Bandiagara - 4 Jan 95
Just rested, rested, ate, shat, rested, slept, spewed, ate, shat, rested slept and more; the week went like that, and I still have the runs and dizziness, but I'm no longer dying as it were. Suzanne is part guardian angel, point, trait ["period, dash"]. God surely sent her to do his healing work and bless our New Year. God is out there, and gives a shit. Lest we forget, lest we forget. I wrote 13 letters to mail tomorrow. Almost everybody gets one. I feel the tides of turmoil turning in my tummy.
Again, a few days of nothing much to speak about. I've been convalescing as you please, and until 6 January had Suzanne by my side all the time --except her Sangha trip (fantastic) and her time at Ginna Dogon with Paul (I'm going to pass by there too some) ["Ginna Dogon," is the Society for the Protection and Preservation of Dogon Heritage and culture --the "MotherHouse of Heritage."] I'm feeling better and better, even to arrange some of my stuff (place for your stuff), and this morning make it to the Mass on the Hill. Very edifying sermon: [Christ's example is as a direction, not a person] POINT not POINTER, and finding the path to the Lord (a la 3 wise men, "savants" from afar). Lots of homeward thoughts, with Suzanne leaving soon, and me too speaking of my leaving in March. The presence of God is overwhelming at times. Surely I have heard my own John the Baptist, the desert voice that spaks to me, calls me to the path, to make straight a way to God. Kept only the "values" parts of ALL the Crossroads papers. An interesting (and thought-provoking, I hope) list of "important and changeable" priorities in a life. Still lots of letters unmailled, Mopti trip unmade, money still onle travel/bache expense level. Gettign better and better and better. Paul told me some history: Dogon-Bozo rivalry, adn I heard about an insult duel from Souliman Coulibaly (a teacher in Dourou [a plateau's edge village 25 kilometers from Bandiagara])
On a long trip together, both Bozo and little brother (dogoni) we thirsty and hungry. In secret and with deception, the Bozo cut from his own leg to feed the Dogon. On seeing the wound, and discovering the secret, the Dogon swore emnity between their descendants for all time. (Dogoni --the Malinke appelation "little brother"; the Dogon word "Dogon" signifies "that shame." The shame of slavery in Malike country at the hands of Al-Hakk Umat Tal and the haughty Peulh slave owners. At high price in struggle and hard work the Dogon left a land of plenty for the Falaise --inhospitably practically-- in order to preserve dignity and freedom of their own ways and people. The direct ancestor of my [host] family was key in the advance of Islam and the enslavement of non-believers.
Bandiagara - 9 Jan 95
Little by little, I make my way back into society. Kalifa visited; we're both in new and strange head spaces, maybe not wholly compatible, but we've planned to land chex lui at the start of February. He's on his way out of a four-year foreign experience and going biking around Southern Europe, then Boston to Seattle. I hope he finds what he eed to, and then keeps on moving. [my last news from Kalifa Sagara aka Tom Gage was from "Cabin #6" in a motel/campground in Anchorage, Alaska, USA] Embodiments of our past freedom and nomadism are as important as the Gimmini falls, and making love in an earthly paradise --important for our (and my) mythologies, important spirit-stories for freeing us up a bit now and then. I too am "Leaving" in my mind, all part of the whole, but it is too soon. I hope to get out of this MIND at least 'til I'm back from visiting Kal. Next. The moments I spend with Moctar and some other kids are VERY precious. Last night, Ibour visited with Jerbi [his serious girlfriend] while I was sitting by low lampllight snoozing with le vieux asleep cradled in my arms and lap. When they approached I was struck by an image of me --what i imagined THEY saw-- that was warming, comforting, assuring. Suzanna says I'll make a fine father, and that give me the screamin' heebie jeebies, and also a lot of confidence. That she think I'm a good person matter in a way that affirms me as me. Next. In trying to REINTEGRATE, I spent the say eating and learning to serve thé with Fatime N'Diaye (facing neighbour) and had a REALLY good time. Teasing, laughing, munching peanuts and drinking, pouring, toasting, spilling tea all in an atemosphere of the most annoying kids (MOST ANNOYING KIDSD AWARD) wrestling, bothering, crying, falling down, hitting, being hit, torturing the cat, all of it flowing together into an impossible, brilliant afternoon. Then I head-carried Sidibe's (a gendarme's wife) onions to her house for her, through the crowded market-day streets: getting noticed again. (STILL, HOWEVER, MY PRINCIPLE FAULT: THE CONSTANT CRAVING OF ATTENTION.) I create some "cultural barrier awareness" excuse, but it's for the attention in the end. And I, sitting here to write, feel as the children's rhyme I've already mostly forgotten:
Pour deux lunes entieres l'ecole a dormi, aux etudes on ne pensaient guere: ce temps est fini. L'ecole on la trouve laide et bien vielle. Chacun se dit: "Mais j'ai grandi," Mais nous sommes encore petits."Chacun se dit: 'Mais j'ai grandi,' Mais nous sommes encore petits." [For two whole moons, the school has slept, of our studies we thought but little: this time is done. The school, we find it ugly and so old. Each one says, 'How I have grown,' but we are still young." Exactly. Each time I "know so much," I see how little I know --a very Socratic posture, perhaps, both in seeing one's own knowledge as slight to nil, and knowing oneself in the process seaoutou gnothoi, the "of self known things". [This is a misremembrance and mistranslation of seautou gnothi, the ancient Greek "Know Yourself," command of the Oracle at Delphi.] I just took the staples out of this notebook to liberate some pages for Amadou. I gave Moussa a whole book like this, and I don't need the whole thing, and school just started, and I'm in a giving stuff (away) mood right now, so he gets some note paper. I'll try and string it together for him. Poor guy has some crotch critters or some groin itches. That sucks --especially to be seen with your hand perpetually in your pants. Yikes.
