Thursday, September 11, 2008

the myths of our times






Its a strange old world. This is a chitenje (sarong wrap) worn by a woman in a village on the shores of Lake Malawi.

I wasn't sure whether to post this. I put it on facebook, hardly expecting the furore of comments it provoked.

We had a beautiful afternoon with a group of women who are part of a radio listeners club, a community radio project that gives listeners clubs their own recorders so that they can record inserts on the issues that affect them. They send the tapes to the local station and then they get aired - its a lovely, elegant design for community involvement - mostly in public health matters.

The photo was an afterthought - as we were leaving I noticed what she was wearing and asked if I might take a pic. She didn't really see what all the fuss was about - F the photoman was very excited by the image. You often see representations of Saddam, Osama, the towers, if you travel around Africa. On wall paintings, on cheap shirts made in China or India. These images have become like comic books or campfire stories to explain mysterious forces of the universe. Like the angry gods of old, they've grown out of their contexts like billowing dust clouds. Signifiers run wild and then tamed again.

I've decided that its safe to post it. Even though most of my dear loyal readers will have already seen it on facebook.

Safe, as in - I don't think Mrs Phiri (not her real name but common as Smith or Jones in Malawi) will get found out and arrested for running a terror outfit. Even though they do have their own radio.

And while we're talking about conspiracies... (er, we were though, weren't we?)
What are the chances we could arrange for the Hardon machine, I mean, sorry Hadron machine, to create a black hole that could devour Sarah Palin.

Ho hum.

Here in Jozi, where the air is hot and still, we pray for peace.

7 comments:

Janelle said...

wow babes...quite an image. classic africa. and LOVED your previous post too..so bloody funny!!!! you crazy gal! i laughed so much..so? you coming to join me and the kids in zanzibar? the beach is very sweet, very white and very crescent moon shaped...XX janelle

Janelle said...

oh and whats all that INFP stuff??? i wanna know what i am too!
XX

Reya Mellicker said...

I think that would be an excellent use of the new collider! I wonder if we have to make an appointment.

Beautiful pics. Thanks for posting them.

Controversy? How strange!

Deb said...

And here in Deerfield, where the air is hot and still, we pray for peace.

Adrianne said...

I first discovered your blog through the Gold Puppy and then got directed to it a couple times through the Black Box. I really enjoy your writing.

I spent 9/11 wandering shell-shocked around the streets of Washington, D.C., and every detail of that day is permanently seared on my brain. I thefore was intrigued by the wall art and clothing phenomenon in Africa, and I loved your analysis: "These images have become like comic books or campfire stories to explain mysterious forces of the universe. Like the angry gods of old, they've grown out of their contexts like billowing dust clouds. Signifiers run wild and then tamed again." An event that was of such immediate personal significance to me is someone else's campfire story! Wow! What a difference perspective makes!

As for the last part of your post, I share your view that Sarah Palin getting sucked into a black hole would be a welcome development. It is so interesting how people around the world can see so clearly that electing the McCain/Palin ticket would be a really bad move, yet roughly half of the American electorate has been sucked into the Republican propaganda machine (talk about black holes!) and seems prepared to vote for these bullying clowns! Which again proves that perspective counts for so much.

Thank you for a very thought-provoking post.

tam said...

Janelle! Alas, though that beach beckons, the timings not gonna work.

Reya - it wasn't controversy so much as lots of fascination - as Val said, many worlds colliding in one image.

Deb - thanks for visiting again!

Adrianne - welcome and thanks for the comments. My remarks about campfire stories and myths are not intended to belittle the enormous impact the event had on so many thousands - including many of us here. More than anything else, 911 turned us into a global village, for all the divisiveness of what came after. Thanks for visiting!

Adrianne said...

I did not find the characterization belittling. Rather, I found the difference in perspective fascinating.