At twenty-five I stood on an island in the middle of a lake high in the alps of Slovenia, inside an ancient church housing what was to the locals known as the Bell of Wishes. I waited on line for my turn, auditioning all the old familiar wishes. When I pulled the rope, though, I spontaneously made up a wish I’d never confronted before: “Let it be hard. Let it be painful. Let it be lots and lots of tedious, detailed, frustrating work. Let me struggle to maintain the physical figure and condition. Let me scramble to create opportunities to be seen. Make me show up in the face of defeat. Make me stand up on legs made of fear and doubt. Please, just let it be possible, and I’ll do the rest.” […]
It’s my favorite wish I’ve ever made because it is the only wish that’s ever come true one hundred percent the moment I opened my eyes after wishing it.”
Longing for youth is silly. Sometimes, however, I do wish I could back to my previous lifetime, when I was young and naive and able to fall in love with no thought, no contemplation. I know I am still young, of course. But you lose something after you’ve experienced more, that sense of innocent perseverance, where love can kick your ass and you are ready for more, over and over. Now, I just get weary. I become ok with being alone. 17 year old me, he never would have believed that. There was nothing that 17 year old me wanted more than to be in love.
That’s a bingo.
I tried to write a lot in response to this, but kept deleting. And now I’m on the verge of tears? Oh for fuck’s sake. You had a bad ballet class and a challenging voice lesson and now you’re too afraid to ever love again? And I thought yesterday was a low self-esteem day!
Well screw you, low self-esteem day number two. I’m not going to let you get me all hysterical and mopey. I love being alone! I love challenging voice lessons! I love ballet because even though it hurts me it’ll never wrong me. There’s been no great betrayal. The world is only as fucked up as it was when you were born.
Now go to the theater and have a tea and be beautiful. Buck up, kiddo. You’re tired but you’re not old, you’re educated but wisdom is still a bit down the road. So let’s how’s about walk it off.
Dear Zorica: Last night (when it was only low self-esteem day number one) I chose to recommend your blog for Tumblr Tuesday. I hope that makes you feel even a teeny tiny little bit better.
“At one point, way before I made ‘The Wrestler,’ I was actually developing a project that was about a love affair between a ballet dancer and a wrestler, and then it kind of split off into two movies. I realized pretty quickly that taking two worlds like wrestling and ballet was much too much for one movie. So I guess my dream is that some art theater will play the films as a double feature some day.”
Darren Aronofsky’s original plan was to have Black Swan and The Wrestler be the same movie?
Sidebar: I’m gonna be honest, Black Swan sort of looks a little too scary for me? That shit looks freaky as hell!!!
Ballet is definitely terrifying. Blood and guts are spilling everywhere on even the most sanguine of days. At the scariest moments you’re paralyzed with fear, trapped in a house of mirrors populated by hundred-year-old ghosts grotesquely costumed as clowns and princes and our most worshiped nightmares and it all dead-ends at a place where you realize the hatred is coming from inside the self.
A relationship between a ballet dancer and a wrestler would be an interesting experiment, I can see why Aronofsky was drawn to the idea. The old Bejart quote about dancers being “half-nun, half-boxer” holds up right through to personal relationships. Put two people who know how to take a punch into the ring then blindfold them with passion. It’s one of those scenes that gets so ugly you know it has to feel good. (But it doesn’t.) (Ok maybe it does, a little.)
Zori is killing it today. I’ve been waiting for her take on Black Swan. And after this post, I think I might indeed like to see it with The Wrestler as a double feature.
Girl, feel free to email me anytime - or hit me up Gchat styles at that same addy.
““I think it is a sad commentary on much of our culture that most of us think of the arts as decoration. They should be seen as intrinsic, mother’s milk. Journalism and theater are two glorious expressions of that perspective.””
I think Sidney Harman, the new owner of Newsweek, is dead-on with his thoughts here. (Via the New York Times.)
The arts are decoration, the same way that love decorates life: It’s the usual subway ride/lunch hour/run on the treadmill but it’s all dressed up with thinking about someone new. That’s what art does for time, it makes it sound different, look different, feel different, even though it’s the same old seconds and minutes, inhales and exhales, digestion and aging and innate neurological messages.
Journalism takes facts, media as inalterable as units of time, and, without contorting them, brings them into the shape of a story. As with any gold standard one’s humanity gets in the way of absolutely perfect execution. For journalists bias is what muscle-failure and fatigue are to dancers. You go after something even as you know you’re going to fail at it, at least a little bit. The maddening part is that if you’re honest you’ll always be able to see those failures, sometimes almost as they’re happening. All the same you won’t be able to prevent them.
In an ideal culture I suppose I agree that the arts would be deemed equally essential as engineering and law, but there is something delicious about the way things are now. As things stand a person’s response to art that tells me more about them than anything else. You can pretend you really enjoyed the opera but even as you rave you can’t hide what you really felt because society doesn’t teach us how to lie convincingly about art — it’s not important enough for that.
And this means that I can be having coffee with someone and we can be talking about prime time television and business trips to Macao and I can toss Philip Glass into an analogy and time will stop for a moment because this person sitting across from me has a visceral reaction, a real, physically-betrayed opinion about that music, and it doesn’t matter that we kind-of-sort-of disagree; what matters is that we both saw the secret sign, we knew the handshake. There was nothing to keep us from recognizing each other after that, and now we can say so much more on any topic, because we know who is across the table.
Or else Philip Glass is of no consequence to you, and we either find that connection somewhere else, or we don’t. But the point is that there’s something very real in an exchange about a thing that is largely dismissed in popular culture but is as dear to you as life, all the same. If you make ballet wildly popular it will be harder to tell the true believers from those who follow by rote. Already it’s hard enough, so much of ballet is worship of pretty bodies and pretty faces and flashy circus things.
Give me someone who cries when the curtain rises on Serenade and can find at least a word or two in an attempt to explain why. It’s a decoration that makes every room in your life like a palace hall, and every meal as rich as a king’s.
Oh, Zorica, this was lovely! We are such kindred spirits. What a pleasure it is to have you in my day via my dashboard, always bringing out the best parts of my nature while simultaneously cackling with me behind the scenes at the wicked ones.