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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Taste The Music


Dr. Lester CN Simon

If you think Jamaica dancehall and rap music have a deleterious effect on young people today; that they are responsible to a large degree for antisocial behaviour and that you have seen the worst, kindly allow me to disabuse you of your ignorance and inform you that what you see today is like a children’s choir, maypole song and dance, or the quadrille, compared to what is around the corner.

To understand what is in store, you have to recall that you possess five senses: Hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and touching. In the future, you will not only be able to hear music and see it performed, you will be able to touch, smell and taste music. Utter nonsense, you say. Actually, there are people among you today who regularly experience these multiple sensations when they hear music. These otherwise normal people are said to have synesthesia (syn-es-the-sia) and they are called synesthetes (syn-es-thetes).

Synesthesia comes from the Greek root syn, meaning “together”, and aesthesis, meaning “perception”. It refers to the blending of two or more senses. About one in two thousand people are affected. Scientists are busy studying these cases and once the mechanisms involved are clearly understood, someone will exploit this new knowledge for practical purposes and huge financial gains.

Synesthesia is the theme of an article by Ramachandran and Hubbard called Hearing Colors, Tasting Shapes in 2003 in Scientific American. Dr. Oliver Sacks devotes an entire chapter to synesthesia in his book Musicophilia: Tales of Music and The Brain. The basis of synesthesia seems to lie in cross wiring in the brain. The sensations from the five senses are registered in the brain in a number of stages and places or stations. Whilst there are different stations for all the five senses, some of the stations are very close together. Changes can occur to cause connections between brain stations that are close but usually functionally separate. It is also possible that these stations were once connected and in normal development they separate. Hence improper separation of the senses may be the cause of synesthesia.

Synesthetes experience various colours when they hear music. Some may see blue when they hear the note C sharp. Musical notes, intervals and chords evoke unique colours. In some, different numbers have different colours. The days of the week or months of the year elicit colours. Monday might be green, Wednesday pink and December yellow. Is Ash Wednesday ashen? It is suggested that everyone has some capacity for synesthesia, the mixing of the senses. We use metaphors and similes. Touching food can evoke a related taste. When you think of a cat, you think of it as fluffy (touching), having a certain shape (seeing), a particular odor (smelling) and emitting meows and purrs (hearing). It is the conjoining of these senses that occurs when you think of a cat, according to Dr. Ramachandran, a former Reith lecturer.
Dr. Sacks writes that this hyper-connectivity of the senses is thought to be present in primates and other mammals during fetal development and early infancy but it is normally reduced or pruned weeks or months after birth. This theory lends credence to the idea that a child in utero can sense music playing ex utero. Dr. Sacks references an earlier text in which a man was described as wearing a C-sharp minor coat with an E-major collar. He also relates the story of a child who became upset after receiving a box of coloured letters of the alphabet. They were the “wrong” colours. The mother agreed with the child. She was also a synesthete. But mother and child disagreed on which colour was correct for each letter.

An incidence of one synesthete per two thousand means that we have about forty of them. Assuming only twenty of them take part in carnival, be prepared to see some people display unusual reactions when the carnival music hits them. In the braver, newer world of music festivals and concerts, in addition to the visual displays to augment the music, there will be professional dancers in the audience to help you feel the music as you listen and watch the performance. All sorts of seemingly innocent, huge, scented candles will lightly perfume the air and special, scented plants positioned for you to smell and associate with the music. You will be served small, wafer-thin bits of exotic foods to help you enjoy the taste of the music.

In the future you will be able to go into a supermarket and buy a bottle of music of your choice. On the shelves there will be tubes of soul music, jars of jazz, sachets of golden oldies and classics, boxes of reggae, cans of calypso and soca, drums of steel band music and plain plastic bags (scandal bags, as Jamaicans say) of rap and dancehall music. You will be able to drink and eat music not only to your heart’s content but to the content of all your five senses; hearing, seeing and feeling the music as you enjoy the smell and taste of the musical beverage. It will be just like “the freshness of a breeze in a bottle”….until you realize that your music not only tastes like Limacol; it is Limacol.

