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Friday, June 08, 2007

Exorcism Chant: For the Iraq War

This recording of the so-called [Ketjak: The Ramayana] Monkey Chant is famous among avant garde writers and artists. This recording from UBU Web gives you the full flavor of the mesmerizing ritual and chant.

According to the notes, it

is a creation of this century, it is descended from something much more ancient — the trance dance, the dance of exorcism called sanghjang; its ancestry is clear. Ostensibly, the ketjak is a reenactment of the battle described in the Ramayana epic — in which the monkey hordes came to the aid of Prince Rama in his battle with the evil King Ravana — complete with a chorus imitating monkeys, as they chant the syllable tjak.

"But as perceptive observers have noted, the ketjak is primarily a dance of exorcism. Its connection with the sanghjang remains unbroken. As pointed out by Walter Spies and Beryl de Zoete in Dance and Drama in Bali, "Most of the movements are exorcistic in origin and contribute together to produce a tremendous unity of mood … to drive out evil as by an incantation. The cries, the crowding, lifted hands, the devouring of single figures, the broken lines of melody bewildering to butas [demons], who can only move straight ahead, all enhance the exorcistic effect."
I post it in the hopes that it will exorcise the demons that plague this nation as it continues to go about its regular routines as though nothing else in the world is happening. And as though its country are not killing and being killed in the name of something they'd probably oppose if they just cared enough to ask.

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