Monday, October 30, 2017

ça n'a pas de pareil, mais pour moi c'est du Coen Brothers (plus Tarantino) à française: Benoît Delépine & Gustave Kervern

Mammuth (2010);
Louise-Michel (2008);
Aaltra (2004);
My Dream with Johnny 5 (by A/Z, for more see here);

"Le rire est plus divin, et meme il est plus insaisissable que les larmes."
Pierre Angelici
"Faut il répondre par une démonstration en règle à une espèce de question préalable que voudraient sans doute malicieusement soulever certains professeurs jurés de sérieux, charlatans de la gravité, cadavres  pédantesques sortis des froids hypogées de l'Institut, et revenus sur la terre des vivants, comme certain fantômes avares, pour arracher quelques sous à de complaisantes ministères?"
Baudelaire (De l'essence du rire...)
"This saleslady was pleasantly plump in her neat navy-blue shirtwaist dress with a red-and-white scarf tied around her double chin. She had a nice smile and eyeglasses with rhinestones sprayed around the frames. She looked like the type you could feel comfortable talking about underwear with."
Andy Warhol

See also:
- Amat Escalante (& Werner Herzog): Basilisk's Cinema;
- desubicarse (Lucrecia Martel — La Niña Santa, 2007);
- Cinema Novo's Judgment Day &/or why it came to last;
- Sonatine (Takeshi Kitano, 1993), Masahiro Shinoda & the tyranny of evil men;
- "Podem ficar com a realidade" (Leminski) &/ou je prefere l'ivresse;
- El Estudiante, political movie (learning from Argentina);

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

liste des déclencheurs musicaux (under construction) avec des annotations

A/Z Montage/Digital Blackboard with Joseph Beuys' Plight (original picture taken at the Pompidou, for more see here), James Lee Byars (in spirit), Viola Michel, Lilith & Anselm Kiefer (Liliths Töchter, 1998).
"Suprematist compositions of elements and feeling of metallic rustling with strongly dynamic tendency. Tone of a pale metallic copper scale." 
Kazimir Malevich (image from The World as Objectlessness, Hatje Cantz 2014);

Anton Webern's Fünf Lieder Op 4;
Pina Napolitano/ Schoenberg's Fünf Klavierstücke Op 23 ("Sehr rasch");
Pina Napolitano/ Schoenberg's Fünf Klavierstücke Op 23 ("Waltzer");
Glenn Gould/ Alban Berg's Piano Sonata;
Glenn Gould/ Anton Webern's Variations Op 27;
T. W. Adorno's Studies for String Quartet;
Quartet Lîla/ Olivier Messiaen's Fouillis d'arcs-en-ciel;
Andaloro/ Ligeti's Arc-en-ciel;
Glenn Gloud/ Scriabin's Deux Morceaux Op 57;
Henri Pousseur's Jeu de Miroirs de Votre Faust;
Pleif Mapa III (by A/Z) (for my videos, see here);
Pleif Mapa I (by A/Z);

"Sounds are just vibrations, isn't that true? 
Part of a vast range of vibrations including radio waves, light, cosmic rays, isn't that true?
Why didn't I mention that before?
Doesn't that stir the imagination?
Shall we praise God from Whom all blessings flow? 
Is a sound a blessing?
I repeat, is a sound a blessing?
I repeat, would you like to hear Quantitäten by Bo Nilsson whether it's performed for the first time or not?"
John Cage (Composition as a Process)
"Years ago I asked myself
'Why do I write music?'
An Indian musician told me
traditional answer in India was
'To sober the mind and thus make
it susceptible to divine influences.'"
"A cough or a baby crying will not
ruin a good piece of modern music."
John Cage (45' for a Speaker)

"Why is this so necessary that sounds should be just sounds? There are many ways of saying why. One is this: In order that each sound may become the Buddha. If that is too Oriental an expression, take the Christian Gnostic statement: 'Split the stick and there is Jesus.'"
John Cage (History of Experimental Music in the United States)
"The most amazing noise I ever found was produced by means of a coil of wire attached to the pickup arm of a phonograph and then amplified. It was shocking, really shocking, and thunderous. Half intellectually and half sentimentally, when the war came a-long, I decided to use only quiet sounds."
John Cage (Lecture on Nothing)

"... se réjouir sans cesse à la pensée des prochaines vacances où l'âme pourra s'attabler, nourrir ses nerfs affamés et emplir de sève fraîche ses vaisseaux défaillants... Sur la voie d'en bas soumise à la gravitation terrestre résident les problèmes de l'équilibre statique... rester debout envers et contre toutes les occasions de tomber. Aux voies d'en haut conduit l'aspiration à s'affranchir des liens terrestres pour atteindre, par delà la nage et le vol, à l'essor libre, à la libre mobilité."
Paul Klee (traduction par Pierre-Henri Gonthier)
"Une page symphonique de Vinteuil, connue déjà au piano et qu'on entendait à l'orchestre, comme un rayon de jour d'été que le prisme de la fenêtre décompose avant son entrée dans une salle à manger obscure, dévoilait comme un trésor insoupçonné et multicolore toutes les pierreries des Mille et Une Nuits."
Marcel Proust (le narrateur, La Prisonnière)

