January 22, 2013

Django Must be Unchained


A raw mass of brute masculine power, hardly conscious of itself, Django emerges on the snow-laden political landscape of early civil rights America. Slaves being freed does not seem unthinkable, but kind of a scandalous idea. An odd iconoclast, a German – a bountyhunter, who trades cash for flesh, much like slavetraders, appears on the scene. He takes to slave-freeing as a hobby, and takes to gun-craftsman brute, Django. You are led into the world of sensational masculinity. Whiplash-marks  crisscross Django’s muscular back. He dips into an icy stream, cradled in the expanse of snow. He shoots effortlessly. He doesn’t understand complicated words, but takes to the raw logic of power. The combine with the German works for him, as he has found an aid towards his mission to recuperate that which completes him. His very opposite.  A fragile, doe-eyed feminine complement. Each is defined in a gender-euphoria. Both are conceptualized and maneuvered deftly by the synoptic consciousness of the canny German bountyhunter. The insider, who rejects and wrecks from within, a bit like Rhett Butler of the same historical canvas of slave-America. He knows how to rein Django in. Use power within infrastructure of knowledge. For Django, sovereignty is pure jouissance – the random gunshot, a dip in the cold waters.

The slave is the abject subaltern that history winces and gulps some whisky, while telling us about. An odd wound. America digs this wound up, as a beautiful ruin today. Shorn of the pricks of whiplashes and the agonies of ball-snips and naked-beatings. The animal that was once eaten is now looked upon with a gasp, from behind a bush in the wilderness, of course, through a wondrous photographic lens. The wild, beautiful, raw, organic being - un-schooled in our guilty civilized ways – thank god for it. The wild black man charges forth into open lands on a cinematized horse – the new American symbol of freedom, America of the black sovereign. The abjectness is retouched with our own desire for sovereignty. That which we gently called freedom. The abject, though, looks around for greater abjectness  - like the powerful butler of the Mississippi estate. A middleman, petty sovereign we might call him. But is this the real script of the afterlife of emancipation, I wonder if Tarantino is asking. The singularity and vanity of freedom that thrives on the necessary embedding of those who continue to occupy your humiliating past. Freedom was never really about being free.

January 12, 2013

Chase


Who were they?
In the fast maneuver
of a narrow lane
and courtyard
and basketball court
Cinema?
With their bobbing heads
And leather jackets
They grouped and dispersed
Chatting possibly
Looking cautious outward
Grouping and regrouping
Under an afternoon shadow.
In the dream, all was liquid
Sweater flowing into alley
Flowing into cigarette
Into breath
Into blood
Into bra.
I cut across the chase
Quite nicely,
burrowing through a classroom,
draped in a potbellied sari
and pigtail.
I had pigtails
And a pizza box
And sweaty palms
Eating newspaper
Hitting at phone-buttons.
They wouldn’t dial.
Because I couldn’t reach the receiver
Not tall enough.
Was it ringing.
They had regrouped
under a blot of twilight
in their yellow eyes
and bellbottoms.
They were gone now.
Wiped clean by a potbellied sari.