Friday, June 20, 2008

lunatic lover poet

I'm not sure why Midsummer Night's Dream gripped me so tightly this time around ... I really, really enjoyed the Flux Theater Ensamble, especially the lovers. Which is high praise because, as a rube, I bank on the mechanicals to get me through the poetry recitals and the "splayed fingers are mysterious" fairy gyrations.

Appearently, the actors submerged themselves in the meanings of every phrase (which, though admirable, may have done something funky to the mechanicals' comedy? -- and what's with the balloon-boobed Thisbe all the time?)

Then, director August Schulenberg added a note in the program echoing a beloved professor of mine (who might have screwed me up for life) -- something about Midsummer, the mystery of love, its supernatural aspects ...
I believe that the "yes,-it's-love!" certainty is a sister to the mysterious God-love that tells us, "Yes, I'm real. Yes, it's true."
Then, we surrender to what we can't entirely quantify: faith.

"In the 1557 Geneva Bible (the version most likely to hae been in Shakespeare's home), that passage (dealing with the impossiblility of describing an encounter with the divine) ends with 'For the spirit searcheth all things, yea, the bottom of God's secrets.'

"The Bottom of God's secrets! If this is a deliberate echo on Bottom's part (and Shakespeare's), then we can asume this epiphany is about a deeper transformation then man to ass; it is also about the change that happens from a brush with the transcendent -- a change that could only be described if eyes could hear, if hands could taste, if the heart could report in its own language."

Shakespeare 101, I guess, but I thrilled to how he put the inexplicable, "brush with the transcendent."

And, because I love his passion: "All the characters in this wood have been torn in some way, and in this play of weavers (magical and otherwise), some are mended, and most are forgiven. And I am torn, too, for all the moments in the play I could not find a way, or time, to report. The play has streaked our eyes with Love, and we are chasing it through the woods, but it will not stay for us."

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Five Luck

When I was in third grade, my teacher, Mrs. Lowe, gave a lesson on the days of the week. Being a third-grader, I needed to choose a favorite, so Thursday it was. Thor! The mighty. And, being a third-grader, I thought I'd choose an accompanying number, so 5 it was -- so brave with its mock-the-future squint, and full chest facing the gale.

I stumbled across a tiny Chinese restaurant yesterday, a few streets away from my Upper East Side apartment, with the best name ever: FIVE LUCK.

And this being Thursday, I'm going to eat lunch there, and fully expect an amazing revelation from my fortune cookie.

THE FORTUNE: Ok, I went and they had no cookies. He apologetically handed me an elderly piece of candy, Milk Flavor, which had fused with its plastic wrapper.

I went back yesterday, June 23, and received not one but TWO cookies, a double fortune! The first: "The Destroyer shall ruin a city." Um... The second, "Then suddenly one will see vengence. Are you ignoring the signs?" They also bore the History Channel logo, and a promo for a series on Nostradamus shown during some October or another.

I showed my co-worker and, smiling, she said, "Don't forget to add, 'in bed.'" Which actually might be an interesting writing exercise -- a plot -- a dangrous liason! A ruined city. Viva the mystic whimsy which enslaves me.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

My sofa slips the firth

I had this sofa for forever. There’s a picture of me as a baby on it, when it was olive-striped and besotted with rusty cabbage roses, the sofa-equivalent of cat’s eye glasses and pointy collars.
It went on to become brown and nubby, and, much later, graduated to the “junky furniture” twenty-somethings carry from apartment to apartment. Pretzels, pennies and Kleenex burrowed under the split cushions. Friends crashed on top, roommates “turned on their bed” as if hinged, there, watching hours of TV straight: the Amazing Race, Lost, entire seasons of Dawson’s Creek. It was a heck of a sofa.
And on May 18, it met the final qualification for “legend” (though, setting it ablaze and launching it onto the open sea would have also worked) -- mystery. A “mysterious end,” even. Consider Amelia Earhart and Jimmy Hoffa. Bilbo Baggins.
A former coffee house co-worker-friend thought her boyfriend might like to use the sofa at a musical venue if her friend’s boyfriend would pick it up in his truck. So, I gave it a last glance, May 18, the day I moved out, turning away so its few remaining button eyes couldn’t see my tears.
I left it, alone in the empty apartment except for the rug I’d managed to sell to my landlord, and called my friend. I left her a message. I had hidden a last key for her and, if she wanted it, they could go in and get that heck-of-a sofa.
But it’s fate, to me, is ... a mystery. She didn’t call back, and I’ll never go back. And, you know, it’s all right. It elevates that sofa to mystic.
Maybe the fairies came and got it, its cracked frame a snap to carry for magic wings. Maybe it went up in a whirlwind. Maybe it just popped back, with a flash, to the realm it came from in the first place. I’ll never know, but that’s OK. It’s legend, and that’s enough for me.

“Then Frodo kissed Merry and Pippin, and last of all Sam, and went aboard; and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew, and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth; and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore glimmered and was lost.”

-Chapter 9, "The Gray Havens"
The Return of the King, JRR Tolkien

Monday, June 02, 2008


It’s Palestine and this traveler is winding through the arid landscape. It’s twilight, and his day’s walk is almost over. He drinks the cooler air, and lets the feathered barley wands brush his palm. Something luminous shines at the base of the stems up ahead, so he stops. He stoops to see.
A pearl?!?
He sells everything he owns to buy the field, pearl included.

Therefore, I believe Jesus wants us to think, to be fairly up-front about where we are in our thought processes -- bouncing ideas off each other -- and, ultimately, patient with each other. Revolutionary!
We’re an immense Siamese twin joined at the heart by the creeds, what’s plainly written, and the “love God, love others” that sums up all the other commandments. But as far as most everything else goes, I think God actually wants us to be ... different. (And I love it.)

Therefore, God wants us to think, which is what I think the parables were all about. Necessarily, you had to put some effort into it to make it your own -- if you wanted it.

So, “different” v. everyone voting the same. Because, otherwise, how would we have power and clout?
I’m visiting my parents in Virginia, and the Lynchburg's News & Advance’s most-read story, on-line, for at least a week and a half was Liberty University’s adverse reaction to an evangelical manifesto that, as I understand it, downplayed the importance of “Christian politics.”
Political activism was Jerry Falwell’s thing, and I can see his point. America’s bit, broadly speaking, is in Washington’s teeth so, obviously, Christians should have a hand on the reigns.

Well, yes. Every Christian needs to vote, but as far as the direction we should all be pulling ... I’m not sure there’s anything we ALL should be doing, except seeking God, living the simplicities of the creed, etc. And thinking. If you find yourself among a big group of people all doing the same thing, well, maybe you’re a bird of a feather (flocking together) and that’s so very nice. But it’s statistically very unlikely.

For whatever Matt Taibbi stumbled into at the Cornerstone Church’s Encounter Weekend in Tx, undercover as a Rolling Stone contributing editor, I extend my pity:
“By the end of the weekend I realized how quaint was the mere suggestion that christians of this type should learn to ‘be rational’ or ‘set aside your religion,’ about such things as the Iraq War or other policy matters. Once you’ve made a journey like this -- once you’ve gone this far -- you are beyond suggestible. It’s not merely the informational indoctrination, the constant belittling of homosexuals and atheists and Muslims and pacifists, etc. that’s the issue. It’s that once you’ve left behind the mental process that a person would need to form an independent opinion about such things. You make this journey precisely to experience the ecstasy of beating to the same big gristly heart with a room of like-minded folks. Once you reach that place with them, you’re thinking with muscles, not neurons.”

-- May 1, 2008, Rolling Stone