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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Tomorrow is the feast of the Roman god Bacchus, known by the Greeks as the Greek god Dionysus. In my hometown Sint Niklaas, there used to be a bar called Bacchus. That was in the late seventies and early eighties.

I had to wait until the 1990s and the first issue of Wired Magazine to be properly introduced to Bacchus via Camille Paglia's interview on her recently published Sexual Personae in which Paglia introduced me to the Nietzschean dichotomy of Apollonian and Dionysian.

Popular perceptions of Dionysus and Bacchus

Dionysus was seen as the god of everything uncivilized, of the innate wildness of humanity that the Athenians had tried to control. The Dionysia was probably a time to let out their inhibitions through highly emotional tragedies or irreverent comedies. During the pompe there was also an element of role-reversal - lower-class citizens could mock and jeer the upper classes, or women could insult their male relatives. This was known as aischrologia - αἰσχρολογία or tothasmos, a concept also found in the Eleusinian Mysteries.


Bacchus is less wel documented in text, but all the better in painting. His name is connected with bacchanalia, a term in moderate usage today to indicate any drunken feast; drunken revels; as well as binges and orgies, whether literally or figuratively.


The bacchanalia were wild and mystic festivals of the Roman and Greek god Bacchus. Introduced into Rome from lower Italy by way of Etruria (c. 200 BC), the bacchanalia were originally held in secret and only attended by women. The festivals occurred on three days of the year in the grove of Simila near the Aventine Hill, on March 16 and March 17. Later, admission to the rites was extended to men and celebrations took place five times a month. According to Livy, the extension happened in an era when the leader of the Bacchus cult was Paculla Annia - though it is now believed that some men had participated before that.


Cecil Taylor @80


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP5L8tjnB6w

Excerpt of Ron Mann's 1981 "Imagine the Sound" documentary.

See also: free jazz, atonality, avant-garde jazz



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