By Tracy Hargreaves
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The child’s later familiarity with the cow’s udder, he argued, merged the memory of suckling with an object that resembles a penis. But if the phantasy of the vulture is a phantasy of the phallus, or of fellatio, what has this to do with the mother? In ancient Egypt, the mother is represented by the sign of the vulture, and the Egyptians worshipped a mother goddess who had the head of a vulture and was usually represented with a phallus: she was depicted with breasts and an erect penis. For Freud, this emblem of fertility signified an androgynous or hermaphrodite: Mythology may then offer the explanation that the addition of a phallus to the female body is intended to denote the primal creative force of nature, and that all these hermaphrodite divinities are expressions of the idea that only a combination of male and female elements can give a worthy representation of divine perfection.
21), as her own father describes her. Order and disorder are explored through the text’s five principal figures, all of whom have clear functions in the text. The chaste Aunt Elisabeth is a figure of spiritual and pious contemplation; Marie Silvert as the ‘seething demon of debasement’ is her antithesis, a grasping celebrant of social and material wealth. Raittolbe, the ex-hussar, is the avatar of normative heterosexual masculinity whose function is to realign manliness with masculinity and restore morality.
Nineteenth-century scientific epistemologies posited humanity’s original somatic state as hermaphrodite or androgynous (the terms were often used interchangeably), helping to legitimise arguments that protected and maintained the division of sexual roles, even if, as Foucault argues of some medical men, they were ‘producing truth’34 and knowledge rather than revealing it. 37 Whilst Ellis sought to naturalise the aetiology of homosexuality, Darwin’s thesis still implied that the androgynous or hermaphrodite was a primitive condition from which humans had evolved: where once there were two sexes in the primitive body, now there was one in an advanced culture.