Crossing Niagara

“Those who saw him, silent … was a silence that heard itself, awful and beautiful. First, some thought that maybe it was a play of light, something that had to do with time, or event revealed by sundown … but the more I looked, they were safer. He was flush [cable] … up there, completely still, a dull toy against the cloudy sky. ” Perhaps not coincidentally, the beginning of the novel that the vast world go round, written in 2009 by Colum McCann, start with a tightrope walker, Philippe Petit, who got his cross between the twin World Trade Center in New York, is now remembered as the metaphor of a journey into the unknown, the void, which we avoid confrontation with the political contradictions that resulted in the collapse of the towers. Also in 1859, right in the period immediately preceding the Civil War, another French acrobat Charles Blondin crossed Niagara Falls on a cable stretched across the river. A period in which the United States sought to distract himself from the dangers of secession: the dissolution of the Union and the looming possibility of war between North and South. Blondin crossed not only once, but fourteen times, and two of them did it with his agent, Harry M. Colcord, on his back. Also with his feet crossed between baskets on stilts, pushing a barrel, and also prepared his breakfast suspended over the void. In the fiction of Joy, Carlo brings the dangerous crossing their curiosity and ambition while Blondin, in a critical moment, back to his childhood for the young Carlo becomes a man. But the balancing act in the play rather than a distraction: it is also a challenge, an advance appointment with death. And the cable would be perhaps the symbol of how far we have to go to that inevitable event, alone or accompanied. This feat of the last act becomes a rite of passage that illuminates the journey of our own lives and puts us on the spur of the waterfall in the world and the emptiness of the abyss.