By Michael André Bernstein
While a true assassin accuses the society he has brutalized, we're stunned, yet we're extremely joyful through a similar accusations after they are mouthed by way of a fictional insurgent, outlaw or monster. In "Bitter Carnival", Michael Andre Bernstein explores this contradiction and defines a brand new determine: the abject hero. status on the junction of contestation and conformity, the abject hero occupies the logically very unlikely house created via the intersection of the satanic and the servile. Bernstein exhibits that we heroicize the abject hero simply because he represents a practice that has develop into a staple of our universal mythology, as seductive in mass tradition because it is in excessive artwork. relocating from an exam of classical Latin satire, via analyses of Diderot, Dostoevsky and Celine, and culminating within the court docket testimony of Charles Manson, "Bitter Carnival" bargains a revisionist rereading of the total culture of the "Saturnalian discussion" among masters and slaves, monarchs and fools, philosophers and madmen, voters and malcontents. It contests the supposedly regenerative strength of the carnivalesque and demanding situations the pieties of utopian radicalism stylish in modern educational considering.
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Extra info for Bitter Carnival: Ressentiment and the Abject Hero
14 2. 15 The interpreter’s risk, though, is to misunderstand the proportion of anarchic versus bound energy released by the carnival and to misread the festival’s characteristically contradictory aims and correspondingly doubled (destructive/restorative) tropes. O TOTIENS SERVUS 37 3. The third theme does not directly address the nature of carnival itself, but rather the polemical function of its rites when they are invoked as models of a less hierarchic, more tolerant and spontaneous social organization.
For the abject consciousness, self-knowledge, instead of providing the relief of a certain distance from one’s predicament, only intensifies it, and a lucid irony about one’s plight may be the worst torment of all, since it immediately converts into an additional, especially acute symptom of the very state it is intended to diagnose. Here, self-awareness is not part of the solution; it is the very core of the problem. In Philip Roth’s cruelly accurate account: “Oh, ironic paranoia is the worst.
45 [And again, you cannot bear to be in your own company, you cannot employ your leisure aright, you shun yourself, a runaway and vagabond, seeking now with wine, and now with sleep, to baffle Care. ] (111–14) By now, however, Davus’s complaints have begun to be both repetitious, and in the main, ill-directed, and Horace interrupts the harangue with the threats that close the poem’s Saturnalian frame and reestablish the postfestival power relationships in all their stark inequality. The license to speak freely has expired; neither master nor slave seem to have changed as a consequence of their encounter, and nothing suggests that next season’s Saturnalia will differ in kind or effectiveness from this one.