Thursday, July 1, 2010

Rite of Spring

The Faust theme, that of risking eternal damnation by selling one’s soul to the devil in exchange for magical powers, can be found in nearly every genre of music as well as in the arts and literature. This is a biblical theme examining humanity’s place in the universe and the struggle between good and evil. It plays out in technology as well, in the energy that enables us to generate heat and light, to fly and race over the globe, and use powerful machines to move the earth, as well as broadcast the beams of information, music, images and ideas across the globe. This magic is powered by that black energy from deep in the earth, coal and oil. Burn that, and you've got the Faustian bargain of carbon loading in the biosphere and the horrific toll that pollution and climate change is taking on planetary systems.

Looking at this issue mythically may help us create a vision of redemption that can be used to trick the devil in the final stretch. Listening to the notorious music by Stravinsky in the ballet by Diaghilev, which created an uproar over its expression of primitive power and seductive entrapment, we can see that there's a way out of the trap. This theme has been re-imagined over and over, the music emerging more recently again in Bob Fosse's choreography in that 1955 play about the Yankees losing the pennant: Damn Yankees. Gwen Verdon does it all justice in "Whatever Lola Wants", the great seduction number.

Myth, metaphor, philosophy and wisdom can go beyond the bounds of everyday vision and inspire a collaborative, focused goal of reintegrating with the natural processes and leaving the dark fuels behind. It relies on making the social connections and valuing the smaller, more intimate and ultimately most effective systems and lifestyles. Out of that vision emerges the strategies and solutions that return life to the earth in the manner in which we found it. It's a choice we can make as the inhabitants of this planet - the devil's bargain can be broken. Joe did slam that ball out of the park and with Lola's help, he made it back home to Meg.