EverymanHYBRID And Deer In Media: In Five Parts (click for individual comparisons)
Deer are both a symbol of fragile purity and the untamable wild–here, we examine deer in the context of man, where deer come to represent the urge within us to abandon the conscious ego for the subconscious id. The deer is a symbol, too, of rebirth, of transformation, of shedding and regrowing its weapons each year. To kill, to be reborn, to choose to be monstrous through our proximity to humanity. Is there not something pure in surrendering to animal instinct? If deer are the twin themes of innocence and wildness, then we in turn are the juxtaposition of humanity and monstrousness–our actions made monstrous by the attempt to temper them with humanity.
(transcript, analysis, and sources below cut)
1: The Secret History & EverymanHYBRID--Bodies
The Secret History, on the killing of a man in a hallucinatory bacchanal:
"'Henry,' I said at last. 'Good God.'
"He raised an eyebrow. 'Really, it was more upsetting than you can realize,' he said. 'Once I hit a deer with my car. It was a beautiful creature and to see it struggling, blood everywhere, legs broken ... And this was even more distressing but at least I thought it was over. I never dreamed we'd hear anything else about it.'"
EverymanHYBRID, "Ryan and the SEVENTRIALSOFHABIT":
A shot of a deer's dead body at the side of the road at night, looking crumpled and not quite right. The captions read: "Jeff: It's a fucking deer, dude. (Evan: See it?) Yeah. Something cut its belly open. (Evan: It cut its belly open the wrong way.)"
Consider this one an amuse-bouche. Henry draws comparisons between a man he killed to a deer he accidentally hit with a car, mildly naming the incident ‘distressing’. There is a lack of human empathy, of guilt over killing a fellow man. In comparison, Jeff, Evan, and Vinnie at this point in the EMH plotline have not yet become hunter or hunted–they have not yet been warped by their roles in this iteration and can acknowledge the upsetting nature of the events that befall them. Henry has tasted that amoral nature and is less human for it, more visibly willing to shed that veneer of attempting to care about other people. Jeff, Evan, and Vinnie have not yet reached that point.
2: “Whoso List to Hunt”, EverymanHYBRID, and The Secret History--The Chase
"Whoso List to Hunt", on hunting a fabled white hind:
"I am of them that farthest cometh behind./ Yet may I by no means my wearied mind/ Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore/ Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,/ Sithens in a net I seek to hold the wind./ Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,/ As well as I may spend his time in vain. And graven with diamonds in letters plain/ There is written, her fair neck round about:/ Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,/ and wild to hold, though I seem tame."
EverymanHYBRID, "Slushpops and Surprises”
A shot of white text on a black page, "[Enter the tragic hero and his unattainable companion.]"
The Secret History, on hallucinations experienced during the bacchanal (bold for emphasis):
“‘Camilla said that during part of it, she’d believed she was a deer; and that was odd, too, because the rest of us remember chasing a deer through the woods, for miles it seemed. Actually it was miles. I know that for a fact. Apparently we ran and ran and ran, because when we came to ourselves we had no idea where we were.’”
EverymanHYBRID, “December & early January”:
A shot of Vinnie, hand covering his face in shock, as he sits and listens to Jessa’s last voicemail before she went missing. Jeff can be seen in the background, listening in silence. The captions read “[Jessa’s voice, recorded]: Steph, that thing you were talking about, I saw it...he’s real, he’s right here. What the hell does he want? I think he’s following me.”
The deer symbolizes wild nature, something that man cannot obtain, touch, or capture without abandoning something of his own humanity. Similarly, deer represent the unattainable prey. Noli me tangere, says Caesar’s unattainable deer– touch me not, no matter how hard you may attempt to catch me. Jessa of EMH is deemed the unattainable companion and Jeff’s driving force to discover the truth behind the situation they’ve been placed in–it is Jessa, dangled in front of him after she goes missing, that leads Jeff down the path that inevitably leads to his own death after uncovering too much. The deer is to be chased, to be hunted, and never captured. Camilla from The Secret History believed herself to be a deer during the same hallucinatory bacchanal that cost a man his life, and led her brother and friends on a chase spanning miles. Jessa was hunted by an unknowable force, then used as bait to draw her partner down the path to his own death. Unattainability, the shape of something fleeing in front of you, elicits a powerful reaction to follow, to hunt, to chase. Jessa fell victim to that reaction. Camilla, and the white hind, did not.
3: The Myth of Diana and Actaeon, EverymanHYBRID, and The Secret History--Madness
The Diana and Actaeon Fountain at the Caserta Royal Palace:
The detail of the fountain shown depicts the pivotal scene in the myth of Actaeon and Artemis, where Actaeon, mid-transformation into a stag, is killed for the slight of viewing the goddess Artemis nude.The sculpture shows the transformation in no mercy, plain in its depiction of Actaeon’s pain and terror, and the simple ferocity of the hounds that surround him.
EverymanHYBRID, “May & June”:
A shot of Jeff, blood spattered across him, speaking with a shocked and angry tone. The captions read, “Jeff: Why were we doing that? That was...that’s not what we were looking for. We knew damned well that wasn’t what we were trying to kill. (Vince: Close enough.) It was a deer! It was a fucking deer! I tried to pull you off, you tried to punch me in the fucking face!”
The Secret History, on the Greeks’ view of beauty and terror (bold for emphasis):
“Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it. And what could be more terrifying and beautiful to souls like the Greeks or to our own, than to lose control completely? To throw off the chains of being for an instant, to shatter the accident of our mortal selves? Euripedes speaks of the Maenads: head thrown back, throat to the stars, ‘more like deer than human being’.”
