“The feast is a primary, indestructible ingredient of human civilization; it may become sterile and even degenerate, but it cannot vanish. The private, “chamber” feast of the bourgeois period still preserves a distorted aspect of the ancient spirit; on feast days the doors of the home are open to guests, as they were originally open to “all the world.” On such days there is greater abundance in everything: food, dress, decorations. Festive greetings and good wishes are exchanged, although their ambivalence has faded. There are toasts, games, masquerades, laughter, pranks, and dances. The feast has no utilitarian connotation (as has daily rest and relaxation after working hours). On the contrary, the feast means liberation from all that is utilitarian, practical. It is a temporary transfer to the utopian world. The feast cannot be reduced to any specific content (for instance to the historical event commemorated on that day); it transgresses all limited objectives. Neither can it be separated from bodily life, from the earth, nature, and the cosmos.”

—Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World

*Image: Still from Babette's Feast (1987)

One thought on “The Utopian Feast

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