The most recently-completed scene from my feature-in-progress Seder-Masochism.
written, directed, designed, animated, produced, etc. by Nina Paley
music from “Spider Suite” by The Duke of Uke and His Novelty Orchestra
sound effects by Greg Sextro
DONATE HERE: questioncopyright.org/sedermasochism
Based on Exodus 12:
21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover.
22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.
23 For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.
24 And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.
25 And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the Lord will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service.
26 And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?
27 That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped.
28 And the children of Israel went away, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.
29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.
30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.
LYRICS by David King, aka Duke of Uke:
DEATH: Falling stars you wished upon
are cinders now and now they’re gone
their residue festoons my fetid field.
Unfeeling husks of lovers past
the shells are all that ever last
I’ve taken everything that they concealed.
Whoever told you life was fair?
Look around you, everywhere
the cruelty of nature is displayed!
Why the scorn?
Why the surprise?
Everything that’s born must die
and it isn’t I who made the world that way.
What wicked little twist of fate
placed you her upon my plate
Here, where no one hears your cries?
Where was your god to steer you through
Perhaps your god’s forsaken you
Otherwise why lead you here to die?
BA (spirit of the dead): I, I know the way how
I’ll melt away now
I know the way.
I’m feeling bliss now
Dissolved to mist how
strangely I go
Now I finally know
DEATH: It’s merely moments now,
moments now until
your feeble flesh bends to my will
and it will
so rest your weary head.
There’ll be no pain,
no pain at all
as everything you are dissolves
Your fate resolved
upon my silky thread.
BA: I, I know the way how
I’ll melt away now
I know the way.
I’m feeling bliss now
Dissolved to mist how
strangely I go
Now I finally know
…and smote the Angel of Death that slew the Slaughterer that killed the Ox that drank the Water that extinguished the Fire that burnt the Stick that beat the Dog that bit the Cat that ate the Goat that my father bought for two zuzim. Chad Gadya
A fine haberdasher asked me to design this fine 100% silk 13″ x 13″ pocket square with designs from This Land Is Mine. They are very fancy! $45-a-piece fancy, which is what fine haberdasherous silk pocket squares go for. Buy yours here.
“This Land Is Mine”
pocket square: millennia of violent territorial disputes distilled into a charming, non-violent, 100% silk 13″x13″ pocket square. Square made in France; history made in the Levant. (Alternate video link at vimeo
. Note: pocket square does not play video.)
Maybe the timing’s not good on this, given current events. This is LITERALLY about Hebrews and sheep, per Exodus. It is not a political statement.
Here is Aharon, following God’s commandments per Exodus 29. Exodus is a pretty depressing read. Last night when I animated this, I found it depressing. This morning I found it kind of funny. Cartoon violence is magical that way.
Full text of Exodus 29 (King James version) after the fold: Continue reading Killer of Sheep
Here’s the interior of the Tabernacle known as “The Holy Place.” Behind those cherub-adorned curtains (“the veil”) is the “Holy of Holies”, the remote chamber containing the Ark of the Covenant with its cherub-adorned Mercy Seat. For a deity that prohibited graven images, YHWH sure demanded a lot of graven images of cherubs.
From my online research it seems there’s some demand for tabernacle pictures, and some sites charge a pretty penny for their use. Ironically, my blasphemous film will result in excellent Free, high-res, high quality, carefully rendered tabernacle assets that anyone can copy, modify, play with, and use for any reason (except to establish an artificial monopoly). When Seder-Masochism is finished, I’ll post all the source (.fla) files, just like I did with Sita Sings the Blues.
I designed some Hebrews for Seder-Masochism. Doing all 12 tribes was too daunting, but I’m calling the additions to Moses and Aharon Fatiman, Menorah, and Asher* respectively.
There aren’t a lot of representational images in Jewish art – not compared to rich delicious pagan religious art traditions like Hinduism and Catholicism – but there are a lot of visual symbols, which hopefully people will recognize. (The Hand of Fatimah isn’t Jewish per se, but it is popular in the region that includes Israel.)
I also made a little “before and after” illustrating what happened to the Levites in Exodus (hint: the Levites wrote Exodus):
*The Tribe of Asher is usually symbolized by a tree. I further simplified by using a leaf. Lately I’ve been reading Merlin Stone’s When God Was a Woman, which I’m enjoying very much despite its archeology being out of date. Asherah was a popular Goddess in Canaan during the Hebrew reign, and she was often symbolized by a tree. So when I was doing some research on the 12 Tribes, I was a little stunned to see one called Asher, with a tree symbol. Maybe these were some of the Israelites who pissed off Yahweh by worshipping idols – that would be cool, but we’ll never know, since they’re Lost.
I envisioned This Land Is Mine as the last scene of my potential-possible-maybe- feature film, Seder-Masochism, but it’s the first (and so far only) scene I’ve animated. As the Bible says, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
This Land Is Mine from Nina Paley on Vimeo.
Who’s Killing Who? A Viewer’s Guide
Because you can’t tell the players without a pogrom!
This generic “cave man” represents the first human settlers in Israel/Canaan/the Levant. Whoever they were.
What did ancient Canaanites look like? I don’t know, so this is based on ancient Sumerian art.
Canaan was located between two huge empires. Egypt controlled it sometimes, and…
….Assyria controlled it other times.
The “Children of Israel” conquered the shit out of the region, according to bloody and violent Old Testament accounts.
Then the Baylonians destroyed their temple and took the Hebrews into exile.
Here comes Alexander the Great, conquering everything!
No sooner did Alexander conquer everything, than his generals divided it up and fought with each other.
