Friday, April 08, 2005

eternal life will not be televised

papolatrie - the help of ritual - bigness, inflation, costumes, dirge, convenient fixity of death.

Probably nothing more and less like news than death. It's factoidal, verifiable, and opens media elan to savor a perfectly controlled routine. It's control over the news, not the news, that we want. Not news, but a sort of mechanized Big Gulp O' the Thrill and the Chill of Memento Mori, the frisson of horror slowed to images of a gelid crawl of thousands of the assembled, moving in medievalesque slo-mo, the hyperbolic elongation of the photo-op.

Media tell us of pageantry of big numbers of high and low, humble and exalted, threadbare and color-coded threads. More pairs of shoes than at Mecca. At a certain point regardless of what one believes, it's bigness we're after, best simulator of what we can't say. The last illusion before the next one, the mysterium of the Vicar of Christ, all external trappings of largeness of scale, breadth of scope, grain of belief.

This is not news. It's not religion. It's the bureaucracy of belief, the tried and true formula of make-believe.

What startled me once into apprehension of the power of faith was walking the first five miles of an annual pilgrimage to Talpa, a Jalisco town with its sacred Madonna in Mexico, over rough ground, made by nobody special with no media in attendance. Mexican women no longer young in high heels climbing sheer murrains in baking heat. Old men carrying infants. Teenagers loping through rocky pathless woods, fueled for five days by water and grass (if that's what was in their belt pouches) over hundreds of miles of vacant mountains and dust. USians who try it tend to get very sick and have to be carried. Five miles damn near killed me. Or, climbing a steep narrow path to an Italian hilltop to find a chapel that cost labor and pain to anonymous long dead people whose only media audience was, they believed, a bottomless heart at the unfilmable end of the universe.

There are no media in faith, and no faith in US media. Bigness is usually a sign of empire, which has no patience with the still, the small. Staggering into the cathedral of Talpa on their knees were bleeding pilgrims. One P fewer on the forehead. To pray the Virgin there, herself the result of a 17th-century press release. And so the dying town was saved.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Helluva slowly building flash mob. I hear Rome is lovely this time of year.

4/09/2005 12:50 AM  
Blogger Juke said...

Great great.
Phrasemaking in service of truth-telling always the best way. You got the touch.
"unfilmable end of the u-verse"
but that's our view, hmm?
Like something small as dust seeing our dermatic edges as final, the change so abrupt it's an end. And yet...from here the edge is so blurred it's mere transition.
Where's the bottom of man?
Smack-dab in the middle.

4/09/2005 7:43 PM  
Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

in the muddle of the omlette, mais oui. we. the thinking reed. where it ends nobody nose. thanks for the thought

4/10/2005 7:34 PM  

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