In my post on the Quebec General Election, I listed three parties and their leaders. However, to paint a complete picture, I must mention the existence of several other parties, about twenty in all, including the ones I mentioned. The parties I named are the main contenders, but gaining popularity is a party named Québec solidaire. (See the front page of today’s Devoir)
The featured artist is Otar Imerlishvili, a contemporary and very prolific Russian artist. However, during the last few years, he has shown several times in the United Kingdom (UK). I chose The Blinds, because I must have my cataracts removed as soon as possible.
As for the music, it is a rendition, by Yvonne Printemps, of Au Clair de la Lune, recorded in 1931. Au Clair de la Lune was composed during the eighteenth century by a composer who has yet to be unequivocally identified. It is looked upon as a song for children, but it was part of Yvonne Printemps’s répertoire. Wikipedia provides the words of the song, as Yvonne Printemps sang it in 1931.
During the Baroque era in music (1600-1750), the Folia, a musical piece that probably originated in Spain, became very popular. I did not intend ever to mention the Folia until I went to my WordPress Reader yesterday and found myself reading about instances of genuine folie or madness. There is nothing mad about the Folia, but there is madness among Republicans. Let us look at two events I found “unsavoury.”
The Camerawoman Incident
Reading through various posts, I learned that two women attending the RepublicanNational Convention, in Tampa, Florida, had thrown nuts at an African-American CNN camerawoman shouting “this is how we feedanimals.” For details, see CNN Camerawoman Hit With Nuts (EnStarz). Needless to say, I quickly reworded the headline so it would read CNN camerawoman Hit by Nuts,” using nuts in its pejorative acceptation. Folias in music are lighthearted, but throwing nuts at a coloured camerawoman and calling her an animal shows genuine folie, madness, not to mention sufficient bigotry to sink a battleship.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (29 August 1809 – 7 October 1894) stated that “[t]he mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour upon it, the more it will contract.” That definition would apply to the nut-throwing incident that took place in Tampa. The bottom line here is that we are witnessing bigotry and racism.
The Voter Purge Incident
As I continued reading your posts, I learned that a woman would not be permitted to vote because she could not produce the photo ID (identification) Florida (R) and perhaps other states are now requiring of voters. Does exercising one’s right to vote require of voters that they possess a driver’s license or a passport? Some persons are too poor to own a car and therefore do not have a driver’s licence. Moreover, some persons are also too poor to travel. Consequently, they do not have a passport. Demanding a photo ID therefore seems an unreasonable request and voter suppression could prevent President Obama from being re-elected, which would be a catastrophe.
This second incident, the photo ID (identification) incident, demonstrates that Voter Suppression is not only unreasonable but that it constitutes a discrimatory practice that could keep away from Election Polls the elderly, the disabled, the poor and persons, in particular coloured individuals, who may feel their social status does not allow them to exercise their right to choose a leader, a misconception voter suppression is bringing to the fore. These people were slaves and two idiots threw nuts at them calling them animals.
But enough is enough. Let us hear a Folia that is not madness: folie. The Folia moved beyond Spain, so we will listen to a Folia Variations composed by Arcangelo Corelli (17 February 1653 – 8 January 1713), an Italian violinist and composer of the Baroque era.[i] Our main performer is Russian violinist Nathan Millstein (13 January 1904 – 21 December 1992).
We have already seen two paintings by Isaac Levitan’s (August 30, 1860 – August 4 1900). Isaac Levitan, a Jew, was a Lithuanian-Russian artist and he created the “mood landscape,” lyrical landscape paintings. Levitan was associated with the Peredvizhniki(wanderers), a group of artists who sought more freedom than was allowed by academic art. Levitan was a friend of Nikolai Chekhov, a painter, and also befriended Nikolai’s brother, Anton Chekhov.
Nikolai had died of tuberculosis in 1889 and, as mentioned in earlier posts, Levitan spent the last year of his life at Anton Chekhov’s house, in Crimea. Levitan died of a terminal illness at the age of forty. Anton, a medical doctor, died of tubercolusis in 1894.
Despite ill-health, Levitan was extremely productive. According to Wikipedia, “Isaac Levitan‘s hugely influential art heritage consists of more than a thousand paintings, among them watercolors, pastels, graphics, and illustrations.”
The above painting reminds me of Canada where birch trees are plentiful. You probably remember from our voyageurs blogs that canoes were made of birch. If one was destroyed, voyageurs and Amerindians could build a new one quickly by helping themselves to what birch trees provided. Nails were not used in building canoes.
