1.a. A festival marked by merrymaking and feasting during the season just before Lent. b. Merrymaking and feasting just before Lent.
2.A traveling amusement show usually including rides, games, and sideshows.
3.A festival or revel: winter carnival.
[Italian carnevale, from Old Italian carnelevare, Shrovetide : carne, meat (from Latin caro, carn-) + levare, to remove (from Latin levâre, to raise).]
CARNIVAL: A MODEL FOR CULTURE
What makes for a great carnival?
I've pondered this question, as I've watched, year by year, the Notting Hill Carnival in London expanding to become the world's second largest (after Rio's)
My conclusions: Carnival is good when the number of participants isn't grossly outweighed by the number of spectators, Carnival is good when many of the "spectators" are actually also joining in (dancing and singing along). Carnival is good when the participants exhibit a range of skills from the absolutely minimal to the absolutely astonishing (the first being an invitation not to be intimidated -- "Hey, I could do that!--" and the second an invitation to be amazed. Carnival is good when people of all ages, sexes, races, shapes, sizes, beauties, inclinations, and professions are involved. Carnival is good when there's too much to look at and everything's mixed up and you have to sort it all out for yourself. Carnival is good when it dignifies and rewards all sorts of abilities-- singing, jumping, laughing infectuously, dressing weirdly, writing the hit song of the carnival, wiggling your backside, standing on a soapbox praising Jesus or the local hardware store, frying salt fish over on oil drum in public, inventing symphonic arrangements for steel bands, designing and building fabulously impossible things. Carnival is good when people try to outdo each other, and then applaud with delight those who in turn outdo them. Carnival is good when it gives people an alibi to become someone different. Carnival is good when it lets people present the best part of themselves, and be, for a little while, as they'd like to be all the time. Carnival is good when it gives people the feeling that they're really lucky to be alive right here and now. Carnival is good when it leaves people with the feeling that life in all its bizarre manifestations is unbeatably lovely and touching and funny and worthwhile.
Now substitute 'culture' for 'carnival.' There's a vision for the future of culture.
- Brian Eno
Dead Can Dance - _The Carnival is Over_ MP3 (160k) off of _Into The Labyrinth_ (1993)
The storm clouds gathering,
Moved silently along the dusty boulevard.
Where flowers turning crane their fragile necks
So they can in turn
Reach up and kiss the sky.
They are driven by a strange desire
Unseen by the human eye
Someone is calling.
I remember when you held my hand
In the park we would play when the circus came to town.
Look! Over here.
The circus gathering
Moved silently along the rainswept boulevard.
The procession moved on the shouting is over
The fabulous freaks are leaving town.
They are driven by a strange desire
Unseen by the human eye.
The carinval is over.
We sat and watched
As the moon rose again
For the very first time.
Edward Hall is a man with a cardiac condition. He has sought the aid of Dr. Rathmann, a psychiatist. He tells the doctor of a dream he's been having about a carnival dancer, Maya. In his dream she leads him into a funhouse and onto a roller coaster, with the intention of scaring him to death. If he sleeps, he knows he'll return to this dream and die. If he stays awake, the strain will be too much for his already weak heart. He doesn't believe the doctor can help him, so he starts to leave. He realizes that the doctor's receptionist is a dead ringer for Maya. He returns to the doctor's office and jumps out a window. Dr. Rathmann calls the receptionist into his office, and on the couch is Edward. The doctor tells the receptionist that Hall came in, fell asleep on the couch, and then let out a scream and died.
"They say a dream takes only a second or so, and yet in that second a man can live a lifetime. He can suffer and die, and who's to say which is the greater reality: the one we know or the one in dreams, between heaven, the sky, the earth... in the Twilight Zone."