Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 03-26-2003, 07:49 AM
basta is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1

"unifaun" meaning in Genesis song


What does "unifaun" mean in the Genesis song "Dancing witht the moonlight knight?"

From memory, the lyrics are:

"Can you tell me where my country lies,
Cried the unifaun to his true love's eyes
It lies with me cried the Queen of Maybe
For her merchandise he traded in his pride."


Thanks
  #2  
Old 03-26-2003, 08:03 AM
godzillatemple is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 1,598
From this site:

Quote:
Unifaun: pun that stands for representing the ancient, historical England. From uniform, unicorn, faun.
Barry
__________________
Licensed Member of the Amalgamated Union of Philosophers, Sages, Luminaries, and Other Professional Thinking Persons.

"godzillatemple, I think I think as clearly as you...I just have trouble matching your clarity of expression." - Somnambulist

"Same here. It sounds so much BETTER when YOU think it!" - Kalhoun
  #3  
Old 03-26-2003, 08:15 AM
DrFidelius's Avatar
DrFidelius is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Miskatonic University
Posts: 12,532
And here I was picturing a goat-footed satyr-like being with a single horn. Rather like Harryhausen's cyclops, only smaller, not as scaley and with two eyes.

Actually I hadn't been picturing anything as I don't seem to have noticed this song before just now.
  #4  
Old 03-26-2003, 09:36 AM
Shoeless's Avatar
Shoeless is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: The Sunflower State
Posts: 6,846
Ahh, those were the days... back when Phil Collins was just a drummer.
  #5  
Old 03-05-2016, 08:16 AM
Edsknife is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 1
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shoeless View Post
Ahh, those were the days... back when Phil Collins was just a drummer.
Oh, come on, Phil Collins was a better vocalist than Peter Gabriel.
  #6  
Old 03-26-2003, 09:58 AM
Running with Scissors is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Small blue-green planet
Posts: 1,431
Nah - he was a singer then, too (See "More fool me").
__________________
"You can't really dust for vomit." -- Nigel Tufnel
  #7  
Old 03-26-2003, 12:05 PM
Shoeless's Avatar
Shoeless is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: The Sunflower State
Posts: 6,846
True... he also sang "For Absent Friends" on Nursery Cryme. But you know what I mean...
  #8  
Old 03-26-2003, 08:48 PM
Johanna's Avatar
Johanna is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Altered States of America
Posts: 13,416
Portmanteau word. "Two meanings packed up in one word." A portmanteau was an item of luggage which folded out into two sections but could be attached together into a single piece. But if the above reference is to be believed, it's three meanings packed up into one word.

The song "Dancing with the Moonlit Night" is about the ironic contrast between the romantic glamor of medieval England and the drab commercialism of modern England, both worlds overlaid on one another and interpenetrating in the singer's imagination. The unicorn is a symbol of the English nation—order and rule, while the faun is a symbol of wild nature—randy and untameable. Packed together they make an ironic contrast. The whole song is an exercise in wordplay. The fat old lady dealing out credit cards instead of Tarot cards is like T.S. Eliot's Madame Sesostris from The Waste Land, only satirical.
  #9  
Old 03-05-2016, 08:39 AM
Leo Bloom is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Here
Posts: 13,493
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johanna View Post
..The unicorn is a symbol of the English nation—order and rule, while the faun is a symbol of wild nature—randy and untameable...
That first bit I never heard (not saying it hasn't been used). Cite?

Why the English think it's about "order and rule" is kind of bizarre. It makes sense if national encomiums have an idea of their uniqueness, coupled with beauty, however.

Is the interpretation of that portmanteau spelled out in the song?

Do Englishmen, or Collins (as a guess) absorb this cultural image in school, or something?

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 03-05-2016 at 08:39 AM.
  #10  
Old 03-05-2016, 08:57 AM
bob++ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Worcestershire UK
Posts: 6,772
Quote:
The Lion and the Unicorn are symbols of the United Kingdom. They are, properly speaking, heraldic supporters appearing in the full Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom. The lion stands for England and the unicorn for Scotland. The combination therefore dates back to the 1603 accession of James I of England who was already James VI of Scotland. By extension, they have also been used in the Coat of Arms of Canada since 1921.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lion_and_the_Unicorn

So, strictly speaking The unicorn is a symbol of the Scottish nation. Artistic licence I suppose.

