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A Beautiful Distortion

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One year, my wife and I attended several plays in the Fringe Festival in Dublin, Ireland, where we were living. I remember especially a favorite of mine, Play, by Samuel Beckett. We squeezed into a small storefront along with just 20 others to watch a bare-bones production of a bare-bones play by a usually bare-bones playwright. In it, three people stand in tall urns, only their heads showing, and they speak only when a light shines on them. They talk fast about an affair they had when they were alive—in their urns they appear to be in the afterlife reflecting on a painful episode.Some of my friends think I’m weird to like Beckett and a play like Play. The unnatural sight of people in urns appeals to me. I also like the ritual sound of the characters speaking at a clip. I want art to take me up and away from the expected and the normal.To me, it’s the first phase in a spiritual journey toward the great mysteries.In modern times, we sometimes tend to be literalists and sentimentalists. We may not like to experience penetratingimagination or emotional challenge. That’s why our culture has become so s …

Thomas Moore is the New York Times best-selling author of Care of the Soul, as well as many other books on deepening soul and cultivating a mature spiritual life, three of which have received the Books for a Better Life Award. At turns he has been a monk, a musician, a university professor, a psychotherapist, and an S&H columnist. 


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