Postscript: Let us have a safe and happy carnival. Our entire history says that we are carnival, which is the exponential conjoining of entertainment, economics, welcoming, creativity, survival, intellectualism, and so much more: Our culture.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

As You Like It


Dr. Lester CN Simon

At least once during this carnival you will see one or two persons or a group of revelers, on stage, in the street or in the tight confines of a dancehall, doing a dance that can only be described as adulterated, virtual sex. You will look and continue to stare so you can tell your friends just how awful and disgusting it was, especially with children looking on; so you can wonder if people really go through all those and even more elastic contortions, in the privacy of their homes. But the primary reason you are taking it all in, is to try to understand philosophically why normally sane, decent individuals would engage in such an exercise of erotic exorcism in public. It’s carnival.

We cannot continue to pass off gross, indecent revelers as being simply vulgar and obscene. That is easy. We have to try to understand why. And please do not tell me it’s an African thing. Even if it were, there are innumerable African things we can do without. It might help if we acknowledge that whilst the outlandish behaviour is more pervasive in recent years, extreme forms of erotic display during carnival are not new phenomena, contrary to the hypocritical claims of those who have upgraded their carnival status from vagabond revelers to hoity-toity onlookers.

I recall some of the stern rebukes and threats of lashings I got as a child from mere friends of my grandmother for the most minor infractions. Subsequently, I would stare open-mouthed in disbelief at their wanton and vulgar displays during carnival in the middle of High Street miles away from sleepy New Winthropes village. I had to conclude that their frantic calls to poor little me to join them in the big bacchanal were guilty acknowledgements that the punishments I had received were pointedly not for the actual infractions but for not knowing when and where to misbehave.

We may refer to those who display lewd behaviour during carnival as exhibitionists, and the onlookers as peeping Toms engaged in public voyeurism. We can then begin to move the discussion to a higher level similar to that on which some academics discuss postmodern, social relationships such as exist through reality television shows. These range from the mild What Not To Wear to the racy, exorcism of Jerry Springer. In both of these reality shows, as in all of them, the participants and the viewers undergo varying degrees of mutual, eschatological pleasure.

One of the remarkable rewards from peeping at the exhibitionists carrying out their disgusting behaviour is that peeping seduces the onlookers to project their inner feelings of disgust on to the exhibitionists. This is turn allows the peepers to satisfy their insatiable appetite to see the badness in others relative to the goodness in themselves. It is a form of guilty pleasure that the peepers get. They claim in infinite, storytelling details to their respectable friends, that their revelations from their precise observations of the exhibitionists were so awful, they would (not could) never in their wildest dream behave like that, even in private, let alone in public. On the other hand, the exhibitionists enjoy shocking the public peepers. The stares and cries of disbelief from the peepers spur them on to more and more excessive, indecent behaviour so they can qualify for their ten minutes of fame. They desperately and despicably need each other.

In reference to carnival, Derek Walcott refers to the culture of loss or denial followed by rediscovery through mimicry, and then extensions into inventions, as noted by the Walcott critic, Otto Heim. He goes on to document that the banning of African drumming led to the use of the garbage can cover and the birth of the steel pan; calypso evolved as an expression of satire by way of parody; and carnival costumes can be seen as an improvisation on sculpture. Where then do we place the despicable carnival slackness we complain about with bitter remarks but also with seemingly inexhaustible and salacious enthusiasm?

Slackness exists in many forms of popular culture, ranging from Jamaican dancehall lyrics and dances, to the almost primitive exhibitionism at some American and European music festivals. It is written by Carolyn Cooper in Sound Clash: Jamaican Dancehall Culture at Large, that Lady Saw (who reportedly makes Yellow Man at his worse seem like a Boy Scout), defended her dancehall slackness thus: “Slackness is when the road waan fi fix…...when government break them promise…when politician issue out gun…..And let the two Party a shot them one another down”. Lady Saw will mesmerize you by first offering welcoming advice on safe sex and then explain in graphic, anatomical detail (that would turn Yellow Man from yellow to black) the physiological reasons for her penchant for a particular sexual position; all in song and dance.

Suffice it to say that according to the queen of dancehall slackness, slackness has decidedly taken over when the Hobson’s choice is between the slackness of physical death by the gun and the slackness of moral decay, decadence and spiritual death by a cavalcade of vile lyrics and public, sexual exorcism. Escaping the gun consigns you to Styx, where the sole staple is endless cavorting in a banal and lifeless community comprising only all-inclusive, exorcistic dancehalls.

