Carnivalesque

Bahktin’s notion of Carnivalesque is a form of heterotopia similar to Foucault’s. Bahktin conceived of this hetertopia from his study of the writings of Rabelais and his descriptions of medieval festivals.  He reveals the carnivalesque as a way in which laughter, and the mocking of authority, inverted civil and religious traditions through the celebration of idleness, drunkeness and debauchery. During these festivities there is a momentary disruption of hierarchical distinctions and barriers, norms and customs, official ordering of time and space, and all forms of political coercion.

Carnivalesque  creates a space that is both temporary and illusory, yet Bahktin believes it was encouraged by the hierarchy as a means to let the peasants blow off steam, quelling any hint of rebellion.  While I have concentrated on Bahktin’s work on the chronotope I am intrigued by how a form of carnivalesque may still endure today through our use of chat room and virtual worlds on the internet.  These virtual spaces displace the everyday in all it’s forms, and through the use of avatars and sim characters we can be whomever we want to be and act accordingly.   As the stress levels and the pressures of modern society rise, academics are finding people are spending more and more time online in an effort to ‘escape’. If carnivalesque is a true theory then it poses important questions about who is benefitting, who is being pacified, and why.

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