Farewell my Queen

Versailles in July 1789. There’s growing disquiet at the court of King Louis XVI: the people are defiant and the country is on the brink of revolution. Behind the scenes at the royal palaces emergency plans are being made. Although nobody believes that this spells the end of the established order everyone is talking of escape, including Queen Marie Antoinette and her entourage. One of Marie Antoinette’s ladies-in-waiting is Sidonie Laborde who, as the Queen’s reader, is a member of the monarch’s inner circle. Little does she know that she is about to witness the downfall of her beloved queen.

Farewell My Queen, Summer 2012

Au mariage d’Hadriana, les soeurs Kraft s’étaient trouvées en tête du groupe fascinant des demoiselles d’honneur, en meilleur position que les pulpeuses jumelles Philisbourg qui étaien également des jeunes Haïtiennes très proches de Nana. Mélissa n’avait-elle pas déchiré sa toilette à l’église en voyant son amie s’écrouler avec son “oui” de perdition?

Hadriana dans tous mes rêves, René Dépestre, 1987

Dance Rituals & Post-Colonial Landscapes

A syncretetic and changing system of beliefs and rituals produced out of the experience of the sugar plantation system in the New World, Vodou, or “the serving of the Gods,” though bricolaged in the forced contact of African vodun and Catholicism, may be understood as a historical response to the very experience of the ritual brutality of slavery. the serving of the Gods, or lwas, worked to transform torture, terror, and servitude itself. In her recent reconsideration of Haitian history, Haiti, History, and the Gods, Joan Dayan recounts her lesson from the Manbo Priestess La Merci Benjamin about what it means to submit to being ridden by the spirits. Benjamin explains that through the intense thought work of incarnating one of the Vodou deities, “instead of being turned into a thing, you become a god.” And, thus, Dayan theorizes, “to Be ridden by the mèt tèt, to be seized by the god, is thus to destroy the cunning imperial dichotomy of master and slave, or colonizer and colonized.” In eighteenth-century Saint-Domingue nighttime assemblies for the collective practice of Vodou ritual and dancing were more than just transgressions of colonial legal authority. Possession by the gods also conjured a spirit-infused landscape of sacred trees and herbal offerings that menaced colonial authority through a reversal of colonial authority’s basis in its materially staked claims to possession, the notion of “property rights,” of self-possession and control of land.

Sowing Empire- Landscape and Colonization | Jil Casid

Inspiration to design dance spaces in the gardens of Le Manoir Alexandra

The highly prized view

Just prior to the building of the house or as it was being built, Brown is supposed to bhabe been brought in to consult on plans for the garden. Brown was brought back after the completion of the house and submitted plans for the groudns in 1772. The house was placed on an eminence as the main perspective from which to survey the surrounding coutryside. Further emphasizing the elevated house as the focal point for views from the namigational paths cut round and through the estate, a large hill behind the mansion convering some forty acres was leveled (on specific instructions from Lascelles), the natural valley was deepend, and the riverStankbeck rerouted to fill the valley forming the great lake. […] Traveling from the house and its direct referrence to the Indies, the garden visitor would then turn round and look back at the house from the other side, the highly prized view represented in a commissioned watercolor by J.M.W.Turner (1798)

Sowing Empire, Landscape and Colonization, Jill H. Casid


“Tu marches vers une mort illustre sans être tâchée par la maladie ni par l’épée”
– Sophocle (choeur d’Antigone)  | cité dans Hadriana dans tous mes Rêves

-Un baiser pour toi, Nana!

J’aurais voulu le lui rendre. Il était trop tard: j’étais en train de mourir. Ça faisait un instant qu’un malaise effarant s’était abattu sur moi. J’étais parcourue d’une sensation aiguë de fourmillement comme si on me piquait à ‘aiguille des pieds à la tête.

Hadriana Dans tous Mes Rêves | René Dépestre

Je vis, je meurs

Je vis, je meurs : je me brule et me noye.
J’ay chaut estreme en endurant froidure :
La vie m’est et trop molle et trop dure.
J’ay grans ennuis entremeslez de joye :

Tout à un coup je ris et je larmoye,
Et en plaisir maint grief tourment j’endure :
Mon bien s’en va, et à jamais il dure :
Tout en un coup je seiche et je verdoye.

