But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 2 Corinthains 2:14
All things have a fragrance in the mind. Some beautiful and alluring, others sickening. This list is my effort to make known those experiences with art and being that carried the most potent aromas to my soul in 2010. The list includes anything that I encountered, whether new or old, that stirred me to some mode of passion.
If you find the list excessive, know that it is only so because words fail where passion begins.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------28. Rize documentary film, by David LaChapelle
Inhale the Trailer here!
27. Mariel's Brazen Overture song, by Margot and the Nuclear So and So's
- A dialogue between man and woman
- A toxic mixture of regret and nostalgia
- An Abrupt tempo change
- An undercurrent of tragedy
26. Horton Hears a Who! film, by Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino
Breathe in the trailer here!
25. Red Riding Trilogy film series, by Julian Jarrold, James Marsh, Anand Tucker
24. Inception film, by Christopher Nolan
23. Ruby Tuesday song, as sung by Franco Battiato
Children of Men is a film of mastery. Set in a world that is rapidly spinning toward its own end, somehow wonder is found. The film is directed with many breathtaking cinematic shots. If the film's cinematic lens represents the film's creative mind, then the cover of The Rolling Stone's Ruby Tuesday is the heart. We tend to believe that innocence is a thing that is lost somewhere amidst children. The world siffens its essence from us, and we become damned to its aroma. Nevertheless, within the confines of the song's anthem lies a delicate hope that innocence can be regained for even the most battle weary among us. Innocence restored and life regained.
22. White Dog film, by Samuel Fuller
White Dog reminds us of the damage done. Death is coming.
21. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai film, by Jim Jarmusch
20. The Blue Mosque building
19. The Films of Terrence Malick director
18. Burek food
17. The Suburbs album, by Arcade Fire
16. Rumi poetry, as translated by Coleman Barks
Often, I want to call certain people my friends. Eight centuries separate Rumi and I. I think that Rumi would say that eight centuries would be nothing for two friends. Rumi was a sufist and not a Christian, supposedly. I hope that maybe he found Christ as an answer before his end came. I hope I can someday meet this man of whom I want to make friends with. I hope.
The following is taken from the poem A Dove in the Eaves:
You push me out on many journeys;
then you anchor me with no motion at all.
I am water. I am the thorn
that catches someone's clothing.
I don't care about marvelous sights!
I only want to be in your presence.
There's nothing to believe.
Only when I quit believing in myself
did I come into this beauty.
I saw you blade and burned my shield!
I flew on six hundred pairs of wings like Gabriel.
But now that I'm here, what do I need wings for?
Day and night I guarded the pearl of my soul.
Now in this ocean of pearling currents,
I've lost track of which was mine.
There is no way to describe you.
Say the end of this so strongly
that I will ride up over
my own commotion.
15. The Mind of Charles Williams novelist
14. Frailty film, by Bill Paxton
Watch the Trailer here!
13. Where the Wild Things Are film, by Spike Jonze
“I have a sadness shield that keeps out all the sadness, and it’s big enough for all of us.” No one tell Max that shields rust.
12. Eh Hee music video, by Dave Matthews
This music video seethes anger through the cracks of its jagged teeth. Such fascinating anger... and yet, I find that I can empathize with such frustrations. What does that make me?
WATCH IT NOW!
11. The Angel of Death Came to David's Room song, by Mewithoutyou
-- A brief word about the top ten --
10. Infinite Jest novel, by David Foster Wallace
Infinite Jest, but I did. I hoped that this story of a movie so entertaining that it kills anyone who watches it (once you start watching you literally are never willing to do anything but keeping watching it – so all cases lead to death), would finish with some divine insight about the state of my reality. No luck. Wallace’s novel is a painful lesson that genius does not necessarily lead to revelation. The will to genius is not the same door that leads to revelation -- this was a paramount lesson for me to learn this past year. Vital, really.
9. LOST television show, by J.J Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse
Click here for a concise recap of the show!
8. Richard McGraw musician
Check out his myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/richardmcgraw
7. Soren Kierkegaard philosopher
Ol' Kierks gets an honorable slot on this list for one simple reason: he finds the whole story of Abraham and Isaac as a bit absurd. In fact, I would say that at some point, Kierkegaard was left dumbfounded by the Biblical account. He simply couldn't just leave it as is and say, “Yeah, that makes sense… moving on.” No. He fought to understand. In his Jacob-esque wrestling, Kierkegaard arrives at a decision. He declares that those among us who are most intimate with God may act in such a manner that appears silly to us. They are being truly, madly, and deeply Spirit led. Of course, the argument is far more layered than that, but who cares! Soren resonates. Let such wings flap.