Last edited by bob++; 03-05-2016 at 09:00 AM.
  #11  
Old 03-05-2016, 11:09 AM
Claverhouse is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,169
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo Bloom View Post
That first bit I never heard (not saying it hasn't been used). Cite?

Why the English think it's about "order and rule" is kind of bizarre. It makes sense if national encomiums have an idea of their uniqueness, coupled with beauty, however.

Is the interpretation of that portmanteau spelled out in the song?

Do Englishmen, or Collins (as a guess) absorb this cultural image in school, or something?

Sure; just the same way as you absorb all those associations regarding the Freedom-Loving Assyrian, Roman, Byzantine, Russian, Prussian, Austrian, French, American Eagle, and all that tosh regarding General Washington.

Or the Germans learn of the Hartz Mountains and the Emperor under the Hill; or the Native Americans the Wendigo, or the Jews of Gideon and the Judges, or the Texians of Legends of The Old South-West. It's just something that's there, and private to the people.


As far as Order is concerned, these things come from mediaeval reasonings, such as --- to take the first two to come to mind --- The Pelican [ in Her Piety ] as a symbol of Sacrifice ( she draws blood to feed her children ), and the Phoenix as a symbol of Renewal. Obviously these were synthesized from many earlier traditions.



  #12  
Old 03-05-2016, 01:21 PM
Leo Bloom is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Here
Posts: 13,493
Quote:
Originally Posted by Claverhouse View Post
....[On unucorn symbolism]...


As far as Order is concerned, these things come from mediaeval reasonings, such as --- to take the first two to come to mind --- The Pelican [ in Her Piety ] as a symbol of Sacrifice ( she draws blood to feed her children ), and the Phoenix as a symbol of Renewal. Obviously these were synthesized from many earlier traditions.
No problem with that. Agree absolutely. Pelican (you have provided the interpretive reasoning contemporaneous with the symbolism); Phoenix-->Renewal (rebirth from destroying fire). Check and check.

Unicorn-->order and orderly rule? Still don't get it, and haven't seen cite. I don't think original explanation upthread on interpretation of "unifaun" is supportable under that explanation. As "unicorn" in general, sure why not.

And you know what? Still never heard (or h. of) the song. Just here for the ride.
  #13  
Old 03-05-2016, 09:07 AM
Leo Bloom is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Here
Posts: 13,493
Thanks.

I still don't buy that unicorn-->"order and rule," which I'm pretty sure is grabbing the wrong end of the horn, as it were.

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 03-05-2016 at 09:08 AM.
  #14  
Old 03-05-2016, 10:44 AM
astorian is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: austin tx usa
Posts: 35,294
Huh- even though I'm a prog-rock fan, and that is my favorite Genesis song, I never saw a lyrics sheet for "Dancing With the Moonlit Knight." I actually thought Gabriel was saying "unicorn," and would have had no idea what a unifaun is. A unicorn/faun hybrid? A play on words, combining "uniform" and "faun"?

The overall "meaning" of the song was always sort-of clear to me, though. It's a reflection on England's decline. It contrasts the glorious mythology of England's past with the much grubbier, more commercial reality of England in the Seventies.

The unifaun, I suppose, is a made-up magical, medieval woodland English creature who's looking at modern England and thinking, "There's no magic here any more. What happened to my country?" I'm sure the elderly JRR Tolkien (who, I think, was still just barely alive in 1973 when the Selling England By the Pound LP came out) would have understood the sentiments perfectly.

Last edited by astorian; 03-05-2016 at 10:49 AM.
  #15  
Old 03-05-2016, 11:35 AM
Colibri's Avatar
Colibri is offline
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 43,088
Let's move this to Cafe Society, which didn't exist when this thread was started in 2003.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:33 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017