Start with stained glass. In church. The Basilica di Santa Maria del Flore or the Fraumünster Cathedral or the church you remember, way back when you believed in fantastic things. And then continue with color. Remember those blues? How the sun blasted through, muted but vivified by cobalt. The sharp flower yellows, the glowing heart reds, and the gleam in the twinkle of greens. So bright and yet mildly opaque, as if the stained glass ached to keep the light at bay, but not the lit hum of color. Marc Chagall said a stained glass window is a transparent partition between my heart and the heart of the world. Stained glass has to be serious and passionate. It is something elevating and exhilarating.
Move next to religious feeling. Don’t bother with truth and other such nonsense, but with the intensity of feeling that swells inside the heart of the fervently religious. The devout devoured in devotion. What are they doing? Singing. Praying. Forgetting. All this in the ambitious light of the sun filtered through the color of stained glass that depicts the imagery of myths—the myths that articulate the fundamental structure of the stories we mistake for our lives. There is sacred feeling here. A sense of the immanent beyond. Everything, connected, conspiring to meet and erupt right here, abandoned, in a devoted song of lit color on glass and a Marc Chagall quote that posits stained glass as the only thing that stands between your heart and the blissfully anguished throb that pumps through the heart of the world.
But what do we do with it? Nothing. It’s a collage. Just let it be. Let the pieces inform one another and, now, grab a rock.
Throw the rock through a stained glass window and listen closely to the destructive music that underlies all things as they come apart—shattering. I love that word. Say it with me: Shattering. It startles you at first—the initial shock of violent undoing—but then there’s a relieved sigh throughout the ting ding singing of raining glass as it gives way and falls. Do not make the mistake of thinking this negates light and color and church and religion nor even Marc Chagall. There is room for it all. We need sympathy for the Devil, we must smash the transparent partition between our hearts and the world, and—most importantly—we need all those sharp and jagged shards of colorful broken glass because we're making something.
Broken, it is no less serious, passionate, elevating, or exhilarating. It remains all this and more. Because now it’s dangerous. Now beauty—beauty can cut you and make you bleed. Add sugar. Lots and lots of sugar. And rain. Mix well.
My girl is made of razor sharp fragments of discursive intellect that dissects with surgical precision. She’s a song in an old stone church in Florence. Slivers of wit. And rain. Chips and pieces of Indonesia and America and Zurich. A religion that, as the Latin suggests, binds—she binds together the jagged parts of herself and herself to her daughters and her family to the blissfully anguished throb that pumps through the heart of the world. She’s a broken stained glass window sprinkled with sugar. All the colors, the various shades and hues—light blasting through. Her hair is a prayer of sugar. Her lips are all covered with sugar. Devoted. Devout. Devoured. What are we doing? Singing. Praying. Forgetting. It’s love!