Most depictions of Actaeon, sculpture or painting, usually show him with antlers or a deer lower body, leaving his head and face a recognizable human shape. However, the sculptor here decided to subvert expectations and leave his body human, giving Actaeon the animal head of a stag. The loss of control and the descent from human to animal is not glorified or made palatable by the mere addition of a crown of antlers--there is only the one constant, fear, that follows him all the way down. Madness may be defined as a loss of control, and there may be something beautiful and terrifying in feeling your sanity slip through your own fingers. Jeff, Evan, and Vinnie are overtaken by brief, inexplicable madness and tear apart a deer as they come dangerously close to uncovering exactly who and what is hunting them. They skate close to seeing soemthing they shouldn't see. It is only Jeff who looks up, shocked by the blood on his hands, and voices his fear. Vinnie, apathetic, lets it go. But Evan, houndlike and irrational, defends his kill.
4: EverymanHYBRID & Hannibal--Warnings and Temptation
EverymanHYBRID, “May & June”:
A shot of Evan, spattered heavily with blood, standing with shoulders caved in protectively. His left hand is raised to his mouth, with his hair covering his eyes, and he is licking the blood off of his fingers.
“Shot Through The Hart, and Hannibal’s To Blame” (bold for emphasis):
“In my post about ravens, I talked about how it’s not always easy to tell what the Ravenstag really means. Is it evidence of the Hannibalesque elements of Will’s soul? Or a warning of those parts growing within him? Does the Ravenstag urge Will forward on his journey, or warn him of what’s to come?”
Hannibal, Season 1, Episode 1 “Aperitif”:
A shot of the Ravenstag, staring directly into the camera with one hoof up, as if to approach. There are black feathers interwoven with its pelt and its eyes have an uncanny shine.
On a naturalistic note, deer are skittish creatures. They have thin legs and a sleek body, made for running. A small head and big eyes, placed wide-set to see coming predators. Keen ears. They are ready at any moment to sense danger, warn others, and flee. When a deer does not move, it is either safe or sizing up its options, either accepting where it is or preparing to run. Deer, staring directly at the viewer, come as a sympathetic warning to flee or, in its dark eyes and firm stance, a temptation. Me tangere, they say. Come closer. We are one and the same. In Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal, the commanding presence of the Ravenstag serves as both a warning and a beckoning temptation to turn his feet down the darker path. It is otherworldly, black-furred and feathered, and yet a warning of events rooted in the real world--does Will understand what danger he is in upon meeting Hannibal and take the warning, or will he ignore it, sensing that same darkness in himself, that same potential for corruption? In EverymanHYBRID, it is that same killing of a deer that hints at that same potential for darkness growing inside Evan. He licks at his fingers, animalistic, fully ignoring his own Ravenstag warning signs for the delight of the hunt. Is he Evan anymore? Or is something else growing inside him?
5: EverymanHYBRID & Hannibal--Predator and Prey, or the Final Act
A shot of HABIT, looking up a set of stairs with one foot on the bottom step. In one hand down by his side, he is holding a knife. His posture is tilted forward, poised, ready to spring into action, like that of a hunter.
“Shot Through The Hart, and Hannibal’s To Blame” (bold for emphasis):
“The idea of deer as symbols of rebirth also stands out to me. Hannibal is a series obsessed with becoming and transformation. People start one way, and are reborn as something completely other by the end of the show. There’s even a character sewn up into a deceased pregnant horse in the hopes that when she’s released, she will be literally reborn as something different. It’s thus a neat fit, this significance of deer with the themes of the show.”
A shot of Jeff, looking up and to the side with an expression of caution and fear. His eyes are unnerved, squinting as, from offscreen, HABIT’s hand plays idly with his hat.
The first and final incarnation of the deer is, of course, prey. Beyond and before any symbolism of innocence and wildness and warnings, deer are prey animals, to be hunted and devoured. And yet, in keeping with the concept of contrasting symbolism, deer are not helpless. Yearly, they shed and regrow their antlers in a transformation of horn and blood. At the climax of EverymanHYBRID, the final reveal, the final transformation, comes to fruition. HABIT, formerly Evan, takes its place as the Hunter, the archetypal predator, with Jeff shown most prominently as the Prey. Jeff’s luck has run its course, with him in the chair as the sacrificial prey-victim to fall to HABIT’s knife. HABIT, reborn, reiterated, made incarnate through Evan’s unwilling transformation, is poised to start the hunt. This is the big reveal, the crux of the transformation, Actaeon caught mid-transfiguration and the bloody sloughing-off of velvet humanity to reveal perfect and gleaming antlers. This is what it comes down to, time and time again. The hunter and the hunted. The wilderness embraced and the wilderness captured, and the monstrosity in that act.
Callimachus. Actaeon and Artemis. C. 220 BC
Fuller, Bryan. “Apetirif.” Hannibal, season 1, episode 1, NBC, 4 Apr. 2013.
Koval, J., Caffarello, V., &; Jennings, E. (Directors). (2011, July 12). May & June [Video file].
Koval, J., Caffarello, V., &; Jennings, E. (Directors). (2012, October 9). :D [Video file].
Tartt, Donna. The Secret History. Penguin, 2006.
Uhminuh. “Shot Through the Hart, and Hannibal's to Blame.” Read the Rude, Wordpress, 19 July 2020.
Wyatt, Thomas. “Whoso List to Hunt, I Know where is an Hind.” c. 1530.
Honorary mention to this fanart by @/rrhaes that started this whole spiral
134 notes · View notes