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The Spirit of the Mask January 14, 2009

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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To the Honored Members and Guests of the Krewe of Baubo and Ame no Uzume:

I was called by the Vikingess to explain why you should costume, and offer this:

When one is called to Carnival, the first question will always be: what do I wear?

For Caslos Casteneda, entry into Don Juan’s hermetic world required a medicine man’s chest of hallucinogenic plants to break down the initiate’s dependence on the mind paths of a trained academic. For entry into the secret heart of Carnival the gateway is not as Odd. You must simply find or make a mask, one that calls you to wear it, that dictates the costume that accompanies it, that leads you to surrender yourself to the spirit of the mask.

It need not even be a mask. My “mask” this year is a tri-corner, Asian-styled hat. I do not have the costume, but I already see the costume. When you can see the character in the object, when you can see yourself in the character, you will have found the one.

Without that mask, you can only be The Tourist. We see them at Carnival common as sparrows, and the camera is their mask. They come, take Carnival’s blurry picture and go home with fabulous hangovers. They see Carnival pass them by, but they are not of Carnival. They are like Lucky Dog vendors, a bit of the backdrop. Perhaps they have fun. I imagine they do. They do not experience Carnival.

If you come do not choose to be The Tourist. Carnival is an occasion to be the spirit you know inside you. The Casteneda analogy was not an idle one; in vodoun, a bit of rum is said to help one enter into the spirit, to open to the loa. So take on your mask, pour a bit of your favorite poison for yourself (spill some for the spirit in the mask) and enter through the gate The Tourists never pass, down the carriageway that opens into the courtyard at the heart of Carnival. It is filled with masks and spirits.

Don’t be The Tourist. Be the Carnival.

Bellona on the Bayou February 26, 2008

Posted by The Typist in 504, Carnival, cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, literature, Mardi Gras, New Orleans, NOLA, postdiluvian, Toulouse Street.
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In reponse to Greg’s suggestion in the comments on “That Bright Moment” that the real connection between postdiluvian New Orleans and the work of Samuel R. Delaney is the dystopic novel Dhalgren, I offer you this Scorpion-like figure I encountered while waiting on Royal Street for the Krewe of St. Anne to come by.

The scorpions in Dhalgren are criminal gangs that decorate themelves in elaborate electronic costumes that project figures of light such as dragons around them. This picture (which I hadn’t originally posted to my Carnival Flikr set) reminded me more than anything else of what I have seen of my mental pictures of those scorpions. I wish that thought had popped into my mind on Mardi Gras so I could have asked this fellow (who sat at the next table at the coffee shop for quite a while and bummed a cigarette) if that was in fact what he intended.