Finding Meaning In The House of the Tiger Aunt
Eds Note: This post comes to us from longtime WMRW.com observer and commentor “Clio.” We hope in the coming months to offer others the chance to share their thoughts and expertise on this case, and encourage all interested to contact the editors.
The improbable name of Dylan Ward’s publishing venture — the House of the
Tiger Aunt — may provide a rare glimpse into his elusive worldview and character.
Of course, the Tiger Aunt is the villainess who mauls and scares little kids in a variety of Chinese trickster tales. In many cultures — particularly those of the African diaspora and of Native American societies — tricksters would often be diminutive animals (spiders, for example) who outwit more powerful predators. In Asian cultures, however, the trickster could be a powerful, wild animal who gets beaten at its own game eventually and ultimately by less powerful children or pets.
Trickster tales, including that of the Tiger Aunt, involve inverting rigid propriety via androgyny; yet, in the Tiger Aunt tales, the “masculine” devious cat usually ends up losing out to those who are far less powerful yet who are more valued by society (children, most frequently, in the case of the Tiger Aunt). In nearly all of the various renditions, the Tiger Aunt has to deal with usually two or three children, and the second or third child is the one who stands up to the Tiger Aunt and beats her at her own game.
If Dylan identified in some perverse way as the Tiger Aunt, then he may have imagined he had captured two of the three children — Joe and Victor — and had to deal with the difficult third one — Robert, who had to be incapacitated (probably “tricked” — literally and figuratively!) and killed to be conquered. In this inversion which denies the conventional ending well-known to Dylan, the truly small and weak character — himself (in society’s estimation, if not in actual physical strength or size) — outmaneuvers and defeats the larger, more powerful figure — Robert E. Wone — via rape and murder.
Or, in an alternative reading, the Tiger Aunt could be the middle-aged “Bossy Bottom” himself: Joseph Price. In this interpretation, Mr. Price had captured (via sex) two of the three main pawns in his life — Victor and then Dylan — and then directed the “tricking” of his most difficult and third conquest — “friend” Robert E. Wone. In both cases, the Tiger Aunt “wins;” but, just like in the usual narratives, any “win” for the Tiger Aunt is Pyrrhic in being both temporary and extremely costly. One can only hope that this bit of folklore may foreshadow the eventual outcome of this case.
Finally, in a possibly even stranger use of a fairy tale that features deception/tricking at its center, it has been alleged that someone using the moniker of Little Red Riding Hood tried to vanquish an early Wikipedia entry on the Swann Street saga. If that someone was Dylan, then his self-casting as the victim of “the big, bad wolf” of public scrutiny becomes understandable, if not forgivable.
–posted by Clio