Ainsi Amour inconstamment me meine :
Et quand je pense avoir plus de douleur,
Sans y penser je me treuve hors de peine.

Puis quand je croy ma joye estre certeine,
Et estre au haut de mon desiré heur,
Il me remet en mon premier malheur.

 Louise Labbé, Sonnet VIII, 1555

Granchiré | La Mariée Souillée

Les Papillons ne sont que des fleurs envolées un jour de fête où la nature était en veine d’invention et de fécondité. “Butterflies are but flowers that blew away one sunny day when Nature was feeling at her most inventive and fertile.” George Sand

“Go Hadriana!” said a voice inside on the Caribbean side

Hadriana In All my Dreams- René Dépestre 

In Hadriana in All my Dreams, Granchiré is a Man-Butterfly who terrorizes Jacmelian families by luring their young women. On the day of her wedding, Hadriana dies at the altar of the Cathedral St Phillipe & St Jacques. Although some believe that her passion to marry has caused her death, the following day her corpse disappears from the cemetery. Those who had tried fervently to bring her back to life with Vaudou processions on the Place d’Armes, are finally convinced that Granchiré had not been satisfied yet. For a very last time, he takes away the life and purity of a young girl.

How far are we from Yesterday?

“How Far are we from Yesterday?” Martha Marcy Lay Marlene (Movie 2011)

“Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector’s passion borders on the chaos of memories”.

“…ownership is the most intimate relationship that one can have to objects. Not that they come alive in him; it is he who lives in them. So I have erected one of his dwellings, with books as the building stones, before you, and now he is going to disappear inside, as is only fitting”.

Unpacking My Library | Walter Benjamin

No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me… Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it? … And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeline which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dippint it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it. And all from my cup of tea.”

A la Recherche du Temps Perdu | Marcel Proust

“the work of art can recapture the lost and thus save it from destruction, at least in our mind. Art triumphs over the destructive power of time”

Wikipedia on Marcel Proust’s “A la recherche du temps perdu”

“Hadriana in Jacmel’s Dreams”- in After the Dance by Edwidge Danticat

Jacmel’s Resident Goddess is Hadriana Siloe. One of the most beautiful women in town, Hadriana dies at the altar in the middle of her wedding ceremony. Her body is exposed at the square for a public wake before her funeral. Except she is not dead. It only apears so. Her apparent demise was caused by a man with mystical powers who whows himself as a giant butterfly. Hadriana becomes a zombie.

A few hours after her burial, Hadriana is exhumed from her grave but manages to escape, running off to the mountains, wher she is mistaken for Simbi Lasous, the spirit of springs and fresh waters, and is invited to accompany a group of migrants off to permanent exile in Jamaica:

This is the premise of René Depestre’s  Hadriana dans tous mes rêves (Hadriana in All My Dreams), a celebrated novel set in Jacmel. Born in Jacmel in 1926, the poet-novelist Depestre is one of Haiti’s most prolific and best-known writers. The winner of several prestigious international prizes, he is considered by some to be Haiti’s best shot at a Nobel Prize. Even though he has been living outside of Haiti for more than forty years and has never returned, Depestre draws upon childhood memories of the 1938 carnival season for his 1988 novel, and in it he has created a character that lives far beyond the pages of his book.

Hadriana is one of those rare literary cases in which a novel’s character becomes even more real, and more powerful, than actual people. For many Jacmelians, including Divers, even powering her existence parallels the question that many agnostics ask themselves about God. Did we create God or did God create us? Did Dépestre and Jacmel create Hadriana or did she create Jacmel and Dépestre?

Edwidge Danticat

A potent cocktail of palm trees, poets … and peace

Picture Source: Wikipedia

Tracy Chevalier, author of world-acclaimed “Girl with a Pearl Earring” discovered paradise while sipping rum on her hotel verandah. An Article on TheIndependent.co.uk: A Potent Cocktail of Palm Trees, Poets… and Peace