We went to see Garage Mahal last night, Kai Eckhardt's band. Amazing. The guitar player was virtuoso, the drummer was fantastic, the piano player was dry and witty and mostly minimalist. It felt like a grown-up date: drinks, dress-up, city lights. Funny to be doing something so decadent in such dire economic times; splurging a bit on a fancy outing as we listen to the bad economic news on the radio get even worse (as if that were possible.)
But life goes on, and culture, even when the stock market is down the toilet and the deficit is in the trillions. My own output continues to flourish--lots of new poems, a revision of the self-defense essay which finally feels like I nailed it. I just hope there will still be magazines and newspapers and books and places to publish...
When we got home the last few minutes of a PBS Great Performances was on the TV: Jennifer Garner and Kevin Kline in Cyrano deBergerac. I've seen that play four or five times but never done as powerfully as this. Garner was a revelation! The scene we watched was the denouement when she finally gets it, who has been her lover all along, hiding behind his impenetrable wit and his big nose. In one scene she is imperious, flirtacious, grieving, suspicious, angry, shocked, overcome with shame, brave, deeply loving, transcendent. I always knew she was beautiful, but had no concept of her range.
This was Alan's favorite play when we were together--he related to Cyrano as an outsider, a romantic who didn't feel he would ever get the prize, a diamond who would be overlooked because he didn't look the part. But watching Kline and Garner's performance I got another shade of Cyrano--even when she tells him he's wrong, she can love him, she does love him despite his nose, he can't take it in. He won't believe it, and he holds her love at bay even in his last moments when she is trying her hardest to give it to him.
He was wrong all along. The obstacle to love was never his nose, it was his ego, his defences, the fact that he didn't believe he could be loved. He kept love away from himself.
And she is overwhelmed when she sees her own blindness, her complicity in the game.
All that was there twenty-five years ago when I first encountered this play but how differently I see it now. How slow I've been in learning, and thank God for great art which sticks around so that we can measure our own relationship to truth through how much of it we are able to see at any given time.