Bill 101 had been preceded by the Official Language Act (Bill 22), passed in 1974 under the Liberal government of Premier Robert Bourassa. Bill 101 (1977) has been challenged and too rigid an interpretation can lead to dangerous situations.
When friends and I were trying to cross the Champlain bridge to leave Montreal, an island, the overhead traffic monitors gave information and instructions in French only. I told my friends that the information should be given in both French and English to protect all drivers, including French-speaking drivers.
Bill 101 also stipulates that the children of immigrants be educated in French, etc. For more information click on the Charter of the French Language. My main source of information in writing this post was Wikipedia’s entry of the Charter of the French Language.
However, yesterday, as reported in Le Devoir, Jean Charest stated he might expand Bill 101. Expansion could mean constructive amendments to the current law, but not necessarily. However, during a political campaign, leaders often attempt to win over support from undecided voters by making promises they cannot respect once they are in office. I could be wrong, but I believe monsieur Charest did not need to raise the issue, if indeed he raised it. He may have been compelled to address this subject.
The Canada Act of 1982
Moreover, Quebec has yet to sign the “patriated” (from England to Canada)Constitution of Canada or the Canada Act of 1982. One wonders. What is the status of Quebec? Might it be, to some extent, more closely linked to Britain than other provinces? I am being slightly facetious, but not altogether.
I would hate to see French Canadians swallowed up by an English-language majority, but choosing the appropriate means to protect the French language is a thorny matter. Language policy remains a central issue in the forthcoming election.
Mitt Romney may be an anti-birth-controlextremist and an anti-pro-choice extremist and would force the victim of a rape to carry the child of her rapist and give birth to his child, but US voters have a choice. They need not elect into the office of President of the United States of America a person who would deny an abortion to a woman who got pregnant as a result of rape. Exercise the privilege democracy affords everyone: the right to vote for the candidate who, without advocating abortion, will at least make it available promptly when circumstances call for this kind of intervention.
Get organized, donate if you can, make sure your neighbour gets to the election polls, and re-elect President Obama. If President Obama is not re-elected, the world will stand in complete disbelief as it will no longer be dealing with a person who respects all human beings, whatever their ethnicity, and promotes peace. The world remembers that the former President brought the US and its partners to the brink of bankruptcy. And these same Republicans would now make women carry the child of a rapist.
Sandra Fluke, I have received your email and fully agree with you that a woman whose pregnancy was caused by rape should not be forced to carry her rapist‘s child and give birth to that child. I therefore oppose the above-mentioned extremist discourse which are:
And I oppose these extremist positions because what Republicans are proposing violates the dignity of a human being and because raped and pregnant woman are likely to commit suicide. For hundreds of years, women have used clothes hangers and other contraptions to free their body from a cruel form of intrusion and have died. For a very long time, women have also sought the services of backstreet abortionists who have caused their death.
Moreover, as strange as this may seem, the insensitive and intolerant legislation Republicans are contemplating regarding women may reveal a thwarted view of human sexuality. I believe that such individuals as Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan look upon sexual intercourse as dirty. Why else would they be anti-birth-control extremists and anti-pro-choice extremists. The problem is, however, that women pay the price.
Again, as strange as this may seem, morality the Republican way appears to begin and end with denying women access to birth-control or to an abortion, if an abortion is necessary. We cannot limit morality to this one criterion.
But the citizens of the United States have a choice. They can choose to defeat the Republicans come 6 November 2012. They can say “no.”
Although I have found information on Tanya Kolechko, I do not know her date of birth. She is a contemporary artist. Information on the technique she uses, hot enamel on copper, is available by clicking on her name: Kolechko, Tanya. I have provided two links that should lead you to further information.
In watercolors, one often uses a toothbrush to make dots, but Tanya’s little dots are particularly lovely. I would like to know how her technique affects her art work. I sense youthfulness to the above work and to the work shown below. In my opinion, these are delightful works of art.
I have removed the video from my post on Tar-Baby. What is important is the book. The Tales of Uncle Remus is art and essential Americana. Joel Chandler Harris must have sensed these tales were an American classic, whatever their provenance. Obviously the people at D. Appleton & Company were of the same opinion. Given that Uncle Remus was in Georgia and probably illiterate, I believe the tales belong to an oral tradition.
