Today at Liberty Island I published a post featuring a series of Sunset images I shot on Saturday. Here are two more from Sunday:
I took the photograph above a week ago and shared it on my Instagram. The occasion? April was back at the hospital for an overnight stay following a biopsy to learn more about the health problems that have plagued her for weeks, making her partially disabled. I won’t get into the details of everything here, but just finally leaving this post as a bookmark of sorts for why the month of October passed without me managing to finish a single post. The past few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster — in addition to April’s struggles, there was also the death of a family friend, librarian and storyteller Hope Baugh, on September 22. Try as I did, I failed to write in memorial of Hope, the loss of her such a sudden shock. I hope eventually to be able to write about her role in my life and what a light she was in this dark world.
But for now I’m just accepting that until life becomes less emotionally harrowing, my writing and editing focus and quantity will continue to lag behind where I’d prefer. It’s hard to focus on much of anything when you’re strapped into a roller coaster…
April’s been home now for several weeks, but I’m only just now ready for this final wrap-up post about our trip. It took some time to prepare our new shelves and to set up our art, books, and movies. But now I’m ready to present our findings, most of which April acquired after I flew home from Nigeria and she continued on for a number of weeks into Togo, Benin, and finally Ghana. My post yesterday regarding Camille Paglia’s books linking ancient tribal Paganism with today’s art and popular culture are relevant to the points of this piece — the line between religious icon and art object is often in the eye of the beholder…
First, a mask from Ghana, with two sand paintings from Goree Island in Senegal. Our comedy DVD shelf sits above them:
Two heads from Benin, in between shelves of April’s art books, these also possess two Goree Island sand paintings, one on each side:
Essential Authors: Camille Paglia
Two years ago, I joined Liberty Island Media, a start-up book publishing company focusing on genre fiction, as their West Coast Editor and began acquiring and editing novels. I also started writing my own novels and helping other writers develop their stories. Now, in this ongoing series at Smash Cut Culture I’m going to start highlighting the authors who I’ve returned to most often in working with writers. As I’ve studied and met both fiction and non-fiction writers over the years these are the ones with the most depth, originality, and humanity. Reading their books and understanding the ideas that matter to them has helped change my life for the better and I hope it can do the same for you.
On Tuesday Mark Bauerlein at First Things published a thoughtful post on Camille Paglia and the key idea that he sees as distinguishing her from today’s cookie cutter Right/Left ideologues:
She announced it a few months back in anwith the New York Observer. The very first question asked her about comparisons between President Trump and Adolf Hitler, to which she replied: “‘Presentism’ is a major affliction—an over-absorption in the present or near past, which produces a distortion of perspective and a sky-is-falling Chicken Little hysteria.”
Paglia believes there is a causal connection between young Americans’ ignorance of history and their dim view of present conditions. At a conference in Oxford, Paglia, in response to a student who criticized her and others for telling youths not to be so sensitive and snowflaky, “There is much too much focus on the present.” Thanks to the (presumed) sensitivity of modern youth, , students have not had a “realistic introduction to the barbarities of human history . . . . Ancient history must be taught . . . . I believe in introducing young people to the disasters of history.” Without that background, she implies, our only standard of appraising current circumstances is current circumstances plus a few utopian dreams. We have so much material prosperity, they think, so why don’t we have more perfect people to enjoy it?
I’ll take Bauererlein’s insight into Paglia’s value as a writer and intellectual a few steps further. Yes, that she analyzes today’s culture through the broad stroke of history, starting in the ancient world gives her arguments greater weight and originality. Where I value her even more though is in the way she connects this grand historical understanding to our everyday pop culture. And what is her key here? It can be summed up in one word: Paganism.
Paglia connects the primitive, religious earth worship of the ancient, pre-modern world, with the secular faiths of today’s postmodern ideologies and celebrity-obsessed culture. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from her book Vamps & Tramps: New Essays, about how what is natural must be overcome and transcended to achieve greatness:
Here are ten more of my favorite Paglia quotes I’ve collected over the years. I hope you’ll find them useful and inspiring. Continue reading “Pop-Paganism: 11 Extraordinary Camille Paglia Excerpts”
Well, I’ve been home for over a week now and between trying to get caught up on work and getting my sleep back in order (apparently jet lag can last awhile) I have not yet done the final post describing the last two countries of my part of the trip — Morocco and Nigeria. Let’s correct that now.
Day 19: Thursday, July 20 — We arrive in Morocco early in the morning (around 8) but cannot check into our hotel until the afternoon (2ish). Apart from that anticipated bump in the road the hotel was nice, among the highlights of our short stay in Casablanca.
Day 20: Friday, July 21 — We take a tour of the Hassan II Mosque in the morning and then explore the markets in the afternoon.
OK everyone, as I type this it’s Wednesday, July 19, 9:40 PM, and we’re getting picked up from our hotel here in Dakar in about 45 minutes for a drive to the airport (not far away.) Our flight to Casablanca will then take off several hours later and we should arrive around 6 or 7 and make it to our hotel by 8 AM where we’ll cross our fingers that a room will be available and we can get in early before our afternoon check-in.
So as the Senegal portion of our trip comes to a close, now seems a good time to summarize our recent adventures.
Day 7: Saturday, July 8 — a Travel Day from Dakar to Fathala Wildlife Reserve
We left Dakar around 7 or 8 in the morning and the drive to Fathala was supposed to take five hours. It took a little bit longer as the route we took included a trip on a ferry across a lake. But we were very happy with our driver, Pape, who we’d hired to drive us there and pick us up on Tuesday morning.
When we arrived we encountered two ostriches filled with personality:
The accommodations at Fathala are wonderful. The rooms are tents that are very modernized — wooden floors, plumbing, electricity, a small refrigerator, shower, bathtub, and toilet. We also had a porch with two West African Lazy chairs. (We so enjoyed these chairs that later in our trip we decided to acquire some.)
April felt sick for much of the trip, when we arrived she prayed that it would rain and lo and behold it did start coming down and thundering. We sat out on our porch and just took it in all around us while watching the plains before us as animals grazed. Such a peaceful way to end a day of travels.
Days 8 and 9: Sunday July 9 and Monday July 10 — Two full days at Fathala Wildlife Reserve
What Fathala is perhaps best known for is its “lion walking” attraction. That was first on our priority list on Sunday. The two lions have been trained since birth to respect the African walking stick, so each guest is issued one before entering the lion enclosure and walking with them on a set route that includes plenty of spots for picture posing:
Here’s some video that April shot of the restaurant/lounge/reception/pool area:
For our second day’s adventure we took a tour of the villages nearby Fathala. The highlight was a chance to see and learn about this giant tree, believed to be over a thousand years old:
Travel DAYS: Sunday, July 2 – Tuesday, July 4
The flight from LA to Dubai went across Greenland and produced memorable views like this one:
The flight on Emirates was among the best I’ve ever had. In addition to tons of new movies, TV shows, and albums, they also had some classics, so I thought it appropriate to rewatch Casablanca given that we’ll be there in a few weeks:
I picked up my first Thomas Pynchon novel on Saturday, Inherent Vice, for the plane rides, primarily because I liked the movie and have been studying the genre (LA Detective mystery ala Raymond Chandler):
Day 4, First Day of Exploring Dakar, Senegal, on Wednesday, July 5:
For our first stop we hit up the most noticeable monument, a controversial $28 million dollar giant statue that’s taller than the Statue of Liberty. Here’s April, excited:
Inside the base of the statue they have a small museum, art galleries, and meeting rooms for ambassadors and foreign dignitaries.
Why so controversial? Continue reading “The First Week of Our African Odyssey…”