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[Xmca-l] Re: Imagination: Greek Drama (as radio) with accompanying historical critique



Hi Phillip,

I looked up dozens on Wikipedia. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dozens) Of course, joking relations are not singular to AA communities, as per Lefever, etc. as it said on this wikipage. Unless they just mean this particular game (then, OK). 

It's an activity that many cultures all over the world do, and even throughout history, but yeah the dozens certainly is an example of that. Graeber calls it  the "taking good and giving bad." 

Interesting how neatly insulting one's mother fits into that specification.

Any form of "playful aggression" qualifies, which would include, for example, a custom discussed in the chapter, from Medieval Europe called charivari (anglicized as "shivaree"). Villagers would participate a loud parade of rowdy music and singing to mock something they disapproved. Say, a widow or widower who married too soon, or to protest wifebeaters or adulterers. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charivari).

Charivari derives either from Roman word, "caribaria" translating to "headache." or Greek "kerebaria" translating to "head-heavy." Could be our version of head-banging? :)

Graeber maps avoidance relations as the inversion of joking relations. The two are superimposed systems of social meaning-making. Avoidance relations creates divisions and distance, resulting in hierarchies (how might this fit in with alienation and individualism as produced by capitalism?). Not sure if this is original to Graeber, or something understood in anthropology in general, but it seems to make a lot of sense.

In the chapter I uploaded, Graeber also brings up Bakhtin and his own study of Rabelais. That was interesting too. Maybe to other xmcars reading Bakhtin might find something to add? You know, the whole experience of carnival, and other festivals of the people (like May Day and Maypole dances), which actually everyone participated in, not just commoners (unless one was a Puritan, or course). The action of knocking the crown off the Carnival King was "a more universal attack, one directed against the very principle of hierarchy itself." 

Makes me consider why coup d'etats cannot "work" if they simply replace one hierarchy for another, whereas direct democracies function through joking relations, communities of the common people tearing down hierarchies through civic activity and festivals (and voting!) 

It also explains reasons for protests in the street, which are like charivari. We have this recent construct, "Arab Spring." Spring is the time of regeneration: May Day was the pagan festival of fertility. The Greek referendum was occasionally referred to as the "Greek Spring" even though this was in July. What springs from the word "spring", can also be cleansing water, or a jack-in-the-box. Interesting metaphors abound and surprise!

Seems the Dozens is another way of cutting one's head down to size, in case someone gets to full of oneself. Similar functions, but on an individual level. Anyway, thanks!

Kind regards,

Annalisa