Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Ash Wednesday gets its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of the faithful as a sign of repentance. The ashes used are gathered after the Palm Crosses from the previous year's Palm Sunday are burned. In the liturgical practice of some churches, the ashes are mixed with the Oil of the Catechumens (one of the sacred oils) used to anoint those about to be baptized, though some churches use ordinary oil. This paste is used by the priest who presides at the service to make the sign of the cross first upon his own forehead and then on each of those present who kneel before him at the altar rail. As he does so, he recites the words: "Remember (O man) that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."
(We don't kneel at the altar rail - there isn't room - those days have long gone.)
The priest or minister says one of the following when applying the ashes: "Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return. (Book of Genesis)
"Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel." (Gospel of St Mark)
"Repent, and hear the good news." (Gospel of St Mark)
So Lent is a time for reflection, repentance and reconciliation for believers. Better rush and get my Lent off to a good start and that means ashes. In my case it also means duct tape because keeping my mouth shut when certain untoward things happen is difficult. And during Lent I try to be a better person!
Friday, February 12, 2010
J'ouvert is the raw heart of Trinidad Carnival. It is a massive, night-time street party and procession which crystallizes in central Port of Spain in the early hours of Lundi Gras, before the daytime carnival parades. Really it is a continuation of the season’s 'fetes', parties, of the night before as tens of thousands of revellers spill out onto the streets from about two o'clock looking for more fun. They dance till dawn and beyond - j'ouvert (pronounced jouvay) is a creole corruption of the French jour ouvert meaning day break or morning and signals the start of the bacchanalia that is Carnival.
J’ouvert is full of symbols of culture and heritage. It is steeped in tradition and playing mud mas involves participants known as Jab Jabs covering themselves from head to toe and others in paint, chocolate, mud, white powder or just about anything that sticks. It is J’ouvert custom that no one is clean and a common sight is a being hugged by a muddy revelers.
This traditional part of Carnival starts at around four in the morning and finishes after sunrise. Calypso and Soca music are the dominating sounds of J’ouvert in Trinidad and the mass of revellers take the street party wining and chipping their way to the Savannah in Port of Spain in the early hours of Lundi Gras, before the daytime carnival parades.
The roots of J’ouvert in Trinidad go back 200 years, with the arrival of French plantation owners. The French never colonised Trinidad, however elements of their culture remained. J’Ouvert evolved from the Canboulay festivals in the 1800’s, which were night time celebrations where the landowners dressed up and imitated the negres jardins (garden slaves). Following emancipation, the newly freed slaves took over Canboulay, now imitating their former masters imitating them.
Canboulay revellers, who carried lighted cane torches, were seen as a potential risk by the authorities and the tension mounted leading to the Canboulay riots. It was eventually banned, and then was re established as J’ouvert. The Canboulay Riots are now acted out in the streets during the week leading up to Carnival.
The spectacular costumes represent characters and events from the history and folklore. Moko Jumbie Bats, Bookmen, Baby dolls, jab molassie, devil mas are all traditional Carnival characters that capture the elements of the past, and continue to tell the story.
So here we go again, when crime will be at an all time low between Monday and Tuesday, when people have spent thousands of dollars on costumes they can't afford, when there will be integration of all the races that make up Trinidad and Tobago without any trouble (by Ash Wednesday they will be ignoring or fighting with one another again!), when non-stop music will fill the air, when visitors from all over the world will come and spend their US dollars and when all the imported non English speaking Chinese labourers who are erecting buildings and bridges will be standing watching, unable to comprehend the two day madness when Trinis let it all hang out!!!!
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
It was a toss up as to whether I was going to write about the accident last Friday morning when I stopped to help a six month pregnant woman driver who had been slammed into by an oncoming too-fast-a-driver or about the Carnival party I went to on Sunday. It turns out that it's going to be neither because I read my friend Jacqui's Creative Journey post where she touched on Van Gogh's ear (or lack of!) and the possibility that because Cezanne had abandoned him, he sliced it off.
I have heard another theory regarding Van Gogh's (I suppose it depends on where ones comes from as to whether one says Van Go or Van Goff!) ear.
There is a belief that the lopping off of the ear had nothing to do with Cezanne or the fact that the artist did it to himself so that he wouldn't hear his critics!
According to German researchers, Van Gogh did not chop off his own ear. It was, they say, Paul Gauguin who committed the dastardly deed.
Outside a brothel no less! The two were known to fight about art. Van Gogh believed in painting what he saw whereas Gauguin believed one should paint from memory. On this occasion states Hans Kauffman of Hamburg University, the two friends were arguing over a prostitute named Rachel. To get rid of Van Gogh, Gauguin waved his weapon in the direction of his friend and next thing - whoops - no left ear. No one knows if it was deliberate or an accident but Gauguin abandoned his friend who retired to bed. Both were questioned. Van Gogh said nothing and the story of self-mutilation is based entirely on Gauguin's version of the events.
'Subsequent behaviour and numerous allusions by the protagonists suggest they were hiding the truth,' Mr Kaufmann told French newspaper Le Figaro.
Apparently, Gauguin so full of remorse, threw his sword into the River Rhone. Neither the sword nor the razor supposedly used by Van Gogh were ever found. Had the truth come out Gauguin would have gone to prison and Van Gogh would have set up the artists' retreat he was planning.
The thinking is that because Gauguin abandoned him, Van Gogh shot himself seven months later, dying at the age of thirty seven. A possibility exists that he may have been suffering from lead poisoning from the paints he used. Whatever the story, in all likelihood, those who own a Van Gogh probably cannot afford to insure it!
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
I told the truth.
It opened a can of worms.
People don't always like to hear the truth.
The person the truth affected didn't like what I had to say.
So now apparently I am a liar. Oh not in those words but other words with a gloss.
Perhaps I should have kept my mouth shut.
But I didn't - after twenty plus years I said what I had to say.
I've lost a friend who was never a friend anyway.
I stand by what I say and I sleep at night..