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Volume 4

Spring 2009


Written by
Maria Amir

How do you solve a problem like Maria? Well, as my man Cohen puts it "There is a crack, a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in". You don't


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The Lost Prophets


It is becoming more and more distant with each passing day, a notion of Self.

I currently reside somewhere in the periphery of my person, looking in but not particularly growing in any direction. I also find that I have begun counting the number of sentences that start with the innocuous vowel “I”. They are far too many and yet they still fail to nurture that vague sketch of identity that I desperately seek. A few days back an inane Facebook, 10-minute interview robbed me of an answer I think I should have had.

The question was: “What is your centre?”

I find that I do not have one.. There is no centre.

What good is an individual without a “centre”?
What good is an “individual”?
What is “good”?

If there truly is a sea of translation, then we are all lost. The discovery that I am locating a better part of myself amidst this nonsense is oddly comforting. I like nonsense, no one tries to make sense of it and therefore it is perhaps the only notion that is left alone, intact and pure. Currently I am swimming deep in the lake of my Art and my Anima. Time has lost its urgency to win races: ticking has turned into tapping and tapping into swishing as all is lost.

That one elusive “End of the Year” and “On to New Beginnings” month is rolling around and I am spending my weeks tracing back every Dylan song I can find, which takes a lot of listening. Listening that becomes easier to do when the talking is no longer yours to hear.
I like that.
I like that I am finally writing in pencil again, and not thinking about it at all.
I like that my writing, in retrospect, appears untidy and much resembles idle scribbling.
I like that my art is untidy again and that I am not trying to clean it up.
I like that I seem to be giving up on “cleaning up” completely.
I like that I am beginning to like something about my “untidy”, “unruly”, “inconvenient” nature enough to nurture it and let it breathe by itself.
I like that I no longer find myself ugly.
I like many things again.
I like that most of all.

All this has led me to dwell on some very beautiful blasphemy. I have spent altogether too much energy trying to disprove dogma and build up secularism. I hope to stop this by purely immersing myself in study for the sake of comprehension of the incomprehensible. To acknowledge and, hopefully, someday embrace the “un-know-a-bility” of everything.
Truth be told, I have never really been able to stomach the glamour of religious mythology and/or history. This is somewhat ironic considering I sincerely covet mythology in every other shape and form.

The same person asked me what religion I followed. I tried to not fumble my explanation, seeing as it never really seems to hit home that I am sincere when I say that I truly feel that God, Faith and Religion are all simply the Muse, Art and Beauty. No matter how I say it, it always comes out corny and New-Ageish and that always makes it inadequate. Alternate views are apparently unacceptable if they haven’t been allowed to marrow for 1400 years. So I changed tack and weaved him a whimsical tale about the Lost Prophets of Harmless Art. It was a very pretty story and I am quite sure I came off as intensely charming and fanciful in my naivete. Even conventional people manage to dismiss art as something so pretty it couldn’t possibly be “THAT” dangerous.

We forgive the Sufis for downright heresy. We call them saints, why?

Because they were pretty in their criticism.
And “Pretty” is always so much easier to dismiss.

And I saw him doing just that, with a polite smile acknowledging the little girl’s talent and raw idealism. Her love for art clouding the “real gory stuff” ; harmless deflection, he thought. There is a reason why “people” say that “people” can be stupid when it comes to Religion. “People” can’t really help themselves. Believing is easier than thinking for most and no matter how prettily one dismisses Art, nothing forces “thought” more than the Muse.

I am usually considered subversive because I cannot glamorize and revere religious prophets the way most people do. I don’t disrespect them but I don’t respect them for their alleged contributions either. They are historical figures I accept or reject based only on what I read of history and how reliable I consider the sources and sightings. And if there is one thing history always tells us, it’s that it is utterly unreliable. I do no more or less for them than I do for anyone else. This bothers people, I have noticed. For some reason it is okay to question God and criticise Him, but not His sentinels. They are sacrosanct.

Probably because very few of us are willing to admit that believing in prophets who actually lived and were human is much easier than believing in the much larger abstract that gives them their identity and definition for supposed posterity.

I have always maintained that if prophecy was “divine inspiration” then it was ridiculous that it was only relegated to decaying historical nuances. If prophets were – in fact – individuals who wrote and spoke a message that struck a chord in people’s hearts to connect them to something outside of themselves, then it was impossible for it to be just one message that would expire as easily as it has. This could be why we are all at a loss to find how to replace, update, incorporate or suppress it in the present. My “prophets” would by that definition be Dylan, Cohen, Guthrie, Chopin, Twain, Barrie, Tolkein, Mohammad Ali – perhaps just as many as we have in dogma: 1,24,000 – and ever-growing in number and nuance. Every thinker has the potential for prophecy. Whoever manages to move me to tears and ecstasy possesses the potential to be my personal saint. I find that reverence for actual experience is well within my scope of devotion. Reverence for the experience mind you, not so much for the sponsor. Pure aesthetic appreciation for a message that can compound in a manner that tugs at the soul strings every time it is delivered. I have never cried for our prophet or laughed with his history. I have never been moved to …well…anything.

Does that discount his being a prophet? No.

Does it discount his being mine? Probably.

I have cried however, even as I picture the death of a man as multi-dimensional as Dylan or Cohen or Ali. Of the last song they will sing, of the manner in which that message will collect in the infinite well of every other sentence they wrote or sang or surmised.
Words strung together like pearls and bullets

“Our Goliaths will be conquered”,

“We sit here stranded though we all do our best to deny it”,

“It’s hard to hold the hand of anyone who is reaching for the sky just to surrender”, “Float like a Butterfly, Sting like a Bee your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see”, “Our interests on the dangerous edge of things; the honest thief, the tender murderer, the superstitious atheist.”

What makes them less inspired than gospel?

What makes them less valid for resonance in the soul than prayer?
What makes it “real”, if the whole point is for it not to be?

Does any of it make the Wanderers prophets or Art religion?
Why not?
Then again¦ why at all?



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