Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Like Getting Lots of Different Candies
Sue Canada, Bob Canada’s widow, buried Bob’s ashes on Sunday October 21. According to this Kane County Chronicle report, later that day the family noticed Jesus’s face stained “in a patch of damaged bark on a maple tree” in the front yard. Everyone in the family agrees that the image wasn’t there the day before. In the words of daughter-in-law Jackie Flynn: “I never thought we would be those kind of people with Jesus in the tree.” But apparently they are. The family very much links the appearance to the burial of the ashes, though the article spends most of its time consulting various experts.
Rev. Akan Simon of St. Patrick Catholic Church says: “If you look at the picture, it does appear to be the face of Jesus . . . I do not believe in accidents or coincidence. This affirms my Catholic faith that death is not the final answer. It is not the end. Death is a transition to another life, but the bonds we forge in this life do not end.”
Rev. Stephen Bevans of the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago adds: “You don’t ‘prove’ things like life after death or the existence of God; you believe them on good evidence, but you still believe in them . . . You have to be sensitive to people’s faith. And Catholics believe that God does use the things of creation to manifest God’s self to us.”
The Canada homestead has been on the market for over a year, so real estate agent (and niece) Tina Flynn gets her say, too: “It’s fine. Most likely it would help . . . I don’t see it hurting the sale at all.” Must be those sub-prime mortgage rates.
Moving right along – I have noticed that when I relay these happenings to you, I have spent less and less time discussing the image in question. I suppose that the image matters very little in terms of accuracy, or even specific visual details. What materializes around the objects is what’s of interest.
Take the Virgin Mary pebble in New Zealand. After weeding out a few phony bids the auction did not meet the $30,000 reserve, so Lisa-Marie Corlet will not be parting with her pebble, word of which has traveled far and wide, like so many of these stories. Now, it needs to be said that hoaxes aside, the high, valid bid on the pebble was $27,000, but that wasn’t enough. For a beach pebble. According to this Stuff.co.nz report, Corlet said, “I’ll take a break and move on to eBay.” The auction was taking place on a New Zealand equivalent of eBay; most of their auctions typically get about 650 visits, while this one attracted 180,000. Cortlet may be able to get more internet traffic on eBay, but if you read my first post about this, you know why I don’t think she’ll get the money she is looking for. If she does, however, it won’t be the first time I’ve been wrong about something.
And finally, if a high-profile internet auction doesn’t prove it, here is yet another example of how these objects are transformed into events, which become history, and heritage. It comes from Time Out New York, from my favorite section, “Public eye.” I am many things, but a fashion maven ain’t one of ‘em, making my mild addiction to this weekly show-and-tell humorous in that it usually spurs some rolling of the eyes and a snide comment about vapid consumerism. But this week the presumably gregarious columnist Kate Lowstein funnels her subject’s wanderlust, which has shuttled her through “about 80 countries,” into . . . the Nun Bun!
Yes, the self-proclaimed “gypsy girl” who hawks clothes on Astor Place here in New York four months of the year mentions working in Calcutta for Mother Theresa. Lowenstein quips back, “Really? Did she look like the cinnamon bun?” The gypsy laughs; she gets it, and answers: “That thing does look just like her! She was kind of shriveled and raisiny.”
Don’t know about the Nun Bun? Check out my book, Madonna of the Toast. Thing is, I bet you do know about the Nun Bun, most people do. It’s a famous pastry that was robbed one Christmas morning a couple of years ago.
People may not know the names of their Congressional representatives, or understand fully photosynthesis, but the Nun Bun can be batted about in spur of the moment conversation between two complete strangers (and though I have never met either of these women, I am willing to bet that they are two very different people). Point is, we know about the Nun Bun, and Diana Duyser’s Virgin Mary grilled cheese. The ones you don’t know about, I guess I try to let you know. Why? Because it’s worth paying attention. Because the stories don’t end, and they aren’t really about objects carrying the images of iconographic forms and faces. They are about us, no matter what we see . . .