Monday, March 03, 2008

Juno Walking

My small group is reading Madeleine L’Engle’s WALKING ON WATER for the next couple of months.

For our homework this week, Catherine is making us write about Madeleine’s concept of “cosmos in chaos.” The idea (which she borrows from Leonard Bernstein) is that the artist creates order or harmony out of the bedlam of the world.

Madeleine wants to define all art as cosmos in chaos, while acknowledging that some artists “look at the world around them and see chaos, and instead of discovering cosmos, they reproduce chaos...”
Her conclusion: “As far as I can see, the reproduction of chaos is neither art, nor is it Christian.”

Here are some of my thoughts on the notion of “cosmos in chaos”:

1) Agent Maxwell Smart works against Kaos and for Control. Not sure that counts as an endorsement.

2) DC Comics has a slew of heroes that work for Order and villains that work for Chaos. The books make a point of claiming that there is no “good” or “evil” – just order or chaos. Or, to be more precise, order/chaos supersedes the smaller notions of good/evil.


3) The independent small movie JUNO was more popular at the box office – by 200% and counting – than the movie that won the Oscar for best picture.

Jon Stewart made the crack at the ceremony – with all the hopeless and depressing movies this year, “thank the Lord for teenage pregnancy.”

I think the appeal of JUNO goes past its breezy air and witty dialogue. I think that there is something in that little movie that fulfills a deep audience want.

And it isn’t just the politics of the thing. Both pro-life and pro-choice advocates have been claiming this movie as their own.

And it isn’t an issue of artistic quality or flair. Debate the cinematography of NO COUNTRY or the soundscape of THERE WILL BE BLOOD over the editing of JUNO – and you won’t get anywhere near the audience.

No, I think it has to do with cosmos in chaos.

Face it, all the Oscar best pic noms are set in worlds of chaos. Even JUNO, teenage pregnancy, divorce, marriage falling apart, and – yikes! – high school. On a personal level, that’s more chaotic than facing the killer after me for running off with a suitcase of money. (I hate it when that happens.)

Yet JUNO finds cosmos in that chaos – harmony – hope even. Love within anger and disappointment; family within separation; connection within disengagement.

It takes a journey from the unwanted to the wanted.

I think I can see why someone might resonate with that.

So, Catherine, my assignment is complete.

Just my thoughts,


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