Maura graham

Lights on JOY

          Lights on JOY. Everything should be completely bare, but clean looking. Joy should have just enough light for her to show up, but also enough as to not look ominous. But WE must only show JOY. JOY IN THE DARKNESS. She says,

          Does all writing about writing have to be self-referential? Christ, I hate the sort of self-congratulatory masturbation that is people writing a thinly veiled metaphor for their own experiences. Theatre about theatre, Movies about movies. Is there anything worse than show people talking about how show people are the best people in the world to a  audience full of decidedly not show people? Whenever a movie takes place in LA it is guaranteed to be awful. Artists are a bunch of self-righteous, unimaginative assholes who cannot imagine anyone could possibly be living a more interesting, more fulfilling, more meaningful life than they are.

Or maybe I’m the asshole. Maybe what really interests us is what’s real, and since this writers are writing what actually happened, we are attracted to the truth like moths to a light. Isn’t that what we all really want after all? The truth, no matter the final cost? That’s the oldest story of all time, right? Eve ate the apple to know the truth, damn the consequences. Damn the consequences, we collectively cry! We want the truth, we want authenticity, we want what is real! More light! Bright pink and tender and new and raw like scar tissue! We want the ugly, the horrible, the damned truth of the thing. We want what is real.

So here is the truth:

She holds. She’s about to tell you, honest. She changes the subject.

          You know Dante’s Divine comedy? It's the most famous work of Italian Literature ever written, and why you believe in Hell. Its shaped our collective imagination more than any biblical text, or teaching of whatever religion you subscribe to, and you haven’t even read it. Funny, how that is. The effects we have on each other. The things we can do to people without them noticing. The things people have done to us without us knowing. This isn’t my point.

          Halfway along the journey of his life, Dante finds himself in a dark wood. You know what this feels like. Lots of things happen, and Dante is found on his way to Heaven, but through first Hell and then Purgatory to get there. But there is two Dante’s, you see. There’s Dante the pilgrim, the one going on this fabulous adventure. Then there’s Dante the Poet, the one telling you this whole story. He used to be the pilgrim, and now he’s telling you the story of what has happened to him. And what a story it is! Full of darkness and peril! Sex and betrayal and philosophical questions! And all to get you to this one place: Paradisio. It is so vital, for Dante, that you see Paradisio. In fact, he was sent FROM GOD to tell you this story! To tell you about what he saw there. Love moved Beatrice, who moves Dante now to speak! To move us. Paradisio, it will change you, Dante promises. He has something you gotta hear.

          Here’s the thing: Dante fails in this. He makes it all this way! He goes through every level of Hell, from the Pagans to Judas Iscariot. Through Purgatory and finally to the long awaited Paradisio. He’s there and he just...can’t. He can’t tell you about it. Every word he says, everything about it is unspeakable. Human words were not made for such a place. He tells you, after you’ve dedicated hundreds of pages to this book, that the entirety of paradise can only be told in metaphors. In abstract. It’s like this… but not really. It was this way...but only partly.

          Paradise eludes us yet. If such a place is in fact real, by its own definition, Paradise must be the most real thing that’s ever existed. It must be nothing short of perfection, and if we long for what is real, Paradisio must be real to the nth degree. Truth itself.

          Which is why it cannot be spoken. When trying to speak truth, you will always fall short. Truth is truth, and if it is only partly true, than it cannot be true at all. So truth cannot be like any other thing, because if it is like any other thing, than that thing must also be true and nothing is true but truth, so it cannot be. Words are by their very nature comparing one thing to another, and truth is dissimilar to anything that’s not truth.

So this is the truth: the space between words, the breath in your lungs, and the steam off your morning coffee. That’s as close as I’ve gotten.