"The five great elements of sentient beings and nonsentient beings [earth, water, fire, wind and space] are endowed with the powers of producing vibrations and sounds, for no sounds are independent of the five great elements; these are the original substance, and the sounds or vibrations are their functions."
Kukai (The Meanings of Sounds, Words, and Reality/Yoshito Hakeda's translation)
"... a mouvement from that which the everyday self understands to be the ground of the Being of beings to the invisible basho grounding that basho vis-à-vis being."
Yasuo Yuasa
"... the sound that issues from the striking of emptiness is an endless and wondrous voice that resounds before and after the fall of the hammer."
Dogen (translation by Norman Waddell and Masao Abe)

"Havia até corredores que avaliavam a carreira de um animal pelo ruído das patas quando corriam, conforme amiudavam ou não, produzindo um rumor contínuo... Assim, muitas vezes deitado a um lado da cancha com o ouvido encostado no chão, havia quem apreciasse, principalmente em tiro curto, se aquele ruído era sustentado uniforme de a saída até a chegada, ou se o animal mermava ou aumentava a carreira."
Luis Araújo Filho (LAF)
"Los había venido oyendo,  espaciados, pensando que eran redobles de tambor, pero ahora estaba seguro que eran explosivos..."
Mario Vargas Llosa (La guerra del fin del mundo)
"Si la musique agit sur les serpents ce n'est pas par les notions spirituelles qu'elle leur apporte, mais parce que les serpents sont longs, qu'ils s'enroulent longuement sur la terre, que leur corps touche à la terre par sa presque totalité; et les vibrations musicales qui se communiquent à la terre l'atteignent comme un massage très subtil et très long..."
A. Artaud (En finir avec les chefs-d'oeuvre)
"... et j'eus l'impression d'avoir devant moi et de contempler l'agitation de fourmis planétaires au compas d'une musique céleste."
A. Artaud (Le rite des rois de l'Atlantide)
"Il faut que les bruits deviennent musique."
Robert Bresson

"Le mourant quittait la chair par l'audition..."
Julia Kristeva, Le vieil homme et les loups
"Mon père mort me fait entendre la musique."
Pierre Klossowski
"... mas no final, não importa se é mausoléu de prata, ouro, bronze ou mármore, ou sé é cova pública, como Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart... num saco, dentro dum bueiro. E o que ele tem? Um legado... dois séculos e meio de riqueza cósmica... Já do proprietário dos iates..." 
Júpiter Maçã, A Odisséia
"Vos viste alguna vez el cuerpo irradiador de sonidos? ... decime, infeliz, si vivís en una casa tantos años como los que fuiste a la escuela e al liceo, y sentís, como acá, chirriar de puertas, ruido de cadenas, maldiciones, gritos, y nunca viste ni minga, qué pensás?"
Mauricio Rosencof
"... des Tristan. Dies Werkist durchaus das non plus ultra Wagner's... Ich nehme es als Glück ersten Rangs, zur rechten Zeit gelebt und gerade unter Deutschen gelebt zu haben, um reif für dies Werk zu sein: so weit geht bei mir die Neugierde des Psychologen. Die Welt ist arm für Den, der niemals krank genug für diese 'Wollust der Hölle' gewesen ist."

"Writing a novel, Joyce said, was like composing music, with the same elements involved. But how can chords or motifs be incorporated in writing? Joyce answered his own question, 'A man might eat kidneys in one chapter, suffer from a kidney disease in another, and one of his friends could be kicked in the kidney in another chapter.' As a matter of fact, he announced, his book was to be among other things the epic of the human body. One organ or another would dominate each episode. To override the dichotomy of body and soul, to reveal their fundamental unity, he was displaying the mind's imagery under the influence of particular physical functions..."
Richard Ellmann
"Unità pseudocombinatorie. Sono elementi de un sistema expressivo non correlati a un contenuto... di tale genere sarebbero i giochi, le struture musicali, i sistemi formalizzati, le combinazioni di elementi non figurativi in pittura. Ma è proprio dei sistemi 'monoplanari' fare apparire ogni antecedente come segno prognostico del conseguente, e Jakobson [Coup d'oeil sur le développement de la sémiotique] ha sottolineato a piú riprese questo aspetto delle composizioni musicali e della pittura astratta, continuo rinvio della parte al tutto e di una parte a un'altra parte, stimolazione di attese, fenomeno di 'significanza' diffuso lungo tutta l'estensione di una testura cronologica o spaziale."
Umberto Eco, Semiotica e filosofia del linguaggio

