“….a riddle’s just the thing for a dreamer…” Tom Waits.
Not an easy thing, to talk about ‘the miraculous’ without irony. It exists, however you want to define it or refer to it, and we all, in our own way, seek it. And we all have our own version of what it means, which is miraculous in itself, that one concept can survive and in fact be enhanced by having six billion possible meanings, and probably more ways than that of finding it.
We’re human; aren’t we all really looking for the miraculous, one way or another? We might not call it that, but whether we look for it in love, religion, sex, dancing or reality TV, or maybe all of the above, maybe all at the same time, it’s what being human is all about. We need something beyond ourselves, which by the way, just to help you out, is usually found within us. We just need help bringing it to light, if we’ve gone into the darkness to find it, which, being human, we often do, especially as writers, artists, dancers, dreamers and other holy and degenerate chroniclers of the human condition.
“I tell you that I wanna go, but I wanna stay…” The Ahn Trio.
Hubert Selby Jr has words quoted elsewhere in this blog about the risk of not coming back from that darkness. Transforming yourself emotionally in the name of art can be dangerous. You can read that figuratively, emotionally, psychologically, or simply literally. Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader vanished at sea while attempting to complete his enigmatic work, In Search Of The Miraculous. Even back in 1973, it was meant with ironic detachment. It was to be comprised of photographs of a walk through Los Angeles from the freeway to the ocean; photographs from a similar trek in Amsterdam, and details from the Atlantic crossing he undertook, just him in a small boat, the solitary journey during which he disappeared. The Los Angeles photos are evocative in their directness, William Eggleston by way of Weegee. Each one is accompanied by a lyric fragment of a song by the Coasters’ (“I’m searchin’, I’m searchin’ every which way…”) and what could have been mundane and everyday is now something other, something more. It’s simultaneously a deconstruction and a celebration. They coexist, and their coexistence is essential for the miraculous. Like lovers. Transcendence can only occur from opposition.
“All I want is what you got… I know I’m gonna lose myself this way…” The Ahn Trio.
It doesn’t really need saying at this point, but let’s say it anyway: the miraculous is everywhere, and often shows up when you’re not even looking for it. It’s re-watching the first twelve episodes of Californication and realizing all over again how deftly the irreverence sits with the emotional body blows, the brutal human truths. It’s watching a dancer called Kayla Jenee Radomski from a place called Aurora delivering a wrenching performance to the Ahn Trio’s All I Want, lighting up the sky with moves drenched in wanting and loss and desperation that remind you exactly what it feels like to hurt for someone. It’s watching a performance like this and realizing that writers just have to grasp that sometimes words just aren’t even close to being enough to compete with the eloquence of the body. It’s seeing your lover smile for the first time as your lover. It’s seeing your lover smile for the three thousandth time, and still feeling it light you up. It could be a first kiss… or the last kiss… slow-fading memories of how it used to be, or what could have been… or knowing how things could be. Or breathing clean air on a bright shiny morning and for once, not feeling any pain.
“…why’d you have to wait, where were you, where were you?” The Fray.
‘The miraculous’ can be any or many things, and it’s probably not what you expected. It may not be what you were hoping for, and it might come later than you wanted. You might call it and it doesn’t return your messages… but it is there, always. And if it isn’t (and forgive me for this, because I’m writing this on an iPhone), there’s probably an app for that. Once your higher power of choice gets into the app development market, we’ll all be OK.
Until then, you could do worse than follow the lyric that starts this post, and listen to some Tom Waits. Whatever you choose, miracles await.