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Frankétienne, Father of Haitian Letters, Is Busier Than Ever - The New York Times
"Frankétienne has had prophecies of death (his own) and destruction (Haiti’s).

The earthquake that wrecked this country in January 2010? It was foreseen, said Frankétienne, the man known as the father of Haitian letters, in his play “The Trap.” It was written two months before the disaster and depicts two men in a postapocalyptic landscape, now a familiar sight in his Delmas neighborhood here.

“The voice of God spoke to me,” said Frankétienne, 75, later noting he had also long dwelt on the ecological ruin he believes the planet is hurtling toward. As for his death, that will come in nine years, in 2020, he says, at age 84. He is not sick, he says, but he has learned to “listen to the divine music in all of us.”

And so the prolific novelist, poet and painter — often all three in a single work — hears his coda. He is vowing to complete a multivolume memoir “before I leave, physically,” while keeping up an increasingly busy schedule of exhibitions and conferences.

“I am going to talk about everything I have seen from age 5 or 6,” he said recently at his house-cum-museum and gallery. “And stuff that hasn’t happened yet because I am a prophet.”

Eccentric. Abstract. A “spiralist,” who rejects realism and embraces disorder. Frankétienne — he combined his first and last names years ago — embraces chaos as a style he believes befits a country with a long, tumultuous history birthed in a slave revolt more than 200 years ago and scarred by a cascade of natural and man-made disasters.

In chaos he finds order.

“I am not afraid of chaos because chaos is the womb of light and life,” he said, his baritone voice rising as it does when he gets worked up over a point. “What I don’t like is nonmanagement of chaos. The reason why Haiti looks more chaotic is because of nonmanagement. In other countries it is managed better. Haiti, they should take as reference for what could happen in the rest of world.”

Scholars widely view Frankétienne as Haiti’s most important writer. He wrote what many consider the first modern novel entirely in Haitian Creole, “Dezafi,” in 1975, and a play well known here that challenged political oppression, “Pelin Tet.” It is a biting work from 1978 that is aimed, not so subtly, at Jean-Claude Duvalier, the son of the dictator François Duvalier and himself a former dictator known as Baby Doc, who returned here from exile in January.

Although not well known in the English-speaking world, Frankétienne has star status in French- and Creole-speaking countries and was rumored to be on the short list for a Nobel Prize in Literature in 2009.

After the quake, his works gained more international attention, particularly in Canada and France. “The Trap” debuted in March 2010 at a Unesco forum in Paris that named him an artist for peace; galleries in New York have organized shows featuring his artwork. Still, he also holds informal Sunday workshops with young artists in Haiti to talk about and critique their work.

“He is not only a major Haitian writer, he is probably the major Haitian writer, forever,” said Jean Jonassaint, a Haitian literature scholar at Syracuse University.

Frankétienne’s output, about 40 written works and, by his count, 2,000 paintings and sketches, comprises dense, baroque affairs. He invents new words, blending French and Haitian Creole. Long digressions are de rigueur. His paintings, which he says are selling particularly well these days, blur swirling blacks, blues and reds, often covered with poems.

He admires James Joyce, and it shows. “ ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ was like a crazy book, just like I write crazy books,” he said.

Still, the Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat said Frankétienne remained popular among Haitians, in part because some of his plays had been videotaped and passed around in Haiti and in immigrant communities in the United States.

“Pelin Tet,” in which the grim life of two Haitian immigrants in New York deliberately echoes the oppression of the Duvalier era on the island, is a touchstone for many Haitians, said Ms. Danticat, who grew up in the same neighborhood as Frankétienne and was, in part, inspired to write by his rise to the top.

“His work can speak to the most intellectual person in the society as well as the most humble,” she said. “It’s a very generous kind of genius he has, one I can’t imagine Haitian literature ever existing without.”

Frankétienne was born as Franck Étienne on April 12, 1936, and raised in the Bel-Air neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, the son of a Haitian farmworker and an American businessman, who later abandoned her.

Frankétienne’s mother worked as a street vendor — selling cigarettes, charcoal, candies, moonshine — while raising eight children.

“Since I was 5 or 6 I was smoking or drinking, but my mother never knew,” he recalled. He was the oldest, and she strove to send him to school (he, in turn, tutored his younger siblings, leading him to establish his own school).