"The glass houses of Mies van der Rohe... There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time... try as we may to make a silence, we cannot. For certain engineering purposes, it is desirable to have as silent a situation as possible. Such a room is called an anechoic chamber, its six walls made of special material, a room without echoes. I entered one at Harvard University several years ago and heard two sounds, one high and one low. When I described them to the engineer in charge, he informed me that the high one was my nervous system in operation, the low one my blood in circulation. Until I die there will be sounds. And they will continue following my death. One need not fear about the future of music... But this fearlessness only follows if, at the parting of the ways, where it is realized that sounds occur whether intended or not, one turns in the direction of those he does not intend. This turning is psychological and seems at first to be a giving up of everything that belongs to humanity, for a musician, the giving up of music. This psychological turning leads to the world of nature, where, gradually or suddenly, one sees that humanity and nature, not separate, are in this world together; that nothing was lost when everything was given away. In fact, everything is gained."
John Cage (Experimental Music)

"[L'atonalisme] fonctionne comme déclencheur pour la libération d'un refoulé psychique dont on ne remarquera pas sans raison qu'elle se produit à Vienne au début de ce siècle, mais il fournit aussi les outils pour la découverte de toutes nouvelles régions sonores et sensibles, expressives et descriptives, et ouvre la voie à une exploration et une expérimentation inouïe de notre connaissance du monde et de nous-mêmes, individus et collectivités. C'est surtout Webern et la musique post-wébernienne qui vont poursuivre cette avancée, mais, à partir de leurs mises à jour, toute la musique moderne même stylistiquement 'pré-schoenbergienne' apparaît sous une lumière nouvelle..."
"Le Siècle des Lumières, s'il est celui de l'espoir en une meilleure Harmonie du monde, est aussi bien celui où se développe une série de scepticismes radicaux: pratiquement toutes les grandes oeuvres de la musique tonale se définissant par les tensions et contradictions qu'elles entretiennent avec le système 'linguistique' dans lequel elles s'expriment."  
"Techniquement parlant, il s'agit de substituer aux constellations quasi squelettiques — mais combien 'intensifiantes'! — de la texture wéberienne... une circulation tout aussi permanente, mais dont les éléments, plus fluides, sont des groupements de nature plus ou mons traditionnelle, opposés les uns aux autres, et donc mis en rapport les uns avec les autres, soit par leur 'région' quasi tonale, soit précisément par leur degré de familiarité ou d'étrangeté 'modale', au sens élargi et généralisé du mot, le tout au sein d'une pratique de la continuité linéaire relativement homogène..."
"... et l'esthétique musicale de Mozart, où se marient une sorte de lumineux libertinage et la plus nocturne des nostalgies métaphysiques..." 
- Henri Pousseur, Musiques Croisées

"No mundo micro-físico as partículas parecem ter a escolha de vários modos de reagir. O efeito da atuação do elétron sobre o átomo é imprevisível, livre pela natureza. Só depois de muitas experiências, por meio de estatísticas, observam-se certos fenômenos que permitem uma previsão média... Arracionalidade é diferente de irracionalidade. Por irracionalidade entende-se a ação sem uso consciente da razão. Arracionalidade consiste na transcendência do pensamento racional, ou seja, a integração do pensamento tradicional num novo pensar mais globalizante." 
"Na música o ponto de fuga [perspectiva] é o centro tonal."
"... iteração... dualismo... A unidade formal (síntese) é obtida por um processo (desenvolvimento)... A sonata é um exemplo de forma discursiva constituída por dois temas contrastantes (elementos opostos)..."
- H. J. Koellreutter, Introdução à Estética e à Composição Musical Contemporânea

"... en faisant systématiquement appel à tout ce qui peut provoquer une désorientation auditive... l'abolition de l'opposition [traditionelle] entre le vertical et l'horizontal, l'usage prioritaire de la dissonance et des intervalles disjoints [septième et neuvième]... la dispersion d'un petit nombre de sons au sein d'un ambitus très étendu, les brusques oppositions de tessiture et de registre... modes d'attaque..."
- (sur Webern) Francis Bayer, De Schönberg à Cage

A very interesting proposition:
- "What can music tell us about the nature of the mind? A Platonic model," Brian D. Josephson & Tethys Carpenter (text from a conference proceedings);

See also:

Monday, October 02, 2017

Amat Escalante (& Werner Herzog): Basilisk's Cinema

Pictures by A/Z (Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Museo de Arte Hispanoamericano Isaac Férnandez Blanco) (for more see here) + a Cartier-Bresson's picture of two lesbiennes in Mexico (1934) (image taken from another site in the Internet) + pictures from Bad Lieutenant (Herzog, 2009);
Los Bastardos (Amat Escalante, 2008);
Burden of Dreams (Wener Herzog, 1982); 
María Lionza, detraz del rito (Bexandra Morillo & Patricia Arvelaez, 2011);
A Erva do Rato (Júlio Bressane, 2008);
Manifesto Juliana D &/ou Conversa com um passarinho (by A/Z 2018, for more see here); 

