A thing that I most despise in modern American culture is the total separation of madness and “sanity,” with so-called sanity as the norm and the goal of all mental health modalities. Sanity, like gender, is a construct. What passes for “sanity” in my context seems like half-life to me. That is not to romanticize states of mental distress that cause suffering – but there’s much more territory to be accepted and explored.
This may be why I continue to defend non-violent religious enthusiasms even while I deplore their ridiculous and harmful theologies: I appreciate a bit of madness! Last night as I walked through Leicester Square I heard an evangelical idiot with a megaphone blathering on and on about Jesus and salvation and I felt the oppression of words, words, words, thank you very much Martin Luther, thank you John Calvin, for this obnoxious verbosity. I would rather the man put down his megaphone and dance his Christian message for us, act out the threat of Hell, become Jesus on the cross dying for our sins — I’d respect him more. It would be more impressive an expression of faith than his loud lecturing and exorting.
(I’m working it out — writing without inner editor and critic that is so tightly uniformed and On The Job in my usual work and especially my sermons. Don’t expect these sabbatical posts to be terribly linear, consistent or coherent)
More opera tonight! “Orphee” by Philip Glass. “The Mask of Orpheus” the other night was, in the words of one patron I overheard in the lobby, “TOTALLY mental” and it went on for four hours of avante garde bizarrity that I loved and found irritating for the usual reasons of sexism and cliched design. Make it new! Make it new!
Here now at the Wellcome Collection Library, a wonderful resource of medical history that is one of my favorite cultural centers in London. I’ve joined the library and am happily nestled among the stacks of loads of books on the plague. Just now taking notes on Death, Reburial and Rebirth in the Religions of Antiquity by Jon Davies and Ritual Texts For The Afterlife : Orpheus and the Bacchic Gold Tablets by Fritz Graf and Sarah Iles Johnston.
There is so much water imagery in the Orpheus art I’m seeing, I want to know what is in the original Greek material. I always thought Orpheus was a poet, musician, lyre-playing guy. I associate his story with the earth, and perhaps the element of air (Apollo, stringed instrument, etc). Whence all this water?
Off to find some dinner and then to the theatre. I need to figure out how to upload photos to this little Chromebook.