Now that song is in your head, I want to talk about a fascinating study of humanity.
The Blue Man Group!
Have you heard of them? They were founded in 1987, in New York. And it started as a cry to humanity, to look at the world as an outsider, and see everything from that perspective, and see the reactions of people to that perspective. It then morphed into a show, then a routine, then a huge phenomenon. So big that Cirque de Soleil bought the whole shebang in 2017. I want to explore the character more, though.
I love their music and shows. It’s a lot of drumming, almost tribal, that I know my mother wouldn’t approve of, but that brings the listener in. It’s almost a call and response effect on its own right, much less the cues given during the performance. The drumming is also atypical. Not complex in the same way Rush is, but atypical. Downbeats when you don’t expect them, speed and slow when they aren’t expected. Again,, tribal. Then they drum on PVC pipes, making music from the beat. Creative, and fun.
So, Joe, uhm, what’s the point?
Well, Reader-land, if you have never seen it before, you should know certain things so I will lay out two main themes I take from the Blue Man Group.
Music has the ability to communicate, and humanity as a whole is one big tribe. These two non spiritual things unite to get at an underlying commonality we are all searching for, even if we don’t know it.
To start, music communicates. The Blue Men never talk. Ever. They are outsiders, seeing everything and everyone for the first time. They don’t have words, they don’t understand basic customs like handshakes or bows. So they find the lowest common denominator in humans, rhythm. Listen to your heartbeat. It’s in rhythm. We even medically define arhythmia of heartbeats. Thus, a way to communicate that we all can understand is drumming. They drum, we respond, The drumming turns into music and we become engaged more and more with each step, so by the end of a show we might be covered in toilet paper or paint or have a hoarse voice or sore hands from yelling and clapping. Music opened the door to understanding. How cool is that?
Second, humanity as tribe. We think of tribes as more local and less universal. The Blue Men break that paradigm by being blue humanoids. Blank faced, curious, unpredictable, they try to understand the world and don’t differentiate between tribes, just humanity as a whole. They reduce it again to the lowest common denominator, humanity. As such, we can communicate more readily without getting tripped up over customs from Asia or Australia or France or Brazil. We are one human race, and we tell that story. How cool is that?
Peter Kreeft once talked about finding philosophy in Tolkiens work. I find the philosophy in the blue men.
At the very core of humanity, even those considered outsiders or hermits, we have two commonalities, we are human, and therefore family, and we want to communicate. These aren’t religious things, they are embedded in nature. Watch Castaway, he’s desperate to communicate so much he eventually anthropomorphizes a volleyball. This is human nature. And that brings me to the main point, the core of humanity in its natural urge is inherently spiritual.
You probably expected me to say that, right? I always come back to faith, I’m so boring. I’m just pointing out that three men in New York tried to encapsulate humanity and in doing so directly defined man’s search for more, for community, for meaning. These are intrinsic to reason, can’t be defined by the scientific method, and explains what makes us different than animals. I’m pretty positive they didn’t mean to do this, but they can’t help it, it is human nature! And in today’s post-Christian society, these kinds of things are important to understand and grow upon.
St Augustin of course, said it best, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” And of course, I am going to tell you that the pinnacle of the human condition is Catholicism, which is the only religion that both glorifies humanity and also tends to the desires of human nature. What do we want, who can we talk to, how can we be understood? What is out there? It is implanted in our bodies, and in our minds. If there is a natural law or higher something that humans have, then it is universal to all of humans, and we can start to access it by becoming Blue.