In the theatre of Ancient Greece, nearly every drama was saved at the end by a deus ex machina, the “God from the machine.” Suddenly, when things are at their worst, a plume of smoke and flash of fire rains down from the sky, and everyone’s problems are solved. Kind of a hokey idea, right? Today’s critics would call it a “simple” or “predictable” resolution. The easy way out.
Try as I may, I can’t help but love the idea of a deus ex machina. I mean, why can’t regular mortals call upon a deus ex machina in their everyday lives? More specifically, why can’t I, right now?
I guess it’s something like having a super-power. If you could have one, which would it be? I think I would choose to have the power of flight. Or no, scratch that. I would want the power to fix problems. To be my very own deus ex machina, and descend from the clouds at just the right moment to save the day, all the time, every day, or whenever I felt like it. Then carry back on with my dinner of ambrosia and cocktails like nothing had happened.
Wait a minute. . . did I just write that I wanted my super-power to be that I’m a god? Hang on there a minute Jane, that’s a little entitled, even for you. No. That can’t be what I mean. Just that I want to solve problems. And that sometimes a bird’s-eye view can be the clearest view.
But I suppose even birds must feel trapped, sometimes. Do they look at the clouds and wonder, “if only I could go higher things would be better?” Or do they gaze from the air at the sea and think “If I could live where the fish I eat swim, then I would have no problems’?
Maybe I just have the classic old Cinderella complex. I’m waiting for my fairy godmother to come, wave her wand, and set the coach into motion. Maybe I should move out of New York City. Then I’d have to learn to drive.