Léon Bakst was a painter who became stage and costume designer for Sergei Diaghilev‘s Ballets Russes, a prominent private ballet company that was active during la Belle Époque(1890-1914), a golden age in France, and remained active until Diaghilev’s death, in 1929, the year the stock market was allowed to crash.
We have already met the cast, so to speak. When Sergei Diaguilev produced Scheherazade (1910), his star dancer was Vaslav Nijinski, his choreographer, Michel Fokine (23 April 1880 – 22 August 1942) and his stage and costume designer Léon Bakst, whose art I am featuring today.
Léon Bakst was Russian and Jewish. He was born in Grodno (currently Belarus) to a middle-class family and his real name was Lev (Leib) Samoilovich Rosenberg. He studied at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts as a noncredit student, working part-time as a book illustrator.(Wikipedia) Bakst was his mother’s maiden name.
During his visits to Saint Petersburg he taught in Zvantseva’s school, where one of his students was Marc Chagall (1908–1910) and, in 1914, one the eve of the Revolution, he was elected a member of the Imperial Academy of Arts.
After 1909, Bakst lived mainly outside Russia. As a Jew, he had to live in the Pale of Settlement. He broke with Diaghilev in 1922, traveled to America where he had a patron in art philanthropist Alice Warder Garrett (1877–1952). He worked as her personal interior decorator in her Baltimore residence, Evergreen (now a museum and a gallery).
Two years after parting with Diaghilev, he died in Paris of what seems a lung disease.
With Léon Bakst, we are not looking at landscapes and seascapes, but at human beings in full flight. No backdrop encroaches on the dancer.
But for many of us, Georgia is mainly home to Joel Chandler Harris (9 December 1845 – 3 July 1908), the author of The Tales of Uncle Remus, tales which are told by ablack slave raconteur, but which Joel Chandler Harris put in writing, using an eye dialect. But interestingly, The Tales of Uncle Remus find their source, on the one hand,
1) in Æsop’s fables and in the fables of La Fontaine‘s (8 July 1621 – 13 April 1695) and, on the other hand,
2) in the various versions of Reynard the Fox, the first of which is Nivardus of Ghent’s the Ysengrimus (1148 or 1149) a long — 6,574 lines of elegiac couplets — epic Latin fabliau or fabliaux and the birthplace of Reinardus or Reynard.
In other words, The Tales of Uncle Remus are not coyote tales, nor are they related to Anansi (spider, as in spider-man) tales, except, perhaps, remotely. The Anansi tales were probably brought to North America and the Carribbeans by black slaves except, perhaps, remotely. The Anansi tales from West Africa. The Tales of Uncle Remus are mostly European tales and, in particular, French tales and trickster tales. I suspect, however, that they are also rooted in African tales.
Nivardus of Ghent’s Ysengrimus
Born Reinardus, in Nivardus of Ghent’s Ysengrimus, the above-mentioned mock–epic poem, Reynard is indeed the trickster par excellence, the wolf, his nemesis, are anthropomorphic animals, which means that they have human attributes, the most important of which is their ability to speak. In literature, authors use speaking animals to say something without saying it. Such narratives are often described, in French, as a dire-sans-dire (to say without saying) and are usually defined as an oblique discourse.
Uncle Remus: Provenance
Assuming that Joel Chandler Harris, who lived in Georgia, is not Uncle Remus, how did Uncle Remus, a black raconteur also living in Georgia, learn Æsopic fables and Reynard stories? Provenance is our first mystery.
In the middle of the 19th century, La Fontaine was translated into the various patoisor dialects, créole in fact, of the French Carribbeans.[i] But, with respect to the tales of Uncle Remus, my best hypothesis would be that Uncle Remus heard his tales from Acadians[ii] deported as of 1755. Many of the ships filled with Acadians sailed down the east coast, from colony to colony, but the deportees were refused asylum by British colonies north of Georgia because they were Catholics. In Georgia, they were finally allowed to disembark.
Uncle Remus: a Black Raconteur
This takes us to our second mystery. Why were these tales told a black slave, or black slaves, rather than a white man? Regarding this issue, my best hypothesis would be that we are dealing with a matter of social status. It could be that the social status of deported Acadians did not differ much from the social status of black slaves.
The deported Acadians had spent weeks on ships. They had lost their homes and had been separated from wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, and other loved-ones. So, although they were not persons of colour, they were poor, deprived of their families and they had been exiled. In all likelihood the deported Acadians befriended the slaves rather than their owners.