Beenie Man’s claim to slackness is less accusatory and more historical. He makes the point that popular reggae music was finely sanitized for uppity people from rustic, raw Jamaican music. Hence his slackness music and that of others, especially in its incomprehensibility to uppity people, has strong umbilical and historical ties to authentic Jamaican music. It seems that the devil has driven away David with his psalmic harp and he now walks alone between the banal “syn-copation” of some of our music. So now, you can understand my initial pleasant surprise and subsequent utter disarray on hearing Warrior Queen sing praises to the heavenly Father for his gift to her. In the chorus I discover that the gift resides in the endowment of her mate and his climactic effects on her.

The destructiveness of musical and dancing slackness is that it is so common, it spawns a way of life that objectifies the human form in general and the female body in particular. It passes from being a stimulant (like alcohol in small doses) to a depressant (like alcohol in large doses). Some artists claim it is all an act and say they are completely different off stage. Unfortunately, some of the ardent followers wonder why they should bother to repair to the tightness of other people’s normality when they are almost constantly in the sweet normality of slackness.

Dancehall slackness, which is seeping into carnival slackness, has been very badly bruised in the battle against what it defines as the ultimate slackness: homosexuality. This is largely because of the influence and financial power of the metropolitan homosexuals. However, it boggles the mind that the cries to kill homosexuals are loudest in Jamaica, where the national death rate is unacceptably high. Or maybe it should not boggle the mind at all. Tolerance of lifestyles and behaviours and consequent moderations and modifications for public consumption might be the answer. Indeed, some dancehall DJs have already tempered their lyrics and it has been argued that Jamaicans should be allowed to arrive at their own level of local tolerance of homosexuality rather than have tolerance shove down their throats by metropolitan, homosexual imperialists.

If we use Walcott’s model or principle of creation emerging from denial or lack, we may be forced to suggest that the persistence and pervasiveness of carnival and dancehall slackness in the form of erotic exorcism, speak to the denial, lack and repression of normal, healthy sexual attitudes, behaviours and relationships in the community. We therefore end up with a classic, calypso irony: Far from hinting at enjoyable, healthy, raunchy, sexual activity in private, the erotic dancing and sexual mimicry on display in public, during carnival and inside the dancehall, is probably a reflection of the very opposite, in private. The masses put on a naked mask to “play mas” and act out unfulfilled sexual fantasies far removed from their private, boring realities.

Now be honest. This explanation must make you feel less resentful of them and so much more morally superior to the exorcising, carnival vagabonds. You are not a public peeping Tom. You are quietly and studiously regarding and researching the carnival bacchanal for no reason other than unadulterated, academic and philosophical insights. That explains why you need the towering, vantage height of the sky-walking moko jumbie who is able to see and foresee all danger and all evil. After all, even in your self-righteousness and pompousness, you are carnival.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Our Imperialism


Dr. Lester CN Simon

We remember those days in school when the teacher would ask the class a very difficult question and some seemingly insignificant pupil at the back of the class would raise his hand time and again only to be ignored time and again until, one day apparently for cheap amusement, the teacher decided to point at him and the whole class erupted in raucous laughter even before he uttered a single word.

The question is about the possibility of West Indian integration. The reply from the unassuming pupil is that regional integration is only possible if we read comic books. When the laughter stops, the additional requirement is that we must also read English history, with a little bit of French, Spanish and Dutch history thrown in for good measure, which is a roundabout way of saying we must know the history of the making of the West Indies. Knowledge of the history of the uniting of the states of North America would also help.

People cannot be integrated by benign invitation. Integration can only come by force. Force by war or force by famine or force by necessity or force by clever, seductive marketing; but by force and force alone. Economic development or economic ruin must precede and herald the force of integration.

When we sneer at regional integration by recalling the failed West Indian Federation and remind the large islanders that they did not want us then when they were up therefore we small islanders do not want them now when the tables are turned, we do not understand the economics of turning tables.

The best time to argue for integration and get the terms you desire is when you are on top. Antigua and Barbuda in particular and the OECS in general must not make the same mistake the Greater Antilles made decades ago. Saying one from ten leaves naught on two separate occasions decades apart is not a claim of knowledge of special mathematics. It is the claim of clowns and mimic men. Now is the time to develop the OECS and the region on our terms before the tables turn again and bring back the days when, on landing in Jamaica in 1970 and going to a bank, I was told that my dollar from Antigua and Barbuda was worth thirty seven (or was it thirty eight) Jamaican cents. Small island people had small money. Now big island people spend big money for small things.

