Re: dancing in the streets
- I had a quick response ready, but a technical hitch gave me the
opportunity for further reflection. While the position is interesting
and the applicability to the topic is obvious, there are a number of
issues that arise herefrom.
Anyone familiar with the culture of 12th-century Europe will realise
that ` a medieval (or, in the case of non-European
cultures, "primitive") personality so deeply mired in community and
ritual that it can barely distinguish a "self" ' is just flat wrong.
Nobody will tell me that Bernart de Ventadorn could barely
distinguish a self and Bernart was not an exceptional phenomenon.
The Middle Ages were full of individual selves. The difference was
that they were in relationships with one another, relationships both
carried by and crucial to the structure of the world in which they
lived. In other words, the relationships of reciprocity played a more
important role than the relationships of common subjection.
There is a tendency either regretfully or triumphantly to identify
ancient cultures with the sort of collectivism that was invented in
the 19th century, along with the `masses'. Most of those cultures
might be better described as `relational'. They don't have `masses'.
What I mean by relational is different from both collectivism and
individualism. The relational mode treasures the individual as the
subject of relation, as that-which-relates.
In terms of the topic at hand, a false ultimatum is too often
presented between the `individualist' suburb with its promise of
personal autonomy, though devoid of any context in which such
autonomy could be meaningful; and `collective' East-bloc high-rise
social housing with its abhorrent dissolution of selves into a
formless continuum which likewise precludes any meaningful
reciprocity. This arises entirely from the failure to distinguish
between the collective and the relational.
If there is an epidemic of depression, could it not rather be because
the world has become more `institutional' since the 17th century? To
those who, like me, hold that coercion is murder and that every
moment lived under duress is a moment subtracted from one's life, the
desire to draw a sword at a man with a clip-board comes quite
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "J.H. Crawford" <mailbox@...>
>Then, in the early 1600s, a mass epidemic of depression broke out -
> Hi All,
> I didn't read all of this, but the prescription for
> depression seems to be fun, in public, with lots of
> other people (i.e., community festivals). No cars,
> of course.
> One more reason....
> How we learned to stop having fun
> We used to know how to get together and really let our hair down.
and we've been living with it ever since. Something went wrong, but
what? Barbara Ehrenreich unpicks the causes of our unhappiness