Monday, March 31, 2008

Benga - Diary Of An An Afro Warrior

"I had that boxer's movement in mind," Miles Davis said of the music on his 'A Tribute To Jack Johnson' album, "that shuffling movement like boxers use. They're almost like dance steps, or like the sound of a train ... That train image was in my head when I thought about a great boxer like Joe Louis or Jack Johnson. When you think of a big heavyweight coming at you it's like a train."

Benga's (21-year-old Beni Adejumo) knock-out album 'Diary Of An Afro Warrior' self-confidently melds Dubstep and Electronica and Jazz.

Listening to that album brought the music of Miles Davis' electric period to mind. Of course, Benga's music is rather more slow-moving than the high-energy music of Davis' electric period - it is Dubstep, after all.

But the minimal, metallic surfaces of 'Diary Of An Afro Warrior' reminded me of Davis' love of fast sports cars; the heavy punch of it's sub-bass reminded me of Davis' love of boxing; and the title of Benga's album brought to mind the black ethnic self-consciousness of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

What's more, Miles Davis' music was a sorcerer's brew of the music of is time: Jazz, Funk, Soul, Blues, Avant Classical, Psychedelia. Likewise, Dubstep, Jazz, Electroclash, Detroit Techno, Minimal, IDM, Triphop are the 'points-chauds' with which Benga runs the Voodoo down.

By incorporating electric instruments in his music, Davis managed to steer clear of the too-smooth, the too-clean, and the too-perfect, creating music that was more than a little funky in the original sense of the word; likewise, Benga's militant sound avoids the superficiality that plagued the Jazz-influenced Drum & Bass that was pioneered by LTJ Bukem.

Of course, there's no comparing Benga's track record with that of Miles Davis. But Benga brings to Dubstep some of the clear-mindedness, sense of physical exhilaration, and stamina that went into Davis psychedelic jazz-funk fusion.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Malefic Automobiles (pt. 3)

From Voodoo folklore: "According to popular belief [malefic sorcerers] do their nocturnal raids in motor-cars. A few years ago there was much talk in Port-au-Prince of a 'tiger car' (auto-tigre) which took people away at night to 'eat' them."

This tale anticipates the emergence of a horror film subgenre in the late 1970s in which malefic, possessed automobiles terrorize American communities. This was to be the third and final in a short series of posts showcasing trailers for these films; but as a special epilogue, Killdozer receive due attention. Thanks Bruce!

Mike Marvin - The Wraith (1986)

Alex Orr - Blood Car (2007)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hototogisu - Green

"Green" (2005) has been called Hototogisu's Black Metal album. This would be true, if there were such a thing as celebratory, effervescent Black Metal. "Green" is Free Black Metal where ecstatic noise, many-colored like confetti, glitter and streamers, replace the cemetery-like black-and-gray tints.

Many Black Metal bands are one-man endeavors, following the example set by Burzum's obnoxious Kristian "Varg" Vikernes. A sense of loneliness often pervades the music these bands produce, personal as well as cosmic loneliness.

"One can experience loneliness in two ways: by feeling lonely in the world or by feeling the loneliness of the world. Individual loneliness is a personal drama; one can feel lonely even in the midst of great natural beauty. An outcast in the world, indifferent to its being dazzling or dismal, self-consumed with triumphs and failures, engrossed in inner drama — such is the fate of the solitary. The feeling of cosmic loneliness, on the other hand, stems not so much from man's subjective agony as from an awareness of the world's isolation, of objective nothingness. It is as if all the splendors of this world were to vanish at once, leaving behind the dull monotony of a cemetery" (E.M. Cioran, 'On The Heights Of Despair).

Indeed, Black Metal can be "self-consumed with triumphs and failures, engrossed in inner drama" to the point of egotism, a self-centeredness that is all the more irritating because these dramas of the self are completely unrelated to the social... In fact, these dramas are anti-social: Black Metal's loneliness is part and parcel of it's hateful misanthropist ideology.

"Green" on the other hand, even though Hototogisu consists of only two persons (Marcia Bassett and Matthew Bower), radiates a sense of communal festivity that is at once personal and cosmic. The album presents a euphoric continuity between Bassett's music and Bower's, a ludic abandonment, an ineffable affinity.

That is not to say it is music without an edge: the noise still is as sharp as a samurai's sword.

