Phantom of the Opera

To our good friends–

Linda and I are in the midst of watching “Phantom of the Opera.” It is filled with oceanic song and fantastic images–gargoyles on the walls, labyrinthine passages, candles, candles everywhere, oversized building, four-poster beds with sheer fabric surrounds, cobwebs everywhere. The storyline is clear but weak, held together as it were by old cobwebs. It is not that it is art, nor that it works, but that it evokes.

It evokes something from the human breast, something that is evoked in OST and in movements in history (the Munich candlelight observances) and in sporting events and in romance. This latter is perhaps a clue. People want romance, they want to fly, to float on the ocean. “The Titanic” evoked some of the same, not primarily because of the outsized scenery although that undoubtedly contributed. It was the romance, and not just between the two lead characters, but the idea that life is larger. The man had a view of a larger world, and he did not survive–a lesson? Tragedy. “The good, they die young,” the lyric goes. Tragedy evokes perhaps.

Here in “Phantom” it is about something flying–a paean to music, with overtones of darkness. Iambic pentameter, an ancient beat, not heard much these days, but which finds its home someplace deep in the human soul, and is met, met by the unconscious gut. These flowing scenes, these capes turned round and large, these floating images in the mirror! All serve to lift one to another dimension, a place of flight and romance and… meeting. Back to Buber again, are we? Yes, it seems that what the Phantom is about is meeting Christine, and Christine wants to meet the music, the count and the Phantom. She is torn among them, her heart wants all three.

She wants safety, guidance, and flight. The first two are not always consonant with the latter. Or at least that is how we see things, yet do they have to be at odds? Is not the only safety and guidance in flight? Do we control, are we safe if we cower and hide, avoid our own muses and seek for guidance from others? Are not safety and guidance alive in flight, in not following but fulfilling our destiny?

And so the puzzle has to do with destiny and going out to meet it, not as it, but as Thou.

:- Doug.

Published in: Conversations | on September 25th, 2005 | 1 Comment »

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