November 13, 2011

James Ray's Sacsayhuaman video

Blogger Kathryn Price NicDhàna writes about a video by James Ray, the convicted sweat-lodge killer. She calls it:

The most racist thing I've seen today...This video perfectly sums up what is wrong with the newagers and others who engage in cultural appropriation. James Ray admits he has no idea what a local, possibly indigenous, woman at this sacred site is saying. She appears to be explaining the site to visitors. Ray not only ignores her words (that he could have recorded and had translated later, if she gave him permission to do so) but instead he talks over her, giving his outsider interpretation of what the symbols at this site mean, and what religious significance he thinks the site has. Of course, he uses appropriated imagery and his fantasies of Indigenous people's traditions for this, though he admits that he "doesn't understand a word" of it.

Her voice is drowned out, and his replaces it. His voice is broadcast over the Internet, as hers is reduced to background noise, and then forgotten. Misinformation and fantasy replace traditional knowledge. The appropriator says some more racist crap, laughs about the Indigenous people, and laughs about how clever he is.
If James Ray had listened to Indigenous people, the three people who died in his Sedona deathlodge would still be alive. Indigenous people said, "You don't know what you're doing. Don't pretend you are leading one of our ceremonies. Don't try to lead these fake ceremonies at all. No. Stop."

But like so many lower-profile appropriators of his ilk (who, like Ray, come from the dominant culture and never interact with traditional, non-colonized Indigenous people), Ray decided he knew better than those dumb Indigenes. He knew better: how to better interpret their sacred stories, how to better lead rituals of his own devising on their sacred sites, how to talk to those spirits (despite not understanding a word of their language), how to fulfill the newagers' fantasies of mystical ceremonies they secretly knew no Indigenous person would ever teach them. If the newagers had simply listened to the people who said traditional ceremonies must be in the language of that culture, maybe they wouldn't have paid $10,000 to die.
Comment:  For more on James Ray, see Ray Gets "Spiritual Comeuppance" and Ray Guilty of Negligent Homicide.

1 comment:

dmarks said...

Here is another new-age interpretation of Sacsayhuaman:

click here