Saturday, 27 April 2013

Ripe with Fire

Phenomenal review of Exu and the Quimbanda of Night and Fire by Nicholaj De Mattos Frisvold.
Reposted from the ever incendiary Ryan Valentine and can be read in the original context here:

http://burn-victim.blogspot.ca/2013/04/ripe-as-fuck.html



This book.  Changed everything, most things, perhaps nothing.  Nothing is the most profound thing you can change, I think, change nothing and everything falls right into place.  If Pomba Gira is the fig tree then Exu is the fruit of it, low hanging and ripe as fuck.  In the corner where the candles burn, where the resins sizzle on the charcoals, where my book and my old .45 lay an old pocket watch now lives, threaded on the silver chain upon which old Gede’s grinning skull is hung.  That watch changed everything, perhaps nothing.  An old preacher left his children weeping in a hallway, left them forever, a passage that will go almost entirely unnoticed by the world at large but was marked for those few by an old pocket watch, a pair of boots, a handsome coat and an elegant old fishing pole.  I was the watch, that old pocket watch that somehow weighed the weight of the world.  I hung on that chain like daybreak.
I wrote once that the dead were a crowd of boko that gathered about the child of the west.  It felt that way, untethered as we are from our past, a hundred thousand ghetto-born not knowing the names of even their parents every day.  All you had to do was listen to them and they could teach you the secrets, any secrets, they came from all over and died here without names.  That old watch had a name though; a full name and a secret one and I knew them both.  It was the watch that changed the mandala of sigils we lay out in cascarilla and the fine pink sugar left when you evaporate good rum on the floor beneath the book, the gun, the burning candles and smoking resins. 
The whole of the universe as I understand it is on that floor, you can change my mind, you can make me feel things, you can haunt my dreams but to have moved a single grain of sugar on that floor is to have moved the worlds themselves.  At least, that is what has happened to me and it was Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold’s book "Exu & the Quimbanda of Night and Fire" which illuminated that new shape.  I am full of gratitude, a word which falls short of the feeling I think, that a resource such as this existed for me when it did.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about when I sat down to do this.  I am certainly not telling any of you fuckers the details of my blood-secrets.  The book is a nexus of feelings and personal relevance’s and sudden understandings for me, to which my ramblings about watches and sugar bear witness.  You should read it I think though, while it could be that it is my own sympathies talking here, I think this particular work (especially in concert with Pomba Gira) is his most powerful.  It feels to me like there is something of the man caught up in the work.  I know how it works, these devil’s bargains.  He made you bleed for it I bet, made you bleed all over it. 
Don’t be mad, but I am glad for it.  Makes the whole thing fucking amazing, closes the loop.  A book of devil’s bargains written as a devil’s bargain.
Untethered as we are, we do destruction and chaos like nobody else and to love in the midst of all that, to pursue your desire through that carnage is to love purely, I think.  That book is a crowd of devils doing what they love, doing what they do best.  It is a visceral experience for the reader to be jostled about in that number.  There will be a familiar face in that crowd for many of us in the untamed America’s, I’ll wager.  Some hustler or whore who had only dark seeds, who sowed them anyway and reaped their weight in gold. 
There is lots of lists and background research into parallels in old world necromancy and animism and ritual references.  I was pretty excited about that when I first read through the book last winter but all of that collapsed into a singularity, a watch and a devil and an untethered spirit.  Now that singularity is all I got, which I imagine is how it should be.  Obviously, I am not going to wax the scholar, too much emotion in this business already to even attempt it but I will point out that the scholarly meat of the text in no way isolates or alienates the reader.  Rather it stands as a testament to our disparate beginnings; for they are the reason the world’s legacy currently blossoms within the Creoles of the New World. 
Untethered we may be, loving like furies and demons amidst the wreckage of the old world but loving nonetheless.  That is the secret of the world and its legacy, the simple part that most usually escapes the scholars and their books of god algebra.  Death does not truly separate lovers of any kind; it enshrines them like the dark gods they are.
So this is my offering of thanks Nicholaj and it is heartfelt because the sacrifice at the center of this book was your sacrifice and it moved the worlds. 
 
 
(Ryan's own writing can also be read in our collection At the Crossroads.)
 
 

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