The school he attended was French-speaking. Frankétienne initially did not know a word of French, but angered at being teased by other students, he set about mastering the language and developing an affinity for words and artistic expression.

His best-known works came in the 1960s and ’70s, and he ranks his novel “Dezafi” as one of his most cherished. Set in a rural Haitian village, it weaves cockfighting, zombification, the history of slavery and other themes into an allegory of the country’s pain and suffering.

“It is the challenge of finding the light to liberate everyone,” he said. He wrote it in Creole, he said, because that was the voice of the characters he imagined.

But Frankétienne also felt a need to assert his Haitian identity, as people often look at his fair skin, blue eyes and white hair and doubt he is from this predominantly black country.

“They might think I am white or mulatto or whatever, but I am not,” he said. “I have black features, Negro features. My mother was an illiterate peasant and she had me when she was 16. She was taken in by an American, a very rich American. The American was 63 and my mother was 16 at the time.”

Switching from Creole to English, which he is usually too timid to speak, he added, “You understand who I am now?”

After completing “Dezafi,” he was frustrated that so few of his compatriots could read it, with nearly half the adult population illiterate. He switched to plays, even if that meant irritating the dictatorship.

“Dictators are mean but not necessarily stupid, so they knew I didn’t have any readers,” Frankétienne said. “What really gave them a problem was when I started with plays.”

Other writers and artists left Haiti during the dictatorship, but he stayed as his reputation grew outside the country and human rights groups closely followed him, providing, he believes, some cover from Mr. Duvalier.

Later, he joined other intellectuals in denouncing Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the first democratically elected president after Jean-Claude Duvalier was overthrown. Mr. Aristide, he said, became fixated on power and tolerated corruption and thuggery in his administration.

“He is a ghost, too,” Frankétienne said of Mr. Aristide’s return in March after seven years in exile.

His only regret, he said, is that his work is not widely translated and better known. If he knew Chinese, Japanese, Italian or other languages, he said, he would put them in his works.

“Everything is interconnected,” he said. “We are connected to everything, everyone.”

Frankétienne added, “The only thing not chaotic is death.”"
frankétienne  haiti  2011  literature  chaos  death  writing  form  theater  poetry  creole  language  identity  education  zombies  voodoo  vodou  voudoun  slavery  history  jeanjonassaint  edwidgedanticat  babdydoc  papadoc  jean-claudeduvalier  françoisduvalier  disorder  order  nonmanagement 
november 2018 by robertogreco
“The Poetic Inflections of a Voice Addressing a Tribe of Men Besieged by Beasts”: Radio Haiti’s Cultural Programming - The Devil's Tale
"Sometimes it feels as though Radio Haiti’s story, like that of Haiti itself, is eclipsed by crisis — that Jean Dominique’s assassination has become the principal lens through which we understand and remember Radio Haiti. But the loss of Jean Dominique and the injustice of his murder matter because his life mattered, because Radio Haiti’s many decades of work and legacy matter. Before the symbolic weight of memory, before the burden of hindsight, before the doomed prophet, there was the daily work of the station — all of which lives on in this archive.

So much comes before death; so much remains when death is no more."



"Radio Haiti’s archive, like a cemetery, like Haiti itself, is a place that could be defined by tragedy, loss and death. The archive, like Haiti’s history, is filled with human rights violations, massacres, impunity, and assassinations.

Yet, listening to artists and iconoclasts, creators and truth-tellers, I recall those same words: It was not death that I found here, in Radio Haiti’s archive. I found intense life here; I did not find death at all."

[See also:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_Haiti-Inter
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Dominique
https://soundcloud.com/radiohaitiarchives ]
haiti  radiohaiti  frankétienne  culture  2016  katrinamartin  laurawagner  archives  voodoo  vodou  voudoun  jeandominique  émileollivier  mimibarthélemy  edwidgedanticat  amoscoulanges  tiga  georgescastera  sytocavé  rogergaillard  jeanfouchard  kettlymars  danylaferrière  garyvictor  yanicklahens  ralphallen  jeanrenéjérôme  rose-mariedesruisseau  radiohaiti-inter 
november 2018 by robertogreco
OCCULTURE: 67. Carl Abrahamsson & Mitch Horowitz in “Occulture (Meta)” // Anton LaVey, Real Magic & the Nature of the Mind
"Look, I’m not gonna lie to you - we have a pretty badass show this time around. Carl Abrahamsson and Mitch Horowitz are in the house.

