To enter a movie theater is to embrace the darkness of your own anonymity. To retreat from the sunny compulsions of the day into a cave of undeciphered fires.
You are always alone in a theatre, no matter whom you go with - your intimacy not sexual but religious. You are here to witness a ceremony, you are prepared to believe, and the hush that falls all around you as the screen flickers to life has the weight of surrender. And yet it is not the image on the screen that bewitches and reveals - that is only projection - the true magic, the real possibility, lies in the sacred pregnancy of the dark.
And so here you are again, in this inner sanctum, having mumbled the name of the day's chosen deity and averted your eyes from the ticket counter's assumed disapproval, from the afternoon's imputed guilt. Clutching your bagful of popcorn and smelling the grease of its corruption on your breath, telling yourself to wait until the movie starts, but taking a few bites anyway, just to keep from spilling.
And then the trailers start, ephemeral like dreams - the fractured play of images from which a story could be pieced together if only you had time, but that you will later struggle to recall. And then the credits of the main feature come on, and you let the self go, tossing it aside like a coat into the empty seat next to you.
If you are lucky, you will not need to remember who you are for a few hours now, shrugging back into the knowledge only as you leave, feeling the realities reestablish themselves, emerging into the light of a world that is never as different as you had imagined.
P.S. If you're wondering where that came from - no, I didn't spend the day watching movies. It's just that I've been reading Martin Amis (I'm halfway through The House of Meetings) and have this urge to string phrases together.