Look at me ! A reconquest of oneself

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
September 12, 2022


Staged events such as “Stink & Dutty” are nothing more than a reflection of carnivalesque, a mode of cultural and social production that attempts to subvert the assumptions of the ruling class.

Bosses or masquerades always try to achieve their desired goals through a show of chaos and audacity in front. In the process, they seek to push the boundaries of received traditions to discover a new sense of authenticity.

These affairs represent a desire to achieve feelings of oneness, hence the refrain: “If Yuh cut me / Yuh gonna see blood / And if Yuh squeeze me / Yuh gonna feel love; / We are one people under the sun / One nation, under the Lord” (Blaxx, “Same Way.”) These sentiments recall Shylock’s defiant cry of affirming his humanity: “I am a Jew… what we not bleed? If you tickle us, don’t we laugh? If you poison us, don’t we die? And if you wrong us, won’t we take revenge? (The merchant of Venice).

Maurisa Findlay offers a rationale for immersing young people in these events: “There’s a place for everyone in these ‘wotless’ sessions…no judging, no segregation, no race cards. They are themed to make you refine, rethink and reimagine your character; clients strategize to gain traction, attention and attraction, by any means necessary. They opt for more face flutter and a delicately decorated nipple cover. This is the perfect place to show off your newly healed breast lift. Breast work is commonplace. What cannot be replicated is your audacity; the way you pose and pucker your lips filled with hyaluronic acid.

In this economy, the investment in “oneself” is the main asset; ROI denotes relatability, relevance, and shock value. The distinctive requirement in this transaction is commitment. For best results, Findlay concludes, “Make sure your product is bold, quirky, brassy, ​​bright, filtered and cocky. When dividends are paid in likes, followers, shares and views, you enhance your voice identity, make shine your physical attributes, tinker your talent and cultivate your creativity.

Its content also comes from a steamy setting. It’ll probably find you going “down-down-down” or the zoom might hold you in the wine or the tongue ring or the town thing; whatever it takes to be recognizable by your aesthetic/personal brand. The sometimes fleeting race for popularity is urgent. “Sometimes being seen and gaining followers means you have to check in to sculpting spas to lift, pinch, bend, vacuum transfer, fill, whiten, whiten, tighten, and transplant. These are very expensive appointments that impact those in the cosmetic surgery industry.”

These patrons were not imported from another planet. They were born and raised Trinbagonians. They have always been with us. We have produced them over the years as we strived to maximize profits, manipulate markets, obtain unfair advantages in commercial and government contracts, exploit those who stand in our way and bleed those who were unable to defend themselves. They are rich and get richer as the poor get poorer. Jesus said, “You will always have the poor with you.

Many of our creators reside in the liminal spaces of society. Wilson Harris calls it “limbo-anancy syndrome”, which he describes as follows: “The limbo dancer moves under a bar that gradually lowers until only ‘a mere slit of space through which, limbs spread, he passes like a Spider.’

Harris continues, “Limbo…was born on the slave ships of the Middle Passage. There was so little space that the slaves contorted into human spiders…Limbo then reflects a certain kind of gateway or threshold to a new world and the dislocation of a chain of miles. It is – in some ways – the archetype of radical change that came out of the Old Worlds and it is legitimate, I think, to speak of limbo as a kind of shared phantom limb that has become a subconscious variable in Antillean theater.

He remembers seeing these performances in Guyana when he was a boy in the early 1930s. “Some of the performers danced on high stilts like stretched limbs, while others performed stretched on the floor. In this way the spider of limbo and the perch of the gods were bound to the drums like the roots and branches of lightning to the sound of thunder.(History, Fable & Myth)

It is striking that the creators of these theme parties use figures on stilts in the same way that Peter Minshall uses them in his carnival performances – while others wallow in the mud like morning fiends do. de Jouvert, to increase the sensitivity of these events. Harris pointed out that Limbo “was rather the rebirth of a new body of sensibility that could translate and accommodate African and other legacies. [East Indian and Asian, for example] in a new architecture of cultures.

The patrons of these theme nights attempt to subvert received notions of respectability, knowing one’s place in society, and other recalcitrant forms of social behavior that may have hampered our imaginative gifts. Promoters make a lot of money from these events through their ability to attract thousands of customers to an event, many of which are sold out. The popularity of these events signifies a dominating customer desire: “Uptown and ghetto / Feelin’ d tempo / Soca and kaiso / Is party dey like so / Soon as we land / Fun is de plan / We like to jam / Like Bim & Bam / Waving, inside the band…”

The operational words in this context are belonging, commitment and celebration. Isn’t it possible that these patrons yearn to believe, “We are one people under the sun / One nation, under the Lord.”

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