Wednesday, February 2, 2011

There are No Deferrals


The fine boys over at trivia informed me that the French translation of the film Never Let Me Go spools out as "Close to Me Always". That's an unkind interpretation of the film itself, I gather. Unkind. It loses the necessary desperation that underlines the film's voice. 

Desperation is important. Especially in love.


Never Let Me Go by Mark Romanek.

We follow the film. From beginning to end. We watch two people get to love each other for awhile. I use the word 'get' purposefully here, as in it is insinuated that this sort of love is relatively rare amongst humanity (say, it happens two or three times a year, rare) And then, soon enough, the end comes. They will die. The question that follows is quite simple: are they better for having loved? When they go to die, as we all must, one goes before the other, and so the awful wave of mourning must be experienced. Even worse, when you know you are going to die soonly, you know your hours are slipping from you. There is much anguish in that knowledge.

What does love do for you? 
The film doesn't answer the question. This is wise, for it can't rightly do so. We can't know the answer. Not yet. What is value in this life? What's the point?

See, the thing is, we don't know what life is for. I was trained as a child to recite often the first question and answer given in the Westminster Shorter Catechism:

                                       Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.       
Read all of the Shorter Catechism (with proof texts): here.
Okay, so our time should be spent Glorifying God primarily. How does one do that? Singing to Him, perchance? Alright and then we've got Enjoying Him. I figure that can pretty much be bobsledding.

My point is merely to say that God could have had us all created to build some giant mega Slip-n-Slide, but He didn't. He has given us directions as to how to live holy, and Christ gave his followers a task, a Great Commission, but it's still all pretty loosey-goosey, right?

In a recent interview with pitchfork, the prophet-artist musician (my words), Sufjan Stevens, had this to say:
I have a hard time distinguishing what is valuable when it comes to the real world and the fantasy world. Like, should I invest my time in the ordinary world or the imaginary world? Royal [Robinson] made a decision and completely escaped the ordinary world. Maybe that's enlightenment. Maybe that's what it's like to be in heaven. I don't know. 

For me, the sensory pleasure of sound and music is so transcendent that I begin to distrust it and worry if it's a distraction from ordinary life. Maybe I should be spending my time doing something else, like start a family. Or build an amusement park-- actually, that's still a fantasy world. Engineering? Investment banking? Real estate? There are all kinds of people who make the world go 'round.
Read the whole interview: here.

We may say we are here to share the Good News of the Gospel. This is most certainly a true statement, for the Good News is that Emmanuel is real: God is with us. And He will see us into union with Him, when we answer the call of His divine grace bestowed unto our rotting hides. NEVERTHELESS! The question still remains: why were we made to begin with? 

Never Let Me Go ends with this line:
Kathy H: What I'm not sure about, is if our lives have been so different from the lives of the people we save. We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we've lived through, or feel we've had enough time.
Why were we formed, God? Why make Adam? Why let him fall? Why all this?


Today I've become intimately acquainted with the music video for Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Watch here.
Sidenote: I think the key to good acting is this: no matter what the circumstance, the character looks to be working the situation out inside their own mind. No matter the intelligence, an interesting character must always be processing in his or her own way.

When I went to Biola, there were no school sanctioned dances. This, of course, did not mean that students didn't dance at parties and the what-have-yous, but these things often slid into overtly sexual motifs; the kind of which I didn't find particularly alluring. So, to calm the tide of youngins' desire to shake their hips, Biola did, once a year, have a school-sanctioned lip-synch competition thing called Mock Rock. It perplexed me so. Somehow, all these girls which I never really looked at with a sexual lens, suddenly were dressing up, dancing, and transmorphing into these creatures that suddenly seemed horrifically appealing. Whilst attending these events I found myself exiting those competitions with much internal angst as to how all these common girls suddenly became irresistible bombshells. Those were hard nights. Tough to endure.

Much in the same manner, I've fallen in love with the lead singer from this music video. How she can manage to look weak, strong, frightened, boastful, nervous, beautiful, ugly, awkward and rhythmic all within the course of a four minute song is incredible to me. Most likely, if I passed her in a park I'd think nothing of it, but man alive, in this here video, I just don't know what to do with myself. Sigh...

Midway through the song she begins to cry. Why? I don't know. She pushes her microphone around in a manner that appears to be symbolic, as if she is performing some sort of painful ritual. I don't know the meaning behind any of it -- but I do understand the repeating mantra of the song, "Wait!" 
When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh... 
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart
take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:2, 14
I'm using 'love' here with excessive liberality when I say I've fallen in love with this singer gal -- but the word helps illuminate an answer to a question. What good does personal, sensual affection have? Why did God say it was not good for man to be alone? 

Even this fake little 'love', wholly selfish (in that I am merely receiving), still has a value, and can be used as something of a litmus test. This welling of emotion, it causes me to welcome the world -- to feel that is worthy of much investment. To feel affection for another, as long as it stays clear of sheer lust, helps embiggen our view of the world. 

To desire to know why she cried, I took interest in all the details. Every little movement became important. Every gesture became a symposium of mystery for me: it all had to have significance. I recall this emotion on an exponentially greater scale in my memory of past relationships. A commonplace fidget by the girlfriend suddenly evolved into this world that I had to uncover. Why did she fidget? 'Gadzooks! We must get to the bottom of this!' Indeed, I would think these thoughts. What occurred was the elevation of the normal in the one whom I cared for. The mundane became the supernatural.

I'll explain further:


When did he cry?
It wasn't when he first heard that his friend Lazarus died.
No. It was later.
When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to Him, "Lord, come and see." Jesus wept. John 11:33-35
He wept not merely because of Lazarus' death, but because he saw the pain of many. 

And that is why emotion matters. 
This is why our lives matter -- because our God cares about how we feel. Every moment, every sensation, in every detail our God is the Lover of our souls. And so our lives matter because that Lover will never die, never leave us, never forsake us, and never let me go.

1 comment:

  1. It is quite fun to re-read these... about 3 months later. :)

    "get to love each other"- the 1 in 50? :)

    Also, what a wonderful quote by Sufjan. I have had similar (though less eloquently stated) thoughts about that world of music.

    mmmmm.... and the struggle comes in in Exhibit D. I want to be in that world... the love-filled one... not (only?) the introspective, musician-y one.