Friday, December 08, 2006

Marechera and Melancholy.

(Putrefactio).

Unsane and Safe has pointed out a fascinating source for Marechera’s novel Black Sunlight: Bataille. This is quite clearly a missing link, something that I felt was there—hermeticism—but felt unlikely. Bataille speaks of two motions in alchemical thought: rotation and sexual activity. These are conceptual metaphors in the history of alchemy, for the Great Work cycles and the image of the Great Work is frequently depicted in terms of coition (invariably heterosexual, King and Queen, Brother and Sister, but occasionally homosexual). In the light of this it is significant that the central character in Black Sunlight is able to “screw like a circular saw” (p.47): this unifies exactly the occult terms shaping Bataille’s thought.

When Bataille discusses the dark aspect of the sun, he is drawing upon a well-established trope of alchemy, namely, the Black Sun. The Sol Niger, according to Jung in The Psychology of the Transference is “the black shadow” of the psyche, the depression (p.57). Seen as the Black African or the Skeleton, in such works as Splendor Solis or Viridarium Chymicum, the Dark Sun is an expression of the Putrefactio, literally the shit of human existence, the chaos that surrounds human life. The Black Sun’s black sunlight, in a biblical sense, expresses the Original Sin, the iniquity that darkens the bones of mankind. Such an alchemical reading would follow Christian interpretation and the Psalms. But Marechera’s reading of Black Sunlight as excrement, in Bataille’s alchemical sense, is an approach that re-directs Marechera’s thought away from his Anglican upbringing and towards a more radical, political definition.

(Sol Niger).

7 comments:

Unsane said...

Interesting link also between the depressed underworld of the black township in house of hunger and the sense of the continued underworld -- this time populated by anarchist revolutionaries -- in black sunlight.

eshuneutics said...

Yes, there is. I am sure that your Bataille discovery is highly important. If Marechera had gone beyond Bataille, he would have known the conection between the Black Sun and racial ideas--mind you, his intelligence would have taken him there without knowing alchemical sources. Do you remember that event in Sheffield where Marechera stole and sold the lecturer's books? (Source Book).Rare and Racy, the bookshop, was an interesting place in Marechera's time: a small, dark joint, always playing contemporary jazz, and noted for its revolutionary second-hand book stock, especially occult and philosophy texts. It would have been a free source for many ideas.

Unsane said...

Yes, I remember reading that. How do you mean about the connection between black sun and racial ideas? In any case, I think tht he did implicitly explore these ideas through the symbolism.

eshuneutics said...

The Black Sun grew out from a metaphor which made the Black Male a symbol of Saturn, depression, chaos, putrefaction, destruction, all that was negative in the alchemical process. Racial assumptions--the supposed destructive nature of the Black Male--drove the White Alchemists into a BLACK IS EVIL conceptual metaphor. Of course, this drove Colonialism (the Nigredo within the Unconscious) so Marechera knew the effect--and I guess the root metaphor.

Unsane said...

Very good!

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me whether the image used on this page is a puclic domain image or where it came from?

Eshuneutics said...

The image is in the public domain and from Splendor Solis by Trismosin.