Monthly Archives: February 2013

How to reload a Golden Age

Part I

The critical question we must ask is this: how does Trinidad and Tobago continue the Gifts of our Golden Age long after the conditions on the ground that created the Golden Age no longer exist?

Revolutionary surgery is required. By now, it is clear to all but the blind that something is dangerously wrong with the Carnival—and that it resembles terminal decline. This is not habitual complaining, this is a diagnosis rooted in identifying traits in cultures and civilisations in decline. Why empires fall. T&T’s arts and culture—and Carnival in particular—exhibit many of these traits.

I trust that all those who thought Carnival was a secular festival and “just an event” that simply needs to be “planned better” so you could just change elements, now realise how wrong they are after the wreckage that was this year’s Dimanche Gras. This thinking has only led us to increasingly dizzying levels of disaster. Let’s get it clear: Carnival is not secular. It’s a constellation of sacred rituals that have lineage in several ethnic tribal memories. These rituals merged in a beautiful dance to make this thing we call Carnival. Together these rituals represent “we the people” attempting to make this country a home. Why else do more than 150,000 people of a population of 1.3 million suddenly change their behaviour and launch off annually in a series of ritual choreographies— most of which earn no financial profit—to manifest tens of thousands of works of art, most which will be discarded after one day of use? Read the rest of this entry

Love and Carnival

I once loved a girl, but it was impossible. It was just one of those things. It had happened at Carnival time so we circled one another from afar whilst I tried to distract myself with fete after fete and the whirl of beautiful multiple female limbs… It did not work. After each wining moment died I was left hollow — and still in love. Carnal appetite could not satisfy the spirit… the rituals and spirit of Carnival is like that love — without it the festival is empty, reduced to appetite… And the human being requires more.

There’s something missing now from Carnival. Under-35s who’ve never experienced it will not know its wonder. They cannot compute that level of electricity.

There were waves of anticipations shuddering through each week, tinglings accompanying each ritual opening — Pan-in-the-City, panyards and tents opening, Panorama prelims, semis, King and Queens prelims, Viey La Cou (traditional mas), each song released by a genius bard… “What Shadow, Rudder come with?”

That holy trinity of Pan, Mas, and Calypso with their multiple ritual genuflections all sent a magic into the air that was inexplicable. Read the rest of this entry

‘The Greens’ must be destroyed

The Greens must be destroyed. I’m clear of it. This is despite the fact that I spent most of Sunday there—so I know of what I speak.

It was carnal. Completely. And I needed that—but that was all it ever was and ever will be. It was also empty, devoid of “Spirit”—people wandered around lost, posing, waiting for something to happen that never did. This is what happens when you detach a people from the ritual that sustains them. In the absence of culture, they need substances—alcohol and gimmicks—to bring them to something resembling liberation. The death of Carnival is in that impulse. This is the same culture that overtook European “carnivals” from the 1300s, resulting in their death. When Carnival becomes a drunken orgy, it can be competed against by any distraction. Nothing, however, can compete against ritual and belief. Our question then: how do we make those-who-we-have-lost believe again? Read the rest of this entry