Download a free ebook of Kiekegaard's collected essays: On Faith and the Self Here!
6. Ayran food
5. Jon Stewart political comedian
Watch Jon Stewart every week on The Daily Show at: http://www.thedailyshow.com/
4. Lars von Trier film director
Antichrist, Lars Von Trier has the audacity to tribute his film to Andrei Tarkovsky, one of the great fathers of Christian Spiritualism in Film. Lars Von Trier is a stunning force of filmmaking mastery. The man's genius can no longer be denied. He is great. He is great. He is great... and he is wrong. I will continue to see his films as remarkable feats of artistry and passion, but with much power comes much responsibility. I don't believe he cares for his audience, only his intuition blended with conviction. 'To hell with them,' he thinks. I respond, 'Soon enough.'
Be Careful as you watch the Antichrist trailer here!
3. Ayn Rand philosopher/novelist
It's a Wonderful Life!. I was just sitting there, minding my own business, relishing the Christmas season enjoying the wit and wisdom of Mr. George Bailey, when she suddenly had to butt her dumb old persuasive philosophy in my face. Old man Potter is set as the evil moneygrubber in that film. Director Frank Capra paints him as only concerned with profit and progress. In an instant, I am caught off guard by my own question. »Why is that so wrong to want to run a successful business? Mr. Potter isn't doing anything illegal. Why is it so wrong to not want to loan money to people who can't pay you back? Isn't that exactly how we got into the whole mortgage crisis in 2008? Thanks for that one, Ayn.
2. Sufjan Stevens musician
I Want to be Well). Now the hope remains as this: that Sufjan's voice would not only remain beautiful to me, but be universally seen as a work of tremendous achievement. But ultimately more important, I hope Sufjan takes up his cross and actively acknowledges that he may, with his current arsenal of tools, lead a wandering band of soul-searchers ever closer to the Architect of all souldom.
Click here to read my previous column concerning Sufjan.
Listen to all of Sufjan's new album The Age of Adz here for free!
1. Equus film, directed by Sydney Lumet, written by Peter Shaffer
Alan: Gods don't die.
Dr. Dysart: Oh yes they do.
I will merely state that the viewing of this film in conjunction with the manner and time in which I observed it led to a series of highly influential murmurings in my head. Equus is the story of two people: a tortured young man, and an aging psychologist who uses the young man to find his own torment. Simple enough, eh?
Passion, you see, can be destroyed by a doctor. It cannot be created.
The story runs like this:
- Alan loves horses – until the day he gouges out their eyes.
- Dr. Dysart wants to cure Alan of his abnormalities.
- Alan tells the doctor about his worship of the god Equus.
- Dr. Dysart becomes jealous of Alan's capacity for passion.
- Alan is cured by talking through the events that led to his attack. He becomes normal.
- Dr. Dysart is left with a burning doubt as to whether he did the right thing.
Sigh... I'm such a sucker for doubters.
I need, more desperately than my children need me, a way of seeing in the dark.
Peter Shaffer likes to write stories about people touched by God, and those around them who feel excluded from that ray of light. What I take away with from Equus, unlike from his other masterpiece Amadeus, is that everyone is touched from the divine, but most of us systematically work Him out of our lives. We refuse the divine for the mundane.
Somehow, someway, the watching of Equus set off this little notion in my head that dabbling with insanity might very well be a dandy idea, if it is in pursuit of God, the Divine. This thought leads me to vomit out my Aristotelian lens which speaks of balance as the key ingredient to Godliness. Forget balance. I want communion with God. And I want it all the time. We can't balance God. He is unbalancable.
Dr. Dysart: Moments snap together like magnets forged in a chain of shackles. Why? I can trace them, I can even with time pull them apart again. But why at the start were they ever magnetized at all. Why those particular moments of experience and no others, I do not know! And nor does ANY BODY ELSE! And if "I" don't know, if I can "never" know, what am I doing here? I don't mean clinically doing, or socially doing, but fundamentally. These whys, these questions, are fundamental. Yet they have no place in a consulting room. So then do I? Do any of us?
May we move closer in community with Jesus our Messiah in 2011 than ever before.