DUENDE -or- This Happy Sadness

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Posted by Bel Suave Bel Suave
DUENDE -or- This Happy Sadness

Opening Part of the Trilogy of Departure A glance back at a salvo in the battle against the Vivisectionists of the Soul...
by Bel Suave

    from vestigialvision.com (trace elements of forgotten faculties) Originally Published: Jun 15th, 2009

Author's note: companion piece to the recently re-published Musings, & Black Sounds, this reworking of Lorca's manifesto of "Duende" was written in the twilight of the author's last moments before escape from the West - a homage to the dispirited & desecrated psyche of womankind in the fallen lands - just one facet of the war on humanity by which the hegemonists seek to alienate us from ourselves... and our birthright as ENGENDERED beings. Lorca's original essay - re-presented here,(since the original link appears to be dead) -


is key to grasping the real means of resisting that disenfranchisement from self and other! His astonishing manifesto demanded a response of my own. It appears here. Since writing it, I have had the happy experience of discovering that there are still women - outside of the fallen lands of the west - who are not totally cut off from their own essence. I Iook back now on how that manifesto was written,...with a happy sadness... knowing that it's optimism was justified, but remembering those who fell... before it's promise could be fulfilled. Their courage and fortitude gave me the will to go on... with peregrination towards those cathedrals of eros & innocence they showed me still exist....inside ourselves.

DUENDE ... or ... THIS HAPPY SADNESS (the paradox of declining female happiness)
A recently published study, “the Paradox of declining female happiness,” reveals that a statistical tracking of North American women over a period of 35 years (ending 2006), shows significant decline in women’s perception of their own well being. The paradox is in that the same time period has witnessed an extraordinary’ leap in equality in both the work and domestic spheres, leading to what the authors call the “puzzle” of how greater equality appears to lead to lesser satisfaction.

The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness† - Isites.harvard.edu
The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness†. By Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers*. The lives of women in the United States have improved over the past.

I first took notice of this study on a really ‘right wing’ site. The {female} author gleefully worked the theme that getting women out of the house and/or shaking them free of gender roles is no guarantee of making their lives more satisfying. Clearly some will see it as evidence for moving women back into the identity roles of the pre-sexual revolution era. I suppose it’s a mark of my naïveté to be surprised the issue is so starkly posed on political lines. I got to thinking about how difficult it is to reposition the debate outside of the tunnel visions of left and right, progressive or conservative, forwards or backwards. Something I suspect is absolutely absolutely necessary to make any sense of the data, because there’s more to the phenomena it deals with than those static positions are equipped to explicate.

As I was pondering that idea the Skype icon at the bottom of my screen flashed a message from someone named “Brianna,”asking if I “wanna chat?” Though I usually ignore this kind of voip spam I was led by the synchronicity of the event to look further. The girls’ on-line presence was the typical kind of community ‘let’s get laid’ portal, but what really stood out was the pages and pages of pictures of women in various stages of undress, no dress, or most tellingly, one poor soul whose profile shot was nothing more or less than her totally exposed, umm… pelvis! I’ll be blunt in my prejudices. Anatomy, in isolation from the person it belongs to is not very alluring. It repels, rather more than it attracts, speaking for myself, and serves as a disturbing metaphor for what ails relations between the sexes. Dis-integration.

It’s at times like that I feel secret sympathy for the character in Huysmans’ La Bas, Durtal, recoiling in dismay at the overwhelming bodily presence of his mistress, Mde. Chantelouve. Yet I know it was exactly that cabal of self defined “decadents” that Husyman was a part of which spawned the monstrous continuum of misapprehension we are haunted by still today. An C19th coterie of European males of artistic bent, or perhaps just bent, depending on where you stand on the aesthetic side of things, crafted a perception of “Woman” which allowed zero space between the ideal and the awful. In the minds of we who follow, idealization or debasement still terrorize us with their bipolar hegemony, no middle ground seems existent. I have a theory about the whole thing, but I’ll save that particular nugget for later.

In the reflective state of mind “Paradox” had put me into, I saw this wretched excess of anonymous body parts as apt description of the self image of this era’s modern woman, heading downwards in an arc more severe than even those dry graphical displays of the ‘happiness study.’ Prudish you say? Well, if you like. I prefer to see my perspective as subversive. Much as I imagine Vestigial Vision will be: a subversive exploration of how truth got inverted. How the ‘western world’ got infected with a virus of cultural suicide, now coming to fruition.

It will be the business of this space to subvert the prevailing consensus of acceptable discussion about the nature of our so-called reality. Why not start with the nature of “woman,” encourage women to start thinking critically about what really matters to them, what it feels like to be possessed of the feminine spirit, and whether all the lies that they’ve been taught to subscribe to really do justice to that feeling? Peel off the last thirty odd years of distorted conditioning. Seems as good a place as any to begin!

