Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Metamorphosis & Notre Dame de Paris

If the photograph seems to be a bit weak in a technical sense, this is why: It is a digital photo of a slide being shown on a makeshift screen. Not too bad, when that is taken into consideration, right? The exact location of this photo is not necessary to know, but it would be safe to assume the water in the background is Lake Superior and that the photo was taken atop a minor league mountain by a minor league photographer named Fram Actual. It also would be safe to assume that the top, as well as the bottom, of this "large hill" is closely associated to the photographer in question. Neat view to wake up to in the morning, is it not?

A new identity merging with an old

I do not know who among you have read Franz Kafka's masterpiece, "The Metamorphosis." I do know I have been going through that transformation since at least January.

My metamorphosis is not like the one experienced by Gregor Samsa, other than beyond what might be recognizable through the natural advent of age. Mine has been exclusively internal, philosophical, having to do with the senses and with perception, if you will, at least in as much as a battle has ensued between an old order under siege by a new and unblemished persona.

My inner self wants to remain a Marine forever and wants to exist in White Anglo Saxon Protestant male theology and political dogma forever. It wants to stand on a mountain top and shout defiance and challenge to any who dare to threaten it. (Yep, pretty typical male ego at work there.) These elements have been in conflict with new concepts that not many years ago would never have existed in my life because there was no Internet, no blogs, no person-to-person connection between worlds distant not only in miles but in thought.

I have had a personal computer since 1985, probably before some of you were born. Back in "those days," I could have bought a new car for the same amount of money. That is how much I was willing to pay to gain a foothold in then-new computer technology. So, this has not been a sudden process. No detail is necessary here, only a reminder that what is new to some is part of the old to others.

Only a few years ago, my life was set into a track that was leisurely and in which I was reasonably content, if not actually happy. But, fate intervened. The curse of modern life, commonly labeled as a divorce, led to more than the dissolution of a marriage. As I have written before, my Sanctuary/Refuge atop a hill vanished along with the marriage.

As implied, even before divorce, the last few years of marriage consisted of a life routine, somewhat dull and based on avoiding the world as much as possible. No love, no new experiences, no challenges. To repeat myself, as I said a few days ago: ".... life is experience and the object of living, to me, should be to collect it. This is a given. My own interpretation of my own words is that we are the sum of our experiences; and each experience, whether good or bad, is of value to the formation of the whole; and we should be grateful for it."

It was comfort and conformity in exchange for learning and experiencing.

Thanks to a few individuals who frequent my page, I have been in a position to know more about how people live and think in countries other than my own. Reading a textbook or a novel does not help in this sense. Watching a travelogue on television or listening to news broadcast from other countries is near meaningless in this sense. Only real people convey emotions while they tell their truths and explain their thoughts as they understand them. This allows me to grasp how narrow my field of vision has been during the past decade or thereabouts.

Still, sadly for me, sometimes I think I might be the last romantic on earth. Everyone seems to be overly concerned with material goods and the personal accumulation thereof, most of these goods being little more than toys, or, as is the case with the new inhabitants of Washington, D.C., fixated upon radicalizing traditional America. Sadly, too, for practical reasons, I do not think there ever will be a house atop the hill from which the view above is shown.

In any case, thanks to a few individuals who talk here and who write their own posts on their own pages, while I still do want another castle on a hill, I do not want it for a while yet and no longer am bitter about losing the one I did have for a few years. Once, back then, I was ready to spend all my days roaming rooms and running woodlands. Now, I am curious once again. I want to learn more about what is beyond my own world. There is much out there to learn.

What? There is more to life than rock & roll?

Magdalena, who lives near Warsaw in Poland, regularly posts music on her page. A few weeks ago, she presented the performance that I have now "borrowed" from her and listed below. I knew absolutely nothing about this song or the show it came from, but I thought the music and the vision and to be lovely and irresistible beyond words. To discover more, I turned to a popular source of data these days, Wikipedia, of Internet fame. Here is the description found there:

"Notre Dame de Paris" is a French-Canadian musical which debuted on 16 September 1998 in Paris. It is based upon the novel, "Notre Dame de Paris," by the French novelist Victor Hugo. The music was composed by Riccardo Cocciante and the lyrics are by Luc Plamondon.

Since its debut, it has played throughout France, South Korea, Belgium, Switzerland and Canada. A shorter version in English was performed in 2000 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and a full-length London production, also in English, ran for seventeen months. Popular songs from the show, such as Belle and Le temps des cathédrales have also been translated into Belarusian, Catalan, Czech, German, Lithuanian, Polish, Russian and English.

"Notre Dame de Paris," according to the Guinness Book of Records, had the most successful first year of any musical ever. The score has been recorded at least seven times to date (2007): the original French concept album, which featured Israeli singer Achinoam Nini (aka Noa) as Esmeralda was followed by a live, complete recording of the original Paris cast. A complete recording of the score in Italian was made, along with a single disc of excerpts in Spanish from the Madrid production.


TheChicGeek said...

Oh, Fram, last of the romantics...LOL...there are so many things that are so nice about this post. The picture on top the hill is beautiful...I love the colors of the trees...your thoughts about growth and experiencing new things, learning, and the music is beautiful...I love this performance.
Sometimes life has a way of working through and working out to something even better :D This makes me very happy :D

Katy said...

Fascinating post, Fram, thank you.

