Yes, we must mourn our losses, but we must also party in the streets. There’s nothing ‘antisocial’ about that
We might not be close to a post-pandemic society but we are, at the very least, entering into a post-lockdown one. The challenge facing us now is how to deal with the enormous loss of life we have collectively experienced, how to even begin to move on from something that has been traumatic for so many. Lots of people have proposed some kind of formalised collective mourning, perhaps a permanent national memorial or day of remembrance. But if we need a process of collective mourning (and I think we do), we also need collective joy: a national memorial service, followed by a raucous wake.
Collective joy, whether it takes the form of carnivals, festivals, protests, nightclubs, or Scottish football fans singing “you’re just a shite Rabbie Burns” at an unwitting statue of William Shakespeare, addresses a deep human need. It has the power to cut through isolation, and make us feel part of something larger than ourselves. Despite this, it’s hardly a prominent feature of modern life. What little of it there is is often expensive and exclusive: think of the steel fences that enclose £100-day-ticket music festivals. In the pre-industrial age, on the other hand, there was a feast day, carnival or festival just about every week. According to the historian EP Thompson, “these occasions were, in an important sense, what men and women lived for.”
James Greig writes about culture and society Continue reading...