Monday, March 17, 2014

St Patrick's Carnival

"The trick is not to arrange a festival, but to find people who can enjoy it". Friedrich Nietzsche 
St Patrick's Day is the closest we get to a carnival in Ireland. Plenty of parades but fewer masks. The quote is via another German philosopher Josef Pieper, who lamented the loss of a true capacity for leisure in Europe. Maybe Ireland is the last redoubt for the old meaning of leisure, festivals and carnival - or perhaps we could be.

As Pieper observed:
The antithesis between holiday and workday, or more precisely, the concept of the day of rest, tells us something further about the essence of festivity. The day of rest is not just a neutral interval inserted as a link in the chain of workaday life. It entails a loss of utilitarian profit. In voluntarily keeping the holiday, men renounce the yield of a day's labour. This renunciation has from time immemorial been regarded as an essential element of festivity. A definite span of usable time is made, as the ancient Romans understood it, "the exclusive property of the gods".
So instead of our politicians aiming to be 'the best small country in the world to do business in by 2016' or 'the best country in the world for scientific research excellence by 2020' and other such crap-titudes, why not aim to be Europe's home of festivals, culture and celebration? Just create five new bank holidays a year for 9-10 years and we'll have plenty of time to 'pay the gods' their due respects.

It might even attract a few (hundred thousand) votes...

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