Friday, December 3, 2010

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I suggest you look at the links imbedded in these blogs or at the end of the blog as an integral part of my argument.
The 4th Awakening
17 All Seven Brides Lose Their Heads

The proto-Latvian story tellers were good at presenting to their audiences dantesque images of hell. It got everyone’s attention. This was because they understood that desire is not a force that is engendered by hormones, but the result of imitation, mimicking. Thus, if you were one of the kind to steal from poor people, when it came time for you to go to the other world (“viņu sauli”, the other sun), you were allowed there to smelt silver to your heart’s content, but to get it out of the smelter, you had to take it in your mouth while it was still hot.

[These and other stories available by searching “Cels uz vinu sauli” or clicking here.]

The Theatre of Hell is, in short, a minimalist affair: the visitor gets to see hundreds if not thousands of “the dead” repeating the same act over and over again. The quick image/act is meant to convey a moral, but the moral is up to the story teller to create. Therefore, some morals may remain with the audience for much longer than others. As for the story teller, he is likely to be one of the wandering Johns of Arch-Christian Europe.

This linking of Johns with story telling is not as far fetched as some may think, because the hero in most of these fairytales is called Jahnis-John. On Johns Day every head of the household (saimnieks) is called John in Latvia. As suggested in an earlier blog, John very likely was the name of the divinity (God? Devil?) one might meet when traveling the countryside pathways in former times.

Let us return to the image of taking hot silver in one’s mouth. The way I first saw it in my mind’s eye, it gave unpleasant feelings. Computer art can make the event appear even more graphic and gruesome, bloody, and gory. Yet one may also see it interpreted differently. Why not have the greedy person’s mouth fill with silver every time he-she takes a drink of water? Then, when he-she spits the water out, it drops to the ground as silver for the poor to pick up. In short, the thief is condemned to repeat his thieving, but the thief-actor becomes, paradoxically, a slave to the poor.

An even more curious image is that of people climbing a ladder to reach the branch of a tree from which there hang numerous nooses. The people stick their necks into the noose, hang themselves, fall to the ground, and soon rise to repeat the act all over again. They do this endlessly. When Clever John passed by, one of the hanged asked him to ask the Sun (he knew that John was planning to climb Sun Mountain) for how long he and everyone else would have to keep up the act.

Clever John asked: “Why are you hanging yourselves?” The answer was as surprising as mysterious: “We are not hanging ourselves. We are being hung by our oppressor.”

What does being “hung by our oppressor” mean in a world where—like our own—everything is positively Positive?

Most people know the answer, but as soon as they hear it, they seem to want to forget about it--until, next year, when they inexplicably tell the story again.

To be hung by one’s oppressor fits well with what we today call suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Of course, in most cases, the word “traumatic” is newspeak for “combat violence”. Someone is stressed over having seen guts lying in the street and knowing that it is the result of something that same someone has done. No, of course, we deny we did it. We did not do it of our own will, but we were sent as soldiers to do it. We were taught to obey “direct orders” and kill. And we killed—often women, children, and pregnant women, and men—because they looked at us (we are told) with “terrorist’” eyes. After the image drifts through our mind a thousand times, we hang ourselves. Many turn to alcohol and neglect their children. PTSD is no laughing matter.

This is the PTSD story that John the story teller, who is his own mimic, would have told us. The image, the more real it is, the more unforgettable and the greater its charisma. [My countryside neighbor has given up slaughtering pigs (cūku bēres), but only assists now, because “I used to do it, but I can no longer do the murder. My hands tremble too much.”] We may include among the more images the image of Sadam Hussein’s hanging. Note how the hangmen make sure that Hussein is told of every step in the procedure. It makes the scene memorable even to a couch potato before his-her television set, and when his-her turn comes, it will seem like deja vu. Yes, they will have a sense of having done it before.

