The Monsoons have come. After a stultifying spring drought and heat wave, I can think of no better surround-sound entertainment and sensory satisfaction than these simple, salvific storms.
Reclining in my zero gravity chair this afternoon, appreciating the cool, fresh breeze as a thunderhead loomed and rumbled behind me and the hummingbirds swooped, vroomed and hovered just a few feet before me, I floated on the simple innocent wonder of my breath, resting after my first, and probably only, visit to MeowWolf : House of Eternal Return this morning.
For those not familiar, I’m not going to attempt to capture the place with words; it’s meant to be a sensory experience: https://meowwolf.com/santa-fe/about/ .
It is a one-of-a-kind, modern interactive art installation for kids of all ages. It’s a big hit; lots of noise and neon, so I was in no hurry to have the experience. But, a friend had a weekend pass, and she offered me the chance to take it in—finally. And there is a lot to take in, I’d heard; people take hours. So, two of us went this morning before 10am. There is no avoiding the crowds, really, but we did our best. I’m glad for the experience; an hour was plenty.
I had the same feeling there as I do moving through an airport: of a benevolent, if swimmy, witness navigating the surreality of a world that isn’t mine. I brought forth game playfulness to meet it all, summoning energy outward to enjoy the novelty for a while. But nausea set in within five minutes.
The only moments in which I experienced much sense of affinity were always in relation to installations that, in some way, mimicked nature: A dim cave with walls bedecked with big (6-inch-diameter) illuminated, colorful and single eyes, with speakers broadcasting sounds of the birds, reptiles and insects whose eyes these creations imitated; a big raven with a ruby amulet and a very attentive green eye; a giant (1.5 story) white bunny, whose body cavity was a blank, white room– but a cubical room with corners, which held none of the appeal of the thoroughly curvy exterior of this reverend rabbit. His ears, pressed against the ceiling, were the size of porpoises. The sign outside his belly door was something like “Don’t step on my cape, Mortals.” Of course, this clearly served as an invitation; his bottom few inches were soiled by the thousands of shoes that had tried to step up onto his outer walls. Although I walked among the mortals beneath his stony gaze, I confess I related to the voice speaking from above the madding Muggledom.
Maybe most I enjoyed the few seconds of creative interactivity early on, when I stepped inside a mammoth and took a soft mallet to his glowing ribs, each of which triggered a gruff musical note. I almost instantly picked out Beethoven’s 5th on his left row of costal ivories. My friend caught this moment for posterity.
Resting in the quietude between the morning’s “eternal” man-made storm of whimsy and the afternoon’s happy, short-lived sky-born frenzy, I mused that I had been too young to appreciate Beowulf in grade-school, and I’m too old to appreciate Meow Wolf now. But I’m content to have memories of both.