May 21, 2023
by Dr. David, Editor / Publisher
Parties are something from nothing. Gather a group of individuals, add music and alcohol, and voila, you have a party.
Something similar occurs with sports. People get together, agree to a set of rules, and where once there was only an empty field, now you have a ballgame.
A dance performance follows the same format: people congregate, on stage and in the house; the curtain opens; the lights come up; the show begins.
This creation ex nihilo includes, albeit to a lesser extent, the spectators. Those watching in the stands, in the theater, and even the wallflowers sitting quietly on the couch, all participate in the goings on, imbibing the spirit of the event.
Last Sunday at 3:00 at Mezcal Arts, I went to a concert featuring Sofia Viola, a very talented Argentine singer, songwriter. I took two Chilean friends, Vero and Yasna, since the music had a strong Andean influence, and since it's always nice to walk in with two beautiful women.
Sofia put on a fabulous show. Her voice, compositions and humor had us all in the palm of her hand from the get go. The audience was enthusiastic, energized by a very dynamic performance.
It's been a long time since I went out. Sitting there, enjoying the show along with the delicious pulque and the pleasant breeze wafting in from the expansive, green, green, grassy backyard, I took stock, and began to meditate on why we get together.
Most obviously, there is the thing itself, the delight of the performance or festivities: the aesthetics of the show, the game well played, the interesting party.
Then, of course, our congregating fulfills the deep, social need to be with others of our kind. We scratch an ancient itch, act out a primitive pattern, an animal instinct, adorned now with human trappings.
But below both enjoyment and sociability, another insistent, untamed urge is fed by our union. Our coming together, in addition to its daylit purpose, is done in service, or in opposition, to a darker force.
Freud was not the first to observe that civilization is carried forth to deny the horror of existence. And, even if we are personally blessed to have little of it in our lives, we are regularly reminded that others have a closer acquaintance with the horror in theirs. However warmly insulated by wealth or priviledge or luck, we still on occasion feel the chill of life's cold hard facts.
But there, last Sunday at Mezcal Arts, the cold hard facts were at bay. The pulque and friends, the warm breeze and song, saw to that. And that is my point.
The things of human making, the party, dance or game, answer back the uncertainty and horror of existence. We call out into the Great Beyond, addressing, in protest or reverence, whatever inhuman order or God it may contain: "Here, look what we have made, our something from your nothing."
This is illustrated by a poem I wrote on attending the bucolic Sunken Garden Poetry Festival up in Connecticut already some decades ago: