Graphology: There Are Not, in Fact, Two Wolves Inside of You

Dear Reader,

Graphology is the science of handwriting and while it is now disproven as a pseudo-science it was a very popular idea until quite recently. Furthermore, the author’s use of physiognomy throughout the novel it is no great leap to then assert that he in all likelihood would believe in graphology and he would not describe the handwriting of a character without great care and attention. Therefore, I deposit that in the very text of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Dr. Jekyll’s, quite frankly preposterous, that there are two halves of us, one good and one evil, that idea is disproven.

In Incident of The Letter Mr. Utterson by way of Mr. Guest, compares the handwritings of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The language which the author uses in this section would be quite singular if the author did not believe in graphology. Mr. Utterson descries Mr. Guest as “a great student and critic of handwriting,” (Stevenson PG) Mr. Utterson’s says of the letter from Mr. Hyde that it is “a murderer’s autograph,” (Stevenson PG) and the fervor with which Mr. Guest pours over the letters all lend further credence to my theory that the author subscribed to graphology.

While it may be known that I am a great writer, it is lesser known that I am a mind reader. I can hear you thinking, “Red, that was a use of textual evidence which is so beautiful that it may rival your own gorgeous charms and while I am fully convinced that the author believed in graphology, I don’t yet see what’s interesting reveling or strange in this fact?”

The fact that the handwriting remains nearly identical with only the slope changing is a clear statement that the characters of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are also nearly identical. The only difference between the two handwritings being the slope is intriguing as modern handwriting analysis suggests that the slope indicates someone’s emotional state. (Prachi 42) While I wasn’t able to find any graphology literature from Stevenson’s era and I would not wish to apply any of today’s graphology to Stevenson’s writing, I think that the fact that merely one facet is different is extremely telling.

If only one facet of you has to change for you to become a person who kicks little girls over in the street and murders men, then you were never all that great to begin with.

Also, what kind of psycho spends a decade, or at the very least several years judging by the “several hundred entries” (Stevenson PG) in Jekyll’s journal, trying to concoct a serum which turns you into the kind of person who hurts people? 

This point about graphology is all just a long way of me saying that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are the same person in every respect except for their willingness to show their depravity.

Yours with only one wolf inside of her,

Carmine “Red” Zingiber

Joshi, Prachi, et al. “Handwriting analysis for detection of personality traits using machine learning approach.” International Journal of Computer Applications, vol. 130, no. 15, Nov. 2015, pp. 40–45,

Forbidden Fruit

Dear Reader,

There’s no such thing as a free lunch. From getting kicked out of Eden to spending 6 months out of every year with the king of the underground there is always a price to be paid. Forbidden fruit is always a warning. These stories tell us that no matter how sweet something may seem we must be wary and guard against “foul temptations”. This story is meant to teach women to guard their purity.

I would love to stop there as I feel my point makes itself even on a cursory glance but I’m told I need to “analyze the text.” So let’s do just that.

The goblins peddle their wares and Lizzie warns Laura against them “Their offers should not charm us, Their evil gifts would harm us.” (Rossetti) She is not explicit and yet she is very clear. These goblins are strange creatures and wish to do Laura harm. Laura disregards this very sound advice and lingers. She wants to buy some fruit but she has no money to which the goblins respond “You have much gold upon your head.” (Rossetti) Her hair is representative of her purity in its perfect whiteness. She doesn’t understand that she is selling more than a simple lock of hair but rather her purity for the sensual pleasures of the fruit that the goblins offer. “She sucked and sucked and sucked the more Fruits which that unknown orchard bore; She sucked until her lips were sore;
Then flung the emptied rinds away But gathered up one kernel stone, And knew not was it night or day As she turned home alone.” (Rossetti) Reader I love a good peach as much as the next girl but I’ve never liked a peach so much that I’ve had to do a walk of shame after I ate one. 

With her purity gone Laura wastes away. She is nothing without it. The seed of that wild night bears no fruit. Lizzie, distraught at Laura’s pain, goes to get back Laura’s purity. She pays for goblin fruit with coin which they refuse and instead try to take Lizzie’s purity as well. Lizzie refuses and even as the goblins become more and more aggressive she stands resolute. “White and golden Lizzie stood, Like a lily in a flood” (Rossetti) as the goblins “pinched her black as ink.” (Rossetti) A classic black and white, good vs evil, purity vs corruption.

In the end, their purity prevails and they both become wives. Married. The return to normal.

Yours at a time far too close to the witching hour,

Carmine “Red” Zingiber

Weird Science (Sadly Not the 1985 Film or the Banger Put Out by the Band Oingo Boingo (Great Fucking Band Name by the Way))

Dear Reader,

     I’m back on my shit again.

     The Gothic horror genre is rife with weird science due to The Age of Energy and Invention. The post-partum depression of Lady Audly’s mother gets her sent to a mental hospital. The strange mechanical workings of The Terribly Strange Bed. The phrenology in The Hound of the Baskervilles where Arthur Conan Doyle uses science to both explain and emphasize the intelligence of our hero Sherlock Holmes. Bram Stoker does something similar with Mina Harker.