Habermas' 'ideal speech situations’, those rational, idealized, Icarian structures which have plagued Improv, have been swept away by euphoric firestorms, ecstatically lacerated by guitar strings, buried under beatific blast beats, deliciously dissolved in drone. The titles of the performances (such as "Hellebore", "Ascend On Blackened Wings", "Crucified Forest") shake up the fixed, the finished and the predictable: they are at once loving caricatures of clichéd Black Metal song titles and acts of cruelty towards utilitarian rationalism. And the name of Bassett's and Bower's band points towards death: "Hototogisu" is the Japanese word for cuckoo, a bird which in Japanese culture is a symbol of the netherworld. Hototogisu is a feathered psychopomp which shows listeners the way to a colorful and joyous hell, to an infernal and communal 'realm of pure possibility' called "Green".

Post scriptum

Interestingly, like Cioran, Black Metal often presents it's spectacle of loneliness against a decor of great natural beauty, specifically the rural and wild landscapes of Norway.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Malefic Automobiles (pt. 2)

From Voodoo folklore: "According to popular belief [malefic sorcerers] do their nocturnal raids in motor-cars. A few years ago there was much talk in Port-au-Prince of a 'tiger car' (auto-tigre) which took people away at night to 'eat' them."

This tale anticipates the emergence of a horror film subgenre in the late 1970s in which malefic, possessed automobiles terrorize American communities. This post is the second is a short series of posts showcasing trailers for these films.

George Bowers - The Hearse (1980)

John Carpenter - Christine (1983)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Gnaw Their Tongues - Reeking Pained And Shuddering

'Gnaw Their Tongues', whose album 'Reeking Pained And Shuddering' was released on Paradigms Recordings last year, is a one man band. Nevertheless, the music sounds like it was made by an orchestra.

'Gnaw Their Tongues' uses a huge canvas to paint a battle between black metal, industrial noise, avant classical music and horror film soundtracks. It's sense of scale reminds me of nineteenth century romantic nationalist paintings of battlefields - even though the heroic nationalism of these paintings has been replaced by heroic misanthropy.

Heroic misanthropy?

Yes, there is something muscular, over-stimulated and triumphant about the misanthropy of 'Gnaw Their Tongues' - especially when compared to Striborg's emaciated, sickly, treacherous misanthropy. And the misanthropy of 'Gnaw Their Tongues' is no personal matter, no psychological disorder, no neurosis, but - like romantic nationalism - a socio-political world view. It is 'misanthropism', an extremely assertive ideology, which describes humans in starkly negative moral terms and makes far-reaching demands, including the disappearance of civilization and in some cases even the extinction of the human race. Misanthropism often goes hand in hand with deep ecology. From an interview with 'Gnaw Their Tongues':

"[My music is] meant to be ugly, oppressive, depressive, beautiful in all it's depravity, violent, out of control etc. etc. All elements of human nature. I'm endlessly fascinated by human nature and how 'civilization' crumbles within seconds. 'Civilized' people turn to their true animal state within seconds. All over the world there are examples of 'friendly folk' who turn into mass murderers for what ever reason. What I want to people get out of it? I don't know. Basically it's pro-animal/anti-human."

In the music, the misanthropism is expressed by means of samples about serial killers and fire-and-brimstone preachers sermonizing about hell (the band's name is derived from the biblical Book of Revelations). In the choice of samples the industrial influence (Throbbing Gristle, Skinny Puppy) shows itself.

The greatest industrial bands have given expression to a duality in human nature - that man is both a social (in the sense of 'collective') creature and an individual. (Early) Skinny Puppy's socio-political stance (anti-vivisectionism, anti-authoritarianism, etc.) was irradiated with a deeply personal sense of anguish, a festive anguish conveyed by vocals which were all the more expressive for the nuanced and intelligent way they had been processed. Coil was an alchemical wedding of a soci0-political vision of a British futuristic paganism on the one hand and on the other a striking sense of intimacy - listening to Jhonn Balance's lyrics often gave a sense of eaves-dropping on his living room, his bedroom, the banister from which he'd fall to his death. In Throbbing Gristle the social nausea informed by the dire political and economic situation of the UK in the late 1970s exchanged bodily fluids with the erotic idiosyncrasies of Genesis P. Orridge.

