--I always find myself wanting to tell someone about, or write about, the times when I experience intense overlays of affect or signification. For me, this is what it's all about, what I read for, what I listen for, what I live for. But they're always so deeply obscure and personal that I'm never sure if they're worth sharing, if the frission of it is something that can be conveyed to people outside of my head.
I'm going to anyway, because this is my journal, and I can be self-indulgent.
The bit from The Dark Is Rising
with "Good King Wenceslas" has always been important and central for me. Part of that is that I was a choir girl whose peak event of the year was the holiday concert with the local symphony orchestra; part of it has to do with my general Thing for traditional carols. But it was also about Will and Merriman, alienation and community unlooked-for. Will loses the support of his brother's voice, sings alone as he goes forward, and just as he's wondering what he's going to do to keep the song going by himself Merriman comes in on the joyful king's verse, lyrically offering protection and restoring harmony. The Old Ones aren't always good
community for Will - there's a darkly funny way that I think of DiR as the opposite of Harry Potter, where becoming a wizard on your eleventh birthday means leaving your abusive family for a wonderful world of magic, because in his waking Will loses his family, his humanity, and his future, and only gains a set of crochety old absentee mentors. Will Stanton is the eternal graduate student. But in that moment, singing "Good King Wenceslas," Merriman comes through for his pupil. In that moment, at least, Will isn't left alone.
And it means something to me that this is all framed in terms of poverty, generosity, honor, and snow.
So, on the opposite side of the collision--
I keep drawing the Fool card in my tarot, shall I or shan't I, and one of the questions pulling at me now is how much I want to keep fighting to wodge myself into the world versus how much I want to just go be the crazy witch lady at the edge of the woods. And I've been reading a lot of pieces like this one at the Atlantic
about reclusive or in-revolt artists who start letting the madness through; the link centers Blackness, touching on Kanye West, Dave Chapelle, Lauryn Hill, and Nina Simone, but Courtney Love and Tori Amos are also artists that are part of this for me, in addition to badgal Rihanna. I grok that there are racialized aspects of this subject position that I can't legitimately lay claim to, but it's been giving me language for the simultaneous turn-away and aggressive-visibility impulses I've been feeling.
I've had a rough few days, dealing with an unusually nasty menstrual period, handling unfamiliar work that I'm less fluent with, and also doing first talks with a new therapist that I'm checking out. So yes, I was watching What Happened, Miss Simone?
on Netflix looking for catharsis; but I really wasn't expecting the doc to open with her coming onstage, pushing the edge of her alienation, and sit down at the piano and start playing "Good King Wenceslas." God. The footage is from her 1976 return concert in Switzerland. She casts this beautiful incantation - she draws her limits verbally, hard, and it's awkward, and she does the throw-away gesture over her shoulder, and tells them they have to go with her to the beginning, girlhood. And this is still before the title card.
I recommend the doc, fwiw. It bothered me sometimes that her songs were used so heavily in the soundtrack; it especially nerdled me that "Put A Spell On You" underscored the section on her experience of marital abuse. It's too specific and too general all at once; those songs are standards, not confessional contemp-style singer-songwriter pieces. The civil rights music is different, it belongs in the context.