Maximum Madness


Film impressions by Roger Echo-Hawk

Mad Max: Fury Road crackles with whiplash energies. Entering the theater, we soon find ourselves surrounded by grotesques. Joining this horde, we are forbidden from anything like serene introspective reverie… this is more of a brute scholarly teratology. With glimpse after glimpse of senseless parched rigidities, it’s pointless to wonder why we came here.

Imperator Furiosa quietly orchestrates our quest. Max is just another haunted nameless fugitive. There is no past here; only an elaborately manufactured present. A sense of stark foreboding has taken the place of the future.

A furious ballet begins. Now we must careen, surrounded by timeless nightmarish disintegrating mechanisms. Our seats hurtle us into the midst of the machinery of extremity. If you choose to enter this theater with us, you can bring your seatbelts with you, but they won’t help. It’s that kind of myth.

Maybe history did happen. And if it did… well, Furiosa can plan for things like redemption and liberation. But for Max, such words are too weighty. So when he stumbles upon the Wives, we pause in the sudden diaphanous mystery. It should be a sensuous scene. But the story lunges onward. On into the drenching justifications for violence, the choices to kill that comprise the plot.

And the durable pacifist world of non-violent decisions that really fill daily life… the dreamlike delicacies of that world never happened in this mythology. Everything here is brittle; nothing is delicate.

Whatever happens next, make no mistake. This is a frightful epic ordeal; the darkest steampunk mythmaking. Here we must slowly shed our machinery. Here we must wrest back our names, our evanescent humanity. In the end, it looks something like fading into a crowd. It looks like… maybe we really can smile. Maybe. Someday. This is just what happened along the way.

Glad Water Singing

Glad Water Singing

dark roots swim onward into the forest

weary evenings lost in ceaseless night

everyone wandering under wishful leaves

following memories of gnarled dreams

down phantom paths, drifting toward sleep

where cool water swirls in golden circles

beneath flowering stars, this shining door

a chiming pool, her song of blossoms

Andrea Mathwich, "Goldberry's Lily" (acrylics)

Andrea Mathwich, “Goldberry’s Lily” (acrylics)


Rain Songs

Andrea Mathwich, “Lady Goldberry” (colored pencil)

Andrea Mathwich, “Lady Goldberry” (colored pencil)

Opening my door to listen to the rain this afternoon, I listen to the first thunder of this spring season.  It seems an excellent day to ponder Goldberry’s song about rain in The Fellowship of the Ring. I long ago realized that Tolkien’s “In the House of Tom Bombadil” may have inspired Led Zeppelin’s “Rain Song” – the parallels are notable. And it interests me to see how creative invention draws together materials from diverse sources to weave together new insights, new visions.

It was just over a year ago that I sat down to write a new poem, “Rain Song.” There I envisioned Goldberry singing her “rain-song, as sweet as showers on dry hills, that told the tale of a river…” This would surely have been a meandering journey through the magic of the world. In my poem I set down just a few moments of my notions of that song, that journey.

And I wove into the words Goldberry herself. To do that I drew inspiration from a song written long ago by Syd Barrett, “See Emily Play” – one of my favorite songs. That song helped to launch the imagery and enchantment of the most visionary psychedelic music of the late 1960s. In the song Emily wears a gown “that touches the ground” and we “float on a river forever and ever.”

The next day I gave my poem to Andrea Mathwich – she had told me that she was thinking about trying her hand at writing a song. And I knew she had given a lot of thought to the mystery of Goldberry.  Would this “Rain Song” work as a lyric? Well, at Real Myth and Mithril you will soon have an opportunity to judge for yourself. As for me, I think she wrote a beautiful incarnation of what Goldberry could have sung on that rainy day in Middle-earth.

It is wonderful to imagine how things come together in the world to articulate things that cannot be easily spoken. In this case, “Rain Song” weaves together rainfall and waterways into music that winds its way across a mythic world. And now this river-song has a special prelude written by Linda Echo-Hawk, using another Tolkien song that Goldberry sings, like “a glad water flowing down into the night from a bright morning…”

The Grey Havens Minstrels will perform “Rain Song” and other music at Real Myth and Mithril on Saturday, April 25.


The Grey Havens Minstrels: Andrea Mathwich (vocals, keyboards), Linda Echo-Hawk (vocals, chimes), Elisha Conant (vocals, percussion), Donna Clement (vocals, percussion), Katy Colby (harp), Dyhrddrdh Colby (harp, strings). (Photograph by Brian Mathwich, April 13, 2015)