Signs of My Valentine

Signs of My Valentine

My Valentine, by Paul McCartney.

The video is simple, basic, but yields a melancholy paradox. Those of us who can see and hear lose and gain something mysterious, wondrous and poetic. The translation of signs into words, into emotions and meaning escapes us, if we can’t sign. We just watch Natalie Portman and Johnny Depp move effortlessly, brilliantly, to the song, to Eric Clapton’s guitar, to the ever youthful former Beatles’ sad refrain. We also may wonder how the video affects those who can see but not hear. What goes through their mind/body when they “read” the hands and limbs of the two actors?

Waiting for signs. The song is about that. The video is about that. We all wait for signs, parse them, decode them, depend upon them and hope for them. Whether we can hear or not, the vehicle is all. The magic of that vehicle and our understanding of its freight . . . 

That magic is Art. Art turns that vehicle into something more, opens it up to the light and the dark inside us all. Art gives us the chance to stop for a moment, and really take the time to feel everything connected with those signs and sounds. Like a good flood. Like an illumination from lightning that stays with us, enlarging our sphere of knowing. The best art gives us both the immediate shock of awareness, the lasting residue of untapped meanings, and the extension of perception.

It gives us “the Other” as a sign.


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