Eleven Years: Searching For Magic

September 17th, 2017 § 0 comments

I don’t know that it’s possible to find faith when you’ve been raised agnostic from birth—a word my mother quickly taught me as a child—and yet I’ve always found spirituality in art. I tell my critic friends that the closest I’ll ever come to God is sitting before a Rothko painting: for me, that is a religious experience. The sense of wonder and majesty, that feeling of being so small without feeling helpless or lost is captured within so many of my earliest artistic memories.

And I’ve always believed in a kind of unknowable fate, in connections you simply can’t explain, the idea of lives running on parallel tracks, crossing once in a moment of pure destiny or incredible chance. I’m drawn to a romantic sense of the inexplicable, to stories about meeting people too soon or too late, even in alternative lives, as though life was a wonderful Choose Your Own Adventure. It’s not difficult to realize that these ideas are a strong undercurrent of meaning and exploration in my artwork.

I wrote to a friend recently,

“I just finished watching Kieślowski’s Red. It’s always been my favorite of his films because it’s so romantic, though not in the traditional way. I always liked the idea of time intersecting, of fate and chance. It’s interesting to watch it now that I no longer believe anything of the kind.”

That night I dreamed of you. It was a mysterious dream, and involved endless conversations with people who were surprised I thought you’d died. It seemed you had just been “off somewhere” doing “something else.” At first I was completely unconvinced, yet as the dream progressed I started to believe that the nightmare of loss wasn’t real.

The same friend scolded me for having such a dream, but perhaps I was scolding myself. After eleven years, I’ve lost my faith. As I lose my innocence and my romantic indulgences, my notions of happiness and health, I wonder what they are being replaced by. Perhaps you have been off, doing things, elsewhere, all this time. Can I still believe in alternative stories, simultaneous narratives, or non-liner intersections in time? What is left when faith is lost? Outside, as the clock strikes 1, I can hear the church bells of Saint Joseph’s on the corner, and I wonder what kind of faith there is to be found.

On a summer night a few weeks ago, at a bar with in midtown, I found myself chatting with a spiritual dominatrix named Didi. Fun, tough, playful, and somehow wise, she reminded me of the kind of free spirits we were raised around. I told her that I grew up believing in a kind of magic I just didn’t see in the world. As if in answer to all my searching, hands clasping mine, she looked at me and said incredulously, “you don’t find magic, you create magic.” You would laugh at the idea of an epiphany at the hands of an aging dominatrix, and you would have found it fitting and perfect.

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