Though the samples used by 'Gnaw Their Tongues' are influenced by industrial music, there is something contrived about them. The origin of the samples is in the Anglo-American world, and this makes them impersonal, distant from the artist's intimate space: the rural and sober Friesland province of the Netherlands. Why are most of the horror film samples as glossy as the recent rash of superfluous simulations of 1970's horror classics (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, Dawn Of The Dead)? Why do the processed vocals lack expressivity? And what personal meaning do American evangelist preachers have for a musician from the Netherlands, where the socio-political influence of such preachers is minimal? The representations of the social and the personal in 'Reeking Pained And Shuddering' feel a little impoverished.

Furthermore, like Skinny Puppy's 1992 swan song "Last Rites", 'Reeking Pained And Shuddering' is too embellished to be truly effective. The musical space presented on the album feels cluttered.
'Gnaw Their Tongues' needs to learn to leave things out, to subtract, to strip things away until only the essential is left.

As is, 'Reeking Pained And Shuddering' is an good album with a distinctive sound. How many "cinematic operatic orchestral avant industrial doom" (Aquarius) bands are there? How many Black Metal artists are there who namecheck Drum & Bass, Coil, Dødheimsgard, Alfred Schnittke, Dmitri Shostakovich, Luciano Berio, Sylvano Bussotti, Edgard Varèse and Pierre Boulez in one interview? How many musicians make music under the spell of a dream (Aphex Twin used to be one of those ... remember?):

"Then one night I had a dream (I'm not kidding) about a kind of 'avant' big band/orchestra. With a lot of people producing this kind of improv monster with two drummers, 4 basses, a brass section, a string section and a lot of guys/girls screaming their head of. That's what started the whole thing, a dream."

The music of 'Gnaw Their Tongues' is ", extreme, scary, beautiful [and] just fucked up.." and "...loud, offensive, out of control: BIG" and certainly succeeded in browbeating this listener.

But if 'Gnaw Their Tongues' would make a really up-close-and-personal record, which addresses the ills of his own community in a way that really involves himself and his own nightmares, he'd be truly brilliant.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Malefic Automobiles (pt. 1)

From Voodoo folklore: "According to popular belief [malefic sorcerers] do their nocturnal raids in motor-cars. A few years ago there was much talk in Port-au-Prince of a 'tiger car' (auto-tigre) which took people away at night to 'eat' them."

This tale anticipates the emergence of a horror film subgenre in the late 1970s in which malefic, possessed automobiles terrorize American communities. This is the first in a short series of posts showcasing trailers for these films.

Steven Spielberg - Duel (1971)

Elliot Silverstein - The Car (1977)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Alfred Métraux - Voodoo In Haiti (pt. 4)

Given the content of this blog, it won't come as a surprise that the chapter on malefic sorcerers in Alfred Métraux' book 'Voodoo In Haiti' is my favorite:

"Only with the greatest reluctance will the peasants of Haiti go out alone at night. What they fear is not so much an encounter with ghosts or evil spirits but to fall in unexpectedly with a 'column' of criminals of a special kind, called, according to region, zobop, bizango, galipotes, 'hairless pigs' or 'hairless ones', vlabindingues, bossu, macandal or finally voltigeurs.

The people designated by these names who are sorcerers who (...) have joined secret societies whose members, united by the crimes they have committed together, give each other help. The
zobop (...) derive material benefits from membership - wealth and all its trappings - a fine house, luxurious cars and a trip to France - though these considerations are secondary to the satisfaction of returning evil for evil, and of 'eating people' during nocturnal expeditions. (...)

Countless stories can be heard about
zobop really belong to the province of the fairy tale, but it seems likely that certain people sometimes do band together, in secret, to practice sorcery or to use the popular belief in sorcerer societies to sow terror around them. Proof that the matter is not wholly a question of superstition is to be found in the passports of the zobop, confiscated in humfo [voodoo temples] or handed over to curés by repentant voodooists.

The most sinister fantasies of a kind sure to capture popular imagination have been centered on the 'red sects'. Hideous or grotesque aspect, weird dress, obscene and bloody ceremonies, gratuitous cruelty, weird dress, obscene and bloody ceremonies, gratuitous cruelty - there is no conceivable trait that is not attributed to them provided it is sufficiently repulsive and odious.

According to popular belief
zobop do their nocturnal raids in motor-cars. A few years ago there was much talk in Port-au-Prince of a 'tiger car' (auto-tigre) which took people away at night to 'eat' them. This was no innocent folk tale, as a friend of mine was able to witness. He - Monsieur M.B. - was being the driver of the phantom car and was almost lynched by a crowd which surged round him, accusing him of having killed a child."

