This weekend, all four corners of 20JFG were in Madrid with our close friends to celebrate the imminent wedding of one of our cabal.
While there we perused the Museo del Prado – a many-treasured vault of a building holding level after level of mind-bending genius from Goya and Bosch among others.
In our depleted Sunday morning state, though, I was perhaps even more drawn to the traditional Catholic art depicting religious icons. As an atheist who had no particular links to religion when growing up, I find religious art both terrifying and soothing.
I love the weirdness and passion of Catholicism’s depictions in paintings, which border on the psychedelic, but I also love the beauty and elevation of religious music, whether it is polyphonic chant, the ayin used to soundtrack the graceful twirls of Sufi whirling dervishes, or 20th century gospel.
The music of Pharaoh Sanders reads like modernist Islamic hymns – full of devotion, but teetering on the edge of holy abstraction.
Though indifferent to the deities held precious by such music, I find its abundance of faith of nourishing. If I ever get married, it will not be in a church or use religious traditions, but I will always find comfort in the sounds of another human’s love for the supernatural, when sung sincerely and with a certain heart.
For those with weak hearts, like me, complicated music making uncomplicated promises has restorative potential.
Buy Jewels of Thought by Pharaoh Sanders (1969)
art is Born Cross-Eyed, 2015 by Jordan Pontell