Metamorphosis indeed, and it sounds as if you are beginning to make out the shape of the butterfly that is about to emerge from the chrysallis.

"...a battle has ensued between an old order under siege by a new and unblemished persona..." I love this. You have captured such a complex truth in a brilliant way.

There is a wonderful quote by Wordsworth that seems fitting perhaps:

"Life is divided into three terms: that which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present to live better in the future"

Actually, I think I'm going to go and post that on my blog too :-)

It is also a great achievement to come through a traumatic and life changing experience without having a trace of bitterness - and important to recognise it as the achievement that it is. There are lots of stern-faced bitter people in the world and I don't think swelling their ranks with perpectual lemon-sucking is productive or helpful - something I'm accutely aware of and a slope down which some that I know have slid. The re-ignition of the senses, the firing up of the curiosity, the consequences of thought and introspection and philosophy, all of these are our allies in striving for a new future self. The change, the metamorphosis, is challenging, but maybe the rewards are just beginning to peep into view?

The photograph is stunning. Your Sanctuary / Refuge is a very important part of your past, as my barn was to me, and I do think it takes a lot of courage to let these things - once so very significant in so many ways - pass into "the before" without a place in "the after". You will again have your castle on a hill I am sure, albeit that it may not look like one.

My own experience of metamorphosis is similar, although I'd say (in my case) that I'm attempting to carry forward with me into my 'new life' the parts of the 'old me' that are good and useful and to merge those, where possible, with the fresh and new, whilst at the same jettisoning the parts that are no longer useful, wholesome or valid in my new world. There's also something there (for me) about re-capturing the essence of who I used to be before the recent past, if that makes sense.

Lots more to say, I think, but I will stop there for now for fear of rambling on for eternity :-)

Magdalena said...

Beautiful. How long it was taking to reach the lake? And was it possible to take a short swimming round in the early morning? Hmm, quite nice song today :-) Have a bald night and day Fram the Marine. Bye, bye.

Fram Actual said...

So, Kelly, you do not think I am the last romantic, do you? Does the chameleon emerge once again, or .... or .... or .... well:

And Julia sate with (Don) Juan, half embraced
And half retiring from the glowing arm,
Which trembled like the bosom where 'twas placed;
Yet still she must have thought there was no harm,
Or else 'twere easy to withdraw her waist;
But then the situation had its charm,
And then --- God knows what next --- I can't go on;
I'm almost sorry that I e'er begun.

So said George Gordon, Lord Byron.

Yep, me, too. I should stick to writing under the moon rather than emerging into the sunlight. Then again, maybe I am the first romantic rather than the last.

Beyond that, thanks for liking the post. It is part of the present pathway for me.

Fram Actual said...

Katy and Magdalena .... I need sleep, and will respond to your comments in a few hours .... smile for me, please ....

A Cuban In London said...

Th ebauty of this pos tlies in its combination of deep philosophical thought and very-well done kitsch. And I mean no offense. By a pure and random act of synchronicity, these last few days have brought about similarities between many of the blogs I frequent, including yours. I just shed a tear on Polly's. Whether I am under the influence of my current reading material or whether your post has triggered off a hidden emotional button, I found myself, nodding in agreement with your opening sentences.

You were happy in your comfort zone. And then the interner brought you a wealth of people, information and lives that made you 'morphe'. Good.

Are you the last romantic? No, I am. But you are older. So, you win hands down.

Many thanks for such a brilliant, deep and analytical post and for the music.

Greetings from London.

Fram Actual said...

I wrote so much, and so did you, Katy. This could be (maybe should be) a discussion rather than a post and a comment.

I recall mentioning to you at your page how my "dissolution" involved an experience similar to your own, but did not give the details. Well, maybe I will not now, either. But, I will say I think that experience is one reason I was particularly bitter about my circumstances.

I agree the past persona cannot and should not be entirely discarded, and it was not my intent to imply that, but, instead, the "ghost" might become a secondary factor, perhaps the foundation of the emerging individual.

It seems Mr. Wordsworth was fascinated by or saw some natural order in the number three. A trinity? A triumvirate? In any case, the quote you presented from him seems exactly on the mark to me.

Fram Actual said...

At this location, Magda, it is about two miles to the lake, with only a rough trail to travel. A four-wheel drive vehicle is necessary much of the time.

Most people who swim in this water do so with a wet suit (or a dry suit), as the temperature remains near the freezing point just a foot below the surface. It is very cold, clear, deep water.

Thank you for the good wishes and, yes, it is quite a nice song -- an exquisite song.

Fram Actual said...

It does seem at times that people start following the same or a similar track in their posts, CiL, and there is no real explanation for it. It also seems little communities frequently spring up among bloggers, just as they do in "real life" social circles or workplaces. It is absolutely fascinating, the "new order" which computers and the Internet are fostering.

Overall, I am glad I set sail on the sea of blogs, although I think the time is approaching for me to take a hiatus, in which case you, alone, shall possess the title of "the last romantic." You are better suited for such a role. I am best at standing atop a mountain and peering into the distances.

Thank you, for the over-abundance of adjectives you left for me. I appreciate your good wishes.

Natalie said...

Dear Fram…
Why naming a daughter Frances Anne is doubtful? (you are not as old as Michael Douglas!!!)
I know I missed a lot – were there posts about travel itineraries!?!?!?

Something special ....