Ate still more. Day's total: 2 rice and fish meals, banana, orange, bread and TD (PB) [TigaDege, or Peanut Butter], moni, seri [millet and rice creamy cereal-drinks], rice and vinegar, plate o' tomateoes. I won't get fat, but I might get fatTER. Madani expounds with passion on the senseless division of humankind; e.g. financial aid Canadian community college students [in Canada] but not foreign ones. Us/them, ours/not ours, mine/ not mie --fundamentally important human distinctions -- me/ not me. He wouldn't comment on Paul's fitness for a to-Canada Crossroads placement. He explained, "In Africa, we don't generally say, in case the other takes it in a wrong, unintended, or bad way. So I don't really wat to say." Maybe more pumping will yield some feelings/advice/insight. HE'S [Madani] DONE THE PROGRAM FROM THAT ANGLE. HE KNOWS WHAT IT TAKES.
It's getting tough to fall asleep early, with so much promenade of thoughts in my brain. Last night it was 1/2 priority of values (and buying David P. a Loading Dock Speacial b\Breakfast: stak, eggs, homefires, 2 draft beers. And finally NOT BEING SO TIGHT), and 1/2 recalling the Dogon mask history that Paul talked about with Suzanna.
Back in time the women has control of the masks, and decided when to use them, when to dance them, when to speak them. THen one day, the men, jealous and tired of the women's control, STOLE THE MASKS for themselves, and now control their use and currency.It's again a female power being usurped by the male --the original, natural order accords to women the principle position. All our cultures seem to express an intense subjugation of that order, a strong refusal, denial, or negation attempt on natural order. NATURE, CULTURE, HISTORY here it is. [There's a little doodle of a pyramid sitting in the middle ot two concentric circles.] Nature, also might have latent [in it?] a sense of history, and not simply hold the feminine basis of the nurture-culture. [If you can figure this out, please write c/o this site; I suspect it's bunk. It sounds like garbled Nietzscbe (with his patronizing promotion of a Goethean "eternal feminine") with a bit of R. J. Collingwood thrown in (The Idea of History).]
Yesterday was pretty full. Morning snoozing, afternoon post (15 letters), visit [Madani's] fiancee's house (next to Auberge Kansaye --the old guy is somehow related of course) and spent great learning moments with Paul at Ginna Dogon, Andre Timbely: Old Master of dogo so [(Bandiagara) Dogon culture] (made some notes). The eve I ate and had Lipton with Fantime. There is some kafuffle aobut some things between Madani and a driver. I happen to be the crossfire over1,1000 FCFA, but more a kind of status/power play sort of issue. Also Suzanna's sculptor is now a regular visitor with various works to show me. I don't know who would like such a gift as a topless Dogonne with jar in arms --very well done, but to whose taste that I know back in Canada? I, of course, would PREFER TO GO TO HIM INSTEAD OF HIM COMING TO ME. bUT IT'S HIS LIVELIHOOD, SO WHO AM I TO CRITICIZE? A crazy dream:
There's a progress of movement event that end in a young woman, made old by a fat sagging figure and especiually breasts, being the object of a "hand-shrinking" event and serving for the purposes of a sacrifice. Prior to that the dream seemed coherent though I can't recall how. But this, this is something ovther --and her father too was involved in wither the process or even the hand sacrifice. All eerie in a E. A. Poe, "Monkey's Paw" kind of way.[There are doodles of Dogon statues, flags, and motifs at the bottom of the page, next to sample signatures for the name "Jonathan Moktar Tall."
The 13 January was spent asleep or talking with the "young" teacher friend of Madani, Ibrahim Cisse, transferred to De (north of Sangha). Also, we marvelled at the presence of the National Minister of Defense adn 4th from the top (Republic President, PM., Assembly President, Madani's uncle). A half-dozen Dogon commando paramilitaries, same of soldiers, and 3 vans of civilians. Quite an impressive entourage. Cisse is a great talker and an interesting student of affairs. Fro me, lots of thoughts last night AS MY STOMACH TURNS, loud and long. Some of T. and the future days; some of Suzanna making [her son] Carlos his favorite supper; some of an extended visit with Grampy, Nana, and Steve's family (1-2 months in summer, see July or August); fantasy of ice cream and making love with T.. This morning, I visited with Tene, special friend and OTHER potential wife, gave a gift, ate and in general were pleased to see each other. Near constant EATING now, at each opportunity I'll eat, pay some snack or other. Since I feed all the assembled if I snack, it seems as though I'm eating lots. Can't shake the feeling that SOMEBODY ELSE IS ALSO EATING BY FOOD --AFTER INGESTING-- oh the multitude of joys in guests parasitic. MY MIND'S DISTRACTED AND DIFFUSED, MY THOUGHTS ARE MANY MILES AWAY. THEY LIE WITH YOU WHEN YOU'RE ASLEEP, AND KISS YOU WHEN YOU START YOUR DAY. [Paul Simon]. Letter ideas to Shell and parentals. Go to guy.
Yesterday -- much happened, begin point form. Mass. saw Vania and Paul (California); message about putting TRUST in God, not ASKING/DEMANDING help/gifts. Also announced 18-25 January "Christian Unity" prayers for the unity of all Christian people regardless of denomination (currency?). Visited with Tene et al. Danced, ate, laughed, photos in a nice CLOSE way. She's engaged to the Nigerian and seems leased. She's very pretty. But my sweetie is GORGEOUS, not to make GROSS chauvinist comparisons.