This week, a reader wrote:
“I know that John appears to be a big time loser in the movie…”
“…but perhaps after his disintegration there was some sort of renewal in his life.”
Death-and-resurrection—this writer knows what turns me on.
The documentary portrayed Max as the uncompromising artist. His belief system refused to die. It was killing him. Max’s intransigence demonstrated a sad truth about the human condition—that for some of us…
it’s easier to die than change.
John Max conveniently proved my “theory of tragedy”. But the commenter, a former photography student of Max, suggests there’s more to the story…
“I can’t help thinking that in his soul there was something that surpassed our understanding… perhaps, in fact, he was a Holy Fool.”
A HOLY FOOL
Heathen that I am, I cannot speak with authority about these radical Christians called Holy Fools. So, I’ll let the letter writer, a prairie poet and filmmaker named Harvey Spak, enlighten us:
“In the Eastern Christian Tradition, such people are valued, viewed as saints, fools for Christ, imitating his failure.”
So, the Holy Fool feigns madness. No way that John Max was faking his fear and confusion. Perhaps it’s enough that the Fool—consciously or not—brings our attention to failure.
“Despite his teaching, his wisdom, his miracles and mighty deeds, Jesus ended up a colossal failure, disgraced, hated, executed as a criminal, crucified between two thieves so that he might experience the full vulnerability of our humanity before he would glorify it through his Resurrection.”
The failures of the Holy Fool… they are a secret sanctity.
I speak about such a thing on this blog, but without using faith-based language. I only want to describe how fiction really works. You may be tired of hearing about it:
FAILURE IS A HIDDEN BLESSING.
Which explains why we follow fictional characters to their demise. In their dead-end—and only in a true dead-end—do some protagonists turn it around (redemption story), and some don’t (tragedy).
And some tragic characters resurrect beyond the end of the movie…in the audience’s thoughtful imagination.
Which is why I was so happy to get Spak’s email this week—in which he tells me that Max lived for a few years “happy and productive” before he died. Although…
“He was no longer a photographer, he was just John Max. After all, it’s not what you do that matters, but who you ARE.”
Now we’re talking!
Rebirth is about abandoning belief systems. It means dis-identifying with old strategies. Any rebirth worth getting religious about gets to the ground of being. The reborn identify with their higher nature.
This is the hero’s journey. This is the human journey. Isn’t it?
“So after his collapse, John Max just WAS.”
This news made my week.
The last word about Holy Fools goes to Spak:
“They were born of the heart of God, they were in the heart of God, and their destiny is to always be in the heart of God. Oh, what joy.”