Searching for Sugar Man a prophetic Easter yarn

Searching for Sugar Man a prophetic Easter yarn

The Rev. Sande Ramage

31 March 2013

 

Searching for Sugar Man is a strange story. On the face of it, a documentary about a musician famous in one country and completely unknown in his own. Within the layers it becomes an Easter tale.
 
David Letterman called it jaw droppingly fascinating and that about sums up this movie about Sixto Rodriquez, a musical political from Detroit.
 
Rodriquez made a few albums in the 70's, which bombed in the United States. Unbeknownst to him, one of those albums went platinum in South Africa as his music helped galvanise anti-apartheid activists.
 
But he remained a mystery man; his fans believed he was dead and even stranger, that he had killed himself during a concert.   In reality, he'd gone back to hard manual grafting and studied for degree in philosophy.
 
By the end of the movie my friends and I were stunned, bewildered, jaws dropping like Letterman's.   Somehow in the telling of this story, one reality shifts and another appears. It becomes a prophetic yarn, an unpalatable truth.
 
Imperceptibly, the illusion that we are just bodies wrapped in skin, existing in one place and one time, accessible and known to others as a neatly tied package and to ourselves as a slightly more askew version, melts away.
 
We are not that. Not ever, however much we might want to delude ourselves, perhaps to make life a bit less fraught and slightly more manageable. Despite our best efforts it seems instead that we are inter-connected in some inexpressible, unconscionable and uncontrolled way beyond our physical body.
 
Under these circumstances getting to know our own self is a life's work, to know someone else, impossible. The layers within and between us are arranged differently and in some strange way, not even visible. We stumble at the start, searching for a doorway.
 
The direct approach, however appealing, is limited. Instead, it is story or a set of stories that act as portals or doorways to the human person. We tell them to ourselves, gossip them amongst our friends and recite them at family gatherings.
 
The grand narratives like Easter are told in community, writ large for dramatic impact on the world stage. Whilst often presented as literal fact, it remains a prophetic tale; a portal to understanding the human person, suggesting that what lies at the heart of us is our mortality.
 
Living into the vulnerability of that mortality is the ultimate rite of passage, which takes us beyond our physicality, the tightly bound skin wrapped package.
 
Easter is not about a new life after death, instead it's the invitation to live beyond the trivial in this life, to go beyond our grasping at physicality and venture into the unknown. It's deeply unpalatable. A truth I think Rodriquez has a grip on.
 
Image: boxofficebuz