Losing My Wings

Michel Serres on Angels

In his book, Angels: A Modern Myth, Michel Serres suggests that message bearing systems, such as communication and transportation systems, are powered by angels. Angels were the go-between things, they provided the word of god to humans or the energy that moved an object. In order to do so, angels needed to exist as both flesh and spirit. The spirit provided "words' or meanings and the flesh provided the conveyance. So, while angels are volatile and can take wing, they must also mix with the elements of earth. They are the material and immaterial combined. According to Serres, humans in the 21st century have surround themselves with angels. You can find angels anywhere there is a mediating agent.

Some angels, however, perform their job better than others. Most angels stay in the background when they perform their magic. At these moments we focus on the message and forget about the conveyance. Other angels get excited about their messaging abilities and make themselves seen. These are fallen angels that take pleasure in their earthly existence and create noise and special effects. 

The angel Damiel in Wim Wenders' 1987 film Wings of Desire (originally released as Der Himmel über Berlin), decides to leave his angelic existence giving comfort to forlorn humans in the city of Berlin. He wants the simple enjoyments of life: to take a bath, to read a newspaper, or to get a shave from a barber. But mostly, Damiel has fallen in love with Marion, a lonely trapeze artist at the circus, and wants to be with her. Damiel's desire for earthly pleasure leads to his fall as an angel, shown in this clip as his entering a world full of color, pain, and substance. 

This is one reason why the fallen angel is so powerful. Fallen Angels feel and thus makes transformations apparent. In some cases the source of the fall is a punishment (as with Yagharek), in some cases this change is a choice (as with the Damiel), but in many cases it remains a complicated mixture of desire and duty (as in David Bowie from The Man Who Fell to Earth). It is through our Fallen Angels that we, as earth bound entities, can sense the magic behind change and transformation.

Maybe this is one reason why we keep telling stories about those who have lost their wings. We need to be reminded that angels do exist and that the power to move between earth and sky is primarily felt and beyond categorization (is it good or bad? light or dark?). Through our desires, we can sense the very fabric of that which connects you and me, message and conveyance, heaven and earth. The fallen angel reminds us that in losing our wings, we traverse a pathway of potentials of all types of transformations, and that we were never, ever, only a single thing.

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