Rough Beast

On the balcony of Looking Glass House the three of them are posed:  the Jabberwock, the trophy, and the child with the opaque eyes.  Who can capture the essence of this grotesque tableau frozen high above the carnival crowd?  Not the ring master.  Better the poet and the storyteller.  Behind the barricade the restless crowd is motley, but made eerily uniform by the dark glasses covering all eyes.   Are they there to praise the sun and the moon during this Great American Eclipse or to worship this unholy trinity?        

The Jabberwock is the easiest of the three to mock.  He wears no dark glasses he believes he is Icharus.  We know he will fly too close to the sun, but not yet.

The trophy, well, she is dead already.  Her likeness is preserved here in a marble sculpture with a sun-tinted Mediterranean glow.  She is marvelously statuesque, but in no way can she be the racially pure, made-in-America creation the Jabberwock exhalts, for she is alien. She was born in one of  those lesser known, tossed-about central European countries.  But never was she one of the wretched refuse of Emma Lazerus’s vision.  Quite the opposite.  She was the answer to the Jabberwock’s lecherous dreams. And she made good—just the rare, expensive type of immigrant  the Jabberwock fancies.  She was at one time a beautiful model who posed in the nude for male glossies, they say, but now her likeness is clothed in the finest and latest runway couture and the spikiest-heeled designer shoes.  Her stone smile will not decay.

The child, now; he is the shadow:  "the rough beast slouching towards Bethlehem to be  born."  How can I say that?   He is a young beautiful boy.  Well, look again. He is young and beautiful, but he looks air-brushed as all the Jabberwock’s children do. If  they are not born visually faultless, they will be repaired, detailed, and polished to satisfaction. Not a patch or a scale in sight.  But then, you know, his mother used to massage him with afterbath unguents made from caviar.  All the Jabberwock’s children seem to be as dewy skinned as the Stepford clones.  Posed for his photo op, the child completes the trinity on the balcony.  He appears just as he did for the Jabberwock’s inauguration; lonely among the elated, victorious images of his father, stepsisters, stepbrothers.  So solemn and unhappy.  No one of his blood touches him.  Is he an untouchable?

This child with the beautiful Disneyesque features has neither excitement, nor warmth, nor spontaneity to display.   What he has is property.  And it’s far more costly than any in a Monopoly game, won from Nanny.  He possesses  a  whole floor of the Jabberwock’s gilded tower for himself. Perhaps Nanny, plump and fair, once sang him to sleep with her goodnight dragon song; funny and just a little scary.  So run up stairs and say your prayers and tuck you head, your pretty curly head, beneath the clothes!  Of course, the child doesn’t have a curly head.  Though he carries dragon genes, his hair is straight and fair, as befits an Aryan. That must make Papa Jabberwock proud.

Tender-hearted people pitied the child from the moment he was taken out of seclusion for a brief airing.  They sigh for this poor little rich boy or this silently suffering young Dickensian hero. But if he is Dickensian it is as the Ghost of Chrismas Yet  to Come; a chilling vision.  The Jabberwock is cold by nature, for he is a reptile: “the jaws that bite, the claws that catch!" I dread something in his son, though it has not yet flowered. Oh, yes, I know  no child is born evil.  But this angelic looking boy—issued from a cauldron of roiling self-hatred and self-love—was also born with all the power of huge wealth andd celebrity at his fingertips.  How—and why—should he avoid his fate?  He has more than enough of these gifts to transform him into the rough beast slouching towards Bethlehem to be born.  And that’s a scary late-night story for you.

Alice Rosenthal