Daily Archives: July 1, 2009

The Mayan Caper


“I suggested that such a hermetic control system would be completely disoriented and shattered by even one person who tampered with the control calendar…”

William S. Burroughs

From Primate Poetics:

Jennie Skerl’s 1985 book was one of (if not the) first books in which Burroughs was taken as subject for serious academic study…Here is what she writes about Burroughs’ use of Mayan imagery in ‘The Soft Machine’

The priest-rulers are associated with the power imagery Burroughs uses for his Mayan and Minraud fantasies. Puerto Joselito is Burrough’s reinterpretation of Frazier’s ‘The Golden Bough’ and a critique of religion in Reichian terms. It is both an homage to and a reinterpretation of ‘The Waste Land’.

The theme of power is given its most detailed treatment in ‘The Mayan Caper’, a historical fantasy on Mayan civilization (seventh routine). ‘The Mayan Caper’ is the single most significant section of the ‘The Soft Machine’ because of its central placement in the text, because it is the longest sustained narrative, and because it gives the most straightforward exposition of how a control system can be dismantled. The Mayans are presented both as the historical beginning and the epitome of “civilization”: a social order in which a few control the many through manipulation of word and image. Literacy only makes the system more sophisticated. The Mayan priest-ruler class controls the mass of peasants through their calendar, a word-and-image system that orders time, space, and human behaviour. The calendar is the basis for the Mayan’s agricultural economy, their hierarchical system of classes, and their religion. The priests exert total mind control and thus have total mastery over the peasant’s bodies. The power imagery associated with the Mayans is the same as that of the Minraud people in the Nova mythology: religious sacrifice, insects, ants, centipedes, scorpions, crabs, lobsters, claws, white heat, and the city. The first part of the ‘I Sekuin’ routine, which immediately follows ‘The Mayan Caper’, makes the link to Minraud explicit and again emphasizes the importance of the Mayan fantasy as the classic type of all control systems.

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I Fancy You


I fancy you x 2 via _portraitpainter_

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televised green


by fingerbibs


…not a statement


by Douglas Witmer

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Secret/Sacred Object Returns to Oz


National Museum of Australia Director Craddock Morton accepts a secret/sacred object from central Australia from Pamela McClusky, Curator of African and Oceanic Art, Seattle Art Museum. Photo: Lannon Harley.

Seattle Art Museum Returns Important Australian Aboriginal Secret/Sacred Object to Australia

SEATTLE, WA.- The Seattle Art Museum has decided to repatriate an important central Australian Aboriginal secret/sacred object to Australia. 

The return is particularly significant as it marks the first time that an American collecting institution has independently initiated the return of a secret/ sacred object to Australia. 

Secret/sacred objects of the type being returned are typically used in religious ceremonies by central Australian Aboriginal men. They are considered to be physical manifestations of sacred ancestral beings and as such have great spiritual power. 

The National Museum of Australia has been providing advice and assistance to the Seattle Art Museum and will store the object temporarily while consultations proceed regarding its final repatriation. 

“The National Museum of Australia is honoured to have been able to assist in this way. The Seattle Art Museum has shown great responsibility, as well as compassion and respect for Aboriginal culture, in deciding to repatriate this object. It is to be commended for its initiative and leadership,” said Craddock Morton, Director of the National Museum of Australia. 

According to custom, central Australian mens’ secret/sacred objects are not allowed to be viewed by uninitiated men, or women and children. Their public display is a cause of great distress to Aboriginal elders, who have been seeking their return for many years. 

“We appreciate The National Museum of Australia’s guidance through this return process,” said Maryann Jordan, Seattle Art Museum’s Interim Director. “The Seattle Art Museum is one of the few places in the U.S. for Australian Aboriginal art to be seen and discussed. We have a deep respect for Aboriginal heritage and understand the importance of this object to the culture that created it. We are proud to return it to its rightful home.” 

The Director of the National Museum of Australia’s Repatriation Program, Dr Michael Pickering, said that the object will be housed in a restricted store while the Museum consults with central Australian Elders and their representatives to determine the culturally appropriate management and return of the object. 
The object was first collected in 1970, and has been in the Seattle Art Museum’s collections since 1971 but has never been publicly exhibited


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