brotherpeacemaker

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The Book Of Esu

*** WARNING:  This post may contain spoilers! ***

As the movie started, I wondered what Orisa would manifest.  I saw the images of Eli shooting people with a bow and arrow and I thought Ochosi.  But his hunting was only for survival or defense on an apocalyptic Earth where food was scarce.  He was not a serious hunter.  I saw images of him wielding a machete where he was facing several opponents at once and thought Ogun.  But he was not a man of technology.  He used what he had for protection and survival but didn’t do any building or creating in a MacGyver like style.  I thought he might be a manifestation of Sango.  There was one scene with the lightening in the background.  But Eli was not interested in being a ladies man or being charismatic.  He kept his interaction with others to a minimum and seemed to be more at ease by himself, reading his book.

When it was revealed that he was delivering his book, when it was obvious he was delivering a message, I settled on Esu, the Orisa of communication among other things.  Embracing Baba Esu is often considered the first step towards spiritual enlightenment.  He opens the door for spiritual learning.  The fact that his book was a Christian bible pretty much sealed the deal for me.  Eli was a manifestation of Baba Esu, only far more serious than the always laughing, smiling Esu so many of us have been introduced to in such movies as Crossroads featuring Ralph Macchio as Eugene Martone, and Joe Seneca as Willie Brown.  Esu went by the name ‘Legba in the movie and was always smiling his way into causing mischief for anyone.  This manifestation of Esu was far different.  Although his deception was never intended to cause mischief for anyone, he played his fair share of tricks on the other characters in the movie.

The movie appears as a remake of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.  It is set on an Earth trying to recover from a nuclear war in the future.  Just take Mel Gibson’s Max and replace him with Denzel Washington’s Eli and then take Tina Turner’s Aunty Entity and replace her with Gary Oldman’s Carnegie and you have ninety percent of the film.  The last piece of the new formulation is Eli’s book, referred to as the last surviving copy of the Christian bible.  Eli is on a quest to take his bible somewhere where it will be safe from the likes of people like Carnegie who would use the good book as a tool to control other people.

The movie says more about our rather confusing relationship with our spirituality than with anything else.  Carnegie is old school.  He remembers the days prior to the nuclear exchange when people live and died by the words found in the bible.  He remembers how a bible could disguise a man of hate.  A bible can make some of the most obscene devils look like appealing angels as long as they held a copy of god’s alleged word in their hands.  A man can feel like he has god’s favor as long as he kept his hands on god’s book.  A man can feel like he can cast judgment on an entire country of people trying to recover from an earthquake as long as he is alleged to have a reputation for doing god’s work.  A man of god can control people and Carnegie is looking for absolute control in a town where he already controls everything.  And when Carnegie discovers that Eli has a bible, he must have it at any and all cost.

Eli has his own spiritual mission.  If I didn’t know better I’d say he was a Shoalin Monk with a bit of an attitude.  He easily trounces his adversaries with his martial art moves and his machete.  Eli is using his faith to guide him across the country, traveling west as he searches for a place of redemption for himself and god’s word.  He knows that Carnegie has plans to corrupt the word of god for his own personal benefit.  The word of god isn’t safe with such a man.  And the paths of these two men are on a collision course with the future of what’s left of the world at stake.

I found this movie smart and well thought out.  There were some discrepancies.  I wondered what happened to the children who would have been born disfigured and deformed in a future so bleak and bound to be suffering from radioactive fallout.  But other than that, the film is smartly done.  The monotonous grey tone throughout the film lends itself well to the bleakness of the future and the loss of humanity.  The world is a much more dangerous place where people fight and kill each other over things that are much less than what we throw away.  This movie comes with a commentary about gluttony and a reminder about everything we choose to casually waste.

If there is one overriding characteristic of Baba Esu for me to point to is his ability of presenting us with opportunities to show the true nature of our character.  When we believe that things are truly at their toughest, what decisions do we make?  Do we think long term about the social ramifications of our choices or do we simply dwell on the immediate gratification aspects?  Somebody made the choice to stockpile nuclear weapons and when that choice was made it gave other people choices to eventually use them.  And it was just a matter of time before we collectively give somebody the opportunity to make the wrong choice for everybody.  There is a lesson about choice here.   And that has got to be Baba Esu’s domain.

As the movie started, I wondered what Orisa would manifest.  I saw the images of Eli shooting people with a bow and arrow and I thought Ochosi.  But his hunting was only for survival on an apocalyptic Earth where food was scarce.  I saw images of him wielding a machete where he was facing several opponents at once and thought Ogun.  But he was not a man of technology.  He used what he had for protection and survival but didn’t do any building or creating in a MacGyver like style.  I thought he might be a manifestation of Sango.  There was one scene with the lightening in the background.  But Eli was not interested in being a ladies man or being charismatic.  He kept his interaction with others to a minimum and seemed to be more at ease by himself, reading his book.

When it was revealed that he was delivering his book, when it was obvious he was delivering a message, I settled on Esu, the Orisa of communication among other things.  Embracing Baba Esu is often considered the first step towards spiritual enlightenment.  He opens the door for spiritual learning.  The fact that his book was a Christian bible pretty much sealed the deal for me.  Eli was a manifestation of Baba Esu, only far more serious than the always laughing, smiling Esu so many of us have been introduced to in such movies as Crossroads featuring Ralph Macchio as Eugene Martone, and Joe Seneca as Willie Brown.  Esu went by the name ‘Legba in the movie and was always smiling his way into causing mischief for anyone.  This manifestation of Esu was far different.  Although his deception was never intended to cause mischief for anyone, he played his fair share of tricks on the other characters in the movie.

