Erenlai - What is still sacred?

What is still sacred?

by on 週三, 10 二月 2010 評論
Celebration in Crisis? As we approach the first Chinese New Year of the twentytenty's. The Chinese Diaspora is in a prolific period of evolution. Its festivals also appear to be in a process of evolution. Chinese New Year is becoming internationalised on a scale close to that of Christmas. [/dropcap]With these evolutions come new challenges, new identity issues and new soul searching. Indeed the true value of Christmas has long been questioned annually, the commercialisation of the ceremony, its newer function as a stimulant to heat up the economy in the midst of winter, lifting economies out of recession and lifting the mood of the people. Indeed, Christmas and CNY have a lot of similarities:

[dropcap cap="T"]he east is red, the west is red. Is there enough red dye in the world or will our stocks of red Christmas hats, red fireworks, red lights, red Santa’s, red envelopes, red banners ever be depleted? Santa's overworked elves have growing bags under their eyes, reduced holidays; rising fuel costs stops new machinery being installed, running out of resources but the kids keep asking for more, so the parents keep asking for more and Santa has got to provide more, because his constituents no longer embrace the concepts of moderation and austerity, the constituents want more, the constituents always want more, but the elves underground keeping everything going are really, REALLY tired, their joints are red and close to collapse..[inset side="right" title="Beast"]Santa's overworked elves have grown bags under their eyes[/inset] And there are new competitors on the field; billions of pounds of lights, explosions fly over from the central kingdom. The New Year Beast (年獸) is faring no better than Santa in the East And as one gets closer to the New Year you can here his cries from the mountains surrounding Taipei as he looks over the city, over Taipei 101: "This used to be my domain, now they encroach further, now the river runs red all the way up to my mountain abode. I fear the red more than anything, red banners with spring couplets which spread propaganda that deny me, which decry my ending; and the kids, the kids who used to be so delightfully cute, so delightfully edible; I used to eat the kids, now the kids are all armed with their bazookas of light, these fireworks of artificial joy; the streets are getting redder the kids are getting fatter and the fat cats are getting fatter and everyone is taking a bite out of me. They don't even pay me due respect, they eat more food as escapism from their uncomfortable family gatherings, feeling naked, as the computer screen that acts as a shield no longer separates and protects them from reality."[/dropcap]

As broadband and facebook reach all corners of the world it gets more and more difficult to find the last few patches of real human interaction in our virtual world. The annual visit to your grandparents, became your biennial, became your triennial visit home, became your annual telephone call, became your biannual msn conversation and electronic Christmas card. Technology and society evolve faster than the human mind is ready for. Christmas trees, mince pies, Easter eggs hunts, turkey, Yorkshire puddings, present opening, the red arrows became a mere figment of our past memories and we sink into nostalgia. Are we the generation of fast food, fast love?

So what is left of our celebrations? WHAT IS STILL SACRED?! ...What was ever sacred?

There are however a few sacred corners which continue to exist, which will always exist, some last untouched portals, a wonderland for romantics. Openings in the woods, green fields, strawberry fields, meadows, riversides, beaches, abandoned mines and openings in the rainforest, and other mysterious natural places...and with the decline in everyday interaction have come new fields of interaction...the rave party, which in its modern form engulfed the UK, and was an escape from escapism, a place to connect, to celebrate direct human interaction, to promote our visions and our relation to nature, the loud, thumping music acting as the catalyst for social inebriation. In addition to all the places in nature, it overtook the citied extending to car parks, even places of worship such as the 'Rave Masses' from Sheffield all the way to California. And in these rave settings there was liberation from social codes, the philosophy of dance was endorsed as an expression of inner feeling, less focused on the outer aesthetic, allowing a sense of belonging that transcended through language, creed and colour. The act, the will to, the entrancement in dance; from shamanic rituals, to rugby war dances, to students who would spend months feeling, exercising and enjoying the music; the communication, the meditation, the appreciation, the art of living in the moment.

And what of the origins of these raves? The latest manifestation of the rave I attended was a small post New Year car park party in Taipei, named Tiger Hunting and inadvertently a fitting celebration of my 24th year (and other youth born in the year of the tiger). And whilst culturally these raves of neon lights, fluorescent backdrops and marginalised youth seemed a million miles away from the family gatherings at New Year and Christmas, they essentially remain intimately linked to the original spirit. A celebration of lunar phenomenon, family (albeit non-biological) and adrenaline rushing dance. This year on the 21st of June at around 11.28 Greenwich meantime, is the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere. And as the religious and pagan festivals since the beginning of recorded history we will see then some of the most vibrant manifestations of the rave. Furthermore it is with these winter and summer solstices and the equinoxes that we see the innate call to festivity, to celebration, that cannot be separated from human essence.

The winter solstice that precedes the belated Christmas and the birth of Christ is a day of celebration even for many pre-Judaic religions. Centuries ago, since the dawn of astronomy and even before, albeit a little less accurately, people would celebrate winter solstices. A rebirth, as the hours of daylight gradually begin to increase, the worst is behind and everything’s better from here on out. Like the Chinese spring couplet 一年復始萬象更新 (with the start of a new year everything commences anew), with a milestone of a new beginning comes new opportunity and allows one to relive everything as a new experience, and if we extend this, every day, and every breath, can be lived as a new beginning, a spiritual renewal. Every moment is different, whilst at the same time everything is continuous. This may be seen as a rapid period of evolution in our festivals but we can never put a stop to the perpetual manifestation of the festival. What is true remains the same. People will continue returning home for Christmas and CNY. And perhaps the most pure form of religion is that of experience; thus the will to dance, sway, shake, slide, twist, spin and jump is evidence that ceremony is still alive.

The soul-searching is in vain because the ceremonies will always remain, because the revelation lies in our very nature and the festivals are merely the formulisation of human experience, the phenomena of the stars, planets and solar systems and that (him/her/it) which operates these phenomena. Homo erectus, prehistoric man, the Incas, the Celts: they all danced in the forests, and then they danced on the grass, on the deserts, around the fire, on the mountains, on the beaches. We dance in the forests, on the grass, in the deserts, on the mountains, around the fire, on the beaches; and generations onwards will also dance and celebrate, because it is sacred.

The wild man is more beautiful than the knowledgeable man. Experience is sacred.

 

Nick Coulson (聶克)

I was born in sunny Torbay on the south western coast of England's green and pleasant lands. I'm prowling the streets, parks and ruins of Taiwan hunting for absurdities and studying the sociology of the underground. Furthermore with our nomadic arts and action space "The Hole" we attempt to challenge rigid and alienating structures.

出生於英國西南部,海邊的天堂為Torbay。目前在台灣的街上,公園,廢墟尋找世界之荒謬與世界之美,努力盡量在各方面跳脫框框。透過我們的游牧空間「洞」我們不斷地用藝術與行動來挑戰早已僵化的體制。

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