’m the law, and those are my eyes, Jew! So in other words, nope!