"Wie Rosse, gehn die gefangenen Element' und alten Geseze der Erd."
"aiguiser l'ouïe (forme de torture)..."
Marcel Duchamp

"America is not a young land: it is old and dirty and evil before the settlers, before the Indians. The evil is there waiting."
William Burroughs, Naked Lunch
"... aquel era un mundo soterrado de divindades ctônicas..."
Lezama Lima, Paradiso
"Ils se comportent comme des puisatiers, ces sacerdotes, des espèces de travailleurs des ténèbres, créés pour pisser et pour se débonder. Ils pissent, pètent et se débondent avec de terribles tonitruements; et l'on croirait, alors à les entendre, qu'il aient voulu niveler le vrai tonnerre, le réduire à leur nécessité d'abjection."
A. Artaud (D'un voyage au pays des Tarahumaras)

"... the movement with the wind of the Orient and the movement against the wind of the Occident meet in America and produce a movement upwards into the air..."
John Cage (Lecture on Something)
"La imagen de México-Tenochtitlan, significativamente confundida con la de Roma, reaparece en los siglos XVII y XVIII en la imperial ciudad de México."
Octavio Paz (Las trampas de la fe)
"Où ai-je déjà entendu que ce n'est pas en Italie mais au Mexique que les peintres d'avant la Renaissance ont pris le bleu de leurs paysages, et l'immense recul des fonds dont ils décorent leurs Nativités."
A. Artaud (Le pays des rois-mages)
"Que ceux qui ne me croient pas aillent dans la Sierra Tarahumara: ils verront que, dans ce pays où le rocher offre une apparence et une structure de fable, la légende devient la réalité et qu'il ne peut y avoir de réalité en dehors de cette fable."
(A. Artaud (Le rite des rois de l'Atlantide)

"Les Nahuas livrent maints exemples de cet effacement de la personnalité qui caractérise la possession. Les effets s'en révélaient souvent désastreux: ainsi certains accès de folie furieuse étaient-ils imputés à l'invasion du dément par les divinités mineures de la pluie..."
Philippe Descola, Par-delà nature et culture
"... parce que la mort est vivante, le corps mort est un corps incorruptible qui peut être gardé par l'Église en tant qu'image et réalité... Ce ravissement dissimulé et anérotique (au sens de dépourvu de lien, de détaché de l'autre pour ne se tourner que vers le creux du corps propre qui se désapproprie cependant à l'instant même de la jouissance et sombre dans une mort à soi aimée) serait-il, sinon le secret, du moins un aspect de la jouissance féminine?"
Julia Kristeva, Soleil noir: dépression et melancolie

"... la primera, Nueva España, fue una realidad histórica que nació y vivió en contra de la corriente general de Occidente, es decir, en oposición a la modernidad naciente; la segunda, la República de México, fue y es una apresurada e irreflexiva adaptación de esa misma modernidad..."
"... para comprobarlo basta con recordar que los criollos novohispanos y los españoles llegaron más allá de San Francisco. Nueva España era un país enorme, un país próspero y un país pacífico. Hubo levantamientos, hambres, epidemias, motines pero lo que caracterizó a estos tres siglos fue la continuidad del orden público y no sus alteraciones."
"Nueva España fue una típica sociedad de corte. Muchas de las observaciones que recientemente se han hecho sobre esta institución son perfectamente aplicables a las dos cortes americanas, la de México y la de Lima... las dos únicas naciones hispanoamericanas que tuvieron una corte fueron asimismo las únicas que poseían, antes de la llegada de los europeos, regímenes políticos centralizados." 
"Coromias indica que en castellano la palabra civil se usó en sentido opuesto a caballero y designó a 'gente menuda', sin nobleza. La oposición original se situó entre militaris, propio del caballero, y civilis, villanesco... Así, civilidad tuvo en España y sus dominios, hasta el siglo XVIII, un sentido peyorativo contrario al del resto de Europa."
"En las cambiadas circunstâncias de la segunda mitad del siglo XVII, la aparición de la Virgen de Guadalupe, precisamente. en el santuario de una diosa india, era una confirmación del carácter único y singular de Nueva España. Una verdadera señal..."
"En México y en Peru, todo alude a las civilizaciones prehispánicas."
"... durante una ceremonia que se celebraba en el Templo Mayor de México-Tenochtitlan, los devotos comían pedazos del cuerpo de Huitzlilopochtli, que era un ídolo hecho de varias semillas y empapado en sangre. El parecido con la Eucaristia les debió parecer a los españoles a un tiempo alucinante y escandaloso."
"Debemos modificar nuestras ideas acerca de la moral en el siglo XVII. La ortodoxia sexual era mucho menos rigurosa que la ortodoxia religiosa... La conducta de las mujeres de la familia Ramírez no parece que haya afectado gravemente su reputación... Las pulquerías y las tabernas estaban atendidas por muchachas pero la prostitución masculina tampoco era desconocida."
"... uno de los arquetipos de la madre Juana, autora de poemas y piezas de teatro, fue Isis, la diosa egipcia que no sólo es la madre universal de las semillas, las plantas y los animales sino, como inventora de la escritura, señora de los signos..."
"La  ciudad de México llegó a ser más grande, más rica y más bella que Madrid."
Octavio Paz (Las trampas de la fe)

