Saturday, June 28, 2014


Disappointing in many ways.


The Iliad and Achilles have always been fascinating mirrors to the western mind. This rather short version of the Trojan War is done for a popular audience and it shows. It is also done for a modern audience and it has to be short. It sure is shortened.

We could list all the essential events that are missing from the human sacrifice of Agamemnon’s daughter by Agamemnon himself to get from the “Gods” a favorable wind to go to war. And the “Gods” did not substitute a goat or a ram to Iphigenia as another “God” will do when Abraham was going to sacrifice his own son, though we will never know if it was Isaac or Ishmael, since there are two versions running around, one behind the other, both trying to catch their own tails in their own teeth. Human sacrifice is part of humanity, has been and will be as long as wars and the death penalty exist. The Celts burned the guilty alive in baskets hanging from trees. The Romans dipped people in boiling oil or crucified them along the roads. The medieval church burned witches and wizards at the stake, or fried homosexuals in a frying pan with oil in France, or grilled homosexuals on a grill without any oil at all in England. And what about these marvelous death penalties that do not work or take a long time to be effective in our modern civilized countries? We regret a great show like in England under kings and queens up to Elizabeth I when a convicted criminal would be drawn by horses to the Bartholomew Fair ground on the day before the Bartholomew Fair to be hanged there but not to death, brought down, drawn in the meaning of eviscerated, quartered and finally beheaded, the head being picked by the hair and directed at the joyful gleeful crowd because the brain and the eyes can see up to seven seconds after the beheading, so that the guilty victim can see the people rejoicing at his or her death.

This film is very clean indeed.

The film is also totally silent on the enormous stake of this war. They reduce it to power for Agamemnon. That’s short. Troy controlled the main Indo-European route from Iran to Europe through Anatolia. That was one of the two immigrating routes that produced our modern Europe. Along this route came all kinds of goods but also knowledge like cattle raising and agriculture and metal industry (or what it was at that very beginning of the metal civilization) and religion. The Greeks wanted to take the control of this commercial and cultural circulation to Europe to make a profit on it. That is not power, that is commercial dictatorship.

The film is totally silent on the fact that the beautiful Greek religion was in the process at the time the Iliad was being written of integrating some religious and cultural elements of the people who had been in Europe since 50,000 years ago and who represent 75-80% of modern European DNA, viz. the Turkic population known as Cro-Magnon or the Gravettians, and some others still known today as the Basques. By reducing the historical stake of the Iliad and Ancient Greece, we can forget about the fact that the Indo-Europeans conquered the whole of Europe with what will never be more than a 20% minority in Europe.

What saves the film then?

In fact only two actors: Brad Pitt as Achilles and Peter O’Toole as Priam. The others are secondary and most of them mediocre. Brad Pitt gives some taste to the story, though of course the particular relation between him and his cousin Patroclus is entirely unrevealed and he even appears as a gallant person who saves a virgin teenage woman from the grubby and dirty hands of soldiers. On the other hand Peter O’Toole gives Priam the dignity and the force this old king must have had to have to be able to go and beg for the body of his own son killed in fair fight by Achilles.

The famous Trojan horse is also a nice character and the trick is surprising in the fact that it worked, at least so does the legend have it.

Finally we could say the film insists a little bit too much on couples of brothers. The two Greek Brothers, Agamemnon and Menelaus on the Greek side and the two Trojan brothers Hector and Paris on the Trojan side. And all that for a woman, Helen, who was married to an old man, Menelaus, and fell for a more or less young teenager, Paris. But do not expect any love in all that. It is only a question of possession for Menelaus and intercourse for Paris. Helen just has to play the game of satisfying the impulses of the man who possesses her. The film even manages the escape of Andromache, Astyanax, Helen and Paris, more or less and at least. Since Paris has managed to kill Achilles, he is not even a hero and the fugitives are nothing but assassins. In other words the film is doomed to have no morality.

Some beautiful battles and some very impressive ramparts, city walls, palaces and temples, but not much more, and the back side of Brad Piptt a couple of times for the perverse cheese-addicts.

2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 
There is no war that can be redeemed
May 29, 2004

There is no war that can be redeemed

This film is a beautiful show though it will not in anyway change the face of the world. It shows that war is a horrible adventure in which motivations are absolutely perverse, perverted and hypocritical. One goes to war for a woman who was stolen from him. Women are nothing but homestead possessions. One goes to war to increase his power by conquering people who resist him.

War is a power game that is won or lost after many deaths of soldiers and civilians who are not supposed to question any point but only to obey. War is blind obedience for the soldiers and blind submission for the civilians. One goes to war for the pleasure of fighting to show his prowess, his courage, his « invincibility » and yet he will be killed in the heart of victory because no one is invincible, no war is a clean parade on an empty boulevard.

Then supplementary motivations appear during the fighting or the discussions and rivalries among chiefs. It is such events, like the killing of a cousin, the manhandling of a prisoner, or any dramatic event, that can change the course of a war and bring into the battle people who wanted to remain neutral. War is a big pot in which spiders and predators are cooking, some enemies, some allies.

Finally most soldiers are going into the war with only one objective: looting and taking advantage of the situation to satisfy their basic and repulsive instincts to hurt, torture, maim and enjoy the barbarity of such acts. Finally a war is always lost in the long run and the victors are vanquished as Handel would say in Alexander's Feast. A few of the princes of Troy will escape and they will create Rome who will eventually conquer Greece and submit them to their power.

History is always a vengeful game if the will, interests and peace of the people are not taken into account. Finally a war can only be won through a genocide : kill all your enemies and you will carry the day. This film is the exposure of war as a crime against humanity. Yet there are in this film a few, very few, but a few nevertheless, scenes that redeem such horror.

The « invincible » Achilles is vanquished by a sudden and unexplainable love that leads him into a mistake and a trap, and there is no escape, no pardon, no tolerance, no considering the honorable actions of before. He is an enemy, so he has to be killed. Everyone will like the Trojan horse immensely that shows a war is always won through perfidy, ruse, deception and the exploitation of the gullibility of the opponents.

Nothing has changed except that we are more conscious and sensitive to crime and perverse actions, and that we have media who will expose any trespassing from some guideline. War is based on lies but the media have the responsibility to expose such lies and when they are exposed the war is lost for the liars who are exposed as such at the same time. Yet the film is short on the real stakes of this war : the control of eastern commercial routes and the danger such a strategic position represents for those who are thus controlled by this commercial power.


Sunday, June 22, 2014


La guillotine et l'impuissance de la nouvelle vague: même pas de l'agit prop.


Après la victoire sociale de mai 1968 – en France – et la défaite politique de juin 1968 – en France – sans parler de celle de Prague un peu plus tard et de la catastrophe de l’élection de Nixon aux USA, sans même mentionner les assassinats de Robert Kennedy et de Martin Luther King, un peu plus tôt, les intellectuels français et les artistes français sont restés désemparés comme deux ronds de frite oubliés derrière une malle, surtout que l’échec politique du référendum de De Gaulle fut le fait de Pompidou et de quelques autres qui surent tirer les marrons du feu dès 1969. Alors la gauche n’avait plus que ses yeux rouges et noirs pour pleurer, et Jacques Duclos était la pleureuse officielle.

Ils sortirent alors les problèmes sociétaux de fond, comme dans ce film la peine de mort. La nouvelle vague qui se voulait apolitique fut bien obligée de sortir du bois et de devenir idéologique sinon il ne leur restait plus que le communisme pur et dur, le communisme de guerre à la Brejnev l’éteignoir. Et Waldeck Rochet était en hibernation dans un hôpital et Georges Marchais prenait le pouvoir. En bref le paradis.

Ce film est donc nouvelle vague sur sa première partie qui montre la filature et l’arrestation d’un homme sans que jamais pendant cette première moitié on ne sache de quoi il pouvait bien s’agir. Lelouch joue sur la focalisation de la caméra sur le premier plan ou sur l’arrière plan et en plus truffe cette partie de gros plans dignes de la télévision. Il joue bien sûr sur la couleur pour le monde extérieur à la prison et le noir et blanc pour la prison, et il ne fait pas dans le détail : le Quai des Orfèvres, le palais de justice derrière et la prison de la Santé.

Mais après la première lecture des délibérés du jury qui ne donnent que le numéro des questions mais pas les questions elles-mêmes, on ne sait toujours pas les crimes de ce pauvre Tolédo. C’est alors que la deuxième partie du film permet de passer à un film post-soixante-huitard et donc à entrer dans l’idéologie. La police n’est plus aveugle et la justice brutale, ou vice versa. On a les crimes commis devant nous, les prostituées tuées par impuissance sexuelle de ce pauvre homme. On ne saura jamais pourquoi il est impuissant dans ses actes avec les prostituées, alors qu’il est père d’une fillette, marié et qu’en plus il a une amante qui semble très satisfaite.

Là ce sont les psychiatres qui sont totalement aveugles, et j’ai envie de dire impuissants mentalement, intellectuellement et scientifiquement. Comme l’homme est conscient de ce qu’il a fait, il est donc responsable et on se contentera de cela comme on donnera une fessée à un enfant de deux ans qui pisse au lit car il sait ce qu’il fait donc il le fait exprès. Maintenant pourquoi est une question qu’un psy raseur de tête et malaxeur de cerveau ne se posera pas.

Alors il ne reste plus qu’à dresser la guillotine dans la cour de la prison de la Santé, dont j’ai si souvent longé les murs, et se dire que l’île de la Cité est bénie et donc policièrement justifiée et judiciairement juste puisque la cathédrale Notre Dame est juste en face. M’enfin comme dirait un certain Gaston.

Ce film est donc pathétique quand il témoigne du dilemme artistique et politique des gens de la nouvelle vague avec Jean Paul Sartre en tête qui se fait maoïste tant qu’on y est. Et ne parlons pas des trotskistes comme Jospin et bien d’autres, et tout cela pour ne pas être communistes : la fuite en avant dans la marge pour mieux plus tard retrouver le milieu du chemin et la conformité réformiste qui ne les mènera pas à Rome mais en Hollande.

C’est toute cette catastrophique frustration qui ressort aujourd’hui dans les derniers soubresauts des légions révolutionnaires de la SNCF et des intermittents. Mieux vaut mourir et faire couler le bateau avec nous que d’accepter un compromis aussi bon soit-il, aussi inéluctable soit-il, aussi inévitable soit-il.

C’est comme cela que nos lendemains sont comme des lampadaires : ils ne marchent pas, ils ne sont que des pissotières pour chiens et la lumière qu’ils diffusent sent le maquillage vital purement de surface. Non ce n’est pas la lumière de l’esprit ni de l’âme, encore moins de l’amour ou de la liberté, car sur les bancs publics sous les lampadaires on ne trouve plus des amoureux qui se bécotent mais des SDF qui s’ankylosent.


Saturday, June 21, 2014


J'en ai attrapé un gonflement de la prostate


Plus nul que moi tu meurs.

C’était un temps où le cinéma français étant largement subventionné, il pouvait se permettre de produire à peu près n’importe quoi. La télévision noir et blanc commençait tout juste à devenir populaire et en 1963 la concurrence avec le cinéma commençait tout juste à se faire sentir. Les propriétaires de salles firent même grève un après-midi pour protester contre la taxation de tous les sièges des salles, occupés ou non, et obtinrent gain de cause et la taxation passa aux billets effectivement vendus. J’ai vu un Phèdre gratuitement grâce à cette grève qui devait être un jeudi après-midi puisque je n’avais pas de cours.

Et ce fut la Nouvelle Vague qui décida de ne faire que des films qui soient totalement antinomiques par rapport à ce qu’Hollywood faisait. Et c’est ainsi que mis à part les films d’action de Delon et Belmondo et les films comiques de Louis de Funès et Bourvil, le cinéma français commença à s’enliser dans une boue moribonde et mortifère qui laissa le champ libre au cinéma américain. Dans ce magma informe des gens comme Jean Delannoy eurent tout le mal du monde à continuer à travailler car ils refusaient de faire du nouvelle vague, du Françoise Sagan et même du Truffaut ou du Chabrol. Dans tout ce fumier il y avait en plus du bon et du mauvais et la série B était vingt étages en sous-sol plus bas que ce film de Godard qui vole au ras des pâquerettes.

Car, soyons clair ce film est un navet, peut-être un tout petit peu plus gros que cela, disons un rutabaga. C’est ringard, c’est dépassé, c’est insignifiant, c’est insensé, c’est plus con-dé-plaisant que déplacé, même les tondues de fin de guerre.

Mais il est évident qu’historiquement, que dis-je archéologiquement, mais où ai-je la tête anthropologiquement ce film est un moment capital dans la chute infernale du cinéma français subventionné jusqu’au plus profond des chaussettes, ou serait-ce des bas ? Et si le cinéma français commence tout juste peut-être depuis une dizaine d’années à ressortir la tête de l’eau c’est qu’ils ont enfin essayé d’apprendre à Hollywood comment on peut faire un film, mais avec dix fois moins de moyens, et autant d’imagination que l’oiseau en cage de Jacques Prévert. Heureusement qu’il y a toujours un cancre Godard pour ouvrir la cage.

Si vous le trouvez, ce DVD, essayez de le regarder pour le plaisir d’avoir la nausée, mais pas celle de Sartre devant une racine au Jardin du Luxembourg, la vraie nausée devant un étron non doré de quelque César égaré dans un parking souterrain. Mais je divague, oui certes je dis-terrain-vague et je vois le jardin de Versailles, comme je regarde Les Carabiniers par Jean Luc Godard et je vois un chef d’œuvre qui durera pour les siècles des siècles, jusqu’à ce que Dieu lui-même en attrape une crise de fou rire dérisoire.

Au rasoir que je vous dis, au coupe chou que nous devons aller dans ces arrières ruelles des friches urbaines de cerveaux malades d’illusions cancréliques, de cancrelat + colique = diarrhée diurétique.




India's Supreme Court is still stronger than this film


The subject of the film is about something many people have gone through: the contamination to HIV, the development of the disease of AIDS and the ultimate death of the patient. Personally I do not want to count the victims around me because that would be too sad. Some died of pulmonary infections. Some died of a vicious attack on their nervous system. Some died of Karposi skin cancer. The types and modes of death were incredibly varied. For nearly 15 to 20 years the available treatments did not do much except slow down the end and soften that end. We now have a treatment that can lengthen the life of the patients seriously, but it is no cure yet. But luckily we are far beyond Reagan’s declaration that it was the punishment of god against homosexuals.

In the film we are in Goa and we are dealing with a State Champion in swimming. He finds himself HIV positive. He is expelled from the swimming team: one day he gets into the water and everyone else scrambles out. He is totally rejected by his parents, his father beating him up and his mother telling him that since he was premature at birth she wishes he could have died. He has only one refuge and it is Nigel, his friend. He is arrested and definitely roughed up by the police who took him to the hospital where he is isolated in the sanatorium, alone and totally abandoned and unable to leave. He suffers from the rejection because of the disease, which is absolutely outrageous because everyone has the right to benefit from medicine equally, at least officially. But he also suffers from the rejection because he is at once revealed to be a homosexual. Note that’s the only word used in the film and the word “gay” is never used.

At this point we are deeply engulfed and drowning in some colonial heritage that India’s supreme court has still not been able to declare anti-constitutional Here is their latest decision:

REVIEW PETITION (CIVIL) No.               of 2014
(Against the Order dated 11.12.2013 in Civil Appeal No. 10972 of 2013 (arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 15436 of 2009) passed by this Hon'ble Court: Sought to be Reviewed)
Dr. Shekhar Seshadri & Others   . . .Petitioners
Suresh Kumar Koushal & Others            . .Respondents

. . . This Hon'ble Court, by the impugned judgment, set aside the judgment of the High Court and held that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was constitutional and that it applied to acts, irrespective of age or consent of the parties involved. »

This Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is directly inherited from the old British colonial penal code. India has not yet been able to get rid of her colonial heritage and past. We have here a typical post colonial situation.

The consequences are drastic. Nikhil is in locked up detention in total isolation in a sanatorium where he gets minimal care. His family is victimized and ostracized in the city to the point of them having to leave, though this reveals the total lack of courage of the parents, since the daughter supported by her fiancé decides to stay and look for a lawyer and fight. Nigel as Nikhil’s partner is forced to go through a test, which is in a way perfectly sane and he should have decided to do it himself, and he finds out he is healthy. After the first difficult situation between the two men, Nigel becomes supportive to the end.

It is difficult to find a lawyer and there is no real legal attack possible if there is no popular support. So they start a public campaign. In that situation Nigel’s home will be raided and looted. But they win the battle. Nikhil decides not to fight against his boss who does not want to reinstate him in his job and he develops a musical career for a couple of years.

Then the film shows the slow ending of this life. It is in this part that the film brings the mother first to apologizing for her violent declaration. It will take a lot more time for the father who will finally accept for Nikhil to come back home when he has reached the final phase of the disease and is no longer able to have a normal activity. Nikhil will thus die a deeply emotional death in the arms of Nigel who would have gone to sleep curled up around him waiting for that magic moment when the sun comes up at daybreak, this moment becoming the metaphor of Nikhil’s death.

The film is absolutely beautiful and deeply emotional. It was shot in 2005 and it has not been able to prevent the erring position and ruling of India’s Supreme Court in 2014 as quoted above. We have to keep in mind India is assuming its colonial heritage instead of questioning it and is now far behind all western countries, or nearly, and all democracies respectful of their own democratic order that recognize the right to any adult to have and practice any sexual orientation they want as long as it does not endanger the integrity and life of their partners, with of course the special case of minors who are not supposed to have sexual intercourse with adults of any type up to a certain age set by the law. 


Friday, June 20, 2014


Post Traumatic Colonial Disorder in a globalized world


What makes that film special?

The four stories in themselves are rather simple at world level if we look at them from the middle class bland and neutered point of view.

Afia is a woman web designer who wants to make a child from a sperm donation  but cannot accept the idea that the donor has to remain unidentified otherwise it no longer is a donation. And her breaking the rules is in fact introducing suffering – and we mean the concept “dukkha” – in the donor that she rejects just as easily as she tears up his phone number. She is not a liberated woman, she is a completely self-centered and in many ways egotistic woman. She is not going to change the world.

Megha ran away when the crisis hit Kashmir some years ago and she comes back for a visit and finds out that the people who stayed behind and were her friends or her family’s friends are in fact in many ways resenting her coming back with her “veil-less and sexually unreserved evolution” that is provocative to the people who stayed behind and tried to build up a compromise between themselves and the Indian authorities, even if it meant regular humiliation. To go away from a crisis is never solving the crisis and is absolutely not justified for those who stayed behind and tried to find a solution.

Abhimanyu is one story that really touches some universal problem, the case of a pedophile stepfather who takes advantage of his stepson every single time his wife, and his stepson’s mother goes away for a couple of days on business (which makes that family, and that woman, upper middle class). In fact it shows the stepson comes to the idea it is in a way normal and he lives with it and tries to keep the fact to himself because somewhere he knows it is not normal and he cannot tell. One day though, his stepfather on his deathbed, or close to his death, he finds the courage to tell one woman friend of his and then to go with her to his mother’s for a last visit to his stepfather whom they find dead and already incinerated. The son then has the courage to tell the mother but she no longer is HIS mother. She is THE mother, an anonymous distant and totally locked up woman who does not hear her own son and his suffering. So there is no other way but to go away and maybe think THE mother might become HIS mother again one day and accept what he has told her.

Omar, the last story, is universal for sure but it is definitely both sad and somewhere revealing. The main character is some gay film director who one day just falls in the trap of some hustler who pretends to be looking for a proposal in the film industry. The film director is thus manipulated into having some pre-sexual contact in his car when a cop comes and manages to blackmail the film director out of 100,000 rupees and since some is missing he takes Omar, the hustler into custody. But some time later the film director finds the hustler doing what he is best at doing, hustling on the street. The film director confronts him and that is all. It reveals a gay man in India has to be prudent because the hustlers are doing a job that is dangerous and that these hustlers have to have some agreement with the cops to be able to practice without too much trouble and the only way is to fool some rich customers.

What does this film show about modern India? First we only see the middle class, and even some upper middle class. Don’t expect to have even one glimpse into the fate of the Dalits. Second we find out this society is evolving very fast in standards and in means and that pretty soon it may be, at least in its middle class, comparable to the West, though the poorest layers of the Indian society are hardly moving up, particularly the Dalits, though some are getting some improvement because the Christian churches and the Buddhists have done a lot to promote them in education, but that is not shown in the film. Third this Indian society is in a post-colonial situation and people are the victims of a Post Traumatic Colonial Disorder that finds its way out in various fields and domains but particularly in the ability to establish sane and balanced relations with other people. This gives a completely different approach.

Afia cannot accept to have an equal relation with a man because she inherits from a very old situation that has always put women down and she cannot conceived her freedom as a woman with a man, but only by dominating and frustrating the man she encounters along her personal and exclusive path. Megha lives exactly the same problem but this time in a Moslem context and she cannot understand and accept that religion is part of her Kashmiri friends, because she has run away from Kashmir and she has abandoned that religion and its veils and other restrictions. Abhimanyu first and his mother second cannot face the fact that there used to be a time when pedophile stepfathers were the protected or at least tolerated norm and that today things have to change. Finally Omar is a typical exploiter of such a postcolonial situation in order to be able to do what he wants, have gay sex and make a living out of it without a pimp, and yet he deals with the cops as if they were his pimps.

Some of these postcolonial situations are in fact a lot more universal than we may think and they are quite common still in western countries, and quite worse in some countries that have not yet been able to face their postcolonial and post traumatic situation. Then the film becomes a signpost for what has to be done in all countries and in the world to finally enable women, Moslems (or any religious or cultural minority), children and gays (or any sexual minority) to be free and not exploited by anyone. Otherwise these people who fall in the traps of exploitation will be the victims of more or less severe PTSD.

A film to watch and try to meditate upon.


Thursday, June 19, 2014


The strength and power of the mind are missing here


The language is simple, the tempo is fluent, the music is cool and soft. This is liquid poetry that seeps down into our minds as if it were the language of some angelic disincarnated lover with whom anyone can have an adventure, a venture or even an affair because this angel is beyond any sexual orientation. And yet that poetry has some surprising sides.

The poet’s objective is to make love to (the poet’s male side) or with (the poet’s female side) the Milky Way and the Moon. The Sun is a bIg fiery father figure that looks at you, little human non-entity, having intercourse with the Moon, the triple goddess, Demeter, the thrice-crowned goddess (in Shakespeare’s words), Artémis or Diana the goddess of life and life-giving, Selene the goddess of the moon and the night, Hecate the goddess queen of the underworld, hell, the Queen-dom of the dead. I must admit it could be a very powerful love scene but you, little human being, you would be the toy of these three women, and they might even break you or tear you apart and you way end up in pretty bad shape. But apparently the poet accepts that fate as if it were whey.

The small human being who says I, me, myself and I, in the poems, at times disguised under a conventional you, is maybe a man but he wants to let the whole cosmos flow into him. He is the receiving vessel, the basin or even the tub into which the whole universe can run and then overflow. As such he is somewhere a woman having an affair with the moon repeatedly said to be a woman, a triple woman, and systematically associated with death. The poet is a morbid and death-fascinated feminine male. And that cult of the moon and the night in these poems is definitely death oriented though the sexual orientation of it is at least imprecise.

The next surprise is the strange call for the oldest ancestors and the great great grandchildren of the I who speaks, and his desire to create or cultivate perfect and absolute continuity from the most distant past to the most distant future. This is impossible since everything is ever changing, as the poet should know since he quotes the Buddha. But he does not seem to dominate or control the basic concepts of it.

The next surprise is the call against corporations in a poetry that is NOT agit(ation)-prop(aganda). The call against the military-industrial-petroleum complex is made weak by the style and the tone that are not Brechtian, or anything close to HOWL by Allan Ginsberg. A weak squeaking mouse has little impact under the crushing paw of an elephant. What’s more it is in complete contradiction with the reference to Krishna, Buddha, the Eightfold Path of Enlightenment, etc… This is here a call to some power-game against the powerful politicians and industrialists, but the references are discarding this power game, are calling for a mental regeneration and I do not find it in this call here in these poems.

Then the call for a change is warped by the fact it attacks the Supreme Court in the supremely hypocritical Gore un-election case, or the hypocritical lies of warmonger Bush, a bush that is not burning by itself but that is burning everyone that is not standing at attention or crawling in the dust, though without such forceful images. It is meek. His change needs a power struggle and it cannot be peaceful, serene and easy-going if it is not seen as having to occur first in our own individual personal minds.

This comes from the lack of a deeper penetration of the mental intellectual and spiritual dimension of man. The reference to Buddha is touristic, like that to Jesus or Gandhi. The modern world of the Internet enables anyone to refer to anything without any deeper knowledge and experience of whet they are talking of and about.

Man – and here the poet – becomes a sign post on the Milky Way. But have you ever seen a sign post following the way it indicates, be it a Milky Way or any other Gold Way of the yellow brick road?


Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Dexter has replaced his criminal balls with creamy doughnuts


The author, Jeff LindSay, sold his character to television where Dexter became the main hero of a series that lasted seven seasons at the end of which he officially died, but did he really die or just disappear? No one will ever know, except the audience if a new season appears one day.

It depends a lot on what is going to happen to Dexter in the mean time as a book character. And the seventh book has just been released, or has at least finally reached my desk in my distant mountains. The title may mean he is going to be finished, our Dexter, and this volume is the last one. Or it may mean something more down to earth as we are going to see.

Jeff Lindsay had already parted with the time line and events or circumstances of the TV series in the last volumes of his book series, and that was good though confusing since we had two Dexters. Now the TV Dexter is dead Jeff Lindsay can recapture his character and go back to his own business. But this volume has to settle accounts with TV.

Jeff Lindsay cannot obviously blow up the TV network that exploited his character to death (he made quite a pile of green backs from the adventure), but he can bring a TV series in his book and settle accounts with television in his book. Television and the series in the book are hijacking Dexter from his standard life and his not so standard pastime and turn Dexter into a counselor to some TV star, Robert Chase, chase me if you can, and his sister into an assistant to the second TV star, Jackie Forrest, and don’t get lost in that forest with two r’s.

Jackie Forrest is stalked by some criminal mind who becomes a serial killer to force Jackie Forrest to see him with her own eyes and to accept to acknowledge his existence by becoming his object, his thing, though he does not know exactly what he wants from her, except absolute servitude and submission. Dexter then accepts to look after her, be her protective blanket, and sure enough he gets rid of the menace. But another appears from inside the shooting perimeter, nothing to do with guns and everything to do with cameras.

But things are vicious and I won’t say more about that side of the book, except that Jeff Lindsay eliminates the stars with a snuffer one after the other. But that is not enough as for vengeance. So he manages to depict the female star as being vain, superficial, self centered, obsessed with sex and of course she traps Dexter and he falls, and he adds so many other qualities nurtured in her by her stardom that she becomes a monster, and he piles up the incredibly non-ecological and uneconomical conditions that surround her. He manages to add some pedophilia in the star system, a man liking little girls, and everyone is blind to it because he is a star and has a high TVQ, he is popular and he attracts a big audience. At the same time the pedophile is a daily predator on all girls around and he has the bad taste and the silly idea to capture Dexter’s own stepdaughter. Poor darling man, you’re dead, that’s for sure, when Dexter catches you. I hope you can swim, or at least your body parts can.

Dexter appears here as having lost his main concentration and objective and he becomes the play toy of a female star who promises to give him a career, at least for the time of the shooting with an under-five part, and he is vain enough to dream he was going to have a career in Hollywood and why not an Oscar. Ready to abandon everything and everyone to follow the call of the stars, at least till the kidnapping of his stepdaughter calls him back to reality, the dusty and muddy reality of Miami.

If you want to know whether Dexter is dead or finished or terminated at the end of this volume, or whether there will be another volume soon, you will have to read the book. In spite of the false tracks on which Jeff Lindsay will set you, you can surmise or conjecture the truth rather fast, at least if you have some practice in thriller-reading. I find the book at times slightly too slow, maybe even verbose, when Dexter loses himself in his newly found human sentiments for the female star that tries to illuminate his vanity and capture his attention.

But, well, it is funny in a way. I just hope there will be another volume and it will be slightly more dynamic. The final cut is of course the final “cut” order he gets from the director or show-runner or whoever that man may be – and HE might be a woman seeing how much vodka HE drinks – at the end of the last take of the last scene of his under-five part, and the book opens with that last cut. But that last cut will cut Dexter to the bone for sure and that will be a good thing because he is really made dumb and besotted by the skin, flesh and various body part of a female star-object, a perambulating inflatable doll in a way, inflated by whatever TVQ the audience projects into the outside skin of that evanescent being.


Sunday, June 08, 2014


Very spiritual but not all canonical


The book can be seen at multiple levels, and as such it is essential. Let’s look at a few of them.

1- It presents a vast though loose history of Buddhism in India, Sri Lanka and South East Asia. The main dates are given though the whole thing is shown as some natural growth and decline. What is surprising is the movement to the North through Tibet and from there to China and the rest of Asia as Mahayana Buddhism, the Great Vehicle, that named the other older canonical tradition Hanayana, the Lesser Vehicle. This is attributed to a split between strict Buddhism, the Doctrine of the Elders or Theravada Buddhism, and some looser Buddhism that moved North into Continental China. It even reduces this difference to the ruling of the Buddhist monastic order, the Sangha.

That does not explain the particular brand of Tibetan Buddhism and other differences, including the belief in transmigration or reincarnation so dear to the Tibetans.

The split is a lot more complicated because Theravada Buddhism is based on some central concepts like anicca-dukkha-anatta – and this here book only quotes two, dukkha seen as dissatisfaction and anicca seen as the transitory nature of things. We understand that the third one, anatta or non-self for anything and/or non-soul for human beings, is not mentioned because it is both the negation of any permanent or stable self for man and the negation of the existence of any divine part in man. An individual is non-permanent, in constant change, hence in constant chase after satisfaction (sukha) that turns into dissatisfaction (dukkha) as soon as satisfaction is reached, and then the chase for satisfaction starts all over again. An individual cannot have a “self” in such conditions, what’s more any divine part in him/her, a soul in other terms, something that can transmigrate from one person to another via death and rebirth. If this concept were kept here, obviously transmigration or reincarnation would be impossible. What’s more God does not exist in Theravada Buddhism, and Mahayana Buddhism needs that concept of God, if not gods, the multiple gods of an older form of Brahmanism.

But that does not explain the extreme form of Tibetan Buddhism with the reincarnation of the original Buddha in the Dalai Lama, knowing that the Buddha himself is asserted as the reincarnation of older Buddhas. Tibetan Buddhism states a beginning that Theravada Buddhism does not state. And what’s more with the Tibetan Book of the Dead, it goes a lot farther in that divine line of a vision of the world that is in deep contradiction with canonical Buddhism.

2- The book also states, on the basis of similarities between these tales and tales in the Old Testament and Aesop’s fables that they all had a common Indo-European source. All that is fairly mixed up since the Old Testament is in Hebrew from the Israeli Semite culture. Aesop is Indo-European for one but the extension the book does to Chaucer, La Fontaine and other western Indo-European writers is totally anachronistic.

In fact we have to go deeper and see that Indo-European languages (and cultures) are only a cousin branch to Indo-Aryan languages (and cultures), and that the common ancestor, and there is one, is in fact in the tradition that established itself on the Iranian plateau after the last migration out of Africa somewhere around 35,000 years ago, maybe a little bit before, and whose surviving dead language of the period of the two migrations, one to the west and one to the east, is Sumerian in Mesopotamia. The direct descendant of this common source is probably Farsi. The Indo-European migration only came down west around 10,000 years BCE, maybe slightly later, after the Ice Age, when water is starting to rise. The Indo-Aryan migration came down east at the same time or maybe slightly earlier.

The Indo-European tradition meets with two other traditions in Mesopotamia and beyond. The Turkic tradition they will push aside to go through both Anatolia and the Caucasus to go farther into Europe where they will never represent more than 20-25% of the European population at the time and till today in European DNA. The remaining 75-80% were and thus still are of Turkic origin and tradition.

This Indo-European descending migration mixes in Mesopotamia and the Levant with various Semitic traditions, both Jewish or Arabic. The best example is the Sumerian writing system invented by the Sumerians for the Sumerian language and merchants and yet often called Akkadian because in Mesopotamia most of the scribes were Akkadians and the Akkadians adopted that writing system of a synthetic-analytic language for the Semitic Akkadian.

If there is a connection between these Jakata tales and the Old Testament or old Greek literature it has to be found either in an older and common form of that Iranian Plateau tradition, though that would not be a genetic source for Semitic culture that is older and then it could only be some borrowing, or in the transmission or recuperation or heritage of older cultural traditions from pagan societies that developed before Indo-European or Indo-Aryan cultures, and eventually back to Africa from where everything has had to come.

3- This book is an art book and as such a beautiful one in the pictures of the numerous paintings given as illustrations of the ten last Jakata tales.

We have to note the order of these ten Jakata tales is the order in the bot of Wat Suwannaram, Thonburi in Thailand. It is not the canonical order of the Pali Text Society’s full translation.

We have to note too that the book only contains the “stories” of these Jakata tales, but none of the commentaries or conclusions going along with all the tales in the canonical version.

