Friday, June 3, 2016

Rey Mysterio on the top ropes of St. Paul's Cathedral

WWE and St. Paul's Cathedral? How are these topics even related? Well fear not fellow classmate, I am very qualified to talk about this because I have personally witnessed Rey Mysterio display his finishing move the ‘619’ on the Big Show, have shaken John Cena’s hand, and have more action figures than one can count. WWE was a huge part of the younger years of my life (sadly). I remember as a 10 year old opting to not go trick or treating on Halloween, but instead choosing to go to a WWE Raw match where I witnessed an unbelievable display of spectacle that of which was never rivaled until my recent witnessing of a mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
A visual representation of spectacle

Reading Barthes’ ‘The World of Wrestling’, I was swept away by a wave of nostalgia which aided me in my establishment of the similarities of spectacle that they share. Barthes writes in regards to the public attending a wrestling match, “it abandons itself to the primary virtue of the spectacle, which is to abolish all motives and all consequences; what matters is not what it thinks but what it sees”. What Barthes is saying here is that the outcome or particular story of the match does not matter to the subject, but rather what matters is the spetacle being put on by these athletes going from move to move. This to me, seems akin to our visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral. The idea of even visiting this massive monolith for a mass brings spectacle by merely the thought of it. When going to a mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral would one expect anything less than grandeur? One is looking for equal parts a show as much as it is a mass. Much like the stadium WWE events are held in, the space with which the event is contained is part of the spectacle as much as anything else. The first thing I noticed when the mass began were the acoustics. They are unbelievable. Every time anyone speaks, the echo is tremendous, producing a very ethereal and angelic quality to whatever is being said. Half the time you can almost not even hear what the president of the church is stating, but rather simply ‘feel’ their words.

When witnessing a live WWE show, every aspect contributes. The lights, sounds, the stadium, and especially the audience themselves. Everyone is holding up their posters supporting their favorite performers or condemning their opposition, shouting at the top of their lungs cheer or cries, and merely being in the presence of everyone at this event yields a beautiful sense of togetherness. This lends to be exactly the same as the mass we witnessed. Every person plays their part. Everyone reads the prayers and sings the songs as one to aid in the production of the churches ethereal aura. Without the audience, there would be no event to be had with such grandeur. As Barthes writes, “wrestling is a sum of spectacles, of which no single one is a function”. 

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