Monday, September 01, 2008

What Puppets Can Teach Us by Louis Evan Palmer

For a long time, puppeteers were to be heard but not seen. They worked the strings above a stage or behind a curtain. The often given observation being that puppets could say things people couldn't. The audience would laugh at a puppet's remark but might shiver or cringe if it was said by a person. The less you saw of the puppeteer, the more leeway the puppet had. For a while now, however, puppeteers have come in from the shadows, and perform fully visible beside their puppets. An example of this is the hit play “Avenue Q” an adult version of Sesame Street.

Initially, the audience is distracted by the visible actors beside their puppets but then an amazing thing happens. The visible actor become invisible to the audience - but not really. The audience picks up emotional clues from the actors and projects them into the puppet yet all the while, they are not consciously seeing the actors; focusing on the puppet.

This seems to be another instance of the miracle of “attention”. We direct our attention. We decide what we're going to see and hear and care about and what is outside that periphery we don't attend.

Another thing about this phenomenon and its manifestation in a puppet play is that it is strongly analogous to what sages and mystics describe as the illusion of our life. Could it be that we play the role of a puppet and the source or Tao is the cosmic person holding all the strings, being the strings? And, that somehow we have allowed our attention to shift to our version of a puppet, this body and soul, and we don't see or hear or know that which animates us? And, we are our own audience; we all have shifted our attention to the puppet's play.

What Puppets Can Teach Us, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be,
Copyright 2008 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.


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