22: "Glossolalia"

Glossolalia is one of those vocabulary words barely anyone knows the meaning of.  I had to be reminded of what it was.  It basically means "speaking in tongues".  A constant stream of verbal sounds that are incomprehensible and lacking in syntax.

We see this mostly on TV with some schlock pastor or preacher or televangelist bringing someone up to the stage who, at that specific lucky moment, has suddenly been stricken with the Holy Spirit and is "involuntarily" babbling in some language only they understand.  And since people can't explain what it means or where it comes from, it is determined that this stream of esoteric communication must have come from God.  A gift, actually.

Are they wrong?

It's interesting to think that you could be so overwhelmed (or stricken, as some folks describe it) that you fall to the ground, babble in an incomprehensible language, sometimes shake violently while having to have people hold you up and call that a gift!  But they do.  In fact, people who pray in tongues generally cry right afterwards.  Regardless of how you or I feel about that, it must be a feeling of tremendous relief to experience that.

If you look back at very early human history, probably when we still were living in the African canopy, glossolalia was a common event.  We had a very complex set of verbal sounds that, over time, started to mean something.  It's how we developed language.  But in the time before language, they were just noises.  We did, in fact, speak in tongues.  And as it turns out it's one of the most primal traits of a being human.  That's probably why it feels good to scream at the top of your lungs or make strange noises.

Glossolalia isn't necessarily always a kooky and strange thing that only people who go to arena prayer services do.  And, as far as necessity goes, it's not restricted to ancient peoples.  Glossolalia shows up everywhere.  The sobbing widow.  Orgasmic moans.  The screaming drunk.  Also, the babbling drunk.  The babbling baby.  An actress doing vocal warm up exercises.  The yogi in meditation (ohhmmmmmm).  It's just one of those things that we've never really evolved away from, fully.  It's a primal, overwhelming feeling that is expressed through verbal noises and this film tries to visually depict that feeling.

A last note: YES, there are some asshole televangelists who spout something that sounds like speaking in tongues and then proceed to ask you for $58 to "plant your seed with the Lord".  *giant eye roll*


Given the nature of glossolalia, I tried to let the making of this film flow as well.  It's not an easy undertaking to literally make it up as you go along.  There still needs to be some kind of a cohesive thread.  At least for me and the films I like to make.  I suppose you could just riff on something and call it art.  I did have a backbone of audio (some really awesome stuff out there of people speaking in tongues) that cut together pretty well, I think.

The mouths ended up becoming the main visual thread for this.  I did some rotoscoping of my own mouth in several contorted positions:

In making this film I think I have a clearer understanding of the Dada movement.  I never really quite got it, other than the fact that it's just rebellious, absurd art.  But now I think I get it.  It's a stream of consciousness that doesn't speak any defined language.  It's the visual form of speaking in tongues:

Some finished artwork from the film: