Wednesday, May 26, 2004

It's not too early for the Burning Man fundraisers. You can eat spaghetti and watch spaghetti westerns to help benefit the Kooshpeople. You can also help out the Rope Bondage camp by attending their well known Tie Me Up! event.

A friend of mine attended the latter event last year and took the rope bondage class. She recommends the class for just about anyone and was impressed with some of the feats of The Knotty Boys.

I just received a gift of Kaliman comics from Michael. He and I had talked earlier about the mexican comic book series and he surprised me by bringing a few with him tonight when we met for drinks downtown. (I also got some Panic Bear stickers from him. Now I owe him several beers.)

I grew up on Kaliman who was one of the strongest influences on my early imagination. He appeared as a weekly serialized comic book which ran for years. My aunt Esperanza was a huge fan and as a girl read and collected as many as she could get her hands on. As a child I wondered about this huge stash in her room and she lost no time in passing on to me her obsession.

Kaliman is a mysterious man with profound physical and mental powers. He seems to inhabit a supernatural world. His enemies were culled from every mythological source imaginable. He fought against demons and witches, giants and hydras, voodoo doctors and sorcerers. His own powers seemed to be drawn from Eastern sources; In many ways, he was a Yogi with well developed physical and psychic abilities. (In the image above he is anointed as the seventh son of the goddess Kali)

For me, Kaliman was a man struggling in an ever-changing landscape of nightmares. In one episode I remember well, Kaliman is fighting a sorcerer who can conjure up visions so real that it is easy to believe in them and believing them, of course, is what will kill you. The trick then is to remind yourself that this is merely a vision without substance. For Kaliman, the dream-walker, this is no great feat. But he fears for his companion (or his rescued damsel) who, lacking Kaliman's mental control, will likely be destroyed by mere constructs of their imagination.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

What do I remember from this day? I remember the sound of the painters, diligent alien men, covering up the stains and the cracks that our hoarse shouts had created.

I remember your beautiful crazy eyes, your indecipherable expression.

I remember studying your voice, your controlled whispers. I recall feeling suddenly both warm and cold like when you plunge naked into a hot bath on an icy day, moving your body through air that chills your skin as you compress yourself in anticipation.

Bruegel the Elder, The Battle about Money

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Running in Church

Then, you were a hot-thinking, thin-lidded tinderbox,
Losing your balance meant nothing at all. You would
pour through the aisles in the highest cathedrals,
careening deftly as patriarchs brooded.

You made the long corridors ring, tintinnabular
echoes exploring the pounded cold floor,
forcing the walls to the truth of your progress:
there was a person in this church's core.

Past thick stained-glass colors wafted and swirling
in pooled interludes that swung down from the rafters,
cinnabar wounds threw light on your face, where the
pliant young bones were dissolving in laughter.

-from Eve (1997) by Annie Finch
via a private poetry mailing list I am on.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

This afternoon I was following around the drummers from Loco Bloco as they strolled through the Mission. The destination was 23rd St. where a neighborhood celebration of Cinco de Mayo was in full swing. These are also the days leading up to San Francisco's Carnaval.

Carnaval here is a full parade surrounded by a loose set of smaller celebrations around the city. It still is the form of a spectacle instead of the immersive sense of Carnival. The latter is not just for spectators but is instead a suspended time in which the participants become actors and the rules of social order are disfigured or suspended. Burning Man may be one of Carnivals truer modern descendants.

The grand theorist of the Carnivalesque is Mikhail Bakhtin. In Rabelais and his world he develops the fullest conception of the carnivalesque, the beautiful and the grotesque:

"In fact, carnival does not know footlights, in the sense that it does not acknowledge any distinction between actors and spectators.... Carnival is not a spectacle seen by the people; they live in it, and everyone participates because its very idea embraces all the people. While carnival lasts, there is no other life outside it. During carnival time life is subject only to its laws, that is, the laws of its own freedom. It has a universal spirit; it is a special condition of the entire world, of the world's revival and renewal, in which all take part. Such is the essence of carnival, vividly felt by all its participants.... The tradition of the Saturnalias remained unbroken and alive in the medieval carnival, which expressed this universal renewal"

Saturday, May 01, 2004