by ANDRE GENOUS
I once read a definition of revolution that went something like; a revolution is an event which effects a significant change that in itself disallows a return to a state of affairs existent before that change. Or as Tom Wolf put it: You Can't Go Home Again". Or as the Beetles sing: "Once there was a way to get back home..."
And in reference to that definition, it is possible to consider Intermedia's City Feast last Saturday evening as a revolution — if not the entire 13 days of the Intermedia show.
To find axes of consideration. In his review in the Sun of the City Feast, that incompetent jerk, Max, in an effort to dismiss the event as a piece of trivia or juvenilia said: "Well it was primitive rite, wasn't it? By dismissing the event with this glossy and supercilious attitude, Wyman avoided contact with the real nature of the evening.
For he was right. It was a primitive rite, but he did not accept it as such and consequently misses out on what so many people did.
Now ritual. Ritual is a united effort on the part of a community to ensure and maintain the life of that community. Further, ritual involves an unorthodox (in our current world) time perception. Ritual time is revolutionary, cyclic, circular, as opposed to the orthodox (Wyman's) line or evolutionary time. In this sense ritual time is 'anti-historical' for the reason that it is founded on the perception after a cycle (seasons, movement of the stars, etc.) all things languish and it is contingent upon the community through ritual to make another cycle, to reconstitute the world, to impress upon the cosmos its yearning for the continuance of life and the well being of that community and its environs.
Ritual is not prayer, but an intense interaction with environment which literally re-creates that environment.
And it's spring in Vancouver, the time of growth. And on May 30, Saturday night, the feasts begin throughout the city — get this idea of dots on the map of Vancouver where small groups of people through food and drink are entering the spirit of the ritual, leaving behind their daily, individual lives, to meet and unite.
The image of the expanded universe.
At a given time, the celebrants depart the individual feasts and begin to journey towards the central meeting place of the community, in this case the Art Gallery.
The image of the universe receding, simultaneously at all points, in the direction of a solitary core.
And there we all are, meeting, smiling, looking at each other, slowly, tentatively uniting. Drink is being consumed, an aid in ridding self consciousness. Off in a corner there is slow rhythmic drumming. More and more people enter.
And then with the entrance of the band things begin. The energy has been gently woven throughout all the participants and they are ready to enter into the dance. To be fused.
This is not a spectator sport. Everyone weather they know how or not, begins to move their bodies, shaking their limbs, working towards the frenzy that breaks the strictures of the individual and allows a psychic congregation with all the other participants. The person is not just dancing with another girl — he is dancing with everyone and vice versa.
Time and space become meaningless —there is only ecstasy and revery as the community shakes itself into this highest occasion of life — pure life, unpersonalized and undifferentiated.
Some where around this time I meet a girl who is distressed because there is no 'art'. "There's no manipulation," she cries. I try to explain to her that what she is witnessing is 'art', that any occasion that engenders life is 'artistic'.
Charles Olson comes in here which his understanding of meaning: "That which exists through itself is what is called meaning.."
This girl wanted this event to 'mean' — be the extension of a personalized ego. And that is where the danger of such an occasion appears — that the undifferentiated consciousness of a mass gathering becomes the tool of a singular, manipulative ego who uses that consciousness for his own specific ends. If any one cares to construe that as a slam against rock festivals, please feel free, because that is the intention.
As the event finished, the crowd strolled out past a small fire onto Georgia St.,and as the midnight air wound around them, they discovered Vancouver their very eyes. They had made it appear, made it fresh and new, had ensured that its life and their life in it would continue.
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