Dr. Dawg

Best coin ever spent

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Like most viewers, at least judging from on-line reactions, I found this video more than a little moving. Now I’ve recovered from what I took to be the tearful joy of the moment, I’ve been asking myself why this should be.

The appearance of a full-blown orchestra and chorus was a staged affair, but one that needed to be activated. That was done by the little girl who tossed money in the hat, then stepped back respectfully and smiled. There is no reason to believe she was in on the joke (for elaborate joke it was). If not her, perhaps someone else, but the receipt of a coin was inevitable from some member of the crowd that occupied the public square. There was the empty hat, a lock demanding a key.

The gradual appearance and performance of the orchestra is at once literal and metaphorical: the surprise of appearance arising not as the linear effect of a cause but from a radical break between cause and effect—the very definition of a miracle. The coin was not, in fact, spent. There was no purchase here, but an offering. The hat, like an altar, was a site of prayer.

We see the young girl standing in her place throughout most of the video, and other children feature prominently in it as well. This is not incidental. We are drawn, and not by design, to re-imagine our own childhoods, full of unexpected and incessant wonders. But in the very act of re-imagining, we attest to the fact that this magic world without logic and linearity is now forever lost to us. The adults in the video, therefore, are counterpoint. One records the performance on a cellphone, the closest, perhaps, that we might come to the plenitude of the moment: if we cannot simply give ourselves to it, an ultimately futile attempt to capture it may be all that is left to us.

The video itself is one such attempt. And we, the viewers at two removes, are overcome by the fundamental lack that opens like a chasm before us. Desire is created by the girl’s initial act, desire that cannot be fulfilled. To use the Christian metaphor, we are given a glimpse of the garden from which we have been expelled. We weep, therefore, not out of joy but of pain.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on November 24, 2013 9:50 AM.

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