Moon #5: “Mercury is a Messenger who Will Not Wait”
“We all have that feeling of falling out of one narrative and into another because, you know, life.”
I’ve made it to part five of Mike Daisey’s All the Faces of the Moon and the world-building in previous episodes is already beginning to pay off. The dense mythological elements that have only been lurking around the edges of the narrative up until now finally take center stage. And I do mean center stage – with lengthy diversions about how Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has become our passion play and the particulars Bertolt Brecht’s “alienation effect,” it’s clear that Daisey really wants to get us thinking about stagecraft; particularly when it comes to the mechanisms of belief and disbelief. Daisey makes it clear that we shouldn’t worry about getting cut by that sharp line between truth and fiction as he himself has before. Like Brecht, he is not necessarily trying to represent reality here, just tell a story.
We pick up with Daisey during his nightmarish encounter with the specter of Death on a pier in Brooklyn – a sight that elicits a feeling he calls “disbelief fatigue,” where the logical explanations for remarkable phenomena like this simply become exhausting. Time has stopped, thus trapping the arm that Daisey had dipped into the East River. He sees Death point a skeletal finger, he hears it let out a ghastly howl, and then Daisey awakens at home in his bed. When he later he discovers a troubling mark on his wrist, he goes to his place – the Red Hook Ikea – for meatballs and to meet up with Jack from episode two. Jack is a man this time around, but seems to swap genders much like the Greek god Hermaphroditus. It’s clear from this episode’s title and the context clues that Jack and his father, “The Big Guy,” are part of some kind of intricate mythological system. I can’t tell yet whether it’s one that Daisey has invented whole cloth or if he is modernizing some obscure myth. Either way, this chapter injects a new kind of momentum into the piece overall, giving it the air of immense forward destiny. The narratives are linking up, the suspense continues to build, and Daisey finds himself marked by Death and at the center of a thrilling cosmic mystery.
This episode’s cliffhanger takes place amidst more stagecraft, as Daisey and Jack attend a secret religious service beneath Ikea, at what is hilariously called “The First Church of Christ Ikea Redeemer.” Daisey’s childhood friend from part three, Mike Gibs, leads the service.