Loading…

Pissing, Puking and Menstruating: (Re-) considering Carnival and its resisting powers

“I have him bitched, ballocked and bewildered, for there is a system and a science in taking the piss out of a screw and I’m a well trained young man at it.” (Brendan Behan)

Obviously there are well-developed techniques for taking the piss out of authority figures. It is the laughter of mockery and degradation that Mikhail Bakhtin had in mind when he thought of how humor as a weapon of the weak and oppressed.

Carnival used to indicate a central feature of the degrading sort of laughter Bakhtin is talking about. Anti-authoritarian humor is often very ribald and bawdy, disrespectful of the norms of ‘civilized’ society by bringing taboo topics such as sex and excretion out into the open and laughing about them.

The Bakhtinian Carnival does not have much in common with the carnival of our days. The Bakhtinian Carnival is a festivity enrooted in medieval times. Key carnivalesque topoi closely connected and constantly referred to are banquet imagery, marketplace speeches, the lower bodily stratum, the grotesque body and gay relativity or to put it more blatant: “carnival involves the ‘material bodily stratum’, those ‘organic’ aspects of human life that involve fucking, gorging, pissing, shitting, puking, menstruating and all the other ways in which the body can act in what [white] high cultural norms define as ‘disgusting’ fashions”. By deploying these disgusting fashions “social hierarchies and power structures oriented around positions of ‘high’ and ‘low’ are temporarily inverted, often through forms of parody, in order to destabilize and to make comic that which is taken seriously in social orders

Sadly enough our Carnival resists only the everyday routine of our monotonous or very demanding lives. Getting pissed and screwed – in alternate order – are some of the main objectives of Carnival these days. In fact, the resisting power has changed and shifted only to become a trick that the people who participate in street Carnival play on themselves. Regimes and oppressive systems have disappeared – at least in this part of the world – which leaves the dirty jokes with no targets to be wielded against. Thus, we now play dirty jokes on ourselves. Once Carnival has been a ground shaking experience for supremacy, nowadays it is nothing more than ‘opium of the people’.

Carnival has become a low cultural invasion of No Man’s land. The Bourgeois proprieties nowadays merge with the Carnival street cultures. The privileged have taken to exercise Carnival for lifestyle reasons – another welcome reason to struggle free from the constraints of an ever demanding society. Carnival has become a form of happy escapism heartily embraced by the masses. Since there is no longer a real need for a chaos to threaten orderly routines and conventional values, we stand on the street for merely one reason: To blow apart our own orderly routines and the staid pieties of our boring middle-class lives.

One thought on “Pissing, Puking and Menstruating: (Re-) considering Carnival and its resisting powers

Schreibe einen Kommentar