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Fall

It was so easy to go to Australia. It was so easy to go. Everywhere we've been. It's probably still easy, as soon as the decision is made. Then you go. What's ahead becomes all important. What is supposed to be loses all its power to frustrate; loses its ability to rub frictively up against what is. Tack-punctured sandpaper versus flesh.

So why is it so difficult to make the decision? Do we really believe that all the promises they promised are going to come true if we stay and endeavor and buy? If we invest properly? If we post cleverly enough on social networking sites, so that mediated living feels momentarily less mediated. Maybe if I squeeze my eyes shut tightly enough and believe harder than the next guy, maybe I'll come up with a great and stupid Sky Mall idea that I can sell to bored business travelers on planes. Headed to their next safely incubated destination. Something to send back to their friends and family to make up for their frequent lack of presence. Maybe I'll win the lottery. Maybe god will touch my brain with his old bony finger and grant me the capacity to be a business mogul. I'll have golden rays of light radiating from my every move that people won't see. But they'll feel them, and thus feel god, and they will inexplicably want to be involved in all my business transactions. Because god loves capitalism best.

That's not faith. That's competitive bargaining.

Faith looks more like going to Australia and living in a van when you get there. Faith is letting the tears slide frictionlessly down your cheek as you step – standing upright…not on all fours – to the precipice of the grassy Cliffs of Moher. Faith is striking up a conversation with humility and gratitude. Faith is allowing yourself to be moved in the presence of others. Faith's grandiosity is small. It fits into your heart, or into the fourteen lines of a sonnet. But it shouldn't be contained in either place. Because its containment will contain you.

It's so hard. It's so easy.

Dissemblers

Yesterday, speaking in regard to a meeting on the Syrian catastrophe, Hillary Clinton expressed reluctance to the possible inclusion of Iranian diplomats. While doing so, she used phrases like ‘stage managed’ to refer to ostensibly deceptive actions of the Iranian government, and ‘bad actors’ synonymously with that government’s officials. ‘Bad actor’, in particular, is a phrase I hear used frequently these days to qualify people and entities as morally suspect, based on their activities in a given sphere. Investment firms that got rich betting on the failure of the housing market have been named bad actors in retrospect. The FBI has stated that it would like the ability in the social networking universe to “geospatially locate bad actors or groups and analyze their movements, vulnerabilities, limitations, and possible adverse actions.” The Washington Times recently ran an op-ed in which the author urges Congress to get “bad actors out of missile defense.”

It is without possibility that Secretary Clinton, or any of these sources, intended to disparage theatre making and the artists who do it. In fact, ‘actor’ is probably being used in such instances just to mean a participant in a series of processes. But ‘actor’ is also generally accepted as a person who behaves disingenuously, and ‘theatrical’ often points to activity considered inauthentic. It’s unfortunate that the vocabulary of theatre has been so readily appropriated, euphemistically, to suggest moral decrepitude in many scenarios.

Yes, actors at work may not be who they seem to be. Theatrical creations do in fact traffic in illusion to generate their realities (or is it the other way around?). The people involved expend exceptional degrees of energy to convince you that things may not be the way you assume they are. Yet I draw a line between the iniquity of lying and the promise of coming at the truth tangentially. There are many ways to strike at truth, which is rarely one thing. Actors, bad and good, invite us to locate truth in uncharted regions of the heart and mind. Theatre workers enable our imaginations to touch alternative heavens and relationships and moral codes. This is not the same thing as lying. Nor should it be equated with facilitating massacres, ruining economies, or annihilating lives. In fact, theatrical forays into existences resembling our own often portend against these destructive events. Our leaders and representatives would do well to make this distinction.

Thank you, Infiltrator

Lately I’ve been revisiting old episodes of Doctor Who, in particular those featuring Tom Baker as the Doctor. Why? There is no good reason for spending time like this. Especially since my preferred Doctor to attend conventions dressed as was Peter Davison. But I’ve been watching these anyway and so there you are. I remember fragments from many of the serials, but I’m quite surprised at much of what I’m seeing. Did I really endure all of this?

(and of course there’s something wonderful and cheeky here that’s impossible not to adore. absolutely unpretentious determination to make something stimulating with too few resources – including decent actors – for what they were trying to accomplish. what we witnessed on our screens and what we could make in our parents’ homes with a crappy hand-held camera were not so far apart)

One of the worst series must have been ‘Horror of Fang Rock’. Are they really threatened by the Rutan? Really? Isn’t that like feeling imperiled by the distant presence of Jello? If this invasion really does present a danger to the human species, then the Doctor might do well to clear off and let Earth become a battle site for the Rutan and Sontarans to raze.

So I took great delight today in learning about an incident that I was entirely ignorant of as a fifteen year-old when it took place in 1987: the broadcast intrusion during WTTW’s presentation of ‘Horror of Fang Rock’. Here it is:

The gestures are absolutely disturbing. The semi-sensical phrases cut with bestial moaning make you wince while wondering what’s next. It’s funny when it’s on. It’s good that it ends. Whatever it is…whoever he is that made it and visited it upon unsuspecting Doctor Who fans in Chicago…the disturbance must have been a welcome interlude from ‘Horror of Fang Rock’.