Thursday, December 22, 2011

feminine subject- Ixion

This is the myth of Ixion

A son of Phlegyas (Schol. ad Apollon. Rhod. iii. 62; comp. Strab. x. p. 442, who calls him a brother of Phlegyas), or, according to others, a son of Antion by Perimela, of Pasion, or of Ares. (Schol. ad Pind. Pyth. ii. 39; Diod. iv. 69; Hygin. Fab. 62.) According to the common tradition, his mother was Dia, a daughter of Deïoneus. He was king of the Lapithae or Phlegyes, and the father of Peirithous. (Apollod. i. 8. § 2 ; Hygin. Fab. 14.) When Deïoneus demanded of Ixion the bridal gifts he had promised, Deioneus stole some of Ixion's horses in retaliation. Ixion concealed his resentment and invited his father-in-law to a feast at Larissa. When Deioneus arrived, Ixion pushed him into a bed of burning coals and wood. As no one purified Ixion of this treacherous murder, and all the gods were indignant at him, Zeus took pity upon him, purified him, and invited him to his table. But Ixion was ungrateful to his benefactor, and attempted to win the love of Hera. Zeus made a phantom resembling Hera, and by it Ixion became the father of a Centaur, who again having intercourse with Magnesian mares, became the father of the centaurs. (Pind. Pyth. ii. 39, &c. with the Schol. ; Schol. ad Eurip. Phoen. 1185; Lucian, Dial. Deor. 6.) Ixion, as a punishment, was chained by Hermes with his hands and feet to a wheel, which is described as winged or fiery, and said to have rolled perpetually in the air or in the lower world. He is further said to have been scourged, and compelled to exclaim, "Benefactors should be honoured." (Comp. Schol. ad Hom. Od. xxi. 303 ; Hygin. Fab. 33, 62; Serv. ad Virg. Aen. vi. 601, Georg. iii. 38, iv. 484; Schol. Venet. ad Il. i. 266.)

In parallel to Perseus who had to make a gift to a king as well (bring him the head of the Medusa) Ixion had to provide a gift to Deioneus. In a previous post I mentioned that this gift giving and the mildness of the task (compared to the many labours of Heracles) represents a different sensibility and one which I've identified with the feminine subject or masochist.

Ixion didn't provide the gift and Deioneus stole some of his horses. This theft of the horses brings up the aspect of Hermes as the god of thieves who also later shows up to give his punishment. The theft of horses is important in relation to the last two posts because after the polyphallic the horse or flight is the symbol of the next stage.

Considering the feminine ego ideal of self-effacement ("being nice") it makes sense that aggression would be expressed as a covert activity and not as an open confrontation. This theft (projected onto the king) could show up in kleptomania (social) or the impulse to "steal" sex with the resulting premature ejaculation in the worry of being caught.

Ixion's madness after the deed is something I'll have to compare with other myths at a later time. However, the madness of Orestes was for matricide and the horses are symbols of the post-polyphallic mother. This is either the phallic mother (if the father's name has been denigrated or he is absent) or I'm toying with the idea that it can be the phallic-oedipal (perverse impulses towards the mother in the narcissist instead of love qua duty for her).

For Ixion to be rescued by Zeus in the schema I've prepared it would mean a return to the anal stage. The strongest characterlogical feature of this stage is the negativism and obstinacy against another person's will. So the return to Zeus would represent a reversal of gratitude towards the father. Taking stock of Hermes position as messenger of the gods and what I've called a subject masochist schizoid position the reversal of such would likely be the irreverence in humour that I brought up in the last post. Hermes performing the punishment of Ixion by fixing him to a floating fiery wheel in which bottom and top are continually reversed seems like a very apt metaphor for all discussed in the last post. Having to exclaim 'benefactors should be honoured' also brings to mind Ixion continuing to enact the opposite.

I'm not sure what to make of the centaurs being produced by Ixion and will have to look into the other half man-half beast groups. However, if the horse is a symbol of the mother then it seems likely that it bespeaks a mother identification and the anal and the phallic stages are the two most important stages for this.

The importance of this myth would to be to show that the gift-giving, feeling of gratitude, and the feminine ego ideal are reversed by falling back on an anal fixation. The work of Chasseguet-Smirgel, who tirelessly mentioned the anal component of perversion, would draw support from this. Maybe I can post a few excerpts from her writing soon.

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