". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

*Treme* 8th Ep -- "All On A Mardi Gras Day"

The episode's Mardi Gras in the streets aspect provoked an unexpected sense of flatness – or -- well, it wasn't our Mardi Gras 2006, was it?  Still, it seemed that the sheer bizarreness of what you see -- flickering now here, now not here, now over there! -- was missing. The closest we got to that wasn't in the street at all, but at the party with Tom McDermott as the Horse's Head – the letter we received from him, "To My Fellow Horses" immediately after we'd watched the episode, expressed the indescribable absurd fun that Mardi Gras can be.

Davis's contribution was fundamental. He embodied the force of Mardi Gras's delight and joy, who on this day was perfect wherever he went, because he is Mardi Gras 24/7*.

Davis guided Annie into her personally perfect Mardi Gras. Annie is at the crossroads of her lifepath: shall she stay with Sonny or should she go? Wherther or not Sonny kills her as so many fear, if she stays with Sonny, she will be destroyed by the damming of her talent. This is why Annie found Eleggua-Eshu, i.e. Davis, on Mardi Gras. This is the time of her choice; he showed her the choice that isn't Sonny, that is without Sonny, can be, well, sunny. Horses play piano! A horse who Annie knows, a horse that is willing to 'carry' Annie, with or without a mask.

Including the Davis character in the world of Treme was brilliant world building, a creative brilliance has nothing to do with the character base in a true citizen of New Orleans. It's not an easy thing to be a society's energetic, 24/7 King of Absurdity -- the clown in Shakespeare, the Fool in the Tarot, the rule of Mis-rule for feasts and Uncommon Days, Papa Legba in Haitian Vodún, Eleggua-Eshu of Ifá's system of divination -- the opener of the ways among the worlds, owner of the crossroads, the irresistable force of chaos, that turns all upside down and leaves behind a new order. Steve Zahn performs, inhabits Davis, splendidly. Without this figure of boundless energies and enthusiasms, Treme would be unremittingly grim, spiraling, without hope or joy, into unreconstructed, unredeemed destruction and malaise. It would be stuck in the past, like Creighton,  who is still fobbing off the depression he's suffering, his perception of himself as a failed writer, on the failure of the levees.

The tender and the sweet again were provided by Antoine. He gave his Japanese patron a wonderful Mardi Gras Day, not least by telling him the story of his donated trombone's destination, which allowed Koichi Toyoma feel more personally connected to New Orleans, to New Orleans jazz, and the celebration, because the destiny of his gifted 'bone, to Nelson's grandson, respect for family tradition, is the Japanese way also.

Then, the relief Antoine gave LaDonna (at the price of Desiree's generosity -- Newton's Laws in action) **. What a sequence of scenes those were, that led up to her turning to him with her own need, her need to forget, to transcend, to release, for just however long it took, the terror, the grief, the outrage that she's got held so tightly inside her skin. She knew he could, he would, he wanted to. He knows her in some ways as no one else ever will. Over here there was a small discussion as to whether or not LaDonna told Antoine that she'd found her brother. El V. says she didn't. I thought maybe she did, but it could be that she didn't either.

Janette the Fairy Princess, turning old cars into taxis, leading her own parade, that was the magic, as others here have described so beautifully.and so well. The magic that is only New Orleans, unique in the world, all on a Mardi Gras Day.

* You know, Davis pulling the Garden District into "The Battle of New Orleans" had a poignance that no way could the HBO Treme team have envisioned when it was written and shot, when the BP Oil Crime had not yet occured. That's what happens with great writing, great creativity, the true magic in the world.  Which is why Treme had to open with Davis -- Eleggua, the opener of the ways.  O wow!

** I'm beginning to wonder ... Ochun, and the various other glamours of romantic, erotic love, the sweetness of honey, the cleansing of the vortex ... must they always wear the bodies of the female? Antoine .... A woman needs, and Antoine, he gives. Like Ochun, Erzulie (when she's not Dantor!). Etc.


K. said...

"Ochun, and the various other glamors of romantic, erotic love, the sweetness of honey, the cleansing of the vortex ... must they always wear the bodies of the female?"

On television, yes. Aren't the images of honey and a cleansing vortex essentially feminine? What would the male counterparts be?

It's a small thing, but I love Davis's perpetual smile -- he's going to enjoy every minute even if he's pissed because he's in touch with the essential absurdity of existence. And what better place for that than one where you can dress as Jean LaFitte and meet up at random with a pirate princess?

I didn't see Janette's spells as benignly. They represented the limits of magic when confronted by hard realism: The parked car that won't turn into a cab no matter how much she waves her wand. (Sort of like how we expect the oil spill to be stopped.) She's no Blanche DuBois, but there's an echo there.

Which is one of the great things about the show: That scene reminds me of Tennessee Williams; I think of Walker Percy every time Davis visits his parents. NOLA is literature as well as music and food.

Foxessa said...

In the religions its not so.

Men are Oshun, and others.

Also, the orishas and the lwa wear both genders.

Which is the most fascinating among fascinations of the Religions, evolved out of cultures of strict and rigid gender roles.

Love, C.