"The melody always finds me
Whenever the thought reminds me"
- Lee Mavers

In life, idea and emotion come separately. Mind and passion revolve in different spheres of our humanity, rarely coordinated, usually at odds. Intellectual life prepares you for emotional experiences that then urge you toward fresh perceptions, which in turn remix the chemistry of new encounters. The two realms influence each other, but first one, then the other. Reflection, contemplation, then compassion. Whereas life separates meaning from emotion, story unifies them. Story is an instrument that creates epiphany at will through aesthetic emotion.

When an idea wraps itself around an emotional charge, it becomes all the more powerful. FUJINAMI's head jolts backwards. He feels his forehead, sees his bloodied hand, and collapses. Life on its own, without story to shape it, leaves you with confusion and chaos. Aesthetic emotion harmonises what you know with what you feel. Story gives you a meaningful emotional experience. In life, experience becomes meaningful with reflection in time, but with story, experience becomes meaningful now, at the instant it happens.

As an audience, we experience an emotion when we're taken through a transition of values. First, we must empathise with the character. Second, we must know what the character wants and want the character to have it. Third, we must understand the values at stake in the character's life. Within these conditions, a change in values moves our emotions. But MAEDA's vision challenges my own values. It challenges my love for pro-wrestling. When he demands answers from me, I feel like Fujinami as he looks down at his bloodied hand. It's confusion and chaos.

Once a transition of values creates an emotion, feeling comes into play. Feeling is not emotion. Emotion is a short-term experience that quickly dissipates. Feeling is long-term and pervasive. Which particular emotion am I experiencing? The answer is found in the feeling that surrounds it. Feeling makes emotion specific. My emotions become specific in this match when Maeda knocks out Fujinami, and I realise I'm no longer sure how I feel about pro-wrestling.

So I watch from the inside out. I find my way to the centre of Fujinami's character and experience emotional truth. Since the only reliable source of emotional truth is myself, to discover revealing human reactions, I must get inside my own thoughts. "If I were this character in these circumstances, what would I do?" I act out the role, until honest emotions fill me.

Hisaharu Tanabe says it best. "The wrestlers answer to the fans who come to the arena with their indescribable dream." Pro-wrestling is about that connection. At the instant it happened, Fujinami's performance was a triumph for professional wrestling and our indescribable dreams. Believe me, my admiration for him hasn't died.

But Maeda had vision. He knew where we all soon would be. The bad things arising. If Fujinami knew all that I know, he'd have seen the good get swept away. He'd have seen our dreams get twisted round the other way. While we live, pro-wrestling's troubles are many. Sometimes I think Maeda knocking out Fujinami would've been a decent burial.

But who am I to say such a thing? I cannot speak for any one else's dream, simply because mine is waning. I'm grappling with the faith that pro-wrestling still means something to me.

Fujinami's performance remains a triumph the instant it happens. It's an emotional experience that is meaningful, here and now. The body is the temple. While Fujinami's temple still survives, pro-wrestling at least is still alive. All I ask is that Fujinami's performance is noticed more than it ever was before. That the things he did still matter. Can you show me now that his performance was not in vain?

Seeing pro-wrestling now, I can hardly watch. Seeing what it's become, I can hardly stand it. I don't know how to love it, what to do, how to let it move me. But Fujinami had the answers. Will you touch; will you mend it, Fujinami? Won't you touch; won't you heal it, Fujinami? Help me remix the chemistry of new pro-wrestling encounters.

The exchange between Maeda and Fujinami expresses ideas directly through the senses and perceptions, intuition and emotion. It doesn't need me, a mediator, to rationalise the transaction, to replace the ineffable and the sentient with explanation and abstraction. If you look with your mind, do you know what you will find? Open your mind. Come up with an interpretation that's better than I could ever do.

If I let the rhythm of life untie me, let the timeless melody of Fujinami's performance still find me, the harmony of aesthetic emotion will wash over me. The simultaneous encounter of thought and feeling will blaze. So I can say, "You know that I love you, here and now, not forever. I can give you the present, I don't know about the future. That's all stuff and nonsense."

Credit: Bob McKee's STORY.

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©2001 by the author