"Plusieurs années avant qu'Antonin Artaud, André Breton et Benjamin Péret fassent successivement leur voyage initiatique du Mexique, Cartier-Bresson foule ce qui sera l'un des territoires du surréalisme..."
Pierre Assouline, Cartier-Bresson: L'oeil du siècle
"Violence is so rife in Mexico, says Suárez Cosío, that you get desensitised. Guadalajara, she says, “is a heavily populated territory for drug dealers, and a few years ago one of the main drug lords was killed, so the smaller tribes were fighting over territory. Just a block down from my house there was a guy hanging from a tree” 
"... el realismo americano es de una especie muy particular y su ingenuidad no excluye el disimulo y aun la hipocresía. Una hipocresía que si es un vicio del carácter también es una tendencia del pensamiento, pues consiste en la negación de todos aquellos aspectos de la realidad que nos parecen desagradables, irracionales o repugnantes. La contemplación del horror, y aun la familiaridad y la complacencia en su trato constituyen contrariamente uno de los rasgos más notables del caráter mexicano... la costumbre de comer el 2 de noviembre panes y dulces que fingen huesos y calaveras, son hábitos heredados de indios y españoles, inseparables de nuestro ser..."
Octavio Paz, El Laberinto de la Soledad

See also:


Some topics of Mesoamerican history & thought

- Olmecs, Zapotecs, Mayan & Teotihuacanos:
"The Olmecs emerged about 1200 BC along the slow-moving rivers of lowland Veracruz and Tabasco... Living in the tropical rain forest, they identified with the powerful animals that, like humans, occupied the top of the food chain—felines, eagles, caimans, and snakes—and recognized that they shared with them the consumption of flesh. And they first gave permanence to practices and preoccupations that endured in Mesoamerica—human sacrifice, bloodletting, pilgrimages, quadripartite division of the world, cave rituals, the offering of caches, and a fascination with mirror among them—until the Spanish Conquest, and in some cases long afterwards."
"By around 600 BC, if not earlier, civilization also rose in Oaxaca among the Zapotecs, who began to reshape the hillside acropolis of Monte Albán into their capital... Toward the end of the Formative era, from 100 BC to AD 300 or what is also termed the Protoclassic, many of the principles and beliefs common to Classic period civilization appear to have come together, particularly along the axis of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and ranging from Atlantic to Pacific Coasts, at places as far-flung as Monte Albán, Dainzú, Tres Zapotes, La Mojarra, Chiapa de Corzo, Izapa, and Kaminaljuyú. Across the region, the Principal Bird Deity—probably the same as Vucub Caquix of the Popol Vuh (the native epic of the Quiché Maya transcribed into the Roman alphabet at the time fo the Conquest)—gained prominence; the Popol Vuh account of origins, humanity's relationship to chaos, and the Hero Twins' harrowing of the Underworld, may have been widely subscribed to."
"It is the special characteristic of their writing that sets the Maya apart from all other Mesoamerican peoples. It is probably the technology of writing itself that enabled them to be what they were."
"During the Protoclassic [100 BC to AD 300], two large centers emerged in Central Mexico, Cuicuilco and Teotihuacan, but the latter gained prominence after volcanic eruptions buried Cuicuilco and its massive platform by AD 100... The tradition of Teotihuacan is what we can call western Mesoamerican, and it emphasizes community over dynastic rule, cyclical time over linear, and offers a separate religious pantheon from that of the Maya and other peoples in eastern Mesoamerica. In fact, an explosion of new iconography and beliefs characterizes early Teotihuacan, developing essentially ex-nihilo. During the Early Classic, the Maya and Teotihuacanos became keenly aware of one another and their separate religious practices. The Maya adopted many Teotihuacan practices, particularly the cult of war, its patrons and regalia, while ignoring others, such as its many female deities."
[***all quotations from Mary Miller & Karl Taube's An Illustrated Dictionary of The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya (Thames & Hudson, 1997/2015)]

