Salvador da Bahia
7.11.– 17.12.2017

Salvador de Bahia 1971-1972. Explosion (1985/1993) — The second stop in the project Hubert Fichte: Love and Ethnology refers to Hubert Fichte and Leonore Mau’s stay in Salvador de Bahia, depicted in the second part of Fichte’s novel Explosion as „La Double Méprise“ (pages 119-414). It is in this section where Explosion earns its subtitle „Roman der Ethnologie“ (A Novel of Ethnology), for, along with numerous others (priestesses, professors, mages, artists, and cultural figures), it is ethnologists above all who appear as characters. Fichte struggles with his various attempts to grasp candomblé on the one hand, and, the political situation in this „black Rome“ on the other; to take part in and experience as individuals the various local communities of ethnologists, the observer-researchers and participant-researchers, whom he regards as equally imposing and suspicious.

 

In particular, Fichte finds himself enmeshed in a love-hate relationship with a likewise homosexual ethnologist, photographer, and priest, whom he dubs „Pope Pieri,“ concealing the figure of the influential French scholar Pierre Verger, who remains to this day enormously influential in Salvador: Fichte/Jäcki reproaches him for having never acknowledging his own homosexuality in his research and making explicit the role that love and desire have played in it. Along the way, Fichte attempts, via a number of approaches from ethnobotany to aesthetics, to map a route to „the African knowledge ‘as computer’“ and the secrets of candomblé.

 

His goal is to see this „Afro-American aesthetic“ celebrated as a universal alternative to that of the West. At the same time, Jäcki is afflicted by systematic epistemological doubts. In the end, Pope Pieri, the novel’s main antagonist, exits and vanishes into Africa. Fichte and Mau rented an unfurnished house in the northern part of Salvador, in an attempt to get to know and document the city. Various commentators and interpreters, such as Jorge Amado, Caribé, or the German woodcut-artist Hansen-Bahia, have assembled trivialized, exoticized narratives, which Fichte tries to break apart. Nevertheless, he must accept that such stories are much loved locally. Moreover, like his literary career back in Germany, Jäcki finds himself in danger — his new novel has been panned, and as Explosion progresses, he begins writing another novel, one that reaches back to his childhood and links it to his present-day research in Salvador de Bahia — Versuch über die Pubertät (An Essay on Puberty), if one might call a comparative study that combines an ethnology of one’s indigenous culture with a foreign one, and depicts their entirety in a tone of deep estrangement. In this work, Fichte portrays himself as a homosexual, or bisexual, man, a „Mischling ersten Grades“ on account of his Jewish father, who was sent off to Catholic boarding school by his mother during the Third Reich. Here, for the first time, he experiences ritual both as menace and safety. The novel Fichte wrote out of these relationships exerts a profound influence on his other novel, i.e., Explosion, at the moment of its conception, similar to Die Palette vis-à-vis Eine glückliche Liebe.

22/10/2017  Hubert Fichte  Salvador da Bahia
Explosion (Auszug II)
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20/10/2017  Peter Braun  Salvador da Bahia
Salvador da Bahia – Auf der Suche nach einer Ethnologie der Empfindlichkeit

Der Germanist und Medientheoretiker Peter Braun beschreibt die Entstehung ethnologischer Fragestellungen und Praktiken auf Hubert Fichtes Weg anhand der Erfahrung, die dieser in Salvador da Bahia 1971 und 1972 machte. Er nimmt dafür nicht allein die Inhalte des Romans Explosion in den Blick, sondern betrachtet diese auch im Verhältnis zu Fichtes Studien Xango, Petersilie und Lazarus und die Waschmaschine, die außerhalb der Geschichte der Empfindlichkeit noch zu Lebzeiten des Schriftstellers und Ethnologen erschienen. Daneben gibt Braun sehr lesenswerte Einführungen in die Geschichte des Candomblé und anderer westafrikanisch geprägter Religionen, die aus der Yorubá-Tradition stammen und die Fichte in Südamerika und der Karibik studieren wird. More…

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