Greek descendants of Ptolemy, another of Alexander’s competing generals, ruled Egypt dressed like Egyptian god-kings. (The famous Cleopatra of western mythology and Hollywood was a Ptolemy.)
More Greek-Macedonian legacies of Alexander.
This guy didn’t fight, he just ran the Second Temple re-established by Hebrews in Jerusalem after the Babylonian Exile.
Led by Judah “The Hammer” Maccabee, who fought the Seleucids, saved the Temple, and invented Channukah. Until…
….the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and absorbed the region into the Roman Empire…
….which split into Eastern and Western Empires. The eastern part was called the Byzantine Empire. I don’t know if “Romans” ever fought “Byzantines” (Eastern Romans) but this is a cartoon.
Speaking of cartoon, what did an Arab Caliph look like? This was my best guess.
After Crusaders went a-killin’ in the name of Jesus Christ, they established Crusader states, most notably the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
Mamluk of Egypt
Wikipedia sez, “Over time, mamluks became a powerful military caste in various Muslim societies…In places such as Egypt from the Ayyubid dynasty to the time of Muhammad Ali of Egypt, mamluks were considered to be “true lords”, with social status above freeborn Muslims.” And apparently they controlled Palestine for a while.
Did I mention this is a cartoon? Probably no one went to battle looking like this. But big turbans, rich clothing and jewelry seemed to be in vogue among Ottoman Turkish elites, according to paintings I found on the Internet.
A gross generalization of a generic 19-century “Arab”.
The British formed alliances with Arabs, then occupied Palestine. This cartoon is an oversimplification, and uses this British caricature as a stand-in for Europeans in general.
The British occupied this guy’s land, only to leave it to a vast influx of….
Desperate and traumatized survivors of European pogroms and death camps, Jewish Zionist settlers were ready to fight to the death for a place to call home, but…
….so were the people that lived there. Various militarized resistance movements arose in response to Israel: The Palestinian Liberation Organization, Hamas, and Hezbollah.
State of Israel
Backed by “the West,” especially the US, they got lots of weapons and the only sanctioned nukes in the region.
Sometimes people fight in military uniforms, sometimes they don’t. Creeping up alongside are illicit nukes possibly from Iran or elsewhere in the region. Who’s Next?
The Angel of Death
The real hero of the Old Testament, and right now too.
Note: If you want to support this project, please notice I have Paypal and Flattr buttons. TAX-DEDUCTIBLE donations accepted via the nonprofit QuestionCopyright.org.
This pretty much sums up the second half of the Book of Exodus (with Jesus standing in for Yahweh). I’m still processing metaphors for Seder-Masochism, even though I’m not animating right now.
Behold, self-hating Children of Israel! I have a new Kickstarter project, which could become a new film.
Come see Sita Sings the Blues in Queens!
Thursday July 21st
5pm to 8pm
130-05 101st Avenue
Richmond Hill, NY 11419 (map)
I will be there for a panel discussion afterwards, along with Aseem Chhabra (aka Shadow Puppet #1), Ravisharon Kaur, and Bina Mahabir.
There’s an extra special reason you should attend this screening: it was organized, at great effort, by a devout Hindu, Rohan Narine, for a largely Hindu audience. He originally set it up at his Mandir, but after a while someone nixed it. Then he rescheduled it at a Hindu senior center, and again, after a while, someone else nixed it. Finally he chose the neutral Starlite Pavillion, and of course the Hindutvadi fundamentalists want to “protest” it (in their usual classy way, by sending hundreds of batshit emails). Now, there have been thousands of Sita Sings the Blues screenings, but this is the first one to be specifically targeted. Why? Because this screening was organized by actual devout Hindus, and the Hindutvadis can’t stand that. So please, show some love for our real Hindu friends, and come to this screening.
Still not sure? Here’s Hinduism Today‘s endorsement of Sita Sings the Blues.
Update: Tyrants only have power if you give it to them. Unfortunately, the Starlite Pavillion just canceled the Sita Sings the Blues screening.
Which art in the Ether
That cannot be named;
Thy Vision come
Thy Will be done
On Earth, as it is in Abstraction.
Give us this day our daily Spark
And forgive us our criticisms
As we forgive those who critique against us;
And lead us not into stagnation
But deliver us from Ego;
For Thine is the Vision
And the Power
And the Glory forever.
Seriously, I could use the publicity. What would happen if thousands of people signed this petition? Has a movie ever been banned from the Internet before? I want to see how it’s done. You can leave a message with your signature. They only have 367 so far – do your part, people.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
–Khalil Gibran, from The Prophet
Likewise, your Art is not your Art. It too belongs to Life.
Copyright terms were initially 14 years – about the time it took to raise a child to adulthood. After 14 years (or 18 years now, we’ve extended legal infancy) parents really have to let go of their children, and acknowledge they don’t “own” them. In fact they never did.
So it is with Art. An artist nurtures a work from an invisible little idea into a form that can stand on its own. But eventually they have to let go of it. Letting go is essential for the growth of both the “child” and the “parent.” Parents who don’t let go of their children never mature; children who are never released wilt. 14 years is a long time to “own” a child…50 years is ridiculous. Imagine changing your kid’s diaper for 50 years! And life plus 70 years is simply obscene. Would you want your kid beholden to your rotting corpse? Would you rather it belong to your corpse than to Life?
So there I was at the Dubai International Film Festival last week, and I forgot to bring my mobile phone charger. Usually my Blackberry’s battery conks out after less than 2 days, whether I make calls or not. But lo! That single charge lasted through the entire festival, and even worked when I got back to New York! 6 days of battery use on one charge. Blessed art Thou O Lord Our goD, King of the Universe! Happy Chanukah!