His cultural expectations of Africa held out hope for his own personal transformation by reconnecting with the wild child within. Of all those who participated in French Surrealism, Michel Leiris provides the best example of the way in which his avant-garde intellectual milieu in Paris combined an Africanist fascination with notions of political protest 2.
Leiris was one of a team of ethnographers, headed by Marcel Griaule, that crossed the African continent from west to east, beginning in Dakar in the fall of and ending in Djibouti in the spring of Although the inspiration for the expedition was multifaceted, the undertaking was primarily a museum collecting enterprise financed in part by the French government. Upon his return, Gide published his travel journals Voyage au Congo and Retour du Tchad , which immediately sold thousands of copies 3.
Far from his conjugal duties, French society and the bickering at the Surrealist Centrale, he finds his way not to a wild, untamed self but to writing 6. The distance in this equation was decisive, liberating; it created a feeling of both safety and stimulation. He was confronted with a continual abundance of information to interpret and his official task was to take notes. The combination of ethnography and autobiography—a search for the self in the Other—that he found during his first trip to Africa became an enduring aspect of his life as a writer.
He spares neither the Europeans nor the natives his ironic humor rendered with an adroit use of descriptive detail:. He expresses doubts about the credibility of his sources of information and even suspects that some of the performances he and Griaule witnessed were inauthentic. Early on, the local guide hired by Griaule tells a story about a wedding ritual among the Dyola:.
This idealization of Africa as a kingdom of children, free from the constraints of the civilized world, represented an unattainable wonderland for Leiris. Although this primitivist myth persisted for the better part of his journey, he eventually recognized the impossibility of becoming the child or the native of which he dreamt 7.
This frustration as a result of his failed quest for self-transformation followed him all the way back to Paris. Thus, the process of collecting objects emerges as a constant theme of the journal. The field notes they acquired, however, reflect brief encounters since the team spent very little time in each place.
They also relied on translators and were not able to get to know the people or their practices, so in this sense the object-collecting dimension of the enterprise and the subsequent documentation they inspired made a longer lasting contribution to the ethnographic study of African cultures in France 9. Griaule describes their ethnographic approach as methodologically experimental; forging an original combination of aesthetics, sociology, and psychology The point here is that French engagements with colonial culture are dynamic, updated as each new generation redefines its methods, and cannot be homogenized into a single colonialist epistemology.
I take this to mean that the author was not yet consciously committed to a set of ethnographic principles, which critics may attribute to him retrospectively in their attempt to map out a conceptual terrain. He takes a particular interest in their dreams:. The anxiety captured in the symbolic dream image indicates conflicting emotions that have to do not only with the arduous collection of objects and information, but also with the more unsettling process of their incorporation into a French institutional framework.
Here and elsewhere, European references haunt Leiris like a ghost. In his quest to leave himself and his culture—to become Other—his few moments of fulfillment come from performing his bureaucratic duties as archivist and secretary Note taking becomes his ultimate refuge:. Clearly, the reality of this expedition was not as adventure filled as the former Surrealist had hoped. When emotions became overwhelming and the reasons he left France crowd in on him, he turned to writing, which became the real process of discovery.
Rather than taking an interest in the situations of injustice with which he is confronted the way Gide did, Leiris expresses intermittent guilt about abandoning his political engagements in Europe In the middle of Dogon country, Leiris comments on news about the status of Surrealist dissidence:. Lettre de K. He finds himself inordinately attached to objects, however trivial, and memories of home.
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After remarking that the African women he encounters are not exciting because their nudity and promiscuity do not promise the same thrill of transgression that sexual relations with a well-dressed bourgeois lady does, he finds himself dreaming of Breton:. Nouvelle pollution nocturne. These objects are metonymically associated with rythm, dancing, sacrifice, and blood and thus bring with them erotic and pseudo-erotic overtones.
Une rencontre permanente Psychologies Magazine, septembre Julia Kristeva Philippe Sollers "Chaque jour est une rencontre". Shanghai Jiao Tong University Letter of appointment - New York Times Books : "Julia Kristeva presents a mix of biography, history, theorizing and even a three-act play. Yet the pieces work together to create a kind of wisdom literature for what Ms. Kristeva likes to call the third millennium".
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Le journal des psychologues, avril Je me voyage. Deux regards sur Blaga Dimitrova. Changer la place des choses, par Cristiana Dobner. Tied in Knots The modern marriage is an elaborate feat of performance. IAU strives to remain active and engaged with the academic and cultural community of the region, and one way to achieve this is by maintaining an open and up-to-date dialogue for the student population through events such as those listed below.
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