If you’re going through hell, keep going. ~Winston Churchill
Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death. ~Author Unknown
In college, we, being creative, madcap students, created some legendary events to activate what wasn’t being stimulated in the classroom: art happenings, art festivals, art-attacks, avant-garde poetry gatherings, guerilla theater, protest theater, musical events, often within the subtext of a good old down-home party, albeit with a higher calling. Or so we thought.
What else does one do in upstate New York when the sun has not shown for weeks, the bone-chilling, damp, gray cold air has permeated even the warmest of down jackets, you feel as if you have unknowingly marooned yourself on a distant planet and the nearest large town is Utica, a place which has been desperately trying to scrape the barnacles off its Rust-Belt past? (OK, the Munson-Williams-Proctor Art is a gem, the region is a photographer’s paradise as everything is truly frozen in time, and while the city is still clinically and economically depressed, efforts are clearly afoot for re-vitalization)
Café Stupide. The Fuzzy Suite. “The I’m Gonna Be Hypno-Tised” gala. Parties where we festooned ourselves with aluminum foil and mockingly-lovingly embraced heavy metalheads, the quite astounding gatherings of exceptional musicians who formed bands such as PIE-, ripping through Stevie Ray catalogs, Dead covers and originals. The jazzy martini-soaked speakeasy recreations, cocktail parties serenaded by Django Reinhardt or late night forays into the musical wilderness with Jandek, Cocteau Twins, Tom Waits or Eugene Chadbourne. And let us not forget the midnight co-educationally constructed mastery of a twelve-foot high, carved-to-scale, snow-penis, a nod to the domination of the phallus in icy snow. Or rather, just building a large shocking object to greet people when the sun rose the next morning.
And there were some events which remain suspended in a cloud of mental debris. I believe the dust, along with the chicken wing bones, empty beer cans and smashed cigarettes may still reside on the sills and ceiling tiles of those dorm-room suites.
One themed party seemed to be recurrent and was focused primarily on living up to its palindromatically accurate nature of the name: LIVEVIL. Participants were not injured save for eardrums, livers, lungs and, in one instance, a shredded buttock which was left unprotected from an icy sled run in the woods when the borrowed lunch tray cracked in the cold. But the goal was simultaneously to celebrate the darkness and to combat evil in all forms.
And now, for some reason, when I think of cancer, I think of that title. LIVEVIL. Evil is alive and well. Many images come to mind when trying to comprehend the embodiment of this disease as there is nothing un-evil about it.
In one of my favorite films, Spirited Away, by the acclaimed Hayao Miyazaki, there is a stunning array of mystical beings. In one scene, “No Face”, (shown below with protagonist Chihiro) swallows a servant to speak and gives gold to the staff in return for food. “No Face” eats voraciously, devouring everything in its path and causing it to grow to immense size, eventually swallowing several others. It is unstoppable. “No Face” is cancer.
I think of other hollywood demons, many based on centuries-old embodiments of evil which are easily linked to how I feel about this cancer and why, as one friend who is also a cancer survivor shared, that I have to be mindful, now that I am on the “inside” not to forget that the mere utterance of having cancer “freaks people out.” I am learning to temper how, when and with whom I share the details and how much, often referring them to this blog for further investigation if I am too drained or too busy to delve.
Visual Musings on Evil Embodied
Ripley: How do we kill it, Ash? There’s gotta be a way of killing it. How? How do we do it?
Ash: You can’t.
Parker: That’s bullshit.
Ash: You still don’t understand what you’re dealing with, do you? Perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility. — Alien
“Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in. Not by the hair of your chiny-chin-chin? Well then I’ll huff and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in” – Jack Torrence, The Shining
What’s the most you ever lost on a coin toss? – Anton Chigurh, No Country for Old Men
“This shark, swallow you whole” – Quint, Jaws
“I felt them. Everything went cold […] And I felt … as though all happiness had gone from the world … and I remembered … dreadful things …” – Mrs. Figg, Harry Potter, Order of the Phoenix
T-1000, Terminator 2
Captain Bligh, Mutiny on the Bounty
Amon Goeth, Schindler’s List
Of course the list for non-fictictious characters in history who could easily feed the flame of cancer would be endless. Stalin, Idi Amin, Pol-Pot, Queen Mary I, Hitler, Saddam, Ghadafi, Bin Laden, Hirohito, Attila the Hun, etc. as well as those within the literary realm including Grendel, Beowulf’s mother, Bill Sikes from Oliver Twist, The Devil himself, Dracula, Lady MacBeth, Claudius, Aaron the Moor and so on. They are all apt and all remind us of the nature of evil in our nature.
So what is this “live-evil”lurking within?
A few videos help illuminate the very basics. One from the Mayo Clinic and another astounding clip on the role of nanotechnology in cancer research. Truly mind-blowing science.
A basic cancer video intro from MD Anderson:
Brain cancer and this anaplastic ependymoma lurking within creates a complex synergy of emotion- hope and despair, courage and weakness. Love and hate.
Love will win either way. It always does. And always will.
An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life…
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.
“One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.
“The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
“This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather,
“Which wolf will win?”
The old chief simply replied,
“The one you feed.”
While Jakob Dylan does in fact have a terrific song “Evil is Alive and Well” I will leave you with this…one of the best road songs on the planet. Turn it up. LOUD. Time to get in the car and drive…with one headlight…