Jeff's online journal, ramblings, whatever.

Marc Chagall

First, I’d like to acknowledge the first known reader of this blog. Thanks, Haley! Due to our past, probably nothing on this blog will be surprising.

When I was going to BYU-Idaho I was in Fiddler on the Roof, cast as the Russian constable. As part of the show the cast was required to take a “Song Interpretation” class from the director Hyrum Conrad. One project of the class was to pick a Marc Chagall painting and explain why we liked it. Chagall painted a lot of surreal paintings, mostly related to that period’s Judaism, and in fact one of his paintings was the inspiration for the title of Fiddler on the Roof.

Marc Chagall’s ChickenThis was the painting I picked, for a very personal reason. I tried explaining it to the class, but I don’t think a single person really understood what I was trying to say, even my brother and sister (who were also in the cast). So let me put it down in writing here, so that maybe future readers will know what I was getting at.

This picture depicts most prominently a Jewish couple, either about to be wed or just barely married. (You can see the marriage canopy in the background to the left.) What’s most interesting to me, though, is the giant chicken that is just as big as either one of the couple. Now, Chagall was known for putting random animals in weird places in his paintings, but to me it was interesting that not only was the chicken just as big as the people, but also alongside them. It was like this chicken was as much a part of their married life as the people themselves were.

This brings me to my point, both a point of pathos and of hope. I often feel that I am overshadowed by a figurative giant chicken. Like people can look at me, but they don’t see the man, but the goofiness, or the off-kilter humor, or the weirdness. Understandably so, for my mind works in weird ways sometimes. And I mean truly weird. Many people say they’re weird, but it’s a socially acceptable kind of weird. People who put license plate covers on their car that say things like “Gone Crazy, Back Soon” are “mainstream” weird. People who spend an entire blog entry explaining why their life relates to an early 20th century painting about a chicken are actually weird. My speech is often peppered with horribly random comments; not just puns, not just humorous things, but just off-the-wall non-sequiturs that make people say, “What? Who are you, Perry Mason?”

Anyhow, so I’ve got a giant chicken behind me. That’s a cause for pathos (or a slap across the face, depending on who you are). However, the hope comes in the fact that the painting is a marriage ceremony. These people are about to spend the rest of their lives together in presumably eternal bliss. But did either the man or the woman have to shed the chicken in order to become socially acceptable enough to get married? Nope. In fact, the chicken is as much a part of their married life as anything else. That gives me hope that, somewhere, there’s someone waiting that will see both the man and the chicken, and accept and embrace both. She might even have her own giant chicken giving her a sense of isolation as well. Who knows?

Well, I didn’t do a much better job of explaining myself here as I did in class, it seems. My point’s in there somewhere, though, so see if you can find it. As for me, I’d like jam.

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