Philip Moore was a true philosopher
A few years ago, the Commemorative Committee mounted an exhibition of Philip Moore’s art at the Museum of African Heritage. He addressed the gathering and astonished and mesmerized many guests by his wisdom. On that occasion we ‘adopted’ Philip.
Now that he has died, we reflect that he was a true philosopher of Guyanese birth, living among us all his life. He encouraged many to study and honour their roots. Philip held the view that the spirit can educate the man. He drew inspiration from his spirit.
Some of Philip’s wisdom was captured in 1996 by Rupert Roopnaraine in an essay ‘Philip Moore of Guyana and the Universe’. Here are some quotes from the essay. This should inspire all of us.
PHILIP MOORE QUOTES:-
1. “Drum-beat is an aspect of African art because the rhythmic monotonous beating of the drums sends some sensations in your mind.”
2. “A self-trained artist can be spirit taught. What I do practically know is that a man can re-educate his subconscious and the subconscious mind can come back and make his conscious mind super-conscious. And we can get any amount of knowledge that we want through this personal self-induction because, if all the elements of technology came out from the mind of man, the mind of man can develop to re-educate man to release the ninety percent of brain power that is dormant.”
3. “In most cases they [the British] wanted to show us that we were born in sin and shaped in iniquity and we are the grandsons and daughters of slaves and that therefore nothing good could come out of us. But with the individual spiritual realization, man comes into the true order of being. That is the basic element of what we call positive revolution. What you have to understand is that apart from your environment and your educational qualifications, you have something within you that you have brought from the spirit world and that thing is part of God.”
4. “When God said from the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat bread, that was not all that he said. He said too that by the meditation of your hearts you can be in attunement with me and by the craftiness of your minds you will make gardens even better than Eden. Those words are not a threat to man. Those words became what we call a consolation to man and man became a co-creator with God to make things for his own happiness.”
5. “When I carved up to a certain point, I felt that when I was holding a piece of wood in my hand, it seems to me that I was holding the mind of the world in my hand.”
6. “Philip, I am going to die and leave art to you younger people. One day you will make Guyana famous.” (quoting what E.R. Burrowes said to him on his death bed)
7. “We can re-educate the minds of people through art. The same as how the Hindus have the murtis, Ganesh, and Krishna and Hanoman-ji on calendars and postcards, the African man too has to get his spiritual heroes and surround himself with them so that they become a part of his everyday life.”
8. “Without the country getting proper redemption, Guyana is doomed, doomed. There is too much a big gap between the so-called educated people in the city and the people in the country. All those so-called educated black people living in Republic Park, in Georgetown, and the United States. The village, the village is the thing.”
9. “Jumbie Wedding is just to portray and to remember a prophet that we had in the village, Gulluh Alexander. My grandmother used to talk about that man. How he used to walk through the village talking about things that would come to pass, in a prophetic way. And he is a man who when he planted potatoes and he was ready to reap he would walk through the village telling people, ‘Pitete a banjo. Come a Liverpool fuh pitete.’ Imagine that! A man with a whole field of potatoes calling out the village to come and reap.
So on this one night I imagined myself living in his day. One night the people say Gulluh Alexander looking up to the full moon. He stood there for a long time. People wanted to know if a next world war was coming, wondering what this man could be seeing because they had a fear and a reverence for him. He told them nothing. Seven days after, he walked through the village and announced: ‘all who gat fowl an duck an turkey ah sit ah dey nest, go look, see wa happen.’
Well, all the eggs had become gander eggs, blue and spoiled. Gulluh Alexander told them: Nah tro way yuh ganda egg but tek yuh ganda egg an mix it wit dag booboo an put it pun yuh farhead because when de moon eclipse, yuh gon get a jumbie wedding. De rain gon fall an de sun gon shine underneath de tamarind tree. An de spirits from de fire, de hail, de earth, an de water would all come meet up together.’
The two main persons who came down to the wedding were the Moongazer and his wife. Coming from the moon, they are always cool, so the fire spirits had to pass through the bodies of the Moongazer and his wife to cool down before they could go under the tamarind tree for the wedding. All the people who did wrong to the community, their spirits have to come back to that Jumbie Wedding and ask for forgiveness, and make a pledge that they would do right.”
10. “Tengar was a Buxtonian who used to say ‘If the Lord and God had wanted you to be safe, He would have provided a raft for you.’ Tengar had to come and make confession and because of the wedding, the wars in the bush between Corentyne men and Buxton men who came to blows over the gold fields, ended. The Berbice policemen were all coming to marry the Buxton girls.”
11. “But in a communalistic society, everybody should produce and the wood-carver can exchange his pieces of work for yams and tomatoes and whatever else he needs. That is my personal vision of the new economic order. We must bring back people to some of these communalistic ideas.”
Chairman, Commemoration Committee