Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Leap of Faith (into the great blue yonder)

Philip Petit's, 45 minute tightrope walk between the twin towers in 1974, for me, is one of the most sublime, simple, and subversive things I've heard of or seen. Petit's dance; 1368ft up in thin air, is a perfect paean to the crushing beauty and fragility of creation. Bear in mind, the feat was done completely unbeknownst to the powers that be... until people started to point in wonder from the pavement below. Can you imagine that same gesture; pointing fingers, skyward, on September 11th 2001. When you compare Philip Petit's tightrope walk to the utter destruction of the twin towers attack, it's a sore indictment of how polar opposite humans can be. Picture a man: in one hand; a sublime beauty. In the other; an intransigent evil.
Envision a man, dancing, a quarter mile from the ground, on a tightrope cable between two monoliths. It's like some sublime dream. At one point, Petit has a conversation with a seagull circling round his head! Petit's tightrope feats, were said to be responsible for the softening of public opinion in relation to the garish architecture of the twin towers. Until he stepped out onto that cable, the towers were considered to be garishly large and unfeeling; two behemoths of concrete and commerce. Often, I like to imagine what two similar towers might be like if they were populated by the likes of Philip Petit; an army of people marching to their own drum, together. Can you imagine the mad diversity, the beautiful creations that might come; if only the leap was taken?

I can highly recommend the film documentary based on Petit's life - "Man On Wire."

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