Thursday, September 11, 2014

steal the honey from killer bees

The voice of beauty speaks softly.
 ― Friedrich Nietzsche 

I went to go see a play last week. 
It was called This is Where We Live.
The general idea was that it was the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice set in a deadbeat Australian town (rather similar to ancient Greece, I imagine). And not only are they in a deadbeat Australian town, they are in high school in this deadbeat Australian town (that must actually be Hades). And not only are they in high school, they are in the same English class (convenient), and Orpheus' father is their awful, ogre-ish, evil English teacher! He spends entire dinner table conversations quizzing his poor little curly-haired son on geography and political histories and works of literature. Poor Orpheus (aka Chris in this play) wishes his father would actually love him instead of treating him like a little question-answering robot while Orpheus' mother unabashedly seeks comfort at the bottom of the bottle. They are astonishingly unconcerned about Orpheus' mom drinking herself into the grave. Perhaps this is because they are already in the underworld. #deep.
Much high school wow teenager very hormones.
But, from the moment that Chloe (aka Eurydice) began her opening monologue, I was mesmerized by the tapestries of words the actors wove around the stage.
Instead of backdrops decorating the space, creating their world around them; it was the actors' words that hung curtains of a world around them, and invited us into it.
It was beautiful. Mesmerizing. Spellbinding.
The language alone was enough to make the play the most beautiful piece of art I'd seen or heard recently, because of its cornucopia of beautiful words, striking verbal and visual images, and lots of fluid, quick language.
But also, what captured my heart more than anything else was The Look.
Seeing The Look on that bare, warm little stage melted my heart.
The Look is my favorite thing, because it is so beautiful and sweet, and you can't describe it, but you know it when you see it.
The Look is just pure desire.
Not dirty or filthy or untoward desire.
It's not the man on the street who does 180 degree turns when a hot mama passes by him. The Look is not rubbernecking or ogling or leering or clocking.
The Look is something born of  beautiful, intense, pure desire.
The Look is sheer longing shooting out of a human's eyes.
It is something best not crystallized and held onto--
it lasts for a moment and vanishes just as quickly.
It lingers in the air.
You can feel it as it sucks you breath out of you.
We talk about "chemistry" about the magical flutterings and pitter-patterings that thrill through two human hearts in tandem, but really we're just trying to capture what The Look means.
I remember seeing that in Rome: seeing a young man look at a young girl that way. It was thrilling: she acted as if she had no clue (and perhaps she didn't) that his eyes stared at her as if she was the sun and he would happily lose vision in both his eyes, just that he might catch one bold, brilliant glimpse of her radiant, celestial body.
Our Chris/Orpheus looked at our Chole/Eurydice in a way that persuaded you, positively convinced you that they must actually be in love, because you simply can't fake The Look like that.
Well, you can, because physical chemistry is as physical chemistry does, and two consummate actors, showing off their fine acting skills can fake The Look like you wouldn't believe.
But that, in itself, is sort of magic--that we can notice and reproduce something so intangible.
But The Look is one of my favorite things to see.
In a very harsh and unsubtle world, The Look is something tender and gentle that invites us to notice the wonder and beauty that can be found in subtleties.

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