Reproduced at the top of this post is a photograph from Métraux' book of a zobop passport - a document which juxtaposes signs of officialdom, evil scribblings and a Cobra-like picture of a human-like monster. This malefic, perverse and deeply ambiguous caricature of officialdom makes me shiver.

I find the folk tales of the zobop's murderous phantom car highly intriguing. These folk tales show that the spirits of Voodoo are no longer the gods of an African tribe, but spirits which think and act in a modern, industrialized world.

The tales anticipate the emergence of a horror film subgenre in the late 1970s in which malefic, possessed automobiles terrorize American communities. The most prominent examples of the subgenre is John Carpenter’s Christine (1983) – based on a Stephen King novel of the same name, also published in 1983. The Car (1977), The Hearse (1980) and The Wraith (1986) are lesser-known examples of the subgenre. Two episodes of The Twilight Zone (1960 and 1964) are forerunners of the subgenre, and Steven Spielberg's 1971 film Duel, in which a commuter is terrorized by a malevolent driver of a massive truck, explores similar themes. Throughout the film, the driver of the truck remains anonymous and unseen, suggesting that the murderous driver is an impersonal force of evil rather than a human of flesh and blood.

Voodoo picked up on the fleeting currents of the collective life of the contemporary world long before Hollywood.

Post scriptum

The trailers to some of the aforementioned horror films will be showcased in upcoming posts.

Here is a link to an article discussing cyberpunk and voodoo.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Voodoo sounds

Prodigy - Voodoo People

A Guy Called Gerald - Voodoo Ray

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Michel Leiris - Note on the use of Christian chromolithographs by Haitian Voodooists

In a 1953 Michel Leiris - Surrealist and ethnographer - published an article on the way Haitian Voodooists represent the loa - the spirits of Voodoo - using depictions of Christian saints. For example, the notorious Baron-Samedi, spirit of death, is represented by Saint Expeditus. In the article, it become clear how in the thought of Michel Leiris ethnographic and Surrealist theoretical and aesthetic frameworks intermingle:

"This hasty investigation of fifteen chromos bought in Port-Au-Prince would tend to show, then, that it is often on the basis of a purely circumstantial detail, what one could almost call a pun using things rather than words (such as, for instance, the lowered visor of the helmet likened to the chin bandage of the dead person), that the correspondence between the loa and the saint is established; for such a connection to be made, there need not be any similarity in the content of the symbol: a superficial, fragmentary, and, in short fortuitous analogy seems to be enough in many cases.

These 'concrete puns' - aren't they the chance meeting of a sewing machine and an umbrella on an operating table?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Voodoo Films (pt. 3)

Ray Marsh - Lord Shango (1975)

Alan Parker - Angel Heart (1987)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Alfred Métraux - Voodoo In Haiti (pt. 3)


A diary entry written by Michel Leiris 50 years after the publication in Documents (October 5th 1979, "Journal 1922-1989") explains the reasons for Leiris' review of Seabrook's book in that journal. Leiris was interested in Seabrook's book because Voodoo is a possession cult. Possession, understood by Leiris as "... losing one's head in a trance ...", points towards the concept of the "acephalous" (headless). In this concept several strands of Bataillean thought are brought together. For Bataille, the head’s function is utilitarian, and opposed to collective effervescence. Losing one's head means an ecstatic subversion of egotistic calculation. Possession was presented a method to lose oneself in Dionysian ecstasy, like expenditure, sacrifice, transgression, laughter and tears, ecstasy and madness, vice and revolt, eroticism and death.

Bataille used photographs of Voodoo rituals madde by Pierre Verger, a friend to Métraux, for his books "L'Érotisme" (1957) and "Les Larmes d'Éros" (1961). In the texts accompanying these photographs, Bataille also stressed the Dionysian nature of the Voodoo cult: "What the Voodoo-sacrifier experienced was a kind of ecstasy. An ecstasy which was in a sense comparable to a drunkenness. An ecstasy which was caused by killing birds."

