By Michael André Bernstein
"You humans placed significance in your lives. good, my existence hasn't ever been vital to somebody. i don't have any guilt approximately anything," bragged the mass-murderer Charles Manson. "These young ones that come at you with knives, they're your kids. You taught them. i did not train them. . . . they're operating within the streets--and they're coming correct at you!" while a true assassin accuses the society he has brutalized, we're surprised, yet we're delighted by means of a similar accusations after they are mouthed via a fictional insurgent, outlaw, or monster. In sour Carnival, Michael Andr 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 area created via the intersection of the satanic and the servile. Bernstein exhibits that we heroicize the Abject Hero simply because he represents a tradition that has turn into a staple of our universal mythology, as seductive in mass tradition because it is in excessive paintings. relocating from an exam of classical Latin satire; via extensively new analyses of Diderot, Dostoevsky, and Cline; and culminating within the court testimony of Charles Manson, sour Carnival deals a revisionist rereading of the complete culture of the "Saturnalian discussion" among masters and slaves, monarchs and fools, philosophers and madmen, voters and malcontents. It contests the supposedly regenerative energy of the carnivalesque and demanding situations the pieties of utopian radicalism trendy in modern educational pondering. The readability of its argument and literary type compel us to confront a strong obstacle that engages the most imperative matters in literary reports, ethics, cultural heritage, and significant concept at the present time.
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Extra resources for Bitter Carnival
Faced with so helpless a predicament, the Abject Hero’s most promising option is to attempt to pass himself off as a monster. The very reading that has helped blight his self-esteem has shown him the curious prestige habitually attached to the monster. If he were to succeed in embodying, both for himself and his interlocutor, the role of civilization’s daemonic double, the madman who rages forth when all the compromises and repressions of socialization have been shattered, then the Abject Hero might indeed effect a sudden reversal in his wretched position.
Are capable of such very real suffering, and end in such very real tragedy? (Fyodor Dostoevsky, A Raw Youth) Imagine, as a momentary illustration, the following, perhaps familiar, situation: two men meet in a bar or bus station and one begins to tell the other of his woes, introducing numerous details of his well-deserved failures in life, his despair, and so forth, always interspersing his story with outbursts of wild self-praise and congratulations. But the listener keeps interrupting, “You know, I’ve already read that in Diderot and Dostoevsky.
His rage is never far from a whine, and his raillery always contains a furtive supplication. In our culture a pure monster may possess, as Jean-François Rameau sees with discomforting lucidity, a kind of grandeur-in-evil that compels, if not quite awe, then at least a distinct prestige for the intensity of his passion: “If it is important to be sublime in anything, it is especially so in evil. One spits on a petty thief, but can’t withhold a sort of respect from a great criminal. His courage amazes you.
Bitter Carnival by Michael André Bernstein