We understand from our English lesson that imperialism works best when imperialists profess, and some actually believe and would swear to the heavens, that their mission is to civilize the natives and deliver them from evil unto Christ and into the kingdom of heaven. We know the tools that are usually used in imperialist conversions; tools that were not invented by the English although they, as we might say, took the cake, the cake pan, the oven and the entire kitchen and held the patent; tools that were as obvious during the Stone Age as they are useful today in the USA.

The central and quintessential fighting tool of culture, as noted recently in Antigua by George Lamming, has been reduced to the singularity of entertainment with vulgar disregard for intellectualism and other elements of our culture, which is the sum total of the way we see and represent ourselves. The singularity of entertainment as culture is particularly obnoxious given our colonial history.

Here is one simple English lesson on integration from the history of the British Empire: “This is London calling…”, a station identification mantra during and after World War II of BBC broadcasting to occupied and colonized countries. So now, if Britain can seek and find ways to unify millions of people separated by wider seas and oceans than we are separated by in the Caribbean sea, where oh where is our Caribbean Broadcasting Service (CBC)? CBC is a government-owned media corporation located in Barbados. Its stated mission is, “To provide consistently, superior quality educational, informative and entertaining programs and services that inspire and enrich our Caribbean peoples' lives……” According to their web site, CBC operates a television station and three FM radio stations. None of the CBC radio stations can be picked up in Antigua and Barbuda under normal circumstances and, I am told, they cannot even reach as near as Trinidad.

We cannot begin to dream, let alone talk or hold meetings, about regional integration in the absence of regular, constant, daily and hourly broadcasting of a single, unifying, regional radio station throughout the Caribbean, even if we foolishly continue to reduce our culture to the most vulgar singularity of cheap entertainment, as Lamming lamented.

If the central dogma of imperialism is the extension of a country’s influence through acquisition of colonies and dependencies, I am compelled to posit that Antigua and Barbuda is a de facto imperialist nation in denial. The colonies and dependencies are already here in the national matrix. We are in the perfect, pole position to embark on the development of this country and by extension the development and integration of the region within and beyond the OECS.

But there is a self-defeating danger native and natural to all imperialist nations that we can only try to diminish and must always seek to control. It is the schizophrenia of belonging. I recall in vivid colour seeing on television in London in 1987 a Barbadian elderly gentleman with characteristic Bajan accent espousing in London the virtues of England because, “The English do things right”. Why then was he so stark raving mad on the cold, lonely streets of London? Because, my Windrush friend, having admired the party, heard the wonderful music and dressed up for the dance, when he got to the door of the dancehall, someone told him he was not invited.

The debate on CSME and the virtues of Caricom must be broadened and deepened because the glass of Caribbean integration is not half empty, it is half full. This must be manifested and topped up to the brim by using the modern technology of radio broadcasting. I know imperialism through radio broadcasting works because when I was a child and did not want to speak as a child and sought to put away all childish things and look for all the exciting things young virile and feral boys look for, BBC’s radio drama sparked my imagination. I am not ashamed to report that since my secondary school days in the sixties, unless I am very tired, I cannot fall asleep unless my radio is tuned to BBC.

Worse, England’s most popular patriotic song, Jerusalem, with words by William Blake and music by Sir Hubert Parry, is usually sung on the Last Night of the Proms. In my mind, it echoes the pastoral days in primary school when our favourite teacher would take us outside the concrete jungle of the classroom and sit us down on the grass. “...I will not cease from Mental Fight, Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand: Till we have built Jerusalem, In England’s green & pleasant Land…..”
By the bye, the very first time I landed in England, I experienced immense difficult falling asleep, not because of jet lag but because it took me almost all night to find the real, imperial BBC World Service instead of the local BBC stations and when I did, it was not at all the same but I still managed to fall asleep.

Some fundamental lessons in life are by definition universal. The best way to honour George Lamming and the memories of our heroes and realize our potential is to smash the old Caricom gramophone record Lamming referred to and use regional radio to redefine and broadcast our culture to solidify Caricom and herald the CSME. Some English lessons must be learnt, studied and practiced even if we do not like the teacher and even if we run the risk, which we must minimize, of some of us getting all dressed up and ending up at the wrong dancehall door.

Monday, July 7, 2008

For Friendship Assurance


Dr. Lester CN Simon

I didn’t know she was dead. I didn’t even know she was ill. There I was pulling out from the traffic lights when someone shouted out that one of our mutual school friends had died and had been cremated and her ashes were here. Friend turned into ashes? So much dust cannot be inhaled and digested in the twinkling of changing lights. Unlike the final call, green light does not mean go. It means proceed if able. Accidents are made of this.

