moulin rouge dancer 2005


"Come On, Sex Is Overrated..," Circe Scoffed

What is the intention behind the usage of the term 'dual personality?' To a greater extent, does it really make sense dividing our understanding of human nature between order and disorder?

In 2005, the magazine Io Donna published an editorial with my photographs portraying the dancers performing at the Moulin Rouge, in Paris. A psychologist wrote the chief editor she was impressed. Something within the duality of the black and white portraits, shot backstage, and the color ones, shot on stage, caught her attention. Distracted by other events, I didn't inquire further.

view of tokyo in 2010

It was only in 2010, on assignment in Tokyo, that I found again the opportunity to photograph another apparent dual experience, one luring into the raw. The owner of Rockza, the striptease theater in Asakusa, invited me to photograph one show. I was the only "gaijin" (foreigner), the only photographer, in the subdued light of the theater. While I was focusing on rituals poles apart from the Parisian vibe, the translator whispered stories about the owner, the enigmatic old lady who established the theater in 1946. He told me she respected my photographs of women and trusted I wouldn't violate her clients' privacy. Later, I interviewed one of the performers. Her point of view on sex, "nothing but a tool, on and off the stage" she said, sprang a myriad of questions.

dancers on the stage of rockza tokyo 2010

All those questions became photographs in the following years, all pointing to and beyond the motive behind sexual acts. This is the story of how I aimed all the way to the core of "acting and authenticity" and the meaning of it, once brilliantly expressed by Marlon Brando during the 1973 Dick Cavett show. It is a story about how a mask turned into the revealing tool to grasp the wholeness of one nature.

mouth of ayumu

This story doesn't belong to any specific time and place. The script is loose and runs into impressions of Homer's characters. It surfaces as recollection of presence of masks playing on stage, but my quotes are still vivid memories. Funneled through time and way far from Tokyo, I recall the same breath I heard in Asakusa when, through her mask, Circe scoffed: "Come on, sex is overrated.."

Circe's Mask And Obsession

portrait of woman wearing golden mask

Circe is an ancient force. The deep rancor that animates it feeds on a pattern of ruthless manipulations. According to Homer, Circe manifests as a goddess who lures explorers. Wearing the mask of bliss, she opens up her lair to strangers. Then, the force hits the fools and turns them into pigs (symbol of stupidity in ancient Greece). The ones who are perceived as a potential threat are turned into harmless wolves and lions. Forced into mutation, their destiny is to be treated with scorn. They become unwilling spectators of the goddess' obsession: erasing the human condition through dominance of mind and body only, and the negation of anything else. Behind her mask, the serfdom of mind and body is all she sees and pursues. She is a fanatic for she punishes any rebellion to her dogmatic control.

Circe is the first prisoner of her pattern. She is a lonely creature because she betrays each relationship right at the start. Self-destruction stems within her method. Polyphemus is a prisoner of cruelty. Calypso is a prisoner of beauty. Circe has no passion and no loyalty but to her obsession. She doesn't simply betray and scorn the trust of all explorers; her practice of mutation erases history. Her loneliness is rooted in cosmic nihilism.

Today, Circe is the trend luring humanity into self-destruction. The pattern starts by reducing life to a spreadsheet. It continues by seeing humans as instrument panels ready for optimization. It is a cult. It is fed and worshiped. By embracing unlimited convenience as ethics, we nurture the cult of delusions. From ancient materialism to recent transhumanism, we have been putting at risk our core: the union of values, decision-making and responsibility. This happened during the course of history, for example, each time we chose to be passive in front of injustice, cowardly blaming 'the system,' only to justify our participation in crimes against humanity.

Circe's specific points on sex and on love play key roles in the destructive pattern.

To be continued.

Incognita: Athena's Control

portrait of woman wearing silver mask

woman wearing silver mask and scarves

Incognita: Calypso's Escapism

calypso in the sun

calypso waking up

Incognita: Nausicaa's Reverie

portrait of woman wearing black butterfly mask

To Be Continued


female enigma laying

Female? Male? What lies beneath this war for the requisition of meanings? Is it for the control of conventions? Is it about ruling what we feel? What are we cowardly hiding by supporting either the demagogues of 'change' or the bigots?

human with short hair

Long time ago, someone had the courage to avoid decoys and told us a story:

'I'm afraid!' said Zusha. 'Because when I get to heaven, I know God's not going to ask me, 'Why weren't you more like Moses?' or 'Why weren't you more like King David?' But I'm afraid that God will ask, 'Zusha, why weren't you more like Zusha?' And then what will I say?!'

From the Chassidic tradition

female enigma eyes

If we deny the existence of 'Zusha,' what is it that we are after? The power of arbitrary control? Is it the control over the reconfiguration of body and mind?

What do we want? To core ourselves? To turn into Circe?

human physical core

To be continued.