coromandal


the family is all we need
December 30, 2009, 12:15 am
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , ,

Here’s an excerpt from Barbara Ehrenreich‘s Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy.  She says the prehistoric hominid related inwardly to themselves and their kin while the later, evolved human related outwardly to others.  And that, under the direction of the evangelical in America, we have taken on the aspect of the prehuman once again.  Shame.  I guess life isn’t for the living after all.  I might just throw out this bone for some extra chewing:  the Bible rarely if ever talks about family; it is outspoken on the other, often called your neighbor.

Here is the excerpt:

The family is all we need, America’s ostensibly Christian evangelicists tell us — a fit container for all our social loyalties and yearnings.  But if anything represents a kind of evolutionary regression, it is this.  Insofar as we compress our sociality into the limits of the family, we do not so much resemble our Paleolithic human ancestors as we do those far earlier prehuman primates who had not yet discovered the danced ritual as a ‘biotechnology’ for the formation of larger groups.  Humans had the wit and generosity to reach out to unrelated others; hominids huddled with their kin.

Dancing in the Street: A History of Collective Joy, Barbara Ehrenreich, Metropolitan Books, New York

Advertisements


rites performed in the forest at night
August 25, 2009, 1:21 am
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , , , , ,

Here is a list of the many incarnations of the god Dionysus who presided over “rites performed in the forest at night,” as described by Barbara Ehrenreich in her book Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy.  She describes the particular allure of this god for women who leave their children and duties and husbands to take up the ritualized dance.

In the description below, Shiva, the Indian Dionysus, is an outsider in extremis:  he steals our women, tramples our codes, engages the outcast, communes with the dead, he is obscene.

From Dancing in the Streets —

Dionysus was no respecter of ethnic boundaries.  According to the archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, the worship of gods resembling Dionysus ranged over five thousand miles, from Portugal through North Africa to India, with the god appearing under various names, including “Bakkhos, Pan, Eleuthereus, Minotaur, Sabazios, Inuus, Faunus, Priapus, Liber, Ammon, Osiris, Shiva, Cerenunnus,” and, we might add, the delightfully named Etruscan analog of Dionysus:  Fufluns.  In his brilliant rendition of the Indian epics, for example, Roberto Calasso describes the Hindu god Shiva as “this stranger, this woman-stealer, this enemy of our rules and ties, this wanderer who loves the ashes of the dead, who speaks of things divine to the lowest of the low, this man who sometimes seems crazy, who has something obscene about him, who grows his hair long as a girl’s.”  Like Dionysus, Shiva bore an association with wine, his cult being “particularly widespread in the mountains where the vine is cultivated,” according to a Greek who lived in India in the fourth century BCE.