Reading and discussion group with Salvador Olguín, Morbid Anatomy “Death in Mexico” Scholar in Residence
Date: Three Mondays, October 13th, 20th & 27th
Admssion: $28 ( Tickets Here )
Location: The Morbid Anatomy Museum; 424A Third Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Presented by Salvador Olguín, Morbid Anatomy “Death in Mexico” Scholar in Residence, co-sponsored by the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York.
Full list of events here
Circa 1936, French philosopher George Bataille created a secret society called Acéphale, i.e., “acephalus” or “headless.” The society and the journal of the same name have since lost their aura of secrecy. The ultimate goal of this secret society was to perform a real human sacrifice. Bataille was obsessed with themes of human sacrifice and decapitation, and was convinced that, through the decapitation of a willing human victim, it could be possible to restore a sense of community to modern society.
Just as modernity had removed the ritual and spiritual aspects of human life from society, Acéphale intended to remove, via a violent decapitation, the rule of reason at a time when rationality was being used to justify political extremism, more specifically, fascism. Bataille was convinced that, if this wasn’t done, Europe would fall into a mayor cataclysm. All of the members of Acéphale were willing to become the victim of this ritual sacrifice, but none of them wanted to be the executioner. The secret society would eventually dissolve, and World War II would break, bringing about unprecedented catastrophe.
The theme of human sacrifice has haunted the Mexican nation ever since the Spaniards first learned about this practice among the Aztecs. As far as we know, the Aztecs held the belief that human sacrifice was a necessity, not only to preserve the union of their community, but also to prevent the motions of time and space from halting, thus bringing about the final catastrophe: the End of the World. In 2006 the Mexican nation faced yet another modern day catastrophe that affected it forever; its repercussions are still felt, even in other parts of the world. “Sicarios”–paid hitmen–roamed the regions of the North, destroying trucks, businesses, and human bodies alike with their AK-47s. The bodies of their victims filled massive graves, hung from bridges, and were turned into stew by the pozoleros. One form of execution, though, was pervasive: decapitation. Heads rolled, and the camera was ready to capture the moment.
In this guided reading group, writer and Morbid Anatomy Museum scholar in residence Salvador Olguín will introduce attendees to texts, testimonials, and images dealing with the themes of human sacrifice and decapitation, in an attempt to understand the symbolic nature of current events and events in history.
Salvador Olguín is October’s Morbid Anatomy Museum “Death in Mexico” scholar in residence. A writer and researcher born in Monterrey, Mexico, currently based in Brooklyn, he holds a MA in Humanities and Social Thought from NYU. He also leads the annual Morbid Anatomy Day of the Dead field trip. His work has been published in magazines and journals in Mexico, the US and Spain. He has worked extensively with cultural artifacts connected to the representation of Death, and has developed critical studies on post-humanism and the relation between literature and photography. In 2010 he received the Carmen Alardin Poetry Award granted by Mexico’s National Council for Culture and the Arts for his book La Carabela Portuguesa. Olguin is the founder and director of Borderline Projects.