June 25, 2003
They say that when General Sherman arrived in the
American South he torched
all the southern cities to demoralize the citizens, even though
each one of
them had surrendered to his army. The town fathers of Savannah,
decided to meet him before his arrival to the city and to convince
to burn Savannah down. The beauty of the city was irresistible
decided against arson. Instead, he sent Savannah to President Lincoln
Christmas gift in 1864.
President Lincoln received the following
from General Sherman, "I beg to present you as a Christmas
gift the city of
Savannah with 150 heavy guns & plenty of ammunition & also
about 25000 bales
Paranormal societies consistently vote Savannah "The
haunted city" in the world. One has to wonder to what extent
the "haunting" ghosts are the ghosts of
slavery and the civil war -- But the gravestones, too, reflect
a haunting that one notes in the oddness of the life
Some folks live to be 200 years old. Others die even
before they are born.
The townsfolk say that the gravestones in the haunted colonial
the center of Savannah's historic district have each been altered
Sherman's bored troops who changed the times and birth and death,
with the change in script, their life histories and their relations
But if cities and graveyards are haunted, so too
are photographs and bodies
that carry the burden of our histories.
Sitting in a café waiting
rain to stop in the old healer's capital of the Appalachians, Asheville,
North Carolina, I was paging through Bahman Jalali's Ganj-i
Treasure) and noticing the ways that the old black and white photographs
Iran in the mid to late 19th Century carry the weight of history.
in traditional Iranian costumes before the photographer. They sit
French chairs on top of kelims.
Court eunuchs look into the lens
leaning onto tables loaded down with leather bound books. Almost
exclusively, the background matte which is a made-for-studio-European-garden
landscape with marble pillars and gargoyles, suggests the haunting
of old Europe in the Persian court of the 19th C.
servants of the andarun, imply somehow that photography was
seen as an
opportunity of becoming other-- not of capturing the spirit
or the ghost as
some clerics had thought-- but of creating other histories,
The court servants and eunuchs put on costumes, and odd hats,
themselves look like women, hedgehogs and flowerpots.
Having just walked out of the mystic chiropractor's
office in Asheville, one
frame in particular grabbed me in this book. The image caption
reads "Moshir ol-Hokama (later titled Hakim ol-Molk) examining
photo, the "patient" is down prone on an ornate Persian
rug. He is
surrounded by nine men, one of whom is blocked by the "assistant's" hat.
Another haunts the frame with a booted presence
along the right edge of the
image. If this is the site of an examination, I think to myself,
it is a
strange one. The tubes balancing on the patient's stomach look
my eyes. The helpers casually hold wrenches and screwdrivers
hands--odd!-- and the background, a frame within a frame, is
British garden once again, now mounted on an interior wall in
court. A curious smile and a trickster gesture-- one finger of
a hand to
the edge of the mouth and another open and pointing at the patient--
interprets the image for us where the contemporary caption fails.
I wonder if our bodies, projections of a modern
life and instilled with its
traumas, its flashes, its rhythms and jerks, aren't themselves
telling us what's going on from the inside out? From within the
is like that trickster's knowing smile. More so, really, than our
and our therapists who merely caption us, interpreting our histories
repeated obsessions in ways that only mass productions and mass
can overlook-- Bipolar, Depression, ADD, obsessive compulsive,
aggressive, whatnot…We may be simple, but do these labels
frame us at all?
Let me stop and touch you on either end of your
spine, like my mystic
chiropractor, a network spinal analyst, did to me in the small
Asheville and let's see what your involuntary movements may tell
the histories that haunt you. A gentle touch of a magical wand
Bayaz steps away. What stories will your body tell you now?
Rolling your head forward you constrict your throat and throwing
back you release a sigh. You've walked around with a protective
all that's you. Finally you're opening up to the world and letting
Simple isn't it?
A jerk of the shoulder moves your shoulder bones down your back.
extend up and out like wings and gently lift you up and then
been nesting all your life. Time to fly!
You lay still after I touch you, but only to the untrained eye.
As I lift my
forefinger and thumb from the back of your neck, the neck muscles
adjust themselves as if swimming to my touch. An uncontrollable
then, release. You don't need to know what happened and never
you mind. It
all just walked away.
Your hip lifts and falls and swings from side to side. -- A crack
sacrum and a sigh. Finally peace and wisdom has entered your
life and this
time you're the keeper.
Turning your head from one side to the other, your feet twitch
quivering song of the blue birds in the summer night. Three books
brilliant career, which you've shrouded all along. Something
quiver tells me, it's your turn now. The searchlight always looks
slightest movements in the dark!
The upper back twists and turns again and again. You've kept
it there for
years. The anger. The hopelessness. The lack of confidence. The
father's wrath. Let yourself go. You're finally ridding yourself
century of anger. And a baby's in the forecast.
An aimless kick, kick, kick and your tail finally releases. Did
you know you
were a donkey in another life? It's time to take on human form,
Your elbows bend and your body pulls the shoulder blades down
and away from
your ears as you rise and fall to the rhythm of the waves. Is
this a longing
for the Caspian or a surrender to the lapping shores of the beloved
You compress the back of your neck as I lift my finger from your
spine. You lift your head to compress down again between you
and stretch as if I was pulling you forward and jerking you long
back of your neck. Your creative soul is blocked right there.
the world would be like if you dared to let the muse out once
and for all!
Life would be color!
You’ve given up all your obsessions: your coffee drinking,
your long nights out at the club. What's missing is the open heart ….
That heavy breathing…. your lungs are stretching your ribs
to make room.
I've never seen you move with such joyful ease. Such calm. Such
passion. As if hearing the tune of the beloved, your body curves
to one side and then another -- you're a content baby aren't
remember that old traumas die last. Watch for that ghost, as
you arch and
curve your back like a black cat on all fours. But be confident
that it too
will have to move on.
The sweet wave of your spine, as you rise and fall to my magic
stick, tells me that everything is all right. Never has life
been more gentle to the
Pisces. Keep swimming against the stream you slippery eel. You do it with
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