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Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Luck of Edouard Duval-Carrié

 Edouard Duval-Carrié

Last Sunday, December 11, 2011, we met friends for lunch in Royal Oak at the Café Muse. I had arranged for a good deal of background noise to make it impossible for myself to do much but sit, smile, look goofy, and eat... all of which I did with aplomb. (I refer to the restaurant as the Café Noise - pronounced
Café Nwaahz.)

We tried to get people interested in going to hear M. Edouard Duval-Carrié's lecture at the DIA  - Detroit Institute of Arts - on Extending the Contexts of Vodou Symbology.
"Vodou" is the word used by intelligent discussion, replacing the old "Voodoo" which is used for old horror flicks with zombies, usually starring Bob Hope and Willie Best.

I was in an odd sort of Dahomey of the mind.....

No one seemed to have any interest. They seemed to either have no interest in complex expressions of religious belief with which they were entirely unfamiliar.... or, they already knew everything relevant about Vodou and anything further would be superfluous.
They may have had Christmas shopping... or they may have wanted to watch a football game, too, come to think of it.

This was the day we started out with brunch, then the Rembrandt exhibit "The Faces of Christ" at the DIA, then followed with the lecture by M. Duval-Carrié, and finished with the German service at Historic Trinity down by Brewery Park... and the choir did not sing "In dulci jubilo, nun singet und seid froh..." - my absolute favorite - because the Rev. Dr. Jakob K. Heckert from Concordia College, who was to officiate, had been in a small "Umfall" on the highway coming from Ann Arbor to Detroit.

An odd day in some respects... totally mundane and run of the mill in others.

Edouard Duval-Carrié waited patiently for technicians to overcome the technical problems at the beginning of his lecture, which was about 25 minutes late getting started. There was a mixed group. One young lady look like the cultural attaché of Bolivia from a couple of years ago. I was mesmerized.
As the time wore on, even classic Bolivian profiles lost their allure, and I began to fidget. Then I caught sight of the name of the hall we were in "The Marvin and Betty Danto Hall"!  I was sort of shocked to see the name of a prominent Vodou goddess - Elizi Danto - up there on the DIA walls, but there it was.
So why were there so many problems and glitches getting the lecture going, if indeed Elizi Danto were connected in some momentous coincidental way with it? Was all this delay a good omen? I mean, it really did not seem to be a "good omen", but whenever one is faced with an omen which appears to be distinctly "not so good", one immediately searches for alternatives in "paradoxical" omens which appear to be "bad", but are quite "good"... if you have the courage to see it all through.

I meant to ask M. Duval-Carrié about it, but we had run out of time for a long Q&A session, and I never got a chance. (I also wanted to ask why among the work of all the new young artists he showed there were no drums?) Maybe it was best. He might not appreciate having his attention directed towards bad omens.

What was it all about?
I am not sure, but it seems that it we were in the midst of "accidents" (which is the meaning of "Umfall") and snafus and glitches: the brunch was noisy and annoying to me. I found it an event which distanced me further from people rather than reinforcing bonds of amity; the lecture was shortened and, therefore, did not satisfy entirely; the German service was troubled and had my favorite hymn edited out.

The only thing that went off without a hitch was the Rembrandt "The Faces of Christ". That's where I saw the painting of "Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery", and suddenly remembered that that woman was to be stoned for that crime against the Law, and I thought how very Taliban-esque! And then I recalled in a glowing moment that all the sins of our so-called enemies are enshrined within our own resplendent Judaeo-Christian traditions and histories: stoning of adulteresses, burning of witches, etc.

All in all, I thought this was a pre-e-e-etty good day.


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