13 September 2011

The other work of society

"The ultilitarian argument against fiestas, parades, carnivals, and general public merriment is that they produce nothing. But they do: they produce society. They renew the reasons why we might want to belong and the feeling that we do. The product is far less tangible than everyday goods and services but vital all the same – if absent from many contemporary societies. A festival is a sowing of wildness and harvest of joy and belonging. An endless fiesta would be exhausting and demoralizing: the pleasure would go out of it, the masks would disguise only fatigue and apathy, and there would eventually be nothing to celebrate. The ordinary and the extraordinary need each other, or rather everyday life needs to be interrupted from time to time – which is not to say that we need disaster, only that it sometimes supplies the interruption in which the other work of society is done. Carnival and revolution are likewise interruptions of everyday life, but their point is to provide something that allows you to return to that life with more power, more solidarity, more hope." (A Paradise Built In Hell, Rebecca Solnit, 2009; page 173)

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