Appropriately, I was passing by my primary school and immediately I imagined her going home from her secondary school in her tall, navy blue and white uniform with her straw hat coroneted with navy blue ribbon, walking as if the streets belonged to her. Never in a hurry, she always carried herself in a silent way with constitutive effortlessness. The dead tell tales.

In those days many of us from and around St. Johnston’s village and Sutherlands would walk to school and measure our times and paces regarding one another. Eventually most of us migrated to greener pastures in larger grounds; and contacts between us were as few and far between as the homecoming visits and distances apart. But on meeting up or calling up back home, we would talk about friends and family and work, in that order, and reminisce a bit about what we now call halcyon school days.

The last time I spoke to her was over the phone on a very busy day at work and I said I would pass by to say hello as usual. But somehow I just did not get around to it. So then, distal from the traffic lights, I recall her usually untroubled voice over the phone last year and my unkept promise to see her before she flew off to the far north again, when she would have told me that the dreaded cancer, the one most feared by all women, had sunken its claws into her. Driving along and trying to come to terms with so many decades crushed into seconds, I could only recall someone musing the results if one were to translate the Bible into dialect and realizing that the shortest verse would become, “Jesus put dung wan piece a bawling”.

Where did she go? Back to the beginning and back to a stream of consciousness that will sometimes and forever flow through us as if by happenstance; telling us to cherish friends and family through the little moments of nuggets we share; telling us to rest down the blinking phone sometimes and go and hug someone. It might just be the last, earthly embrace.

I can only imagine that before the beginning of the end, as would be typical of her, she reflected on hope for us, and found some solace for herself as can be found in the melancholy, contralto voice of Kate McGarry in the song, The Target (Miracles Like These).

In this song, we can regard this dreaded cancer as the target, ourselves as the archer and our dear, departed friend as one of the streams and rivers.

Can the target straighten the eye of the archer
And strengthen his arm
Can the target will the arrow into the center of its heart
If miracles like these are possible

Can the ocean comfort the streams and the rivers
As they journey home
Will the secret finally be told that they can’t be kept apart
If miracles like these are possible
If miracles like these are possible
There is hope for me to meet you Lord

May the soul of Tracelyn Thomas rest in peace.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Posing at the back of Medpath Lab for Carnival Magazine 2008

To Be and To Be, That Is The Answer


Dr. Lester CN Simon

It started that fateful day in third form when the late school master, Tim Hector opened my head with a top-spin cuff and poured in the words of the poem, Creation, by James Wendell Johnson. I did not know black people wrote poems, despite the many recitations I had performed in church and primary school. The greater lesson from Tim was that I did not know that a big, strong, strapping man like Master Hector could be associated with a poem. I started to think.

Sadly, I must confess that I was short sighted when considering what it means to be a West Indian. For all these years I made the mistake of assuming that since black people were the predominant people in the West Indies and had paid such a high price to build these island states, being West Indian must be in some sort of way related to being people of African descent or to an offshoot of thinking African, whatever that nebulous offshoot thinking meant. I was wrong.

Black West Indians have to understand that we have two battles to fight. One battle is for the sense of self and our relationship to Africa, which Joanne C Hillhouse outlined in her illuminating four-part series in this newspaper. The other battle is to find common ground with all other West Indians to define what West Indian means. The battle for West Indianism cannot be subsumed under the battle by black people for realizing our Africanism. I have to put up my hand and testify that I have made this fundamental error for over forty years. The other West Indians may be accusing us black West Indians of romantic apartheid. Perish the thought.

When I suggest that the plantation is the commonality for all West Indians (and Caribbean peoples), I understand that all of us from diverse origins look to our glorious origins as points of reference and departure. We, black West Indians have a glorious past and it is not the inglorious plantation. It lies in Africa. It is more difficult to accept that a common ground for West Indianism cannot be Africa and can be the plantation. After all these years of trying to grapple with this dilemma, I have settled on the plantation as a point of commonality not by situating West Indianism within and concentrating on the life within the plantation, but by using this inglorious plantation past as a point of departure to a less imperfect future.

