Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

On the fourth of July we went to the Swiss circus. The lions and tigers were gone. The elephants are next. Animal rights. Nobody took time to ask the animals how they wished to vote. The final act was the wire walker Freddy Knock. We were slapped in the heart by the performance. We were pulled into it; lifted up. Federico Garcia Lorca called it Duende: “dancing on the rim of the well.” Freddy Knock danced on the rim of the ancient well and he took the crowd with him. Freddy Knock walked up the diagonal wire, from the ground to the high wire; backwards. Over the crowd. Lorca sat up in his grave. Lorca declared Duende is experienced only in music, dance, spoken poetry, and bullfighting. Those were his original words. The word “bullfighting” has now been expunged from his internet profile. Our world is being edited down and out by and political correctors and terrorists of the modern soul. Guardians in the watch tower. The truth has gone the way of elephants and tigers. Gone south with the side shows. My summer vacation in the box. Stifling tho' it was becoming.

Dear Teacher: My summer reading included “Furious Love” about Liz Taylor and Richard Burton. The tale is one long passionate song of the Welsh coal miner’s kid and a grown up child actress, drinking their way across the Shakespearean stages of modern history. Ah! Virginia Wolf! This ain’t Brad and Angelina, kids. This ain’t no paper moon under a cardboard sky. Burton drank because: “life is big and it blinds you.” Taylor drank because she could. They married twice; the flunkies at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in London had to keep moving the Burton’s wax figures in and out of the display to follow the romantic changes. Two art lives. Burning. Blood in the water.

I kept thinking about the circus. And our moral watchdogs. Left Wing. Right Wing. Up Wing. Down Wing. We live in a box, and point fingers at the other box. We are protected by flimsy bullet proof vests of moral and political superiority. We save animals and recycle our wine bottles; or we praise our white God as we curse Obama as a Muslim. We watch MSNBC or Fox News, we take sides. The fake spit of outrage runs down the pancake-painted chins of our puppet-faced talk show hosts and newscasters. We create new forms of faux-concern at floods, earthquakes and cartel wars. We are good, and our goodness is slipped into an envelope addressed to a benefit funding. Tax deductible. But we can’t find our pulse or heartbeat, and soul is something that died with James Brown and Otis Redding. We can no longer paint or write songs or novels. The emotions of our artists and writers are cartoonish; fleeting. Politically corrected. We whine; therefore we are. Our blood is kool aid.

And Freddy Knock, Liz Taylor and Richard Burton danced up the diagonal wire. Backwards. On my summer vacation.