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Additional resources for Harper's (July 2011)
He has, of course, been accused of many other aesthetic crimes, most commonly that he celebrates violence. This is like saying that Dante celebrates sin, or that Proust celebrates snobbery. Scorsese is not celebrating our condition, he is recognizing it: recognizing what becomes of men separated from God, men who are lost. Don DeLillo, who grew up in a world much like Scor sese’s, once described the lingering effects of Catholicism this way: “For a Catholic, nothing is too important to discuss or think about, because he’s raised with the idea that he will die any minute now and that if he doesn’t live his life in a certain way this death is simply an introduction to an eternity of pain.
When I was a little older, I used to practice the Crucifixion at home in my room. I would stand in my underwear, bare back pressed to the cool Vince Passaro is a contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine. He is the author of Violence, Nudity, Adult Content: A Novel, and teaches literature and creative writing at Adelphi University. plaster wall, with arms outstretched and one foot on top of the other. I was, to use an expression I didn’t then possess, channeling the experience. It was quite a powerful feeling, and like the insane print, it was indisputably erotic.
When the portly, avuncular, and usually easygoing Kaboré arrived, he was sweating and flustered. He had spent two hours in the sun, he said; he needed a few minutes to gather himself. His assistant led me into a small, stuffy room where a rickety ceiling fan pushed the hot air around. An hour later Kaboré returned, gracious and apologetic, his great slow-moving body tipping forward to take me by the hand. Kaboré came of age amid the euphoric post-independence optimism that swept through Africa’s budding states.