Musical Rosary #8–Crowning with Thorns

Weaving a crown out of thorns,they placed it on his head, and a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”

–Matt. 27:29

They talked for over an hour. Near the end, after they’d been sitting in silence for a while, Burns said quietly, “Do you know what Christ died of?”

Rivers looked surprised, but answered readily enough. “Suffocation. Ultimately the position makes it impossible to go on inflating the lungs. A terrible death.”

“That’s what I find so horrifying. Somebody had to imagine that death. I mean, just in order to invent it as a method of execution. You know that thing in the Bible? ‘The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth’? I used to wonder why pick on that? Why his imagination? But it’s absolutely right.”
–Pat Barker, Regeneration

This is such a visceral moment, the thorns pressing into flesh. Through a process of association, I often pray this mystery for help with the tangled thornbushes inside my head: the places where my imagination goes wrong, where my reasoning becomes rationalization, where my thinking is distorted. The sins which take place in the little throne room of the skull, ruled by its crazed king: resentment, self-righteousness, entitlement, lust, self-justifying arguments with phantoms, despair.

As I’ve been doing this series, I’ve noticed that two of my favorite musical genres appear almost nowhere. Where’s the punk? Where’s the ’80s pop/new-wave? The doomy anger and glitzy alienation which fuel those genres don’t really work for the rosary, I guess. But this mystery can be the exception. Here’s Devo’s “Uncontrollable Urge” (it can totally be an urge for anything! Let’s say that it’s biting people, Suarez, and not, like, yelling at my printer) followed by the Avengers, “Thin White Line” (“Don’t go to Babylon”/But hey, Joe, I’m already there–in my mind I’m already gone).

A snippet from Amends, the first night in reality-TV rehab–Bentley is a producer and recovering addict, and Ana is her civilian assistant:

Ana and Bentley stood in the hallway outside the men’s bedroom, a little after three in the morning, under the humming and shivering overhead lights. All the cameras and the camera lighting had gone dark. They could hear a woman moaning down the hall, and the smells of sweat and vomit sometimes surfaced in the air despite the tired whickering of the ventilation system. Ana looked up and noticed the posters on the ceiling; a corner was hanging down from the one that said, YOUR MIRACLE IS COMING! GET OUT OF THE WAY. From the men’s bedroom somebody shouted, “Shit!” and they heard a crash, and then some conversation, then silence. It seemed to Ana that the white light in the hallway had begun to go yellow.

“This is bad,” Ana said. She felt smaller than usual. “…Is this unusually bad?”

But Bentley was smiling, a little shrugging grin. She turned and looked at Ana with surprise and some contempt.

“Why is this bad?” And then, as her smile turned inward, she tapped her skull and said, “This is what it’s always like in here.”

Can that be true? Ana wondered.

The moaning got louder.

“Like this, really?”

“Oh yeah, but with like a guitar solo in the background. Come on, pull it together. There’s pizza in the kitchen for the crew, let’s go take advantage.”

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