Monday, November 22, 2010

Coming Soonness

My bed broke. 

It was the middle of the night. I was sleeping. I'm suddenly relocated from happy dreamland to not-so-happy head thirty degrees lower than the rest of my body... land. Rather than dealing with my problems, I forced my being to submit to awkward sleep. The consequence of this was a somewhat severe and annoying headache come morning's call. 

Since my head accrued the added weight of a bowling ball through the evening, I felt not up to the prospect of leaving my apartment. The result then was that I watched movies throughout the day. 

I watched good films all, but nothing that inspired me; nothing that fed my soul.

Perhaps Wages of Fear summed it up for me. A man lay dying, desperately striving to remember what was on the otherside of the fence back in his home town, Paris. He dies as his memory unlocks the key. Nothing, he says. Nothing.  

The other film, though not a classic like Henri-Georges Clouzot's Wages, was pretty darn well contrived as well. Big Fan. It follows the emotional roller coaster life of a really big New York Giants fan. It was a swell picture, I tell ya. But then it ended. It ended and I still was here. 

Back in July, whilst meeting my dear friend Justin Botz for breakfast at an IHOP restaurant in my hometown of Oceanside, California, we talked of our artistic hopes. Not the hopes we have for our own personal potentials, but rather, the potential of art to move and uplift the soul towards God. Transcendence. 
There's a greatness to the feeling of eagerness and anticipation. When that first trailer comes out and knocks you out cold -- it leaves you wondering what height its potential will reach. For me, coming into the last season of "Lost" was this almost soul-crushing feeling that there was no way the show could live up to the hype my soul required of it. And inevitably it did fall short. But still, there was that chance, that hidden expectation that this new art will be so phenomenal it will change us. 

Watching classics like The Wages of Fear can be exhilarating in that I am intaking, for the first time, a piece of work that has for fifty years spoken and affected hearts and minds around the world. Watching classic films allows me to participate in that great tradition. The problem here, however, is that traditions are static. There is no surprise at the end of the tunnel.

New art is different... or perhaps I should say, coming soon art is different.
Mr. Botz and I agreed on one thing that morning at IHOP. We both had faith in the musician Sufjan Stevens. We had faith that he could single handedly bring forth a new definition as to what "Christian Music" can be. Since that day, Mr. Stevens has released both a new EP and LP. Both are fantastic works of genius. His new album rewards repeat listenings, and I believe upon my third listen-through I did feel my soul jump within me for a brief bit. It was glorious.

God has allowed us to continue to discover and create more and more. This is an obvious observation when we recount such inventions as the internet and the moon landing and all the myriads of gizmos we utilize to hasten ourselves towards pleasurable experiences everyday. So, if God has given us these physical means of 'progress', has He not also given us the freedom to excel in the realms of the metaphysical? 

This is a good hope, no?

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