Monday, November 1, 2010

Festivals of the Dead

Saturday was the first time I cooked in the beautiful red Tagine that Shaun gave me. I made a delicious, slow cooked, Moroccan, spicy pumpkin and lentil concoction served with Moghrabieh couscous, and salad leaves tossed in lime juice & olive oil. Yesterday, I took a long, slow walk in the rain to Camberwell Junction. The remainder of the day I spent reading more of J.G. Ballard's The Atrocity Exhibition given to me by a young student at Melbourne Uni last week and I started another small painting. Yesterday afternoon children in ghoulish costumes were walking up and down my street in the pouring rain yelling out Boo! and 'trick or treat' for All Hallows Eve. I love the way that pagan rituals get all mixed up with religious ones - today, of course, is All Hallows = 'holy' or All Saints Day on the Catholic calendar. Christian or pagan, they're all celebrating the dead. However, although Catholics emphasise the beatific vision of the saints body in heaven, pagans focus primarily on the deteriorating body, still earthbound and the usual horrors associated with it - skeletal faces, deep sunken eyes, torn clothing, white faces, skin wrinkled and thin slowing dripping off emaciated bodies. I think I prefer the latter, which is closer to the truth. Was it Hegel who said we must enter into a dialogue with death? Whoever it was, I think it's a necessary thing to do. But I'm wondering if it's really what the children are doing, or are they simply into the whole idea of dress-ups, celebration and the possibility of being given sweets?

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