the inner utopia

17 Jul

A remarkable thing. No. Magical.

I managed three hours of sleep without pharmaceutical inducements.

Not restful, by any means. But certainly better than none at all.

Awakened by insomniac Hannah in the next room, dropping a box of pencils. A physical heaviness felt in every extension of this body. My face felt flat, my eyes like sunken holes. The pump pumping away. I stumbled up out of bed, carrying my tethered pump. My body felt so heavy I couldn’t straighten my legs as I walked across the house to get some water in my mouth. Stumbled back to bed. 4 AM. For another hour I lay there, sinking, it literally felt, into the bed. Oh Abba, Abba, Abba. No anger, no struggling against invisible bonds. More sinking into them. Abba, when will you come for me? Abba, Abba, Abba. When will you come to me? Don’t think there was any more sleep. Trying desperately not to awaken my love or panic her as I have before when she wakes up to the sounds of me praying – or reciting Mark in the dark. Abba, when will you come to me?

And then the remarkable thing.

He came. I saw. And my eyes sprung open. Oh my God, I am awake! And I see this, but it’s me:


Heaviness lifted (was someone else praying out there at 4 AM this morning?). And if I had an umbrella, I would have danced with it out of the room. I danced right into the kitchen, dancing with dishes, putting the clean up and washing the dirty, preparing the way for my love and her green smoothies in a few hours. Then dancing with laundry. And now with this keyboard.

The whole time Kelly’s face and magical movements are before my heart. I hear the words in a song that ultimately needs no words – at least no words more refined than “Doo dloo doo doo doo doo doo doo, doo doo,  doo doo doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo dloo doo.” It’s the movements, the rhythms of ecstatic life and love, the sheer joy of simply being, and knowing it. Some might stuffily dismiss it as sheer sentimentality or even as madness (and it is the latter, of a sort, isn’t it?) standing with cynical, legal arms crossed on the wet sidewalk. But what does that matter? This is a God Song, a God Dance for any who will pick up the frequency in the midst of our own heaviness and pain and loss and rejection and dance because our hearts are truly ready for love that need not be explained or exposited.

Searching for more images from the film I came upon this review of Singing in the Rain (  in which the author grapples a bit with the meaning of the title song. The author quotes Barthes several times. Not sure who Barthes is, but he’s quite the theologian.

I’ve spent months trying to explain the appeal of these couple of minutes. There’s something kind of Barthesian about the way love is expressed here. It’s to do with how words are almost insufficient, how the sets of words he has express something bigger, in forms we all recognize. It’s like a cinematic lover’s discourse, if you ignore all the parts of the lover’s discourse that are about longing and only think about the tiny moments of unexpressable joy and fulfillment you can just grip the edges of. In other words, utopia.

His physicality sort of approximates that sense of the unexpressable that the phrases of love gesture toward. He’s not singing it to her – he’s singing it by himself, after she’s left. They could have made it a duet, but they didn’t. As Barthes says, the lover’s discourse is one of extreme solitude. Something about the sense of being in love means you’re always alone in your love. You do love the other person, but you can only really appreciate being in love when you are by yourself, glorying in it. The sense that the world is magical, a playground, even in the rain, even without your umbrella. The sense that you’re a kid again, that you can splash in puddles without wrecking your shoes. You feel a little sheepish when the policeman notices you flailing around in the gutter, but you don’t care. The law doesn’t apply to love. It’s a sequence of almost pure emotion. There are words, sure, and there is a setting, sure, but the words are pretty much meaningless compared to the dancing. It stands out because it is the only unselfconscious moment in a compulsively self-conscious film. In a different film, it still would have been amazing, but it almost got an extra feeling of directness from being mixed in with a series of songs that are in various ways self-consciously performed. Barthes says, of the imaginary fulfillment the lover longs for: “Thus fulfillment is a precipitation: something is condensed, streams over me, strikes me like a lightning bolt. What is it that fills me in this fashion? A totality? No. Something that, starting from totality, actually exceeds it. A totality without remainder, a summa without exception, a site with nothing adjacent (‘my soul is not only filled, but runs over’).”

In other words, utopia.

An inner utopia where Someone starting from totality exceeds it, without remainder, without exception in which the soul is not only filled but runs over. What a startlingly apt description of walking – dancing – in the Spirit in the midst of much precipitation outside and more importantly inside, where, in a completely unselfconscious moment where law no longer applies, where emotions are allowed full free and healthy expression, the inner self unselfconsciously spills over into the outer in the freedom of divine movements.

As Peterson regularly translates “amen”:  yes, yes, yes!

Keep taking me to there.

To that inner utopia not even banned in chemoland.


Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Movies, musings, Prayer, Suffering


Tags: , , ,

2 responses to “the inner utopia

  1. jhopping

    July 18, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    I think the “Barthes” referred to in the quote is Roland Barthes (1915-1980), a French literary theorist and philosopher. At least that is the name that comes up when you search for accredited phrase “the lover’s discourse is one of extreme solitude”. 🙂

  2. wordhaver

    July 19, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Thanks Josh!


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