“JOAN OF ARC, GENE AUTRY & NITROGLYCERINE” – Tennessee Williams
This is a phrase which Tennessee Williams used to describe Margo Jones, the dynamic theatre visionary and producer who elsewhere was called “The Sweet Tornado.” Jones, indeed, made a lasting impact on theatre, but Williams’s trilogy is so powerful, I thought move away from her as a person and take a shot at re-stating these three it in hopes they will be revived and offer as inspiration for us all. It does to me!
Joan of Arc – A visionary who was led by her Angelic, spiritual inspirers to do battle with the forces seeking to dominate and control the free human being. We all need a vision for our lives and our communities and freedom. We need courage. To have courage means we, like Joan, need those imaginative sources and resources, those ideals backed by the good Angels to which we can reliably turn, without doubt, without worry, when life gets tough, because life will get tough. Probably tougher than it is when you start out. Anytime you try to change your world, or yourself, counter forces will arise to attempt to destroy your vision, cause doubt, fear, anger. The bigger your vision, the bigger the counter forces. You need Joan of Arc-sized spiritual inspiration.
Gene Autry – The original “straight shooting” cowboy star of radio, television and film. Autry created “The Cowboy Code” for the “young” (or old) listeners of his radio program:
1. The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.
2. He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.
3. He must always tell the truth.
4. He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.
5. He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
6. He must help people in distress.
7. He must be a good worker.
8. He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.
9. He must respect women, parents, and his nation's laws.
10. The Cowboy is a patriot.
The Cowboy Path is a path of self-directed moral behavior which we can use to guide our vision, our inspiration. This is the kind of thing Aristotle would have suggested to young Athenian “cowboys” with his admonition, to “Be Good, Do Good.” This also rolls along side the “12 Steps” program or other moral anti-addiction programs practiced today.
Nitroglycerine - Invented in 1847, nitroglycerine has been an active agent in the manufacture of explosives since that time. Highly unstable, it was terribly dangerous when first compounded and caused hundreds of deaths before controlled. For a while, it was banned in some parts of the world. When mixed with organic substances, it can be more easily handled and used in munitions as a propellant. This is one aspect of one form of nitroglycerine –explosive, unstable, needs to be handled with care.
But still, if required, nitroglycerine is what you need for blasting the fixed, the stuck, the things which are in the way and need to be removed. “Moralic Nitro” for destroying the large stoppers in life.
Another aspect is that for over 130 years, nitroglycerine has been used as a vasodialator to treat heart conditions, angina pectoris and chronic cardiac failure. It modulates the out of control rhythms of the heart.
So what in one place is useful for blasting and destroying and may lead to tragedy and death if misused; in another place, in a smaller dose, may lead to strength and health. We all need the capacity for maximum force, on occasion; and, on other occasions, we nee (dare I mention another cardiac function) the ability to be tender - to love?
Joan of Arc, Gene Autry, nitroglycerine – thank you, Margo Jones for inspiring Tennessee Williams! Take these qualities to heart and we all will be inspired, straight shooting firecrackers! Yee hah!