Why not subvert the consensus about the nature of nature itself! No better example of the inversion principle exists than the current great climate debate. To do the same with a hundred other sacred cows that represent the fixed points of the compass by which we’re supposed to navigate the hostile and threatening times we live in. Our chartbooks need updating badly, too many rocks and shoals now lurk in what were once more placid waters.

To write using vestigial vision means to make space for the interplay of light and shadow. The hegemonic vision has thrust us into the glare of light stripped of shadow, and therefore turned light against itself, made it an accessory of evil. Just as it has somehow managed to turn woman against herself, and man against himself for good measure. We can only begin to appreciate the other when we appreciate ourself, which requires us to make use again of those rudimentary appendages of sensation we’ve been trained to forget the existence of. Exploding the myth of the androgyne, we need to take heart in the vital differences between ourselves, our genders, liberate the complementarity hidden in that difference again. Although I remain an essentialist in the sense that someone like Luce Irigaray used to be accused of being, I don’t think it matters a damn what your gender is in this case. Seeing with vestigial vision is an attitude, or like being fluent in more than one language. You can see more sides, let shadow and light work against each other better. The way they were meant to.

Let us collect together the diaspora of impressions and sensations never in the past fully formed or pursued, rudimentary, but possessed of a wonderful intimation of being part of a skein of truths that can yet be woven together into some cloth of purposeful thought. Something to help weather the coming storm. Can you feel its’ rumbling apparition, the terrible lurking strength of it? There will be survivors amongst us. There always are. Let us put our strength to preparing the ground for what comes next, whoever it is gets to be there. Neither hope nor fear are any longer useful, we must proceed with invocations of the quixotic vision, instead of the old tools of chaotic vision. The vision of our times, an inverted and tranquilized materiality, a discarnated carnality, is rapidly drawing to an end. It will be required of us, this new/old type of visioning, for means of survival. Not just shoals lurk on our bearing ahead, a phalanx of monstrous undercurrents are hiding in plain sight, waiting.

Federico Garcia Lorca declared, in Havana Cuba, 1930, a manifesto of the Duende, laying out the grounds for speaking of the unseeable, the immeasurable in all of humankinds’ sphere, that which yet is at the same time always available for us to feel and take heart in. His invocation is a waypoint for our voyage together, one made in a post postmodern era, when history is truly ending, not through fulfilling its’ goal, or because we return to the age of mythic cycles, as some would wish it, but rather through indifference and exhaustion of spirit. All technique has fulfilled its’ purpose, it’s doom; to render us helpless before the same gods who were to be banished and downthrown by the technical mastery of man. Rather than liberate, it has enchained us, again, as have all the beautiful lies which replaced the stars as guides and guardians of our progressions.

But I’m writing no paean to hopeless nihilism here, nor prophecy of what comes next, or even less, what might be done to avoid it. Rather, I seek to bring into light the fictions of the past which have led us to where we are, and in so doing shear them of their power to confuse and immobilize us further. Lacking the skill and sentiment of a Lorca, I nevertheless must infuse this vestigial vision with my own manifesto, find the essence of what will inoculate us from the deadly miasma of inverted truths that passes for the common wisdom of these times.

I believe there is a place where men and women meet in passion and tenderness, free of all the baggage of tragedy and guilt. We need to find that place again, lay claim to our heritage. I owe diffidence to none in seeking out and exposing all they who have led us away from it.

Someday once again we will be guided by stars, and a moon to shine down benevolently on our peregrinations towards cathedrals of eros and innocence. But we sure are long ways away from there now.
Duende is all that is hidden from the naked eye, fully formed yet absent until invoked by an intent mysterious even to they who invoke it. Duende sees without being seen, comes without being called, but appears only when a person or persons make the necessary accommodation to its’ spirit of mischievous comity. Some confuse it with presence of death, but it is not, nor the absence of death. Duende seeks the company of those for whom paradox illuminates rather than confounds. But to illuminate in the sense not to cast light upon, but rather, to etch boldly the indistinct, the shadow with which light plays games of hide and seek.

The shadow is of necessity that which stands away from the light, thereby giving light it’s creative counterpoise. It is for this reason –the indistinction of duende(s) -that folk traditions of many lands give duende shape in little spirits of the woods and water, a fairy folk who live outside the bounds of our world, but appear within it at certain times to certain ones amongst us. The indoctrinations of cultural hegemonists caused these characters gradually to be misshaped into the storybook evil of children’s tales. The Duende in truth scorns our preoccupations with good and evil, having no more dependence upon category than it does upon distinction. Whether formed, or formless, in all events Duende is the mysterious presence which we are free to feel or turn away from. But just like Death it is always present whether we choose to turn our back to it or not.

