“So it is written – but so, too, it is crossed out. You can write it over again. You can make notes in the margins. You can cut out the whole page. You can, and you must, edit and rewrite and reshape and pull out the wrong parts like bones and find just the thing and you can forever, forever, write more and more and more, thicker and longer and clearer. Living is a paragraph, constantly rewritten. It is Grown-Up Magic. Children are heartless; their parents hold them still, squirming and shouting, until a heart can get going in their little lawless wilderness. Teenagers crash their hearts into every hard and thrilling thing to see what will give and what will hold. And Grown-Ups, when they are very good, when they are very lucky, and very brave, and their wishes are sharp as scissors, when they are in the fullness of their strength, use their hearts to start their story over again.”
“The fascination of what’s difficult
Has dried the sap out of my veins, and rent
Spontaneous joy and natural content
Out of my heart. There’s something ails our colt
That must, as if it had not holy blood
Nor on Olympus leaped from cloud to cloud,
Shiver under the lash, strain, sweat and jolt
As though it dragged road metal. My curse on plays
That have to be set up in fifty ways,
On the day’s war with every knave and dolt,
Theatre business, management of men.
I swear before the dawn comes round again
I’ll find the stable and pull out the bolt.”
—William Butler Yeats (1910)
“there is a loneliness in this world so great
that you can see it in the slow movement of
the hands of a clock.
people so tired
either by love or no love.
people just are not good to each other
one on one.
the rich are not good to the rich
the poor are not good to the poor.
we are afraid.
our educational system tells us
that we can all be
it hasn’t told us
about the gutters
or the suicides.
or the terror of one person
aching in one place
watering a plant.”
“Remember, Red. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies….” — The Shawshank Redemption
Some time in the last few years — unnoticed by me but it should have been — the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (better known to us as Shakers) officially closed itself to the World (the rest of us). That is, they made a decision to not accept converts to their sect. At the time of writing this, there is only one remaining member of their community, which once numbered 30,000 spread from New England to Ohio and Kentucky, living out the ascetic Shaker life at Sabbathday Lake, in rural Maine. I have visited Shaker communities in New York State and across the line in Massachusetts. The time may have come to visit once again, this time as pilgrim, rather than tourist. Today, I think of another thing whose passing will go little noticed; whether it’s a good thing is up to each of us: the end of Agincourt.
What began as a personal quest has morphed into a (for me) large collaborative effort among students, faculty, staff, as well as non-university participants including composers and musicians, artists and artisans (no distinction being made here), friends and practical strangers, husbands, even. Now past its peak, long past, each subsequent iteration has been less that its predecessor. Not in quality, necessarily, but in its embrace, the enthusiasm, the resonance with which it has been entertained, accepted, explored, incorporated, collaborated, enlarged, enhanced. Don’t mistake me here: it is as much a challenge as it ever was. But the question is no longer “how?” Instead, it has become “why?” And that makes all the difference.
What began as a curious academic exercise grew into an investigation into the relationship between narrative and design, between place-making and story-telling, will return to its origins and carry on so long as I do.
It’s become Chromolume #8. If you must ask, please do.