Posted by Zach Boullt
I had never seen the night sky filled with so many colors. Rainbow-colored confetti dotted the entire open air (as well as my eyes and mouth). Within seconds I knew that the Flaming Lips show would be one like no other. I was not disappointed. Within the span of a couple of hours, I witnessed ridiculous costumes, gotten pelted by gigantic balloons filled with confetti, watched as the light-studded backdrop transformed into a podium, become flattened by a gigantic, crowd-surfing hamster ball, and partaken in a final front-row co-serenade with Wayne Coyne (eye-contact, arm reaching – he was totally looking at me, you guys). I left Fair Park filled with mysticism, optimism, and hope.
Yet just the night before, I had been suited up in order to witness Tosca’s tragic demise at the Dallas Opera. Rather than by odes to giant robots and Vaseline, my ears were brought to rapture through gorgeous harmonies and beautifully woven Italian in order to experience vanity, jealously, lust, betrayal, and where the presence of love lies within it all. The performance represented classical musical, visual, artistic, and performance perfection, with the exception of a minor mishap of a certain character’s cloak being momentarily caught onstage as she leapt to her death.
Within twenty-four hours, I had experienced two vastly distinct visual and musical mediums. This stark contrast is where I believe lies the true beauty of Dallas. In all artistic forms, Dallas seeks to transcend time and form in order to communicate the human condition in whatever way one may desire. Symphony or concert, Dallas Museum of Art or a small modern exhibition, the Texas Theatre or the indie-oriented Magnolia, Dallas does not discriminate between time periods or perceived relevancy. Rather, Dallas encourages all living near or far to integrate themselves into the artistic world in whatever means they want, leaving no doors barred.
This cultural divide has served as an effective metaphor for my first semester experience, especially as a McDermott. Finding myself in a suit one day and then a long-sleeve-shirt-that-also-has-a-hood-and-strings-for-no-discernable-reason the next, I’ve rubbed shoulders with Dallas’ influential, impoverished, put-together, outlandish, freaks, geeks, and others who could not even begin to fit into a category. Comparing one day to the next could start to become unsettling. Weaving in and out through so many opposites, whether academically, culturally, or professionally, began to feel as if I was losing my sense of place, if that “place” ever existed at all
What Dallas has made me realize, however, is that none of life’s aspects are meant to be exclusive, overshadowing its counterpart. Rather, each one seeks to tap into human reason and emotion in places only it could reach, in full combination with the others. I’ve jumped in my seat both to the blood-curdled screams of hundreds of choir girls and to the unsettling grimace of Nosferatu. I’ve shed tears to a child saying good bye to his prison and to a stage manager’s inescapable invisibility. I’ve been bewildered yet delighted by a sculptured chair made of stuffed pandas and a larger-than-life graphic of a giant 8-armed baby running.
Without any of those experiences, my logical and emotional being would be less complete (yes, even without the panda chair). In truth, there really is no duality, and there never should be. Even polar opposite experiences can be mere emotional complements of one another, leading others to be a more wholesome individual, leading me to be a more wholesome individual.
Dallas, the McDermott Program, and college life itself are not places to divide oneself and compartmentalize, living multiple lives that seem in no way to fit with one another. They are places to become whole. They are where I am becoming whole. I’m nowhere near finished, but this first semester has been a fine place to start.