The movie appears as a remake of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.  It is set on an Earth trying to recover from a nuclear war in the future.  Just take Mel Gibson’s Max and replace him with Denzel Washington’s Eli and then take Tina Turner’s Aunty Entity and replace her with Gary Oldman’s Carnegie and you have ninety percent of the film.  The last piece of the new formulation is Eli’s book, referred to as the last surviving copy of the Christian bible.  Eli is on a quest to take his bible somewhere where it will be safe from the likes of people like Carnegie who would use the good book as a tool to control other people.

The movie says more about our rather confusing relationship with our spirituality than with anything else.  Carnegie is old school.  He remembers the days prior to the nuclear exchange when people live and died by the words found in the bible.  He remembers how a bible could disguise a man of hate.  A bible can make some of the most obscene devils look like appealing angels as long as they held a copy of god’s alleged word in their hands.  A man can feel like he has god’s favor as long as he kept his hands on god’s book.  A man can feel like he can cast judgment on an entire country of people trying to recover from an earthquake as long as he is alleged to have a reputation for doing god’s work.  A man of god can control people and Carnegie is looking for absolute control in a town where he already controls everything.  And when Carnegie discovers that Eli has a bible, he must have it at any and all cost.

Eli has his own spiritual mission.  If I didn’t know better I’d say he was a Shoalin Monk with a bit of an attitude.  He easily trounces his adversaries with his martial art moves and his machete.  Eli is using his faith to guide him across the country, traveling west as he searches for a place of redemption for himself and god’s word.  He knows that Carnegie has plans to corrupt the word of god for his own personal benefit.  The word of god isn’t safe with such a man.  And the paths of these two men are on a collision course with the future of what’s left of the world at stake.

I found this movie smart and well thought out.  There were some discrepancies.  I wondered what happened to the children who would have been born disfigured and deformed in a future so bleak and bound to be suffering from radioactive fallout.  But other than that, the film is smartly done.  The monotonous grey tone throughout the film lends itself well to the bleakness of the future and the loss of humanity.  The world is a much more dangerous place where people fight and kill each other over things that are much less than what we throw away.  In that respect, it’s also about gluttony and a reminder about everything we choose to casually waste.

If there is one overriding characteristic of Baba Esu for me to point to is his ability of presenting us with opportunities to show the true nature of our character.  When we believe that things are truly at their toughest, what decisions do we make?  Do we think long term about the long term ramifications of our choices or just about the immediate gratifications?  Somebody made the choice to stockpile nuclear weapons and when that choice was made it gave other people choices to eventually use them.  And it was just a matter of time before somebody made the wrong choice.  The same can be said about religion and spirituality.  We can make the personal choice to live by that which we believe to be the word of god or we can believe it to be just a tool to control and manipulate others.  The way we practice our religion reveals a lot about who we are.

Sunday, January 24, 2010 - Posted by | Ifa, Life, Orisa, Religion, Spirituality, Thoughts

2 Comments »

  1. I did like the movie a lot and like you wondered what happened to all the people who would have had to be disfigured by birth. But, hey I guess in a place as rough as that, they would be left to die and thus only giving rise to those who can fend for themselves. Such as survival of the fittest.

    Anyhow, I believe that Esu would be a great equivalent to Eli. He is the messenger and the guardian of the path who navigates the crossroads. And we both know this town was seriously at a crossroad in its development. It couldn’t move forward due to lack of trade and too much blatant criminality. Also, Carnegie who was the leader of the town couldn’t bear to let it falter. Even though he knew the gig was up and was looking for a way to ward off the inevitable.

    Esu with his dual perspectives, red and black, also showed us how our one vantage point of the situations and object in the movie gave us one perspective and thus seriously skewing what we knew about them. Therefore at the end of the movie you realized that what you thought you knew wasn’t necessarily correct. Because there is a whole other perspective that flew right over our heads as we tried to make the information in the scenes fit our perception of our own skewed views.

    Not to mention the movie taught a great deal on getting off path. His path was that of a messenger not of a protector. He was fine when he was protecting himself (the messenger) from harm. But once he tried to be the protector of the stupid girl, things turned bad. Only coming to the realization he was off path and that he put too much stock in a possession did he finally get things straight and get back on path.

    Great comparison! Also, nice refreshing post.

    Comment by theblacksentinel | Tuesday, January 26, 2010 | Reply

  2. Alafia Blacksentinel,Brotherpeacemaker,
    Thank you for a perfect lesson.
    Ifa and Orisha worship is (in my opinion) being contained in the Great Box of Afrikan Tradition(as it exists on the continant)past and present. Thank you for pointing out that Ifa is not limited to time or place and that anywhere we(Afrikans)are in the universe,as visitors or at home,orisha and Odu are always ready to serve and enterpret to us in present time and circumstance and that odu is being born every second of our life experience. It is for us to recognize and record.
    Thank you very much for your work and dedication.
    I hope I have not been to brief here, I don’t like lots of words.
    Akinwole

    Comment by Akinwole | Tuesday, February 9, 2010 | Reply


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