INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Resurgence SEPTEMBER 2001 - by Brian Eno
IT'S CARNIVAL TIME
What makes for a great carnival? I've pondered this question as I've watched, year by year, the Notting Hill Carnival in London expand to become one of the world's largest.
My conclusions: Carnival is good when the number of participants isn't grossly outweighed by the number of spectators. Carnival is good when many of the spectators are actually also joining in - dancing and singing along. Carnival is good when the participants exhibit a range of skills from the absolutely minimal to the absolutely astonishing. The first is an invitation not to be intimidated - Hey, I can do that! - and the second is an invitation to be amazed. Carnival is good when people of all ages, sexes, races, shapes, sizes, beauties, inclinations, and professions are involved. Carnival is good when there's too much to look at and everything's sort of mixed up and you have to sort it all out for yourself. Carnival is good when it dignifies and rewards all sorts of abilities - singing, jumping, laughing infectiously, dressing weirdly, writing the hit song of the carnival, wiggling your backside, standing on a soap-box praising Jesus or the local hardware store, frying saltfish over an oil-drum in public, inventing symphonic arrangements for steel bands, designing and building fabulously impossible things. Carnival is good when people try to outdo each other and then applaud with delight those who in turn outdo them. Carnival is good when it gives people an alibi to become someone different. Carnival is good when it lets people present the best part of themselves and be, for a little while, as they'd like to be all of the time. Carnival is good when it gives people the feeling that they're really lucky to be alive right here and now. Carnival is good when it leaves people with the feeling that life in all it's bizarre manifestations is unbeatably lovely and touching and funny and worthwhile.
Now substitute the word culture for carnival. There's a vision for the future of culture.