Nature does not stop to grieve, an observation that since time began has either appalled or inspired the human beings who have made it. Poppies sprout in bloody battlefields, and birds sing outside death-room windows. On one hand, the big thing that just happened to you is insignificant to the rest of creation, and on the other, you are still part of a creation that’s so much bigger than your loss.
There are times, however, when people feel the great forces of nature moving through them: at birth, at death and (if you’re doing them right, and get lucky) in sex, art and dancing. We called those forces gods or spirits and gave them names. We intuit that we may on occasion become their vessels, and feel we know them even when we’ve never seen them before. That, at least, is the philosophy behind most fiction that uses the raw materials of archetype and myth. The formula even makes itself felt in real life on occasion. As much as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were Cleopatra and Antony, they were also Titania and Oberon, king and queen of the fairies — familiar somehow even to fans who’d never heard of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
–From Laura Miller’s review of The Great Night, a novel by Chris Adrian inspired by Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Maybe it is my recent encounters with two variations on that eternally present and continuously morphing theme of Midsummer Night’s Dream—Benjamin Britten’s opera of the same name and a private birthday performance of The Donkey Show—that has turned my thoughts to nature and its hidden forces.
Or maybe it is a spring that skipped the usual pattern of staggered effulgence and brought every tree into full blossom regalia at the same time.
Or maybe it is the latest in a series of glass shatterings that have taken place in my home over the last few years. No one has been able to explain a spheric hole that appeared in a pan of glass several years ago, followed by the spontaneous splintering of a glass cup. Last week the base of a very heavy crystal vase shattered in place. I can take the fairies as an explanation about as easily as I can energy meridians, disruptive sympathetic vibrations or sheer coincidence.
How can any artist doubt that magic happens, in the studio and out? I am officially ready and waiting.
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