The paintings are representing or retelling the tales but not necessarily scene by scene in the telling chronology. I would even say all the episodes of a Jakata are in one painting, or set of paintings but in an order that has little to do with linear right to left or left to right horizontal or linear top to bottom or bottom to top vertical orders. It is a lot more complicated and contains circular patterns and hierarchical organizations both for hierarchically superior people or chronologically later elements, the end dominating the tale itself.

This is typical of samsara or samsaric thinking. The value, the story, the moral, or any other word you may want, emerges from a complete capture of the multiple representation that contains no real organized cause and effect, now and then, here and there logic, though the bodhisatta, the reborn being aspiring to become Buddha or enlightened is often represented as such though in the tale he is unknown to be a bodhisatta by the people around him. The point of view of the story-teller seems to take over the paintings and to inject some knowledge that is anachronistic for the people in the tale though totally ideologically oriented towards the people beholding the paintings. These paintings are Buddhist in their lay out itself though with an intentional orientation towards the audience.

4- It is difficult to follow the stories and analyze them as a whole because they are translated and I am afraid the Pali concepts or words for the Buddhist concepts are not properly rendered. We have the story but told in a causal language as a causal chain of events that should not even be a chain of events but the emergence of successive events that are only emerging though they could have not emerged from a development reached just before.

The last Jakata is typical.

Vessantara is born as a bodhisatta endowed with the desire to give to other people, no matter what.

For a long time he will give alms and money to those who need some, but he needs to always give more and he will thus come to the point that he will give to please people, hence he will give what people want because it pleases them. When he reached this point he will necessarily accept to give the white elephant that brings wealth and prosperity to his own people whose king or crown prince he is. And all these people will sink into dukkha and dissatisfaction. A real accumulation of dukkha, thirst, hunger, famine. There emerges anger and there emerges the false solution: to exile the “generous giver,” his wife and his two children.

Then they emerge into a new territory: exile. The proof that the story is not causal is in the fact that he will go on giving. First the four horses of their chariot to four unknown Brahmins. Then the chariot itself when a fifth Brahmin comes up and asks for it.

In this predicament he invents a new way to justify his giving: he gives to liberate himself of his possessions to enable himself to get on the road to nibbana – called here omniscience. It is not causal. The accumulation of acts of giving sees the emergence of deprivation and this deprivation when accumulating sees the emergence of a totally fake new objective: to liberate oneself of one’s possessions no matter whether it creates dissatisfaction or not around oneself, because the objective is just plain giving. This is in fact nothing but “tanha” or excessive attachment. The Buddha condemned that type of excessive attachment to supramundane entities, just as bad as excessive attachment to any other positive or negative fact or behavior. As such this story shows in the extreme advancement of that excessive attachment that we have to react against “tanha,” the worst curse that can befall a man or a woman.

When we know that in Pali there is no verb for “have” or “give” we understand that possessing anything is unthinkable and any object is entrusted to our safe keeping in order for us to entrust it to someone else. Transient attribution of any possession or good to a transient possessor who must attribute it to any other transient possessor.

This curse leads out bodhisatta to becoming an ascetic since he ends up possessing nothing, imposing this fate onto his wife and his children. The wife agrees, but what about the children?

But then the tale becomes vicious. He gives away what he has no right to give away because there is no possession of this or these “objects.” He gives away his own children for them to become slaves and his own wife for her to become the woman of an old Brahmin in spite of and against her own vow to be absolutely sexlessly pure. In other words she will become a concubine or a prostitute.

And it is only then that not anything causal but a peripeteia emerges: The king of Sivi – their original country – recognizes the children and liberates them, and the old Brahmin was in fact a god under disguise and the submissive wife  is saved from repetitive rape. The king of Sivi then will look for Vessantara, find him and bring him back reinstating the four into what the course of events that had let emerge wave after wave after wave of surfing events, had taken them away from.

Life is an ocean of millions of waves and each one precedes in its emergence the emergence of the next one without causing it just as it had followed the previous one without being caused in any way.

Samsara is this ocean of paticcasamuppada, dependent origination.

A very fascinating book that nevertheless misses the very point contained in its original language, Pali, translated here into English. It never identifies that excessive attachment to giving as what it is: “tanha,” meaning an absolute blocking element on the path to enlightenment. Free yourself of this tanha to giving and you might get on the eightfold path to nibbana. There is no other way.

What is more, the tales around or behind the paintings, hence the stories, might have been in Thai or Mon and not Pali, two languages from another family. Though Pali had no writing system and could be written with the local writing system, for instance that of Ram Khamhaeng found on the eponymous inscription in Sukhothai, capital of the Sukhothai Empire. Pali is an Indo-Aryan language whereas Thai or Mon are not and are to be linked to the vast Tibetan-Burmese or Khmer-Burmese families and beyond the isolating languages of Asia. That might have had some impact on the reception of the stories and their illustrations. A story is in the eyes of the beholder or the ears of the faithful.


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