Guest Author: Marlena Dahlstrom

Posted by – May 23, 2006

I got this note from Marlena recently, and I thought it expanded on a couple of discussions I’ve been having (with myself) and ones that have happened on the boards, too. She’s also put this up on her blog.

Patsy and I recently saw Ute Lemper (a singer who specializes in German cabaret) and I was reminded of Helen’s thoughts on wanting paper lanterns by part of the chorus in one of the songs Lemper sang — Friedrich Hollander’s “Münchausen.”

Truth is hard and tough as nails
That’s why we need fairy tales
I’m all through with logical conclusions
Why should I deny myself illusions?

Obviously, one doesn’t want to live solely in a fantasy world, but like Blanche DuBois sometimes we need a little time-out from the harsh, bare bulb of fact. And in fact the full chorus makes clear Hollander is really talking about trying to maintain hope admit disappointment.

Liar liar liar liar liar liar
I’m sick and tired of lies from you
But how I wish your lies were true
Liar liar liar liar liar liar
Truth is hard and tough as nails
That’s why we need fairy tales
I’m all through with logical conclusions
Why should I deny myself illusions?

(BTW, Lemper inserted an updated section that took a rather biting look at certain politicians.)

In a way, being trans is a bit like being an actor, musician or writer. The odds of “making it” are such a long shot that it’s no surprise that many of them have titantic egos — you have to almost a willful ignorance of the realities in order to pursue your dream. The dream of many trans-folk is just being able to live a regular life like everyone else, which can be tough when all too often some people see us as freaks. (I wonder, how many of those who have stared and giggled at “that guy in a dress” would have the balls to go out in public knowing full well that they could face that sort of ridicule?) So sometimes we need illusions to keep ourselves going.

Now it turns out I’d actually misheard the lyrics initially, and (with apologies to Hollander) I actually prefer my mishearing:

Life is hard and tough as nails
That’s why we need fairy tales
I’ve reached a logical conclusion
Why should I deny myself illusions?

It’s not about a choice between harsh reality or illusions, it’s choosing that one can have both. Of course, mistaking one for the other can be problematic. But just because it can be a problem doesn’t mean it inherently is. To build on a thought from Helen: Sure it can sense to tell a kid that a Superman costume won’t make him able to actually fly — especially if he’s standing next to the window. But if all he wants to do is lay on the top of the couch with his Superman costume on and insist he’s flying, what’s the harm in letting him indulge that illusion for awhile?

After all, while Baron von Münchhausen “acquired a reputation for his witty and exaggerated tales; at the same time, he was considered an honest man in business affairs.”

1 Comment on Guest Author: Marlena Dahlstrom

  1. lizzy says:

    I would like to be thought of as a paper lantern sort of person. Hell, I know what life is, but I do like to think about the happy stuff most of the time.
    I can always be miserable some other day.
    I have a great bumper sticker ” reality is for people that lack imagination “.
    I always have ” relied on the kindness of strangers ”
    A toast to optimism, I hope that people are mostly good natured, and will not see my darling DJ as ” the man in a dress ”

    Lizzy

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