Monday, March 01, 2010

Purim vs Carnival

So, I wish I had some time to really understand Bakhtin, but for now, I'll just put some ideas out there.

The notion of the Mardi Gras carnival is very different from the medieval Carnivals. In the former, it is basically a spectacle. But the original, medieval Carnival, based on the Feast of Fools, and the Feast of Asses, is a creative act, and also the opportunity to have the voices of the powerless and the weak be heard. In some ways it is also an opportunity for the powerful to be sobered by the reality that life is final and that the wheel of Fortune can bring you down at any time. Hence the notion of kings becoming beggars for a day, and peasants being elected Pope, etc...

In some ways, you'd think that Purim should be closer to the medieval Carnival. After all the theme of Purim festivities is "v'nahafoch hu", so you'd think there would be an inversion of normal, a world upside down, but it seems to me that this theme is downplayed, and certainly not pushed as far as the medieval Carnivals. Specifically, it feels like underneath the spectacle, there is not the desire to give voice to the downtrodden and the weak in Jewish society, nor is there any kind of challenge to the authority of the Rabbis. Just revelry and drunkedness.


Blogger Miri said...

Although the tzedaka thing does lend itself to sympathy with the underpriveliged. but I agree, it's a theme that should be emphasized more.

March 04, 2010 6:52 PM  
Anonymous hearing aids houston said...

Perhaps on purim they should offer jousting as an event then?

March 09, 2010 9:50 AM  

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