What do you know of “Chapel Perilous?” The story is this: in his quest for the Holy Grail, in a terrible storm, Gawain, Knight of the Round Table, takes shelter in a Chapel. Rather than providing security, it turns out to be a place of terror and confusion with a bare alter holding a burning candle. A black hand, hideous and terrifying, extinguishes the light and plunges Gawain into confusion and terror. He rushes from the Chapel, only to find the storm abated and the night clear.
One enters the Chapel in a time of dismay seeking security but finding only confusion and disorientation. Perhaps you are facing a breakup, and your Chapel is your art but you find you can create nothing. Perhaps it is a time of political confusion, and your Chapel is a political party or candidate, but he or she proves disappointing.
Lost in Chapel Perilous, nothing seems safe, nothing seems real, fantasy and reality become confused. Faith is shattered, madness prevails. It’s quite a trip. And you can’t get out unless something comes to your rescue. Often that something seems mysterious, unlikely, otherworldly, occult, bizarre or just plain dumb. No matter. It is said that one who has survived Chapel Perilous can never again be sure of what is real and what is not.
If you are an artist, it is likely that you have visited often. I certainly have. And recently. Chapel Perilous is nothing like depression or despair. It is the apprehension of the madness of existence, the overwhelming reality of the Great Void, the loss of faith, the conviction that nothing matters and the universe is laughing at you. And you don’t get the joke. It’s enough to drive a fellow to drink. It’s about hallucinations and delusions, the weird, the obscure, the arcane. Reality vs reality and the shadows on the wall. Does that answer your question? Uncharted territory. The process of becoming. So what do you do? Reconnect. Now say maybe maybe not. To each his own. I would never just go along. Seriously, now, whatever comes up, throw it away. There’s work to be done if you can figure it out. Whatever.
So finding myself in Chapel Perilous, I look for the thread that might help me out of the labyrinth and bring me back to my self, whoever that is, or was, or is becoming or might be or there it is I’m off again.
Okay. I’m not going to write myself out of it. But there is the hint of a solution from my editor. My editor? Well, sometimes he has good ideas. A few weeks ago he told me I had to make a mix tape before he’d publish another column (have you noticed my weeks of silence?). You see, I’ve never made a mix tape. I have resisted the suggestion, but now it seems to me it might be a string to lead me out of the Chapel and into a new day. So, I agree. I’ll do it. And I’ll share the beginning with you.
Where else to begin? But with an invocation of Eleggua—Santeria’s trickster god, the one who opens the roads—sung by the glorious Cuban Santero, Lazaro Roz.
Now that we’ve opened the road, let’s see where it takes us. Mix it up.
– Charles Kruger
The Storming Bohemian