Miss Havisham, Tori Amos, and He-Man

Miss Havisham, Tori Amos, and He-Man

Miss Havisham. She begins this story. Or is in this story. Or maybe she ends this story. She has been haunting me lately. Her laugh, or her sighs, several thousand sighs, stuck at a window, waiting for someone to appear, a man on a horse, or in a limousine (looking a bit like Richard Gere, probably), or a boy, a gardener’s son, who she would watch suffer. But she’s been waiting to appear in these words for the last couple of weeks. I don’t know why. I’ve never read Great Expectations.

Let that sink in.

I’ve never read Great Expectations. Have I read much Dickens? It is Dickens right? I have read Dickens. Of course I’ve read Dickens. He is canonical, right? My Specter colleague, Ann Mayhew, wrote about the canon last week. Have you read her column? You should.

I haven’t read Great Expectations, and I don’t expect I will. I love the Gwyneth Paltrow/Ethan Hawke film version from 1998, partly because they are both so young and beautiful, but mostly because of the soundtrack. Tori Amos is on the soundtrack. Two songs. Finn and Siren. I adore Siren. My wife (I know, I know, eventually she will be ex-wife, but not today, and not tomorrow, and maybe not for a while, though I get tired of referring to her as wife, soon-to-be ex-wife) and I almost named our daughter Aurora Siren, but opted for Aurora Seine instead. And I adore Tori Amos.

I talked to her last week about her forthcoming album, Night of Hunters. It was the second time I interviewed her. The first time, in 2005, she caught me off guard from the start when I called her Ms. Amos and she said, you can call me Tori, Honey. I’ve never been speechless during an interview. I’m good at what I do. But I was speechless, and the five or 10 second that lapsed between her calling me honey and me going on to my first question, embarrassed, probably sweating under my arms, were the longest 10 seconds in my life. OK, not the longest in my life. But they felt longer than 10 seconds.

Did I mention the sweat under my arms?

This time, I called her Tori and we chatted and I didn’t remind her that she met Holly and me for the first time (I know, I know, you can’t meet someone for the first time more than once, and yet, with Tori, saying met for the first time seems appropriate) in 2007, and then again in 2009, when she met us and Avery and talked to him about her song girls and asked him what he wanted to hear and he didn’t know any of her girls and so he laughed and she laughed and she called him handsome. Her friend, Neil Gaiman, called Avery a poet. Amy Arbus, daughter of Diane Arbus, called Avery a spirited child. Gregory Maguire wished Avery a future as bright as his smile (Gregory was the first author Avery met; Avery was 28 days old).

He has a big life ahead of him. All of these people have said so.

So Tori and I talked about Night of Hunters, and I had invited questions from people on Twitter and I received questions and I asked these questions and she answered. No Datura this tour; the flowers are tough. Still needs to mix the live American Doll Posse tour DVD. Maybe another round of Legs & Boots, but probably not. And the Bonn song, it is here on the album, though no longer called what it once was called.

She talked song cycles and taking risks and deciding that if the project seemed out there, then she had to definitely try it, and the resulting album (which I’ve heard) is outstanding. (I’d use other adjectives, but I don’t care for adjectives. They’re clunky. Really. So are adverbs).

You know who else took risks? He-Man took risks. He lived two lives (duality/neutrality – these words will mean more to you once Night of Hunters actually comes out) and saved Eternia hundreds of times (each week, usually). His sister was named Aurora, but her middle name isn’t (wasn’t?) Seine.

I wasn’t thinking about He-Man until someone mentioned him, or, not him, but the idea of being a master of the universe, and I thoughts immediately of He-Man (branding at its best) and in my head the lives of Miss Havisham and Tori Amos and He-Man collided until the resulting idea of agency, of doing the things that scare you (maybe taking a dip back into the canonical pool, Ann?).

But Mrs. Havisham, where I begin, and where I end. She is always waiting for something to happen, and this something she is waiting for, would waiting be any easier if she knew the something would never happen?

Are you waiting for something to happen? Would waiting be any easier if you knew that the thing for which you wait – love, job, art, life – isn’t going to be handed to you on a platter made of silver? Would you do something about this waiting? Would you stop waiting? Would you change your mind? Would you seek it out? Would you raise high your sword and claim your power? I have the power! Transform into a better version of you. Protector and guardian. Hero.

Or would you still wait, stuck at a window inside, looking out?