Flicker and Expire: A Belief in Angels
Chalice Sinclearly and the Reverend Any Major Dude have just stepped back into the bar. I didn’t need to look back over my shoulder to know this. I hear the immature bastard laughing. The Reverend steps up and I swivel on the stool and hold out my palms to him. He slaps me ten; I slap him ten right back. … Right on. … He takes his seat and takes his first sip of Black Label. Sinclearly plops on the stool on the Reverend’s left side. The Reverend turns his back to Sinclearly’s laughter, and begins:
“So, your Mr. Douchebag Duality here [he throws a pointing thumb over his shoulder at Chalice] just gets done telling me how more than occasionally, while he’s on one of his strolls through the alleyways of this homicide-riddled city we each who are present here in this establishment call our loving and enlightening home, a public lamp will flicker and expire right as he is passing underneath it. He tells me this phenomenon happens at least every other walk he takes, and it will usually happen while passing under two to three lamps during those particular walks. He claims this phenomenon’s been happening forever, and from the very beginning he’s had only one explanation in my mind for these occurrences: they stand as evidence that your guys’s guardian angel is on the job.
[Sinclearly’s face is facing the ceiling, laughing.]
“Now I don’t think Chalice is suggesting your guys’s guardian angel is some sort of klutz, always ringing his bell against lamp posts because he’s constantly keeping a sharp eye down on this idiot [again he throws a pointing thumb over his shoulder at Chalice] and neglecting to be aware of the space that’s expanding directly out right there in front of him. Rather, I believe the cause of these rather dramatic outages is your guys’s guardian angel’s ethereal energy. He’s there; he’s emanating from your guys’s active solitude – from that poignant internal soliloquy that marries tragedy and comedy—he’s emanating from the promise that the city is the possessor of old-fashioned American reader ears, ears that are hearing – truly listening – to your guy’s in-self soliloquy of excruciating honesty.
“Hoz, America leads the world in the number of adults within its population who believe angels are real. Moreover, more adults within our borders believe in the existence of angels than the role of humans in Global Warming. Shit, I’m just repeating some of the finest TV drama writing ever – we’ve all YouTubed that scene from The Newsroom, right?* And these facts prove the idiocy of our society tilts towards being dangerous, and I fully, fully accept this. Our society, our American culture, is dangerous. And it is especially dangerous to your art. … So then, our dilemma: can one believe in angels while at the same time knowing full well angels aren’t real?
[Sinclearly’s laughing away. Tears.]
“Let’s take a closer look at belief. Belief, in essence, is an ideal. An ideal, as defined in the dictionary, is a conception, quote ‘existing in the mind: imaginary. Lacking practicality or the possibility of realization,’ end quote. So, when we are discussing belief we are discussing a conception that exists in the privacy of one’s imagination, a conception meant to nourish one’s imagin—”
Sinclearly, fucking please!
Chalice stops, looks to me over the Reverend Any Major Dude’s shoulder. His wide eyes are nearly swirling, and his crazy, shit-ass—Jesus, look how hard he’s trying to touch a lip to a lip there … ain’t happening—that O-shaped grin is a thing of obvious impermanence. Chalice can’t contain himself, the Reverend’s ‘shrooms is simply that good: “BAH-Hahahahahahaha …”
“It’s alright, Hoz; your duality here gets to sliding off me in short time. Forget him; don’t pay attention. … So, though belief germinates and endures within the individual’s imagination, it should be further understood that for belief to come into full existence it must somehow be put into action – externalized; presented before the community, practiced when in the midst of mankind. The Big Question becomes how should one externalize such an evocative tenant of privacy, something that is already understood as ‘lacking practicality or the possibility of realization’? Does one show, or does one tell? Well, one must show his or her belief, not tell. To show is an action that asks of the viewer to engage his or her freewill. To show is an action that engages a trust in the silent observations of the eyes’ humble pupils. To show is an act of art. Whereas, to tell is an action that calls upon coercion in order to achieve a result. To tell is an action that calls upon the preachy qualities of the conceited tongue. To tell is an act of TV Evangelism, right?
[Sinclearly, laughing and laughing and laughing.]
“Allowing one’s belief to be externalized through the action of telling positions belief as an impersonal duty to which the individual must conform in order to appear as an acceptable presence in the public’s eye. And this is where the danger lies; for to assume belief is impersonal means to perceive belief as being something that’s unchangeable, something that’s unwilling to acknowledge the idea of individuality. This perception pressures one’s belief into becoming a censor, removing it from its duty as a simple beholder. This perception removes the imagination from its ability to be restored.
“Okay then; well, how does one show rather than tell? In a nutshell, one must shut the fuck up about it. That’s to say, one must distill through his or her belief, through his or her imagination, a public respect for the private paradigms of his or her fellow public man. It is in this way that one will come to perceive how belief facilitates one’s respect for reality, how without reality there would be no purpose to, nor reason for, the imagination’s existence. After all, it is from internalizing and historicizing reality – not exploiting it, not mocking it, not defying it, not TVing it—it is in this practise of one’s meditative being that one’s imagination makes its graduations and adjustments, restores – anticipates his or her guardian angel ringing his or her bell.
“… Calculate that.”
The Reverend Any Major Dude grabs his Black Label and throws it back, stands and slaps me ten, and I slap him ten right back. … Right on. … Turning away from me, he holds ten out for Chalice to slap, but ends up just shaking his head in a gesture of humored pity and giving Chalice a pat on his convulsing back. He opens the bar’s door to exit and the silhouette of his too usual-sized frame (too usual, that is, in relation to his size 17 feet) absorbs the gray of the graying evening, and for a flash-moment wavers as if a plume of smoke. The door closes. I’m left here with Sinclearly who is beginning to wind down from his public, immature, uncontrollable laughter. … Thank you, God, for your TV-less bars.
*“We Just Decided To” written by creator Aaron Sorkin and directed by Greg Mottola.