Our Carnivalesque Life Forever in Love & Politics: Total Revolution

Sandy the fireworks are hailin’ over Little Eden tonight / Forcin’ a light into all those stoned-out faces left / stranded on this fourth of July … / Sandy the aurora is risin’ behind us / The pier lights our carnival life forever / Love me tonight for I may never see you again … / Sandy the aurora’s rising behind us / The pier lights our carnival life forever / Oh love me tonight and I promise I’ll love you forever. 

This concerns the GS’s current musical essay, “Romantic Total Revolution: The Democracy Of Soul & The Goddess Of Liberty; An Essay in Argument & Song for the 235th Birthday of America. Part I.”

About the third song played, Bruce Springsteen’s “4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy),” The GS has to admit that it wasn’t (except for the title) strictly keeping to the musical essay’s serious theme of “revolution,” but sometimes the GS has to make concessions with music selections. He means concessions in the sense of (1) his favorite Troubadour-theme love songs (which theme was last week, June 27, and which will start up again after this Independence Day series) and (2) ordinary kinds of summer 4th of July experiences of young lovers (especially when you live or visit a seaside town like Santa Cruz and its boardwalk—and most especially if your girlfriend’s name was Sandy!).  So the GS apologizes to listeners who may have found too much of a pop love-song to keep the theme of the deeper meaning of Independence Day.

The GS’s only excuse (besides a secret high-school nostalgia—and nostalgia ain’t what it used to be!) is that he was trying to maintain, as he sometimes does, a referential slender continuity going between different musical essays. (So a song is not totally out of place—out of context—in different essays and can serve a dual-purpose function. For example, in the previous musical essay series, “The Troubadours & Impossible Love,” the GS used a special lead-in to introduce some unrequited love songs. This was a thematic quotation, in the manner of a prose refrain, that the GS used for all three installments {6/6 – 6/27}. It began by talking about a revolution. {See below, ending sentence.*}) This unrequited love-song by Springsteen was, after all, set up by the GS alluding to the Troubadour theme of the previous musical essays (“Impossible Love”) at the beginning of this 4th of July musical essay with the last epigraph tacked on to the previous three of political import: “The Troubadours used the song as a news and political commentary device.” (As the GS has explained before, the troubadours not only invented the genre of Western love-song [canso], but also the genre of political or moral commentary song [sirventes].)

Now sometimes, like our finest sixties songs, the troubadours mixed the erotic and the social message in the same song.  So, for instance, if you have a lyric like “lights our carnival life forever” (not that Springsteen didn’t consciously intended as anything but a love lyric)—a the GS thinks back to his May Day musical essays for the beginning of the summer season (and don’t forget the 4th of July is, after all, a summer holiday) and the theme of Carnival. But what does “carnival” have to do with such a serious theme of this present musical essay of political revolution? Well, as the GS was at pains to point out, “carnival” was connected to the May Day festivities of turning the social order upside-down (literally, “revolution”) during this time of “rituals of social reversal” (presided over by the “Lord of Misrule,” like Robin Hood), which by the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries became more and more of an occasion for spontaneous uprisings of the common people to give voice to their grievances against the nobility. This is why the ancient symbol of paganesque May Day, the maypole, became the lightening rod for popular uprisings, until they were finally outlawed in Puritan England in the 1600’s and by the Catholic Church in the 1700’s.  Carnivalesque defined a liberating time in the restrained culture of feudal Northern Europe when hierarchic differences in rank and status were suspended.

(Thus the sociological term “carnivalesque” was coined in 1929 and again in 1965: “an instance of merrymaking, feasting, or masquerading marked by an often mocking or satirical challenge to authority and the traditional social hierarchy;” “an instance that subverts and liberates the assumptions of the dominant style or atmosphere through humor and chaos;” “social hierarchies of everyday life—their solemnities and pieties and etiquettes, as well as all ready-made truths—are profaned and overturned by normally suppressed voices and energies;” through the carnival and carnivalesque the world is turned-upside-down, and thus, fools become wise, kings become beggars; opposites are mingled.”)

To get back to the questionable Springsteen song, the GS plays on a double meaning of the lyrics, “our carnival [carnivalesque] life forever,” since this odd choice will actually serve to both go back and reconnect with the May Day program series (still available for listening on the “Archived Essays” page) and look forward to the further installments of this Independence Day series. So please stay tuned for the next installments of this Independence Day series, where the GS will move forward by going back to the previous musical essay series for May Day and bring out the significance of the carnivalesque maypole to see what it has to do with the vision and symbols of revolutionary America and its red-white-and-blue “carnival life forever” out of Total Revolution.

And now the GS is thinking of another meaning to the title of this piece, “Our Carnivalesque Life Forever in Love and Politics: Total Revolution.” (Politics and Love?) And he is remembering the following citation he used in the Independence Day musical essay to bring in the eighth song: “Emerson’s 1830’s Idealist Party in American party politics was made up of those who claimed the inseparability [a la Plato] of philosophy (philosophia), politics (polis), and love (eros).” Yes, revolutions in love and politics–the 1960’s “Party of Eros.”

You see, the GS lives in a Noosphere (“sphere of human thought;” a dimensional step up from the cybersphere of the Tower of Song website) where it oftentimes feels as if everything is connected to everything else kind of universe. So the question is: Was the GS making a concession with the love-song, or a subliminal connection?

*“There is no cure for impossible love when it revolutionizes our lives….” 

Carnivalesque

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