21 June, 2005


It's midsummer tonight, which I think should be celebrated with some sort of Bacchan orgiastic rite. But rites of any sort, let alone orgiastic ones, are not quite a la mode, so I suspect instead I'll have to imagine one in my head. It will go something like this:
There will be no talking and no singing. Only throngs of silent people and the voices of drums. The only manner of speech permitted is motion - the frenetic motion of limbs, stamping of feet, sway of hips and shoulders. Everyone is naked and anonymous, smeared in clay from head to toe, hair matted, eyes wild.

There are no lights. Only the light of the full moon and fires. All manner of fires - torches, bonfires, gourds filled with flaming oil. Some are carried, whirled in dances, burning fiery trails onto retinas. Some are left behind, thrust into the ground to mark the path.

There is an air of violence, an energy so imminent that the crowd salivates; but none of it is threatening, because everyone feels it. It is the common cord tying everyone together, into one mass.

In the center of that mass is the focus of that violent attention: a statue made of wood and reeds. It is Crapulence, bloated and lazy, odious, worthy of disgust. It is being dragged by chains along the ground, scraping and hissing in protest.

The procession moves through the streets, gaining mass, losing mass, now catching its breath and now flying forward undefatigably. It reaches the river, the edge of the water. The statue is surrounded on all sides, a dark mass ringed by flickering flames. The flames dance towards it, as if sucked in by an indrawn breath; then away. Then with a sudden rush they converge, and the statue goes ablaze.

It slides forward into the water. Now the torches are extinguished; now the only light is the burning mass, crackling, popping, throwing great showers of sparks up into the sky as it collapses in on itself. It sinks under the surface with a final, protesting hiss, leaving a crowd of naked human beings, breathing hard from exertion, the mud running off their bodies in sweaty trails, turning aside and at last seeing each other in the moonlight.

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