13 September 2011

Insistent whisper; jubilation

"Disaster's message that anything could happen is not so far away from revolution's exhortation that everything is possible. Revolutions beget a similar moment when the very air you breathe seems to pour out of a luminous future, when the people all around you are brothers and sisters, when you feel an extraordinary strength. Then the revolutionary moment of utter openness to the future turns into one future or another. Things get better or they get worse, but you are no longer transfigured, the people around you are no longer so beloved, and private life calls with its small, insistent whisper. (And privacy is what we are happy to go home to after communing with strangers and neighbors in carnival or friends at a party; the trick is knowing how and why to join again in due time.)
"There was a carnival of sorts that sought this renewal specifically, the jubilee that has always hovered as a promise and never been executed as an actuality unless you call a revolution a jubilee. The jubilee described in Leviticus is supposed to happen every fifty years and "proclaim liberty throughout all the land," free the slaves, cancel debts, return the land to the original owner (who might be God or no one), let the fields lie fallow, and bring about a long reprieve from work. Slaves sang of jubilee; early nineteenth century revolutionaries embraced it as a great redistribution of wealth, a starting over even; and the British group Jubilee Research (formerly Jubilee 2000) seeks the cancellation of third-world debt as jubilee's contemporary equivalent. The idea of jubilee is a revolution that recurs as a festival." (A Paradise Built In Hell, Rebecca Solnit, 2009; page 172)

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