[jahsonic.com] - [Next >>]
Related: Dionysus - Mikhail Bakhtin - Francois Rabelais
Mikhail Bakhtin was interested in great carnivals of medieval Europe. He saw them as occasions in which the political, legal and ideological authority of both the church and state were inverted — albeit temporarily — during the the anarchic and liberating period of the carnival. The carnival was liberating not simply because for that short period the church and state had little or no control over the lives of the revellers (as the critic Terry Eagleton has pointed out, this would be 'licensed' transgression at best). [jun 2006]
DefinitionA carnival parade is a public celebration, combining some elements of a circus and public street party, generally during the Carnival Season. Carnival is mostly a tradition of long-time Roman Catholic and, to a lesser extent, Christian Orthodox areas of the world. Most Protestant and non-Christian areas do not celebrate it.
The most commonly known theory states that the name comes from the Italian carne- or carnovale, from Latin carnem (meat) + levare (lighten or raise), literally "to remove the meat" or "stop eating meat". It has also been claimed that it comes from the Latin words caro (meat) and vale (farewell), hence "Farewell to meat".--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnival [Aug 2005]
For the literary theorist and philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin, the carnivalesque is both the description of a historical phenomenon and the name he gives to a certain literary tendency. Historically speaking, Bakhtin was interested in great carnivals of medieval Europe. He saw them as occasions in which the political, legal and ideological authority of both the church and state were inverted — albeit temporarily — during the the anarchic and liberating period of the carnival. The carnival was liberating not simply because for that short period the church and state had little or no control over the lives of the revellers (as the critic Terry Eagleton has pointed out, this would be 'licensed' transgression at best). Rather, it was liberating in that the carnival — in particular, the idea that set rules and beliefs were not immune to ridicule or reconception — 'cleared the ground' for new ideas to enter into public discourse. Bakhtin goes so far as to suggest that the European Renaissance itself was made possible by the spirit of free thinking and impiety that the carnivals engendered.
Bakhtin recognises that the tradition of carnival dwindled in Europe following the Renaissance and the eventual replacement of feudalism with capitalism. As a result, he says, the public spirit of the carnival metamorphosed into the 'carnivalesque': that is, the spirit of carnival rendered into literary form. The person who, existing on the cusp of this social upheaval, most fully represented this spirit was Francois Rabelais, and the book which holds the greatest purchase on Bakhtin's imagination is Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel. The comic violence, bad language, exaggeration, satire, and shape-shifting which fill this book are, for Bakhtin, the greatest example of carnivalesque literature. Ever concerned with the liberation of the human spirit, Bakhtin claimed that carnivalesque literature — like the carnivals themselves — broke apart oppressive and mouldy forms of thought and cleared the path for the imagination and the never-ending project of emancipation.
Bakhtin suggests that carnivalesque literature also became less common as the increasingly privatised world of modern, individualistic capitalism took hold. However, he points to some notable exceptions: most importantly Fyodor Dostoevsky, but also (in a brief note) Ernest Hemingway. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnivalesque [Aug 2005]
Rabelais and His World (1940/1966) - Mikhail Bakhtin
Rabelais and His World (1940) - Mikhail Bakhtin, Helene Iswolsky (Translator) [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Completed in 1940, first published in 1966.
CarnivalesqueThe carnival, a popular celebration of festive rituals and practices emerged in feudal Europe as a moment of peasant folk culture (Bakhtin, l968). The carnival valorized the erotic, the obscene, the lower body, excreta etc. Carnival created a liminal culture of the ludic that granted feudal peasants more pleasurable moments than tilling the soil. The fairs and carnivals were times and places of popular resistance , inversions, sanctioned deviance and reversals of norms that stood opposed to the official feasts and tournaments that celebrated the power of the elites. Typical patterns of hierarchy, deference and demeanor were ignored, indeed repudiated in favor of that which was proscribed and violated boundaries. The ‘sacrosanct’ elites of Church and State were typically parodied, mocked, hectored and ridiculed. The transgressions of moral boundaries was alluring at several levels from the political to the erotic-that are closely intertwined (Stalybrass and White, l985). The carnival was an expression of the Dionysian that Nietzsche claimed was suppressed by the Appollonian (Cf Mafesoli, l992). There was suspension if not reversal of usual codes of morality in favor of valorizing the lower body, excreta, the profane, the vulgar, the grotesque and obscene. These were times of indulgence in wine, song, dance and sex. Alternative meanings could be negotiated as resistances to top down impositions. The carnival as a liminal time and space for ludic indulgence fostered a "collective effervescence" that allowed all passions and desires to emerge-especially otherwise constrained. From Durkheim’s analysis of Australian religion to Goethe’s comments on Italy or Frazer on the Saturnalia, in such liminal rituals, all that was otherwise forbidden emerged in frenzied form. All taboos of food or sexual access were suspended. --Lauren Langman for http://www.angelfire.com/or/sociologyshop/langfr2.html
Carnival in Romans (1979) by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie
Carnival in Romans (1979) by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie (born 1929) is a noted French historian whose work is focused upon Languedoc in the ancien regime focusing on the history of the peasantry. He is currently a professor at the Collège de France. He is a noted pioneer in the fields of history from below and microhistory. His most noted work is Montaillou, village occitan, a study of the village of Montaillou in the south of France in the age of the Cathar heresy. He uses the meticulous notes of a member of the inquisition to develop a multi-layered study of life in a small French village over the course of several years. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmanuel_Le_Roy_Ladurie [Oct 2005]
your Amazon recommendations - Jahsonic - early adopter products