On the contrary, in "Le Vaudou Haitien" (published in 1958, before "Les Larmes d'Éros"), Métraux would debunk the presentation of Voodoo as a Dionysian cult:

"Too often people imagine that a crowd exalted by mystic enthusiasm is the usual setting for Voodoo possession. In fact those who attend ceremonies as spectators only cast an occasional absent-minded glance at the goings-on. They gossip on the edges of the peristyle, smoke cigarettes, or nibble at tablettes (pralines). At no time is the crowd subject to a collective delirium, or even to a degree of excitement propitious to ecstasy. The traditional dances of Voodoo - yanvalou, doba, Dahomey, petro - all carried out with great seriousness, a subtle sense of rhythm and admirable suppleness - are far from being Dionysian. Only at certain ceremonial moments does the degree of excitement reach enthusiasm."

"Le Vaudou Haitien" is replete with such paragraphs, texts which aim to "normalize" Voodoo, that is to present Voodoo as un-heterogeneous as possible.

In his introduction to the English translation of the book, ethnologist Sidney W. Mintz (Wikipedia: "the doyen of Caribbean anthropology") calls the scant attention given in "Le Vaudou Haitien" to theoretical perspectives on Voodoo the major weakness of the book.

On the basis of the back story presented in this series of posts, I think Mintz is missing out on a covert debate between Métraux on the one hand and Bataille and Leiris on the other. In this debate Bataille and Leiris stress the ecstatic, Dionysian aspect of Voodoo, while Métraux stresses the normal, the useful and the productive in Voodoo. I think that there is more at stake than a reaction against sensationalist representations of Voodoo in Western popular culture. This debate points towards the wider question of the usefulness of the Nietzschean distinction between the Dionysian and the Apollonian as a tool for ethnographic analysis.


That Métraux stresses the normal, useful and productive aspect of Voodoo, in no way diminishes the beauty of "Voodoo in Haiti". Michel Leiris calls Métraux's concern for describing the world of Voodoo a poetic concern: "...not to be content with describing things but, having grasped them in all their singular reality, to make them come alive in the eyes of the person reading what he had written".

"It's by smell and taste alone," Proust writes, that we can recover "the vast structure of recollection." For Métraux, the taste and smell of Voodoo evoked childhood memories that carried him beyond the normal, the useful and the productive into the magical, exuberant world of fairy tales and myth.

"[The loa] are no longer the gods of an African tribe, but deities which think and act in the industrialized world of today. This is why the are as familiar and as close to us as the Gods of ancient Greece were to the people who worshiped them. The westernization of an African religion has brought to light all the features which it shares with the religions of the ancient world, so that anyone acquainted with the classical universe can easily enter the mysterious world of Voodoo. He feels as through he were among gods who speak his language and behave in a way he can understand.

Voodoo is a paganism of the West. We discover it with joy or horror, according to our temperament or our background. Many of us go to Haiti in search of our classical heritage, and find in Voodoo the charm of fairy tales. Without compelling us to give up our habits and our ties with the present, it takes us into a magic realm"

Monday, March 10, 2008

Voodoo Films (pt. 2)

William Baudine - The Voodoo Man (1944)

Ron Honthaner - House On Skull Mountain (1974)

Paul Marlansky - Sugar Hill (1974)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Alfred Métraux - Voodoo In Haiti (pt. 2)

Continued from the previous episode.


From 1929 to 1931, Métraux' friend Georges Bataille was the driving force behind the journal Documents, the publication which inspired this blog. The journal was the operating table where the encounter between Avant Garde art and ethnography took place: in fact, the famous ethnographer Marcel Mauss contributed a piece on Picasso. Documents also published an appreciative article on W.H. Seabrook's "The Magic Island", written by Bataille's and Metraux's close friend, Michel Leiris. Leiris credited Seabrook with being a "conscientious observer and the first man of the white race initiated into the mysteries of voodoo" and praised him for his "humane attitude" toward his subject.

Seabrook was an exceptional figure: he was a Great War veteran, a journalist and a traveller, a friend to both the Surrealists and to the notorious sorcerer Aleister Crowley, an alcoholic and a sadist. He had supposedly eaten human flesh ("like good, fully developed veal"). The Surrealist photographer Man Ray was inspired by Seabrook's sadist practices to create pornographic photographs such as "The Fantasies of Mr. Seabrook", "Lee Miller and William Seabrook" and "Homage to D. A. F. Sade", all with Lee Miller as a protagonist.