Carl Abrahamsson is a Swedish freelance writer, lecturer, filmmaker and photographer specializing in material about the arts & entertainment, esoteric history and occulture. Carl is the author of several books, including a forthcoming title from Inner Traditions called Occulture: The Unseen Forces That Drive Culture Forward.

Mitch Horowitz is the author of One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life; Occult America, which received the 2010 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for literary excellence; and Mind As Builder: The Positive-Mind Metaphysics of Edgar Cayce. Mitch has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Salon, Time.com, and Politico. Mitch is currently in the midst of publishing a series of articles on Medium called "Real Magic".

And it is that series paired with Carl’s book that lays the foundation for our conversation here."
carlabrahamsson  mitchhorowitz  occult  culture  occulture  magic  belief  mind  ouijaboard  astrology  mindfulness  buddhism  religion  academia  antonlavey  materialism  mainstream  intellectualism  elitism  mindbodyspirit  2018  esotericism  authority  norms  nuance  change  enlightenment  popculture  science  humanities  socialsciences  medicine  conservatism  churches  newage  cosmology  migration  california  hippies  meaning  psychology  siliconvalley  ingenuity  human  humans  humannature  spirituality  openmindedness  nature  urbanization  urban  nyc  us  society  santería  vodou  voodoo  voudoun  climate  light  davidlynch  innovation  population  environment  meaningmaking  mikenesmith  californianideology  thought  thinking  philosophy  hoodoo  blackmetal  norway  beauty  survival  wholeperson  churchofsatan  satanism  agency  ambition  mysticism  self  stories  storytelling  mythology  humanism  beinghuman  surrealism  cv  repetition  radicalism  myths  history  renaissance  fiction  fantasy  reenchantment  counterculture  consciousness  highered  highereducation  cynicism  inquiry  realitytele 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Caterina.net» The Truth About Zombies
"After watching The Truth about Zombies, I learned things about zombies I didn’t know. People in Haiti, where Voudoun is practiced, fear zombification more than they fear zombies. Zombies are fairly harmless, since they are ppl who have been poisoned so that they suffer paralysis, but with total consciousness and awareness. But what was most interesting to me was that zombification is a form of capital punishment visited upon ppl who have done some harm to people in the community, but who have not been served by the justice system. So it is a punishment meted out by an extra-legal Voudoun justice system. The adjudicator, in addition to zombifying the perp, takes their will, their “petit bon ange”, and keeps it in a bottle."
zombies  edg  srg  caterinafake  religion  belief  voodoo  haiti  voudoun  vodou 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Super Bowl Gris-Gris: The New Yorker
"In and around New Orleans, the remarkable success enjoyed by the Saints this football season, culminating in the team’s first Super Bowl appearance, can be partly explained by the favorable influence of gris-gris. The term, pronounced “gree-gree,” technically refers to a voodoo amulet, composed of graveyard dirt, eyes of newt, and other readily available local ingredients, meant to ward off evil spells; in looser usage, gris-gris translates roughly to the dark magic itself, which can be directed in favor of, or against, a particular party’s interests. The Saints are a talented and imaginative team, but only gris-gris can account for some of their unlikely victories this season, including the win over the Vikings in the conference championship game, in which Minnesota’s Brett Favre inexplicably abandoned all football sense, tossing a doomed late-game pass into the hands of a Saints defender."

[see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gris-gris_(talisman) ]
gris-gris  vodou  voodoo  neworleans  americanfootball  superbowl  superstition  religion  talisman  amulet  nola  voudoun 
february 2010 by robertogreco
The Associated Press: Court: Sarkozy Voodoo doll should not be stabbed
"A French appeals court says Voodoo dolls of President Nicolas Sarkozy may remain on sale, but must carry a notice saying that pricking them harms the president's dignity."
nicolassarkozy  voodoo  legal  law  france  vodou  voudoun 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Vodou Brooklyn on Vimeo
"Stephanie Keith met a Vodou priest at a Buddhist interfaith event in New York. He invited her to photograph and experience the religious world of his Haitian culture. Ten ceremonies later, she offers her images and reflections on these late-night rituals
vodou  religion  photography  nyc  documentary  haiti  voodoo  voudoun 
november 2007 by robertogreco

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