Revolutions, circuitously

Part II. of filecast 55270 suddenly is accompanied by an edit I made of a recording of a remarkable performance that I found on one of the shadowy torrent sites that makes the internet such an interesting “place.” The uploader tells a story of the cassette being given to them by a Somali refugee, saying: “She took this cassette with her when she left Somaliland – one of the few possessions she was permitted to bring. The tape was literally falling apart, and … had no notes on the j-card, but for a handwritten Mohamed Mooge Jawaabtii Beledweyne. ‘Jawaab’ = something like ‘response’, ‘beledweyn’ = big city.”

Mohamed (sometimes ‘Maxamed’) Mooge Liibaan (sometimes ‘Baban’) was a Somali oudist, and also a “singer, composer, musician, teacher and revolutionary, … acclaimed not only for the purity of his voice, said by many to be the best in all Somali speaking areas, but also for his integrity, revolutionary zeal, teaching ability and his efforts to maintain high artistic and social ideals in his music.”1 He was killed in 1984.

As if to quell any doubt that he was, indeed, a revolutionary, one picture shows him holding his oud in one hand and a grenade in the other.

Eisenstein, too, was a revolutionary, perhaps most precisely of the cultural sort; but his life and work are interleaved with the very real revolution that gave birth of the USSR. Connecting the manipulated frames from his groundbreaking 1925 silent film, all 24 of which are shown above, with the work of a Somali oudist, little known in the west, was done entirely without the revolutionary connection in mind. Instead, I chose the lively, rhythmic and virtuoso playing of Mooge to join with the images of a woman apparently tossing her head wildly, to suggest the kind of dance one might see in a mosh pit.

You’ll forgive me if I note, in passing, that wikipedia gives five variants of an oft-quote by the 19th and 20th-century anarchist Emma Goldman. I choose to cite this one: If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.