"The Magic Island" was Seabrook's second book. In keeping with his personality, it was a sensationalistic account of Haitian Voodoo - a literary Mondo Cane avant la lettre. Before publishing his book on Haitian Voodoo, he wrote for publications such as Vanity Fair and Reader’s Digest and published a book on his travels through the Middle East: "Adventures in Arabia: Among the Bedouins, Druses, Whirling Dervishes & Yezidee Devil Worshippers" (1928). "The Magic Island", part of which you can find as an e-book here, inspired the 1932 horror film classic White Zombie.

In 1933 Seabrook was voluntarily committed in order to cure his alcoholism, and he documented the experience in his 1935 book "Asylum". Despite the treatment, Seabrook remained an alcoholic. He committed suicide by a drug overdose on September 20, 1945. Thus died the missing link between the two great heresiarchs of the twentieth century, Aleister Crowley and Georges Bataille.

To be continued...

Post scriptum

Interestingly, the 1928 personal diary of Aleister Crowley contained contact information for Man Ray in Paris (link here). As far as I know, this is the only concrete piece of evidence of a direct and personal contact between the Surrealists and Crowley. The item sold for approximately $45000.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Voodoo films

Victor Halperin - White Zombie (1932)

Jacques Tourneur - I Walked With A Zombie (1943)

Wes Craven - The Serpent And The Rainbow (1988)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Alfred Métraux - Voodoo In Haiti (pt. 1)


Alfred Métraux' 1958 ethnography "Le Vaudou Haitien" opens with words evoking and dispelling the lurid image of Voodoo:

"Certain exotic words are charged with evocative power. It usually conjures up visions of mysterious deaths, secret rites - or dark saturnalia celebrated by 'blood-maddened, sex-maddened, god-maddened' negroes. The picture of Voodoo which this book will give may seem pale beside such images.

In fact - what is Voodoo? Nothing more than a conglomeration of beliefs and rites of African origin, which, having been closely mixed with Catholic practice, has come to be the religion of the greater part of the peasants and the urban proletariat of the black republic of Haiti. It's devotees have asked what men have always asked of religion: remedy for ills, satisfaction of needs and the hope for survival.

Seen from close, Voodoo has not got the morbid and hallucinatory character which books have given it. A talented but rather fanciful American writer, W.H. Seabrook, has given the most complete account of the black legend of voodoo. But that legend belongs to the past."

The prominent place given to the American William H. Seabrook 1929 book on Haitian Voodoo, "The Magic Island", in the opening sentences of Alfred Métraux's classic ethnography of that religion, become all the more significant if one examines the back story of those sentences.


Alfred Métraux (1902-1963) was a close and long-standing friend to the so-called "philosopher of evil", Georges Bataille. They had met in 1922, while studying at the École des Chartes. Bataille and Métraux physically resembled each other, so much so that they were frequently mistaken for brothers. The two shared everything, "...including women in black silk pyjamas, with long gold cigarette-holders and boyish haircuts, moving around in poorly defined and rather ambiguous surroundings" (via this book ). During three to four hour long morning walks along Paris's rue deRennes or the Champs-Élysés, Métraux spoke to Bataille of ethnography. These talks would have a strong influence on the development of Bataille's thought.

Métraux had an impressive international career as an anthropologist. Wikipedia calls Métraux "one of the most significant anthropologists of the twentieth century". The friendship of Bataille and Métraux would "... remain strong even after one became a great scholar and the other a great writer" (via this book).

During World War II, Métraux served in the Morale Division of the US Strategic Bombing Survey in Germany in 1945, and personally witnessed the devastation of war and genocide. This made a deep impression on the anthropologist, and it motivated him to join the UN in mid-1946, when he began working as Chief of the Section on Research in the Department of Social Affairs in New York. In this capacity, he led the UNESCO Marbial Valley (Haiti) anthropological survey from 1948 to 1950; "Le Vaudou Haitien" is the result of that survey. In 1948, the Surrealist and ethnographer Michel Leiris participated in the survey, writing a highly interesting article on Voodooist chromolithographs. Leiris and Métraux had met in 1934.

Alfred Metraux committed suicide on April 12, 1963, and was eulogized by Leiris in a special gathering in his honor at UNESCO House.

To be continued...

Lack of posts

A grueling work pace and a very persistent and ugly flue have kept me from blogging as much as I want to. Also, I have a huge backlog in replying to comments.

At the moment, I'm working at a series of posts about Alfréd Metraux's "Voodoo In Haiti". These will be interspersed with Voodoo-themed YouTube videos. These will be posted soon.