Bitter Carnival: Ressentiment and the Abject Hero by Michael André Bernstein

By Michael André Bernstein

While a true assassin accuses the society he has brutalized, we're surprised, yet we're extremely joyful by means of an identical accusations once they are mouthed by means of a fictional insurgent, outlaw or monster. In "Bitter Carnival", Michael Andre 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 very unlikely house created by way of the intersection of the satanic and the servile. Bernstein indicates that we heroicize the abject hero simply because he represents a tradition that has develop 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 analyses of Diderot, Dostoevsky and Celine, and culminating within the court testimony of Charles Manson, "Bitter Carnival" bargains a revisionist rereading of the total culture of the "Saturnalian discussion" among masters and slaves, monarchs and fools, philosophers and madmen, voters and malcontents. It contests the supposedly regenerative strength of the carnivalesque and demanding situations the pieties of utopian radicalism trendy in modern educational pondering.

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3, Horace views the Saturnalian tumult only as a distraction he must escape, and the poem opens with an account of his having fled Rome during the festival in order to try to find the quiet necessary to compose new verses. But irrespective of how the Saturnalian days were regarded, it was not the rites as such that writers 38 CHAPTER TWO sought to represent but certain specific features, selected because of their inherent literary potential. Foremost among these was, inevitably, the right of slaves to criticize their masters.

Linked to the issue of what compels the two fictional speakers to initiate and then sustain their dialogue is the related question of the authors’ imaginative investment in their Abject Heroes. The culture’s easily mobilizable fascination with the licensed fool and the incendiary as privileged truthtellers often serves writers as a powerful stimulus, suggesting a narrative pattern and dramatis personae that can be adapted to the circumstances of any era. In straightforward cases, the text’s satiric energy is directed largely outward at particular social abuses or immediate enemies, and the voice through whom the critique is articulated exists largely as a vehicle for those criticisms.

The desolation of outward freedom ultimately forced him to search out the inner freedom of the heart that each man has if he wills to find it. 28 But even so acute a reader as Johnson is misleading when he speaks of “the inner freedom of the heart that each man has if he wills to find it,” since it is precisely this liberty that Horace is also compelled to cast into doubt, or, perhaps more accurately, on whose possession Horace keeps overinsisting, as a barrier against the suspicion that in Augustan Rome private freedom, too, has become only a particularly alluring form of selfdeception.

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