by Nick Fracaro
Gandhi considered the fasting the sincerest form of prayer. But I began Lent and my fast this year out of nostalgia for the belief in prayer and miracle that I no longer possess. And the now vanquished belief that my art form is capable of generating a kind of sacred boxing ring refereed by metaphysical angels, the sublime stage performing the catharsis of violence and other societal ills.
But even without any accompanying faith, fasting helps center the war, reminding that the war is always present and as knowable as the hunger that kills 24,000 people worldwide each and every day. Three-fourths of these deaths are children under the age of five. Fasting helps place us in the true battlefield where we confront the enemy within.
I have a collection of found playing cards that I have picked up off the streets over the years. Weird how every now and then I find the “lost card” to add to my improvised deck. Of course it may also be slightly weird that I am always on the lookout for them, hunting for their appearance whenever I walk or jog the streets. I imagine Macbeth happened upon his Weird Sisters in a similar way. I carry these errant harbingers home with me to probe and abstract a Tarot reading and course of action.
The contemporary lost-and-found card in which I rehearse my art and life is the Seven of Spades. A few weeks back the card must have been released from the frozen piles of uncollected city trash slowing melting. But for me its manifestation signals the spring thaw of toxins that had been amassing in my spiritual fat for a much-too-long winter of inaction.
This card is called the Lord of Futility. Its reading of both the zeitgeist and my psychological and spiritual condition would miraculous if only I could allow belief to once more enter my world, our world. This will not happen. But thankfully the soldier has been awakened again. The warriors Gandhi and Macbeth meet here where the choice is never between good and evil, but between actions that are only in degrees either less or more immoral.
They have tied me to a stake: I cannot fly,
But, bear-like, I must fight the course.
The suicide bomber is the creation of a world both fair and foul. The fecund slough we call civilization also breeds the terrorism against which it wars. The war now literally and figuratively at the Tigris and Euphrates at the Cradle of Civilization. Death from the hand of superpowers merely creates martyrs of “evil-doers” that will seed the next generation of impassioned freedom fighters. So today as yesterday I dance Butoh with the Whore of Babylon on the corpses of children and other innocents. And the word of god on this planet is no stronger a force than gravity. The Lord of Futility is no common usurper but rightful king of all that “cannot be ill; cannot be good.” And my dance of death is a rebellion against all that would prevent the airlift of the sacrifice beyond this small room to the audience who summoned it.
Although no longer sacred….performance is the gravest of all acts.