“Among the most common and popular foodstuffs that permitted the transition from a human condition on the verge of the unlivable to as drugged and paranoid dimension was poppy seed bread…In areas where it was cultivated, even the flour of hemp-seeds was used in the kitchen to prepare doughs and breads which ‘cause the loss of reason’ and ‘generate domestic drunkenness and a certain stupidity’. One could doubtless regard this as having been directed not so much from above (as is sometimes supposed), as desired and sought by the masses themselves, consumed as they were by disease, hunger, nocturnal fears and daytime obsessions.
The collective journey into illusion, followed by ‘domestic drunkenness’ – with the help of hallucinogenic seeds and herbs, arising from the background of chronic malnourishment and often hunger – helps to explain the manifestation of collective mental delirium, of mass trances, of entire communities and villages exploding into choreal dancing. But it could also be the path which allows us to catch a glimpse of a two-sided mental model of the world, born under the ambiguous and equivocal sign of dualism, conditioned by a hallucinated and altered awareness of reality, where the layers are overturned, the universals reversed, the world ending up head-over-heels, with head on the ground and feet in the air. The result of an altered measuring of space and time, based on a non-Euclidic geometry and a magical, dreamlike perspective where the relations of propositions are regulated by different instruments of verification and measure from those employed in the cultural areas where classical logic predominates, which are none the less not able to separate themselves totally from contamination introduced by the ‘culture of hunger’.”—Piero Camporesi - Bread of Dreams: Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Europe. University of Chicago Press ‘89
“The thought of someone eating a chimpanzee, a dog, or a bat produces an immediate, visceral effect for many of us. It’s an involuntary reflex, this feeling of disgust, and, as Julie Livingston and William Ian Miller have written, it’s a sentiment with powerful political valences. To look on a fellow human with a feeling of disgust is to downgrade them, their needs, and their claims on us. It is to open the door to a line of reasoning that is very similar to the one that prevailed when the Rwandan genocide was portrayed as the play of ancient “tribal” hatreds and thus beyond the ability of outsiders to intervene. The disgust evoked allows feelings of repulsion, helplessness, and indifference to mix together for those who could do more—much more—to help. Talk about eating apes like chimpanzees also calls up specters of cannibalism, like those portrayed in Vice’s other documentaries on Liberia.”—Bushmeat and the Politics of Disgust
“On the surface, New England’s culture and history appeared to limit the potential for regional advancement of professionalism in athletics. The Puritan ethos that produced Jonathan Edwards’s and Cotton Mather’s homilies emphasized stoic self-sacrifice and piety. Leisure for leisure’s sake was frowned upon, but properly calculated recreation was tolerated and eventually accepted by New Englanders…A competing cultural dynamic that involved profitable colonial-era trade with old world merchants offered one avenue for acceptance of mercenary compensation in athletics. The historian David Cressy compellingly argues that active recruitment of old world labor by John Winthrop and his colleagues contributed to successful commercial trade with England. Colonial New England may have been imbued with the trappings of Puritanism, but Cressy argues that ‘from the employers’ view, [actively recruited servants were a valuable investment.’ This commercialism created an environment where paid athletic endeavor could be philosophically reconciled. … The emergence of social Darwinism, Progressive Era concerns over the ‘feminization’ of boys, and the influx of immigrants further eroded New England’s ability to remain an enclave of amateur athletics. Some Irish immigrants created bachelor subcultures that resulted in athletic sponsorship from local pubs. After spending time in Boston and contributing to professional baseball’s popularity there, both Albert Spalding and George Wright moved away to establish sporting goods companies.”—Robert C Trumpbour - The New Cathedrals: Politics and Media in the History of Stadium Construction. Syracuse University Press ‘06
“In 1321, we read in the chronicle of the monastery of St. Stephen of Condom, a great deal of snow fell during the month of February. The lepers were exterminated. There was another great snowfall before the middle of Lent; then came a great rain.”—Carlo Ginzburg, Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath. University of Chicago Press ‘91
“These anxieties about the entanglements of human life and technology, of the movements of the body mapped onto the geographies of power, have a deep pedigree in Judeo-Christian thought. Biblical scholar Robert Alter notes that, as early as Exodus 30:12, when a census of Moses’s people comes bundled with a “ransom” of a half shekel in symbolic exchange for the counted’s life, there has been “a folkloric horror of being counted as a condition of vulnerability to malignant forces.’” Beginning in the Davidic narrative of the Book of Samuel, Israel’s most famous monarch chooses to count his subjects, with disastrous results. Mapping and counting, in these stories, acts as a sort of dowsing rod, auguring the collision course between the profane world and the divine. This is only cast in deeper relief by the long obsession America has had with its own teleological importance. Puritan ideologues sought to establish their utopian City on the Hill. In the post-Revolutionary years, influential preachers such as David Tappan and Timothy Dwight, of Harvard and Yale respectively, proclaimed the young republic’s providential role in world history, laying the groundwork for the Second Great Awakening.”—
“It is perhaps most clear in what was, after all, the master image of political life: kingship. The whole of the negara - court life, the traditions that organized it, the extractions that supported it, the privileges that accompanied it - was essentially directed toward defining what power was; and what power was was what kings were. Particular kings came and went, ‘poor passing facts’ anonymized in titles, immobilized in ritual, and annihilated in bonfires. But what they represented, the model-and-copy conception of order, remained unaltered, at least over the period we know much about. The driving aim of higher politics was to construct a state by constructing a king. The more consummate the king, the more exemplary the centre. The more exemplary the centre, the more actual the realm.”—Clifford Geertz, Negara: The Theatre State in Nineteenth-Century Bali - Princeton University Press ‘80
“In the 1980s, professional athletes in the United States initiated a charivari tradition of “coach dunking” (a.k.a. “the Gatorade Shower”), in which team captains or respected players would, on the expiration of the clock in an important win, douse their leader with the contents of a large cooler. This saturnalian “baptism” now consistently marks the start of the victory celebrations at the close of a big game. Watching the tape of exuberant defensive tackle Jim Burt drenching Bill Parcells at the two-minute warning of the New York Giants’ 37–13 win over the Washington Redskins in late October of 1984 (arguably the origin of the modern practice), it is difficult not to think of the other key aspect of sacrificial ritual upon which Burkert expended his interpretive energies: namely, the sudden shower of water visited on the head of a beast about to be slain for the gods. The reflexive recoil occasioned by this splash—the glimpse up (to see what’s coming), and then the ducking down (to avert the face and eyes)—signified richly in Burkert’s account: “The animal’s movement here is taken to signify a ‘willing nod,’ a ‘yes’ to the sacrificial act,” he explained, an assertion he buttressed with citations to Aristophanes, Plutarch, and similarly significant classical sources. Sometimes, it turns out, flinching is a kind of assent.”—CABINET // Confetti Uncut