17 February 2015

Shrove Tuesday, Ottana, Sardinia

The pre-Lenten Carnevale of Ottana near Nuoro in Italy's Sardinia dates to the Pagan era, eluding all conclusive historical explanation and appearing to have changed little; the costumed Mamuthones have been speculatively likened to Dionysian cults but are believed to descend from a pre-Christian harvest ritual. This camera angle foregrounds the two species connected to a cord, one brandishing a whip, defying Bataille's "There is nothing in animal life that introduces the relation of the master to the one he commands" in Theory of Religion, which springs from a quotation that begins Kojève's lectures on Hegel for Parisians: "The very being of man, the self-conscious being, therefore implies and presupposes Desire. Consequently, the known reality can be formed and maintained only wheitin a biological reality, an animal life. But, if animal Desire is the necessary condition of self-consciousness, it is not the sufficient condition. By itself, the Desire constitutes only the Sentiment of self." Kojève's lectures move to the comparison of the master/ slave dialectic in the Christian world, in which the Lamb of God undergoes the human sacrifice of Lent, where 'the Christian Slave can affirm his equality with the Master only by accepting the existence of an "other world" and a transcendent God... the pagan State recognized only Masters as citizens.' Bataille gathers from that 'we must confine ourselves to regard animality, from the outside, in light of an absence of transcendence. Unavoidably, in our eyes, the animal is in the world like water in water.' Bataille quoting Ecce Homo "Have you understood? Dionysus facing the Crucified" evokes the ritual.. "Goethe.. served Nietzsche as the model of that Paganism he opposed to Christianity: here was the 'new barbarian' - the overman with the 'Dionysian faith.'"

A few years ago a man on the vantage point of the raised walkway above the elephants at the DC zoo held fort to his wife a reductive view of animal consciousness forcing me to move away from him quickly to dissipate my anger. As Kundera says the common man is closer to an animal than Goethe, the domesticated animal that performs at a circus is more akin to the standard shorthand of Goethe or Hegel than the animal that, somewhere in the wilderness, develops a consciousness as sublimely alien to mine as Goethe is alien to it. Ergo I am allied against Hegel and Bataille's contrivance of the conscious and dialectical human seperated from perceived animal 'sentiment,' in agreement with Frank O'Hara who begins with ("Animals")

Have you forgotten what we were like then
when we were still first rate

the whole pasture looked like our meal
we didn't need speedometers

 ascending to ("Heroic Sculpture") 'We join the animals/ not when we fuck/ or shit/ not when a tear falls// but when/ staring into light/ we think'

Wifredo Lam, The Third World, 1965

1 comment:

Ian Keenan said...

I noticed it's those in the human mask brandishing the whip, which may align this ritual to Bataille's perceptions after all as a human rite of provincial domestication but they're all still wearing those hides.