Friday, April 18, 2014


Folks are fascinated by the solving of mysteries. By detective novels. Whodunits. Forensic investigations. Police procedural crime dramas abound. It seems the one thing most people agree on is this: when something bad has occurred, we must cleverly solve the crime and, at some point, slam the doors dramatically on a jail cell.

I admit to sharing this fascination. In third grade, I checked out every Nancy Drew mystery from the shelves of the library, then moved on to Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Ellery Queen, Tony Hillerman, etc. There were times I have caught myself since then, wondering, "What would Lord Peter Wimsey say?" when I have gotten into a pickle.

And I have gotten myself into some real doozies. Train wreck, anyone?

Have you ever empathized, deeply, with the sad plight of Rome, after being sacked by the Visigoths? Or with Moscow, which was burned to a crisp by Napoleon's troops? Have you cast an eye of knowing compassion even on Washington's fictitious cherry tree? Then you are not alone....

Welcome to the club of avid fans of the re-runs of Criminal Minds. We, whose hungry eyes scan the episodes, not just due to a slow-burning crush on Mandy Patinkin and/or Matthew Gray Gubler, but because in our aching heart of hearts, we want to know: why. Why, why, why?

My thoughts hit a series of brick walls--and encounter more questions--whenever I have been serious about lifting the curtain behind this question. Why do people act as they do? Why do wolves roam the world masquerading as sheep? Why -- so much unnecessary madness, deceit, aggression, pain?   We might as well ask a vulcano why it erupts. Any researcher worth her salt could dig all the way back to ancient history, uncovering such factoids as, "The Devonian Period witnessed the appearance of both
ray and lobe fins..." leaving most of these questions unanswered. Some mysteries--perhaps solved, but mostly unresolved.

While watching crime dramas, or when find myself opening yet another detective novel, and following the breadcrumbs of its narrative to the end of the trail, it occurs to me that I might have acted as an accomplice. How I, careful as I am, might have fallen into rank behind both the Huns and the Visigoths, taking aim at the citadels with burning arrows. The realization causes me to shudder in horror.

The prescient Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein while practically swimming in vats of lyric poetry, before tragedy struck. I have glimpsed the monsters hiding in the mirror-glass. And beyond.

While emitting subliminal tones, as if  from some Magic Flute, I do believe bits of my own Shadow Self have been stalking me for years. I think I'm finally ready to listen.

(Magic Flute, Chagall)

Here I am, they chant, without me--you are a fragment. Consider this. You need us. We need you. We could negotiate the assembling of a mosaic--and then we might name ourselves, "whole"--and watch the sun breaking through the clouds over the mountain-tops together. And then --

(By the way, let's declare that we are officially finished with the Visigoth stage, eh?)

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