As mentioned above, what I have written is hypothetical, but it makes sense. Just as it makes sense that the melody of Oh Shenandoah could have been a voyageur melody. As we know, there was a voyageur, Bonga, a name that could be derived from bon gars (good guy), who could easily have transmitted the melody. In fact, Bongas may have been a former black slave who had lived in Louisiana.
Wren’s Nest, Joel Chandler Harris’s Home
Joel Chandler Harris
In the latter part of 1880, Joel Chandler Harris (9 December 1848 – 3 July 1908) published Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings. Until then and for many years, Joel Chandler Harris’s UncleRemus stories had been published in various magazines. They were popular and had become an integral part of American culture. Joel Chandler Harris was therefore approached by D. Appelton and Company and asked to compile the stories so they could be published in book form. No sooner said than done, which takes us to the Tar–Baby story.
Br’er Rabbit and the Tar-Baby, drawing by E. W. Kemble from The Tar-Baby, by Joel Chandler Harris, 1904
The Tar-Baby story
The Tar-Baby story is a key story, if not the key story, in Joel Chandler Harris’s Uncle Remus. In the Tar-Babystory, Br’er (Brother) Fox makes a doll covered with tar and turpentine. Br’er Rabbit sees the doll and starts punching it because it will not respond to him. As a result, Br’er Rabbit gets stuck to Tar-Baby. In order to be freed, he begs Br’er Fox not to throw him in the briar patch. Br’er Fox does not suspect a ruse, so he throws Br’er Rabbit in the briar patch and the rabbit is again free.
So now we know, albeit hypothetically, how Reynard the trickster might have travelled to Georgia and we also know that Br’er Rabbit proved the better trickster than Br’er Fox. In North America, the fox ceased to be a trickster. Finally, we can understand why Reynard stories and La Fontaine’s largely Æsopic fables were told to a black slave rather than a white man.
Tar Baby as Metaphor & as Social Slur
“Tar baby” has since been used as a metaphor. It describes a sticky situation that intervention makes even stickier. The more you try to solve a problem, the greater the problem. But according to Wikipedia, “tar baby” has become a racial slur. The best is to quote Wikipedia.
“Several United States politicians—including presidential candidates John Kerry, John McCain, Michele Bachmann, and Mitt Romney—have been criticized by civil rights leaders, the media, and fellow politicians for using the “tar baby” metaphor. An article in The New Republic argued that people are “unaware that some consider it to have a second meaning as “a slur” and it “is an obscure slur, not even known to be so by a substantial proportion of the population.” It continued that, “those who feel that tar baby’s status as a slur is patently obvious are judging from the fact that it sounds like a racial slur”. In other countries, the phrase continues to refer to problems worsened by intervention.” (Wikipedia)[ii]
For the time being, I will continue to look upon The Tales of Uncle Remus as the moment when Reynard stories and Æsopic fables sailed down to Georgia with the deported Acadians (“Cajuns,” US) and were told Uncle Remus and committed to writing by Joel Chandler Harris who used an eye dialect, or nonstandard spelling replicating, more or less, African-American pronunciation. So there may exist a French connection to The Tales of Uncle Remus, except that in North America the rabbit will replace the fox and that tales originating in India were undoubtedly reshaped by an African collective unconscious. In other words, deported Acadians would have told Remus his tales, just as the voyageurs, perhaps Bongas himself, gave its melody to Oh Shenandoah, thereby creating another French connection.And, in the case of The Tales of Uncle Remus,we owe a debt of gratitude to Joel Chandler Harris who took the time to commit the tales he heard to writing. It is sad, however, that tar being black, tar baby should be acquiring a racial connotation.
The Song of the South
In 1946, Walt Disney produced the Song of the South, a film based on Uncle Remus. There is a video of this song on YouTube, which I am not embedding.
I have written several posts on Reynard the Fox and have included links to these articles.
_________________________[i]Another possible source could be a “version of La Fontaine’s fables in the dialect of Martinique [that] was made by François-Achille Marbot (1817–66) in Les Bambous, Fables de la Fontaine travesties en patois” (1846). In the middle of the 19th century, La Fontaine was translated into Creole and associated patois (dialects). (Wikipedia)
[ii] The word Acadie is derived from the Mi’kmaq “algatig.”[iii]See TimeUS.