- Toltecs, Mixtecs and Aztecs: 
"The decline of the Teotihuacan and the Maya cities left a power vacuum in Mesoamerica by the 9th century... The period seems to have been a time of great interregional interchange, and both Maya iconography and formal concepts became part of a new Mesoamerican synthesis that may have been possible only with the demise of Teotihuacan. By 900, however, a new force had appeared on the scene: the Toltecs... From their high, arid, cool capital of Tula (or Tollan), they took on aspects of the Teotihuacan heritage that served their purposes."
"In Oaxaca, the Mixtecs rose to power during the Postclassic [900-1500 AD (?)]. They took over some of the ancient places sacred to the Zapotecs, and they they began to inter their noble dead in the old Zapotec tombs at Monte Albán. At the time of the Spanish Conquest, they kept genealogies documenting both continuity and internecine strife over generations."
"After years of nomadic wandering, a warlike group of Nahuatl speakers founded their capital on an island in Lake Texcoco in 1345. They called themselves the Mexica and their city Mexico-Tenochtitlan, or Tenochtitlan. Since the 19th century, the Mexica have usually been grouped with other Nahuatl-speakers in the Valley of Mexico under the name of Aztecs... Inheritor of the rich and complex Mesoamerican past, the Aztecs shared many gods with the civilizations that had gone before, but they honored Huitzilopochtli, their own solar cult god, above all... The Aztecs turned their swampy island into a city whose beauty and complexity dazzled the Spanish conquerors, who also marveled at the cuisine, the gardens, the exotic animals kept in a zoo, and the fastidiousness of the populace. Like Venic, Tenochtitlan was laid out along canals..."
"During the pioneering investigations of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the gods of the Postclassic Mixtec screenfolds were thought to be essentially identical to those appearing in Aztec and Borgia groups of codices. However, it has become increasingly apparent that the Mixtec pantheon was distinct from that of Late Postclassic Central Mexico... Although the religion of the Postclassic Mixtecs was by no means identical to that of Central Mexico, a number of Mixtec gods have clear analogues with Central Mexican deities. Thus the Mixtec culture hero 9 Wind is very similar to the Central Mexican Wind god, Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl."
[***all quotations from Mary Miller & Karl Taube's An Illustrated Dictionary of The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya (Thames & Hudson, 1997/2015)]

- Figurines, shamanic transformations, the netherworld, mountains and pyramids: 
"With the appearance of pottery [2nd millennium BC (?)], ceramic figurines become common at Ocos and other Formative sites. The function of these Formative figurines is unknown; many examples portray youthful, full-bodied women, as if they reflect a concern with human or agricultural fertility. Often beautifully worked, Ocos figurines [as figurines of the Mesoamerican early Formative culture are known] frequently represent curious blendings of human and zoomorphic traits that have no obvious counterparts in the natural world."
"... there are strong indications that the Olmecs had complex concepts regarding shamanic transformation. As among later Mesoamerican peoples, particularly powerful individuals were believed to be able to transform themselves into jaguars."
"The Olmecs regarded caves, or entrances to the netherworld, as powerful and magical places. Similarly, at the junction of sky and earth, mountains were also considered to be particularly sacred places, and it is probable that like later Mesoamerican peoples the Olmecs considered pyramids to be replications of mountains. Mountains that contained springs or caves were particularly revered..."
"Also referred to as Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl, Ehecatl represetns Quetzalcoatl in his aspect of wind... Along with creating the earth and heavens with Tezcatlipoca, Ehecatl also rescued the bones of people from the underworld, thereby creating the present humankind... Due to the common but striking condition of 'breathing caves,' wind is commonly believed in Mesoamerica to derive from the Underworld."
[***all quotations from Mary Miller & Karl Taube's An Illustrated Dictionary of The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya (Thames & Hudson, 1997/2015)]

- Iconography and writing:
"Fully present by the Early Formative Olmec, complex systems of Mesoamerican iconography antedated actual writing. Moreover, writing never replaced iconography. In the Classic Maya area, the complexity of the hieroglyphic inscriptions is entirely matched by the attendant iconography, the texts and the pictorial images conveying different qualities of information. Unlike the spicificity of writing, the power of Mesoamerican iconography lies in its subtle ambiguity and ability simultaneously to express different levels of meaning."
"One of the basic structural principles of Mesoamerican religious thought is the use of paired oppositions. In these pairings, there is a recognition of the essential interdependence of opposites... Perhaps the most advanced literary use of paired expressions appears in Nahuatl ritual speech, where a pair of words is used to refer [metaphorically] to a third concept. Known by its Spanish name, difrasismo, this literary device is relatively  common in Nahuatl. Among the better known examples are fire and water to allude to war, red and black for writing, and stone and wood for punishment."
"Among the Aztecs, the term for sacredness was teotl which, like the Zapotec pee, referred to an immaterial energy or force similar to the Polynesian concept of mana. In Mayan languages, ku or ch'u means sacredness."
"According to Colonial Yucatec accounts, Itzamna was the high god of the Maya... In Postclassic Yucatán he was considered as the first priest and the inventor of writing. During the month of Uo, priests presented their screenfold books in front of an image of the god. His identification with the scribal arts was also present during the Classic period. In Late Classic vessel scenes, he is often portrayed as a scribe. Moreover, at the Terminal Classic site of Xcalumkin, he bears the scribal title of ah dzib, or He of the Writing."
[***all quotations from Mary Miller & Karl Taube's An Illustrated Dictionary of The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya (Thames & Hudson, 1997/2015)]