      Van Helsing, a medical man and a professor of high reputation, sings the praises of Mina Harker in a really fucking weird way, “Ah, that wonderful Madam Mina!…and not so long married;” (Chapter XVIII)

      The suggestion from a doctor that women and men have significantly different organs is wild! This is obviously catering to gender standards, the caring and yet weak heart of a woman as opposed to the intelligent and calculating brain of a man.

     This also speaks explicitly to our point in class about men being responsible for protecting women. “A brave man’s blood is the best thing on this earth when a woman is in trouble….we want them.” (Chapter XII) The gendering of organs can also be seen here.

     Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Red. You’ve done an excellent job of identifying something interesting, revealing, or strange, and you’ve looked sexy while doing it, but, not to be an asshole, so what?” Thank you reader; I did something new with my hair and I’m glad that you like it. To your question though, “So what?”

      The idea that men are scientifically engineered, and shaped by God, to protect women is a pervasive one throughout this story and made explicit in the quotes that I have selected. “So what?” Bram Stoker uses science and an appeal to religion to justify his sexist and ridiculous “damsel in distress” in a way that is dangerous and harmful.

Yours sleeping upsidedown like a bat,

Carmine “Red” Zingiber

Phrenology, Detective Fiction, and Psychics, Why Bigotry is Fucking Stupid and Makes Bad Characters

“You interest me…covet your skull.” (Doyle 1)

Dear Reader,

I’ve read all of the original canon. I know that this isn’t the only explanation for why Holmes is as good as he is. Holmes references various studies and is always doing wild experiments. I am well aware of that. But stating that it’s genetics that make Holmes capable of doing all those studies and wild experiments, that the fucking lumps in his skull are what allows him to do all that? Doyle must’ve sampled some of Holmes’ vices when he wrote this line.

To chalk up Holmes’ incredible prowess as him simply being “built different,” is fucking ludicrous from both a scientific and literary angle. It saves Holmes from any great depth and quite frankly makes his accomplishments feel unearned. To see it done right I’d like to introduce you to my favorite show, Psych.

Psych is an adaptation of Sherlock Holmes that doesn’t let our protagonist, Shawn Spencer, off the hook that easily. Shawn uses similar methods of deduction to Sherlock to at least the same degree of skill, solving various crimes as a consultant. The twist of Psych is that he’s so good that the only explanation that will satisfy the cops, other than him being an inside man, is him being psychic, being “built different.” The difference between Holmes and Shawn is we’re never meant to believe that Shawn actually has some sort of genetic gift that allows him to be an amazing detective. Shawn was trained from a young age to be an amazing detective, and he’s gotten damn good at it without any handwavy bullshit from the author. Everything that Shawn does feels earned. Most episodes show us how he earned it with flashbacks to him and his father doing some sort of training in the art of deduction.

Whenever you ask the question. “Why did Sherlock know such and such thing?” You can go through different explanations but in the end, you’ll always end up in the same place. “Because he’s Sherlock Holmes.”

It’s pseudoscience like phrenology that chalks up all of Holmes’ skill to nothing more than his genetics that grinds my gears. Because if he’s genetically destined to be a great detective then where is his free will? I like it when I feel like my characters have control over their fates.

Fuck bigoted pseudoscience that reduces people and characters to who they are and not what they do.

Yours From the Moon and Back,

Carmine “Red” Zuigiber

Robert Audley is a Nepo Baby and His Incompetence is a Scathing Indictment of the Patriarchy Which Allows Such People to Exist

Dear Reader,

I have chosen the first passage of chapter four to focus on. “Robert Audley was supposed…himself a barrister” (Chapter 4). What really boils my blood about this statement is how it is still an excellent summation of the patriarchy almost one hundred years later. The word that does so much heavy lifting here is the word “unblushingly.” The fact that Robert can look someone dead in the eye and say, with a straight face that he deserves to be a barrister when he only landed there because he’s a straight white cis-man who has so many connections that it was easier for him to take this high profile job with pretty good pay than to not take it. “His father had…the latter course” (Chapter 4). If this doesn’t scream nepo baby then I do not know what does. Additionally, if Robert was a competent detective he would’ve been able to connect the dots that he mapped out at the end of chapter thirteen and detained Lady Audley. What this passage is really saying is the fact that men aren’t always deserving of their position and money. The idea that men use their, usually unearned, wealth and power to take things that shouldn’t belong to them is central to this story. Even Lady Audley herself is taken in, not by any virtue of Micheal Audley, but by his wealth. “He walked straight…and his position.” (Chapter 1) Elizabeth Braddon has done a great job of telling us from the first chapter what this book is about. It’s about incompetent and stupid men who haven’t earned what they have. Is that a bold take? I don’t think so. The sensation novel allowed the author to say what she thought under the guise of fiction.

Yours Truly and Dearly,

Carmine “Red” Zuigiber