File spoon-archives/postcolonial.archive/postcolonial_2000/postcolonial.0012, message 37


Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2000 15:09:45 +0200
Subject: Re: "Fantastic rides" and Fanon


On 11 Dec 00, at 14:59, Marlene R. Atleo wrote:

> In the context of the passage it seems mostly about the figurative 
> enactments of violence by the colonized against the colonizer in which the 
> internal dissonance can at first only be figuratively enacted...it is 
> prefaced by "..for in reality your purpose in coming together is to allow 
> the accumulated libido, the hampered aggressivity, to dissolve as in a 
> volcanic eruption." and is followed by "the evil humors are undammed, and 
> flow away with a din as of molten lava."  As Fanon is speaking with the 
> voice of the colonized it seems he is speaking of the dialectic of the 
> internalization of colonization as being like that between possession and 
> exorcism which leaves the colonized with a motivational stuckness which 
> must be kept balanced rather than be tipped into the downhill spiral of 
> either complete possession or a siphoning off of the "nervousness"....the 
> volcano explodes/implodes/oozes lava/makes noise...has many 
> expressions....but remains a volcano, a vehicle for other forces....
> 
> I see the "fantastic ride" as one which allows the colonized to stand 
> still.......a trip that goes nowhere.....in which the violence against the 
> self and the blocking of self expression/actualization is possibly the greatest
> 
> it would be good to get a reading from someone who reads this in 
> french....and can expound on the figures of speech he is using here...
> mar(e)
> 
> 
> 
>   ....At 09:35 PM 12/11/2000 +0000, you wrote:
> >>Hello all,
> >>
> >>I'm currently in a graduate seminar on Fanon, and we've been stuck on a
> >>question of the meaning of a particular passage. I'm hoping perhaps someone
> >>on the list might be able to shed some light on this (or maybe knows
> >>someone who could).
> >>
> >>In "The Wretched of the Earth," in the chapter "Concerning Violence," Fanon
> >>talks about "the phenomena of the dance and of possession." In this
> >>context, he mentions "symbolical killings, fantastic rides, imaginary mass
> >>murders" (p. 57 in most editions of this book). The symbolical killings and
> >>the mass murders we understand, but it's the "fantastic rides" that have us
> >>stumped. I checked the original French, but it was no more helpful - there,
> >>it's "chevauchee figurative," which means a symbolic horse ride, as near as
> >>I can figure. Our guess so far is that this refers to a particular kind of
> >>tradition that we aren't aware of, but I'd certainly like to know more.
> >>
> >>So, does anyone know what sort of tradition this "fantastic ride" might
> >>refer to?
> >>
> >>Thanks!
> >>
> >>Miriam
> >>
> >>
> >>----------------------------------
> >>mschacht-AT-mail.utexas.edu  (Miriam Schacht)
> >>
> >>Assistant Instructor, Dept. of English
> >>University of Texas at Austin
> >>Parlin 108, Campus Mail Code B5000
> >>Austin, TX 78712
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>      --- from list postcolonial-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu ---
> >
> >
> >Presumably he is referring to shamanic journeys undertaken in trance. 
> >There is also a tradition of mystical journeys through the spheres on 
> >horseback.
> >
> >David
> >--
> >David Henderson
> >90B Harberton Road
> >London N19 3JP
> >Tel. 020-7263 9525
> >
> >
> >     --- from list postcolonial-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu ---
> 

I do not believe that these "fantastic rides" refer to any tradition or 
even ritual, and I dont see why they should. The dance of 
possession of the colonized is a 'transportation', a ride, because it 
is a movement from material evidence to induced fantasy, from 
reality to ecstatic denial.I agree with Marlene that this results in a 
state of nervous inertia, but this is more pertinent to the social and 
political outcomes of the practice, for the possession itself is not 
only complete but consuming, otherwise how could it account for 
the utter depletion of the native's violent tension into a cowardly and 
self-deceiving calm?The whole point behind these dances of 
possession is that infact their 'violence' is NOT directed at the 
coloniser, figuratively or otherwise, and that is precisely the reason 
Fanon equates it with the more deadly "fratricidal combats", and 
impresses upon the colonized the need to "lay hold of this 
violence" and direct it on a revolutionary path. 


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