"Probably most Mesoamerican cultures engaged in this procedure by which a mere mortal became a leader often perceived by the world around him (and occasionally her) to be divine... The candidate would then prove himself in battle and proudly lead captives, living trophies of his prowess, back to the Aztec capital... Once the ceremonies had begun, four or five days of feasting and dancing culminated in the royal procession to five sites within the sacred precinct and environs of Tenochtitlan, at each of which the candidate offered incense, quail and his own blood... With such status, the Aztec king Motecuhzoma II, for example, was neither touched nor gazed upon by his subjects, and according to the accounts written by the Spanish at the time of the Conquest, the tlatoani repelled efforts by Cortés to shake his hand or meet his gaze."
"Huitzilopochtli was the supreme deity of the Aztecs, their chief cult god. Associated with sun and fire and the ruling lineage, his introduction to Central Mexico disrupted other established solar gods and patrons of long-standing lineages, particularly Xiuhtecuhtli and Tonatiuh... Literally, Huitzilopochtli means humming bird on the left or hummingbird of the south. The Spaniards called him Huichilobos and saw him as the devil incarnate, the cause of heart sacrifice, the source of perversion in the New World... he wore on his head a blue-green hummingbird headdress, a golden tiara, white heron feathers, and the smoking mirror more commonly associated with Tezcatlipoca and probably adopted by him... His temple together with that of Tlaloc, formed what the Aztecs called the Hueteocalli, the Great Temple, a double pyramid. Accordig to one account, Tlaloc had risen from a spring to welcome Huitzilopochtli when the Aztecs fled the mainland and arrived on the island in the middle of Lake Texcoco in 1345. Perhaps the very oldest god in the Central Mexican pantheon, Tlaloc offered legitimacy and history to Huitzilopochtli. Together they also suggested Atl-Tlachinolli, or fire-and-water, the Aztec metaphor for war..." 
"Flowers were viewed as sacrificial offerings, and according to some stories, Quetzalcoatl led his people to offer flowers and butterflies in lieu of human flesh."
[***all quotations from Mary Miller & Karl Taube's An Illustrated Dictionary of The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya (Thames & Hudson, 1997/2015)]

[***concerning logocentrism, infinitist metaphysics & le grande Zérothere was a similar predicament among the Incas: "Les villages fournissaient des serviteurs pour les chefs ou pour la cour de l'Inca et étaient, en outre, tenus de présenter à un fonctionnaire de l'Inca toutes les fillettes de huit à dix ans. Les plus jolies étaient envoyées dans un 'couvent' où, sous la direction d'une femme âgée, elles s'occupaient à divers travaux, en particulier au tissage d'étoffes fines en laine de vigogne. Lorsqu'elles atteignaient l'âge de la puberté, elles étaient soumises à une nouvelle inspection. Les plus belles étaient incorporées au harem de l'Inca ou données comme concubines aux nobles et aux hauts fonctionnaires. Les autres, assignées à un sanctuaire, en devenaient les servantes et les prêtresses. Quelques-unes, enfin, étaient réservées pour les sacrifices humains" (Alfred Métraux, Les Incas, Seuil, 1983); "L'autorité de l'Inca s'exerçait sur toute une hiérarchie de fonctionnaires qui s'échelonnait depuis  de véritables vizirs, choisis parmi ses proches, jusqu'aux humbles contre-maîtres surveillant le travail d'une équipe de cinq personnes. L'utilisation de ces énormes ressources en hommes et en produits n'était guère possible sans de constants dénombrements et inventaires... Les tukrikuk, ou gouverneurs, étaient chargés de réunir ces données statistiques et de les communiquer à l'empereur lors de la fête de l'Inti-raymi. Les recenseurs étaient des fonctionnaires spéciaux, les quipu-kamayoc, qui enregistraient les résultats de leurs comptes sur des cordelettes à noeuds. Les différences de couleurs correspondaient aux diverses classes de personnes ou d'objets... [des] unités administratives étaient censées correspondre aux lignages (ayllu), aux tribus et aux anciennes provinces. La pachaca, centaine, par examples, était synonyme d'un ayllu. Personne jusqu'à présent n'a réussi à expliquer comment ce cadre décimal rigide a pu être adapté aux structures sociales traditionnelles. Il est difficile de croire qu'il puisse s'agir d'autre chose que de fictions bureaucratiques... Cette tendance à compter par masses plutôt que par unités est loin d'être propre aux seuls Incas... aujourd'hui on tend à souligner les différences locales" (Alfred Métraux, Les Incas, Seuil, 1983);] 

