coromandal


what the fundamentalist believes
January 7, 2015, 9:04 pm
Filed under: brave new world, the sweet life | Tags: , ,
Mitra Tabrizian | Iran/England | City, London 2008

Mitra Tabrizian

The most dangerous fundamentalism today is banking. Nevertheless, there are other fundamentalisms that harm us, as there always will be: religious, political, racial etc. Salman Rushdie has a beef with the religious variety; he wrote a book which caused a fatwa and sent him underground for at least a decade. He wrote the sentences below.

Fundamentalism comes from fear and increases it. The fundamentalists I have known are fearful; some see the world – and themselves – as hopelessly sinful, and act out of this corrupted, helpless milieu. They learn codas and truths – which are perfectly useful for moderate lives – but eventually make them too inflexible, too hard, to be useful for real life with real living people. The effects of fundamentalists in our communities are legion. They’re not just killing with bullets. The net effect is reduction of freedom and joy. We can all testify no doubt – to a different degree than Mr. Rushdie – to this loss.

The solution is to allow joy to reenter our lives; joy will stamp out fear; joy is our normal state of being which has been usurped by fear. Rushdie makes a short list to start us off below; it’s expandable of course: don’t believe what they tell you, love the world, act out, dance, say what you think, wear what you like, demand justice, indulge, flirt.

Here is Rushdie:

The fundamentalist believes that we believe in nothing. In his world-view, he has his absolute certainties, while we are sunk in sybaritic indulgences. To prove him wrong, we must first know that he is wrong. We must agree on what matters: kissing in public places, bacon sandwiches, disagreement, cutting-edge fashion, literature, generosity, water, a more equitable distribution of the world’s resources, movies, music, freedom of thought, beauty, love. These will be our weapons. Not by making war but by the unafraid way we choose to live shall we defeat them. How to defeat terrorism? Don’t be terrorized. Don’t let fear rule your life. Even if you are scared.

Salman Rushdie

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when God’s not looking

Here is a description of bait and switch on the macro scale.  The worshipers of Dionysus experienced ecstasy – a feeling of communion and immortality – through rites of wine and dancing.  One can argue – as this author does – that this joyful rite was replaced in the Middle Ages with the relatively sober Christian rite of the eucharist.  The church tamed – neutered? – the rite of communion with God and drove drinking and celebration out into the secular world.

Through secularization, the potential for ecstasy was dialed back drastically and the sacred act of ecstasy became mere drunkenness and fights.

What would it take to reinduct a sense of the sacred into the art of drinking heavily?  In our current mindset, a drunk drinks to forget.  To drink alone is taboo.  Drink is measured out, like pills at a pharmacy table:  more than one or two and we have a word for people like you. In the pre Medieval view, on the other hand, a woman drank to commune with god and to feel her immortality.

Here is Ehrenreich:

Inevitably, something was lost in the transition from ecstatic ritual to secularized festivities — something we might call meaning or transcendent insight.  In ancient Dionysian forms of worship the moment of maximum “madness” and revelry was also the sacred climax of the rite at which the individual achieved communion with the divinity and a glimpse of personal immortality.  Medieval Christianity, in contrast, offered “communion” in the form of a morsel of bread and sip of wine soberly consumed at the altar — and usually saw only devilry in the festivities that followed.  True, the entire late medieval calendar of festivities was to some degree sanctioned by the Church, but the uplifting religious experience, if any was supposed to be found within the Church-controlled rites of mass and procession not within the drinking and dancing.  While ancient worshippers of Dionysus expected the god to manifest himself when the music reached an irresistible tempo and the wine was flowing freely, medieval Christians could only hope that God, or at least his earthly representatives, was looking the other way when the flutes and drums came out and the tankards were passed around.

The result of the Church’s distancing itself from the festivities that marked its own holidays was a certain “secularization” of communal pleasure.

[…]

Without a built-in religious climax to the celebrations — the achievement, for example, of a trancelike state of unity with the divinity — they readily spilled over into brawling and insensate drunkenness.

Dancing in the Streets: A History of Public Joy, Barbara Ehrenreich, p 93.



possibilities for joy
March 30, 2012, 12:14 am
Filed under: brave new world, the sweet life, unseen world | Tags: , , ,

Nothing speaks more clearly of the darkening mood, the declining possibilities for joy, than the fact that, while the medieval peasant created festivities as an escape from work, the Puritan embraced work as an escape from terror.

Dancing in the Streets: A History of Public Joy, Barbara Ehrenreich, p 145