Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dorian Gray's Unspeakable Sins

It's a good job Dorian Gray didn't commission Picasso or Jackson Pollock to paint his portrait, otherwise he'd have been fucked from the outset. As it was, it took several years of ongoing depravity and ageing before Basil Hallward's original painting of Gray got to look like a cubist masterpiece. At which point, of course, (understandably, because modern art is largely crap) Gray attacked it with a knife and died.

This set me thinking: The portrait in the attic was Gray's soul. While he himself remained youthful and unblemished by his moral turpitudes, the figure in the picture displayed these sins instead, becoming progressively more ugly. But surely it's equally possible that there could have been a two-way connection.

What would have happened, for example, if someone had gone into the attic with a magic marker and added a Hitler moustache or a black eye to the painting? Or suppose they'd been a tad more ambitious, and changed Gray's respectable hairstyle into a purple mohican and then painted a "Millwall FC Rules OK" tattoo on his arm?

Obviously, Gray's behaviour would have changed to reflect the alterations made to his portrait. So someone who really had it in for him - Sibyl Vane's brother, for example - could have exacted revenge quite easily with a single paintbrush, and at a safe distance. It wouldn't have done Dorian Gray's standing in polite society much good if, for example, while promenading through Grosvenor Square, he'd suddenly leapt up a nearby lamp post and starting pissing on pedestrians walking below.

Then again, Oscar Wilde never does describe what Dorian Gray's "unspeakable sins" actually were, so I suppose it's perfectly possible that this is one of the things that he did, in fact, do.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The tattoo should,of course,be ACAB/ASAB.