This to me, is what West Indian and Caribbean mean and it embraces all who came before as well as during and after the plantation. It means we know what we do not want to be and hence we have some semblance of what we ought to be. The notion that West Indian is an offshoot of thinking African is largely responsible for some non-black West Indians smiling at black West Indians celebrating and entertaining while these same others continue to be the drivers of the black engines of growth. I jumped sky-high for joy when, in Jamaica in the seventies, it took a celebrated economist to remind the uppity merchants that they themselves used to be selling on the same pavement just like the black people operating the bend-down plazas outside their uppity stores.

Until we settle this plantation blight by examining it, undertaking the inevitable reconciliation and seeing it as a point of departure, related to but also separate and distinct from being African, we will never have a true West Indian Identity. Moreover, those who came after the plantation can buy into not a plantation genesis but a plantation exodus as we march away from hell to a better place.

Maybe the best way to make the point that being West Indian is not the same as being African is to settle for the old, oftentimes misused adage that black people always have to work at least twice as hard as other people. One work is for Africa. The other work is for a commonality amongst all West Indian and Caribbean people. The two battles are not the same.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008



Dr. Lester CN Simon

Some people can wine better than others. The Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage defines wining as “erotic or provocative dancing with vigorous swinging and gyrating of the hips”. It goes on to make a link between wining, carnival and vulgarity.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, vulgar means “making explicit reference to sex or bodily functions”. But the dictionary also notes that the word vulgar comes from the Latin word for “common people” and hence it also means “characteristic of or belonging to ordinary people”. I want to propose that wining says a lot more than being vulgar.

To understand the anatomy of a good wine you have to discover the different kinds of movements made by each joint of the body in isolation. For example, the hip joint can perform six different movements all by itself. It can bend forward, backward, rotate outward, rotate inward, move outward with no rotation and move inward with no rotation. Examine for yourself the different movements of the spine and the knee separately.

The art of wining requires combining some or all of the movements of the joints to create a smooth, flowing, orchestrated movement. This leads to my proposal that persons who are adept at multitasking in any activity should make good winers. When you consider all the disparate activities women have to undertake from dawn to dusk and beyond, it is no wonder that they generally out-wine men.

But sadly, there are many women and men who seem to be good at multitasking who cannot wine at all or wine very poorly. There are reasons for this. Some persons who appear to do many things at the same time are really not very efficient although they look very busy. Others, who may multitask very efficiently, fail to bring the art of multitasking to the fine art of wining.

Being able to distill all the possible movements of the joints into a good wine ensemble is no different from cooking a good meal and wining and dining your party guests as a good host or hostess. Good wining is also a reflection of expert negotiating skills, especially at carnival time when you have to jostle between the Carnival Development Committee, the myriad groups and troupes, associations and demanding, uncompromising audiences.

It should not surprise you that wining is regarded as vulgar, if by vulgar we refer etymologically to the common people. Common people have to multitask all the time to make ends meet. They simply carry over the art of everyday living to the art of wining. Even high-society women are now common (vulgar), expert winers because they realise that they too have to multitask regardless of their high-status vocation. Many men are forced to multitask like their womenfolk to make ends meet at home. This can only be a good thing for the family and for conjoint wining between consenting men and women, some of which is best confined to the privacy of the home, far away from the stage and street at carnival time.

As you look at wining dancers during this carnival season, try to determine how well they combine the various, possible movements of the spine, the hip and the knee. Look out for those winers with additional, unusual or unique movements which may include holding their head, hands or feet in positions that embellish the central movement. The central movement can be in many different planes. It is commonly clockwise or anticlockwise. Is this dependent on the person being left or right handed? It sometimes resort to elementary arithmetic and illustrates the number 8 or 888 with seemingly infinite, hypnotic recurrences.

One knee or both will be at a particular angle, contributing to the overall wining geometry. Your ankles should be supple and yours shoes should have good traction. The overall architecture should be stable and aesthetically (not necessarily ecstatically) pleasing. Discover and document the different skills that are deployed in wining while standing compared to wining while sitting or walking.

Finally, do not be fooled or be overly enamoured by those wanton winers who are wining all over the carnival stage or the street, explicit to the extreme. Empty vessels not only make the most noise, they make uncoordinated, purposeless movements and distract attention from the really good, smooth, flowing winer, like the one looking back at you in the mirror.

So when the carnival is over and your family, workmates and friends remark how much better you can multitask at home, work and play, proudly and honestly tell them it was all because of the wining, which taught you so well how to make ends meet.

Note: This article is scheduled to be included in this year's carnival magazine. It is a partial rewrite of an article by the same name published in The Daily Observer newspaper in 2006.