Now let us imagine this repetition of images in the context of mimesis. Those who are condemned to hanging themselves over and over are under “direct orders” (in our name) to do violence, which they personally cannot tolerate. While we are at it, let us not be in  doubt that these witnesses to their own hanging are so shocked by it that they never in eternity forget it, never mind that their neighbors have come to watch it done in their name. The act imprints itself on a hologramatic mind plasma, where it is endowed with a charisma that can never be lost. It is an extraordinarily lucid and hypnotizing experience.

After the soldier--today or long ago--is done with his tour of duty, he is told to forget it (all that gory stuff) and go home. [The countryside pig slaughterer downs 100 grams of vodka as an intrinsic part of the Latvian pig slaughter ritual (cūku bēres). In former days, the slaughterer (butcher is for the man behind the supermarket steel door over a well lit butcher table) stayed around to see the pig’s liver baked and partake of its eating. Today, where I live, they take the vodka, do the job, receive Ls 10, and go home.]

No soldier or survivor of war, or refugee from war will ever forget their hanging, i.e., their violation. Their inner rage over the “direct order” (whoever gave it) and their having to carry it out has numerous ways to express itself. One reaction is to give a “direct order” that counters the “direct order” issued first. The answer is the bill due: they all go hang themselves all over again.

Someone must break the bad spell of revenge: the vendetta against one’s Self.

Help comes by way of John, or Clever John, or Jesus (who was a John), or some person of that kind. All Johns teach the innocents, the forest people, the art of how to stop torturing and being violent against other innocents. In the link (above) to the proto-Latvian “other Sun”, John comes and breaks the spell by simply telling those hanging in the nooses that the act will stop as soon as he claps hands or says the magic word.

In the stories that are related to the story below, the moment when John crosses the river as he returns from the “other side”, the countryside just minutes before littered with corpses, turns into a sunshiny day with death nowhere visible except as bark on a tree.*

Happy days are here again! Therefore, this is where we return to
The Story of Crazy Jane and Clever John (© Eso Anton Benjamins).

With arms around each other’s waists, Clever John and Crazy Jane leave The Old Witch's Inn and go climb Sun Mountain to watch Mother Sun rise on her birthday.

The Sun came up smiling, but soon became rattled. Green, red, yellow, and blue danced over the Sun’s face and shook the sky above her as if it were jelly. She had seen something unusual and unexpected. What’s that? Are those my daughters lying there on the barroom tables? Who are those guys sleeping on the floor? They look like bum bears to me, not men.

“Hi, Mother,” said Crazy Jane. “Me and Clever John climbed up to give you a real proto-Latvian birthday greeting.”

“Yes, that’s nice, thanks,” answered the Sun, “but I have never seen anything like this.” The Sun looked at the scene on the surface of the proto-Latvian country. “Not one of them stayed awake for me. I’ll speak to the witches about this. Something must be done.”

Clever John shielded himself from the Sun by hiding behind Crazy Jane. At which point Crazy Jane began to sing the proto-Latvian national anthem.

“Saulīt, svētī Latviju, mūs dārgo dzimteni, …”
[Dear Sun, bless Latvia, our beloved birth place.]

The Sun again gave the young couple a nice smile, then leaned a little forward and whispered something into Crazy Jane’s ear.

 “In the name of All that Is, no!” shouted Crazy Jane.

“Yes,” answered the Sun. “It will be as I say. Off with their heads.”

Asterisks & Links of Interest

  • Changing Feature: How the meme of violence extends itself into a more intimate setting. The one-off children who have one or both parents working perform as actors. First the head fills with music. It is not Götterdämmerung, but something much crazier: it is urban gansta violence. They kill well, because a war zone is but a less constrained field than their urban neighborhood street is.
Beware! Warming up for worse violence. The theme: Everyman climbing the gallows over and over again.You are invited to join the TO LOOK AT VIOLENCE community! Watch what is happening around you.

Put this as a tail to your blog and join TO LOOK AT VIOLENCE, then do all you can to stop the imposition of charisma through violence. Successful resistance will not happen until talking to one’s self ceases. The address of origin is at  Responder (1): You are up!

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