[About the Spanish colonisation of these regions: "La conquête de l'empire des Incas par les Espagnols et le régime colonial qui en découla se soldèrent pour les Indiens par la destruction de leurs biens, la perte de leurs traditions les plus sacrées, la plus forcenée des exploitations, l'esclavage et très souvent la torture et le massacre. Il est de mode en Espagne de railler la 'Légende noire' inventée par les hérétiques pour calomnier le noble peuple ibérique. Les détracteurs de la colonisation espagnole sont cependant moins sévères que ne le furent pour eux-mêmes les Castillans témoins de tant d'horreurs et de tant d'oppressions. Qu'on ne prétende point que les seuls disciples de Bartolomé de Las Casas sont ici en cause. La dénonciation, part tant de rudes soldats et d'hommes de lois, des atrocités et des abus dont ils ont été témoins est à l'honneur de l'Espagne. Bien que la Couronne se soit efforcée de protéger les droits des Indiens, on ne saurait absoudre un régime parce que les intentions, et celles-ci seules, de ses dirigeants furent souvent généreuses et justes... D'ailleurs ceux qui, au mépris des documents historiques, exaltent le passé colonial, oublient trop que les abus et les violences dont l'écho nous parvient du fond des temps continuent à être pratiqués en beaucoup de régions par les descendants des conquérants et des colons... Sous le régime inca, les mitayos, c'est-à-dire les assujettis à la corvée, étaient entretenus sur les dépôts de l'État et n'étaient point trop longtemps retenus hors de leurs villages. Les Espagnols utilisèrent à plein la main-d'oeuvre indienne sans aucune contrepartie. La plus terrible mita, celle qui pour les Indiens en vint à symboliser les horreurs de la domination étrangère, fut celle des mines. Un septième de la population totale du Pérou, du Cuzco à Tarija, se relayait dans les mines de Potosi, à 4800 m d'altitude, et dans les mines de mercure... Le calvaire des corvéables commençait avec le voyage, parfois de deux ou trois mois, qui les menait de leur village à la mine. Ils partaient accompagnés de leurs femmes et de leurs enfants, dont beaucoup mouraient en route... Beaucoup n'hésitaient pas à louer leurs femmes et leurs enfants à raison de soixante ou cinquante pesos dans le seul but de se libérer de la mine. Les chefs indigènes étaient battus et torturés s'ils ne livraient pas la main-d'oeuvre exigée. Un Indien rentré de la mine trouva au village sa femme morte et ses deux enfants abandonnés. Désespéré, l'home pendit ses deux enfants 'pour qu'ils ne servent jamais à la mine', et se coupa la gorge avec un couteau" (Alfred Métraux, Les Incas, Seuil, 1983); "... about five hundred years ago the Maya were the most literate people in the Americas, preserving their history and culture with a sophisticated hieroglyphic script in hundreds of folded screen books. The Spanish conquest in the early sixteenth century was a devastating blow to Maya literacy  in Mexico and Guatemala. Christian missionaries burned great numbers of hieroglyphic texts in an attempt to eradicate indigenous religious practices. Native scribes were singled out for persecution to such an extent that within one hundred years, the art of hieroglyphic writing had virtually disappeared from among the Mayan people" (Allen J. Christenson, Popol Vuh: The Sacred Book of the Maya, Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 2007);]

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Boi Neon (Gabriel Mascaro, 2015): glitter in the void

"We are superficial... profoundly so..."
James St. James

Before directing this film, Gabriel Mascaro directed documentaries—a "genre" that has an outstanding tradition in Brazil, with innovative directors such as Eduardo Coutinho and João Moreira Salles.
The way Mascaro handled his interviewees in movies such as Um lugar ao sol (2009) doesn't seen, however, very convincing. What he got from most of the Brazilian squillionaires he then interviewed were mostly rationalizations, so shallow as to make even the spectator feel pathetic. The only exception was perhaps a French woman. If these people were really so shallow, why to interview them? And there isn't any irony there, or at least it is not perceptible (but this might be on purpose).
On the other hand, Mascaro's documentaries displayed already the same kind of visual and audio sensibility that makes Boi Neon so interesting. This is the case, for instance, of The Beetle KFZ-1348—the first movie Mascaro directed (together with Marcelo Pedroso), in 2008 (the soundtrack is by Tomaz Alves de Souza): 

See also: