C – Embracing the Cacophony (PBP week 5)

Albrecht Durer “Bacchanal with Silenus”

“Bellowing, shrill-sounding instruments accompany him; we often see them pictured in sculpture.  A series of mythic stories and descriptions make us keenly aware of the overpowering spirit of the Dionysiac din which makes its violent entry as it captivates and inspires dread at one and the same time.”

This passage from Walter Otto’s Dionysus Myth and Cult (p. 93) worries me.  Or, rather, the obvious truth he’s describing worries me.  I fear that if I can’t embrace this cacophony, the “Dionysiac din,” maybe I’m not fit to worship Dionysos.

There are some kinds of chaos that I love, even thrive in.  I’ve always preferred wilderness to topiary, and a the entropy of certain sort of overgrown garden-gone-wild to both.  I love the sound of an orchestra tuning and the bizarre flow of intoxicated conversation.  Creatively, such things as random splashes of spilt paint or a jumbled mess of fabrics have inspired much of my best work.

Pandemonium – that particular sort of living human chaos – appeals to me intellectually and emotionally, but in reality I find it almost physically painful.

It’s the sound you see.

I’ve always been sensitive to loud noise.  Unless it’s something structured, like music, I can’t bear it.  And conflicting sources of noise – say the television, video game music, and someone trying to talk to me all at once – can send me into an anxiety attack.

With all that noise, I can’t think.

I can’t think.

When one can’t think, isn’t the only option shutting off the mind and live fully in the body?

Maybe I can get a handle on this after all.

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