I have often found myself enraptured by the ecstatic character of the performer. Any of us who have played in an orchestra or sung in a choir knows of what I speak. There is the moment before one begins, the slight pause at the moment the conductor lifts his hands, when there is no longer a moment to clear one's throat or scratch the itch. Then it begins. One is launched into this strange divine sea of music in a river of time that will carry one through till the final moment of closure.
And amidst that strange divine sea of music, one projects himself outside of himself. He is besides himself. Ecstatic -- literally: "standing outside" -- in that medium of music. Vocal chords give voice to song, woodwind reeds reverberate with strings of violin, viola, base and cello, timpani, brassy trumpets and haunting French horns sound -- all creating something unimaginably larger and more wonderful than anything each could produce on its own.
But even as the soloists step forward and launch into their virtuoso performances, faces sometimes contorting, and eyes not quite really looking at anything, one realizes, when it is being done well, that there is something happening here that is so beautifully intimate that it is nearly indecent to look upon it. It is a ecstasy of the human spirit, expressed bodily, which reaches to touch something sublime, that form of beauty the ancients sometimes numbered among the "transcendentals."
Time. Eternity. Immutable essence. Ecstatic movement. Body. Soul. Spirit. All converge in this brief suspended moment of time we call "the performance." Our hearts are stirred.
Then we go home, open the fridge, pop open cold one, and sit down to watch the evening news.