Wednesday, March 17, 2004

The Most Bizarre Passion article yet

From the New Statesman, a leftist British publication. Just as I was posting this, it was removed from the free site, and now you have to subscribe. Too weird.

The violence is not only heavy-handed, it is unrealistic. I know this because I have been crucified myself. An enactment ritual has existed in the Philippines since 1961, and in August 2000 I was the first westerner to take part.

When I got back from The Passion of the Christ, I decided to watch the 15-minute film of my crucifixion, shot by Sarah Lucas, for the first time in more than a year. I saw myself lying down on my cross, holding out my hands, first one, then the other, to a Filipino I had never met, who bathed them in alcohol before pressing his thumb down in the centre of the palm, feeling again for the right point of entry. My arms were strapped to the bars with two ribbons of cloth on each side - presumably to prevent me from jerking them away, from tearing the nails loose. My feet were supported on a small platform of wood.

Obviously, I didn't die on the cross, which was disappointing. Under certain conditions, a great work of art is a kind of suicide, which is what I wanted mine to be. I have always wanted to have a significant death. I yearn to go out in a blaze of glory. But I can't. I'd even settle for a blaze of ignominy. Yet it seems even a cheap death is hard to come by.


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