Play, Carnival, Spectacle:

by tommy.rousse

A few quotes I gathered today that resonate.

“Festival only makes sense when its brilliance lights up the sad hinterland of everyday dullness, and when it uses up, in one single moment, all it has patiently and soberly accumulated.”

—Henri Lefebrve, Quotidienne 2

“It should not be forgotten that worse than the cheat is the one who disdains or refuses to play, ridiculing the rules or exposing their vanity. Huizinga tells of the Shah of Persia who, invited to England to attend the Derby, asked to be excused by saying he already knew that one horse runs faster than another. It is the same for the sacred. Nothing is more destructive of culture than these ‘wet blankets,’ who are skeptics and doubters. they like to smile at everything, naively believing that they thus affirm their superiority. Through vanity, they only cause injury to a precious treasure that was accumulated, at the cost of infinite pains. At least they might be iconoclastic and sacrilegious in the idea of establishing in their turn the rules of a new game that is more pleasant or more serious.”

—Roger Caillois, “Play and the Sacred.” Man and the Sacred. pg. 162.

“Carnival is a pageant without footlights and without a division into performers and spectactors. In carnival everyone is an active participant, everyone communes in the carnival act. Carnival is not contemplated, and, strictly speaking, not even performed; its participants live in it, they live by its laws as long as those laws are in effect; that is, they live a carnivalesque life.”

—Mikhail Bahktin, Carnival and the Carnivalesque

“In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.”

The spectacle presents itself simultaneously as all of society, as part of society, and as instrument of unification.”

—Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle, Ch. 1, sct. 1/ 3