By Michael André Bernstein
Whilst a true assassin accuses the society he has brutalized, we're surprised, yet we're overjoyed by means of an identical accusations after they are mouthed by means 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 most unlikely house created via the intersection of the satanic and the servile. Bernstein indicates that we heroicize the abject hero simply because he represents a practice that has turn 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 whole culture of the "Saturnalian discussion" among masters and slaves, monarchs and fools, philosophers and madmen, electorate and malcontents. It contests the supposedly regenerative energy of the carnivalesque and demanding situations the pieties of utopian radicalism trendy in modern educational considering.
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Additional info for Bitter Carnival: Ressentiment and the Abject Hero
16 But to be abject is never to have experienced the monster’s single-mindedness. Instead, there is a cringing defiance deprived of any trust in one’s own power and vitiated by a selfcontempt at least equivalent to one’s loathing for others. And yet the Abject Hero’s defiance is just as intractable, his nature just as “incompatible with the existing order” as that of the most ruthless monster. The Abject Hero often longs to be exactly such a creature; his rare words of praise are reserved for the transcendent villains, and his whole being is a helpless dialogue between the urge to curse and attack without restraint and the anxiety immediately aroused by even the slightest danger.
O TOTIENS SERVUS 43 “Come, use the license December allows, since our fathers willed it so. ”] (1–2, 4–5) Similarly, at the satire’s conclusion, Horace reasserts his authority by threatening his slave, first playfully with stones and arrows (116), and then, more plausibly, with banishing Davus from the privileged position of household servant to the harsher duties of a farm laborer: Ocius hinc te ni rapis, accedes opera agro nona Sabino. ] (117–18) The central part of the poem is thus framed by the guarantee of a “normal” world order in which the relationship of master and slave will continue untroubled by its brief suspension.
The most persuasive example I know of a culture actually based on “eternal recurrence” is that segment of the modern intelligentsia that continues to long for the frisson of a gratifyingly safe “textual” anarchic license. It is, moreover, a radical intelligentsia whose own writings, in spite of the blatant imperialism of such a quest, have eagerly ransacked the globe’s most diverse societies for supposed instantiations of the unconstrained liberty about which it fantasizes. It is largely because of their own longings that literary scholars find accounts of ceremonies like the Ashanti’s Apo festival or the medieval Feast of Fools so attractive a guide for their interpretations of Western Saturnalian texts.