[ by Charles Cameron — inter alia, a micro-essay on the Passions of Christ and Hussain, and AOC feeling “physically ripped apart” by the effects of her recent fame ]
How can I resist a title like Passsion Plays?
Okay, that sent me on my way..
I was at Oberammergau, age seven, in 1950:
And besides, in 1971 I witnessed a troupe of flagellant youths, very disciplined, inside the circular road that surrounds the shrine of the Imam Reza in Mashhad, Iran. They may well have been celebrating Ashura, the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar, commemorating the martyrdom of Hussein and his offspring at Karbala — a celebration often accompanied, though I did not see one myself, by one or more Ta’zieh or Passion Plays.
Memorializing the massacre of Hussein, grandson of the Prophet and a highly venerated figure in Shi’ite tradition along with his three hundred or so companions, is indeed a grievous matter, comparable — for comparative religious, cultural anthropological and depth psychological purposes, my purposes — to the Passion of Christ as memorialized in the Catholic Stations of the Cross — it is said that one tear shed for Hussein washes away a hundred sins.
The devotional mind-and-heart — may we call it soul, to give that word a less diffuse meaning? — the devotional soul finds in grief plumbed to its depths an antechamber to the heights of joy. This we find in Oberammergau‘s celebration of Christ‘s final week in Jerusalem, his Last Supper, his agony in the garden, his crucifixion, resurrection and ascension… and likewise in the spirituality of the passion of Hussain. Let me quote from an earlier post of mine, Ashura: the Passion of Husayn:
Annemarie Schimmel, the great Harvard scholar of Islamic mysticism, has a fine essay on the poetry of Ashura, encompassing both Sunni and (strongly Shia-influenced) Sufi traditions, Karbala and the Imam Husayn in Persian and Indo-Muslim literature. The mindset is very different from contemporary secular westernism, seeing death itself — and the grief that accompanies it — as a prelude to resurrection, and thus part of the timeless love-play of God with those who love him:
In having his beloved suffer, the divine Beloved seems to show his coquetry, trying and examining their faith and love, and thus even the most cruel manifestations of the battle in which the ‘youthful heroes’, as Shah Latif calls them, are enmeshed, are signs of divine love.
The earth trembles, shakes; the skies are in uproar;
This is not a war, this is the manifestation of Love.
The poet knows that affliction is a special gift for the friends of God, Those who are afflicted most are the prophets, then the saints, then the others in degrees’, and so he continues:
The Friend kills the darlings, the lovers are slain,
For the elect friends He prepares difficulties.
God, the Eternal, without need what He wants, He
That is not by any means the spirit of Larissa MacFarquhar‘s New Yorker piece, Passion Plays: The making of Edward Albee — but it’s the spirit of passion plays as best I can understand it, drawing on my first and fourth decades of life, and on both Catholic Christianity and Shi’ite Islam.
If we are to understand grief — both passionate and compassionate — we might care to ponder such matters.
How’s that for a mini-essay, as promised?
Nicolle Wallace 3/12/2019:
Guy needs a new stump speech. Democrats effectively check-mating Republicans in Congress by saying, We will only move toward impeachment if there’s evidence of criminal conduct, and practically daring the GOP to say they’s let crimes committed by the President slide…
We’re spending so much time trying to decide whether what we have seen publicly reported that may be 5% of what Bob Mueller has, is enough to impeach, is enough to charge somebody with obstruction, with a cover-up, I mean, that’s like sitting here and talking about whether after the first inning of the baseball game, we can predict with 100% confidence which team will win [..]
So for us to debate whether we have enough to begin impeachment proceedings, whether we might have enough to bring a criminal charge against the President or his family members is really folly, it’s folly that we enjoy, and it’s important … but you know, this is still the first inning, with respect to this game, and it may go into extra innings before we know who wins and who loses ..
I think he’s done a remarkable job of holding his cards tight to the vest, his office doesn’t leak, much to our frustration, we do not know things until he’s ready for us to know them, and it’s very possible that just when he finally shows those cards, he has a lot of things there that we don’t know anything about.
And on top of all of that, the, heh, out of control, spinning carousel of scandal around this President is about to enter one of its most kinetic and dramatic periods yet ..
And on top of all of that, authorities in New York State, interestingly, in both the legislature and in law enforcement, in the Attorney General’s office, they have started, today, to turn their own state-level law enforcement resources on this President and his business, and they’re starting to do it like they’ve got him in a tractor beam.
Alec MacGillis, The Tragedy of Baltimore
Since Freddie Gray’s death in 2015, violent crime has spiked to levels unseen for a quarter century. How order collapsed in an American city.
In Baltimore, you can tell a lot about the politics of the person you’re talking with by the word he or she uses to describe the events of April 27, 2015. Some people, and most media outlets, call them the “riots”; some the “unrest.” Guy was among those who always referred to them as the “uprising,” a word that connoted something justifiable and positive: the first step, however tumultuous, toward a freer and fairer city.
This is why choice of metaphors matters.
Ocasio-Cortez admits that the sudden fame has been disorienting. “At first, it was really, really, really hard. I felt like I was being physically ripped apart in those first two to three months,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
And that’s a wrap.