Knowing Duende is to be sure of knowing one has lived, just as surely as knowing one will die. It completes our nature. In our model modern lives Death has become something we turn our backs to, try to ignore. Thus we have learned to turn our backs to truth, to life, as well as our own assurance of knowing ourselves. Our shadow self lives on in the play of light and darkness that is the fullness of our being, of truth, but our consciousness denies and is denied this fullness. Our conscious selves stay very busy creating a dull and deceitful counter-truth, counter life, hermetically sealed from death and dying, and thus, ironically, from rebirth. Duende is the force which holds death and birth in equal balance, each a potential for poison or elixir. To encounter Duende requires breaking with barren notions of painless existence, shattering the glass between ourselves and living, making the everyday dangerous again, in some way reawakening extinct forms that were banished from existence by common consent. Vestigial forms, indistinct yet pulsing with the rhythms of ageless truth.

It is almost extinct itself, nowadays... this Duende... almost a mere myth, shadow without even a shadows’ substance. But it is not gone away, much to the chagrin of the number worshipers, the logicians, the puppeteers who count on our ignorance of Duende for their success in deluding us. We remain animated, in some small fraction of ourselves, by the possibility of Duende, of the guiding spirit of truth, absence of fracture, of remembrance of wholeness that once was and forever remains part of our becoming. Animated by the the importance of the legacy it has left to all of humanity, somewhere beyond life and death, in its’ mysterious rainment of formless spirit Duende still has the power to invade physical realms of our world like a mist of luminous shadow.

There are some amongst us who turn their faces upwards into the succulence of this mist, take delight in the force of the inexplicable in their lives, measure the authenticity of their existence against the presence or absence of the raw power of this unnatural nature, what used to be known as the sublime, before it was contaminated by the fetid imaginings of the Symbolists. These pages are dedicated to their travails, their missions, the separate but linked paths of all they who refused and refuse still to be persuaded by the puppeteers that there is no reality other than that which they show us in unidimensional format. We haunt the dreams of the hegemonists, just when they supposed their triumph complete.

One observation bearing on our study of “declining happiness.” There is a clear possibility that one factor skewing the accuracy of the data supplied, and the interpretations leading from it, is that woman of the 2000’s may simply feel more at ease with admitting to being ‘unhappy’ or dissatisfied than those of the 1970’s and the intervening decades. The authors mention as much, although there is no methodological way to factor for it.

That said, there is another angle from which to look at the data, highly subjective as it may be. As a sex women have always had a close appreciation for the way joy and pain, happiness and sadness, all are capable of intermingling in a way that makes us feel vitally and unquestionably alive. Alive with a happy sadness. Artists coveted it, sometimes, like Lorca’s octagenarian dancer, who won the prize with just one terrible stomp of her foot, women held it to themselves like flowers picked neath a rainbow. It’s the Duende. In the modern era, it is banished, substituted, counterfeited. But it pays no mind to that insolence.

Our era has seen an unremitting attack on this totality of feeling, herded us more and more distant from every possibility of its’ transforming power, till an eventual numbness is reached, an antithesis to sensation of any kind. This is the languorous torpor which is aspired to as the pinnacle of living rich(if not richly living!) Medicated, hyper-sexualized, deprived of nothing except every facet of the truly satisfying, women, much more than men feel the yearnings of a soul unacquainted with itself, which acquaintance could reasonably be called the whole point of going to the trouble of living.

Alright, you say, he’s dropped off the edge of rhetorical overkill. Well before drawing that conclusion, consider what I pulled off of the net today, from an article about the future of sex. … "the next stage, already here actually, at least in trade shows, is the era of teledildonics, which is pretty much as it sounds: manipulation of a sex toy over the Internet using a computer interface. Example: One person controls a dildo’s commands -vibration and speed – while a partner on the other end experiences the sensations, perhaps seen in real time on a net-cam or videophone. ‘It will bring touch into the virtual world, … My partner is watching me watching them and feeling me touching them’.”

So this is what it must come to, this impoverishment that finds its’ victims amongst what may be the ‘richest’ society this world has ever seen? Life, mediated by technology. Life, Lite. Sure, if I thought that was my future,I’d be pretty damn ‘dissatisfied’ too. Viagra, that male mediator, is for men a tool which creates the appearance of desire. It is not capable of creating desire itself, only it’s simulacra. Their awareness of the distinction is vanished, something like the way of modulating oneself with the stages of the moon has vanished for women. Women, however still know of this distinction. They’re built in such a way bodily as to have to. So what we encounter in this study is the declining contact with the really real, that haunts women in the small corner of themselves that knows what it means to be desired. In[what was] an age of soaring material abundance ‘every little ting dat matter most’ is dropping, drooping, heading downwards towards extinction. The extinction of desire. Put that in your poll and smoke it!

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Re: DUENDE -or- This Happy Sadness

This is brilliant, Bel. Excellent post.