In the not so recent past, when the ends of the world were known only to adventurers and enterprising outlaws, spectacles were more common than today. Dancing gypsy caravans, verbose quacks and troubadours trudged down the Kings’ highways to cities, villages and towns to amaze a public that was just awakening to the idea of the “self.”
In those days, craggy hermits held secrets in their shacks on the outskirts of town. People called them “wizards” because they could answer almost any question; and they had a preternatural disdain for the waves of traveling revelers that brought spectacles to amaze the populous.
Today, in the modern world, we are all wizards who carry the knowledge of the world in our pockets, the ends of the world are attainable and “spectacle” is something we relegate to our childhood memories. We yearn to be amazed, but this need is so rarely satiated that we try to color our world by attaching undeserving superlatives to common occurrences. Was that pizza really “amazing?” Did that toddler really “party like a rock star?”
What this world needs is a good spectacle.
Quidam will make you uneasy at times. That’s okay, that’s the all-knowing wizard in you fighting against the idea that you are being amazed. It’s hard to be a spectator in these modern times. Your phone can explain Super String Theory to you, yet it won’t do the things to your heart that a silent pugilist in clown make-up does during this Cirque du Soleil show.
Quidam means “an anonymous passerby” in Classical Latin, and even though you may not know that, it will somehow still resonate. If you put the past, our present, and Quidam in a cauldron, and give it a stir at 98.5 degrees, you’ll find yourself having a cathartic release from your life for a good two hours. When that soup is done simmering, the applause dies down, and the lights come up, you will find yourself satisfied, humbled, entertained and somehow connected to the two women next to you wearing sensible shoes and comfortable sweatshirts.
Quidam is a kind of magic that all-knowing wizards fight against. It can’t be translated. You can’t watch it on a screen. It cannot be distilled into a pill. It can’t be explained with words. It can’t even be told around a camp fire! It’s a pure spectacle, and it may be one of the few experiences wizards have left to set themselves apart from the crowd.
Photos by Jennifer Anderson.