Tuesday, January 04, 2011

What Boundary Do You Invoke?

In late December, I created an art display in Second Life. Unless you have a way to connect to the internet, you could not have visited it -- and in the spirit of keeping my computer clutter down, I removed it shortly after New Year's. So I will describe it for you.

There is a virtual brick library building -- neo-Grecian style -- near an electronic shore. Near one side of the library, wind chimes hang in the eternal blossoms of a cherry tree. Pentatonic notes ring randomly over rendered stone benches. A short way away is a large, perfectly circular labyrinth marked upon the grassy slope above the shore. These things remain in place; what follows was the installation.

Floating waist-high in a circuit around the labyrinth's perimeter were ten words: "What boundary do you invoke with the words 'Merry Christmas'?" To enter the twisting geometric path one had to cross the whirling words' orbit.

The installation was not a critique of the Christmas holiday. Words delimit concepts -- even as they attempt to bridge them -- and the intent of the installation was to raise awareness of relationships during the Christmas season.

"Merry Christmas" is short for "I wish you a Merry Christmas," or "May God send you a Merry Christmas." Hidden in the December salutation (and valediction) are wishes, hopes and prayers for others.

The orbiting words were a reminder that we stand in a personal intersection of faith, circumstance, hopes and wishes -- and that two words, "Merry Christmas" are chock full of hidden assumptions about ourselves, others, and our relationship as wish- and prayer-makers to the world.

So, as Twelfth Night and the Feast of Epiphany approach, I ask again: "What boundary do you invoke with the words 'Merry Christmas'?"
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