Monday, October 01, 2007

Frodi's Challenge

Frodi's challenge was to confront and transform the hardened attitude : "This is how it is and how it's always been and how it always will be", and the anger and resentful condescension towards those with a new idea. In a sense, the people with these attitudes were the real "giants", even though many of them were simply traumatized, beaten-down folk, because the hardened attitude reinforces and actually is a kind of collaboration with the giants. People with the hardened attitude herd together to ridicule and mistreat those who see a new way.

Joy is a difficult sell amongst the hardened. They do not want to believe it. Further, they bring down and attack those proclaiming and experiencing it. The situation is Pentheus vs. Dionysus, and here Dionysus, as in Euripedes' play, must at times be confrontive and even stern with those inappropriately trying to crush joy.

Joy is not the hardened partying that desperately tries to forget, and has a good time through suppressing ; it is an energy that remembers, and does not have the belief-in-disappointment and muted sadism of the hardened that is simply suppressed but then amplified during such supposed "good times".

Lord Frodi's power and wonder was to succeed at the almost impossibly difficult task of transforming resentment, and allowing it to open up into celebration and joy. This is almost never an easy process, and it often cannot be a nice one, either. It does not go smoothly, and requires a spirit of insurgency that is not afraid to challenge entrenched or unfriendly attitudes in a bold and even authoritative manner. The resentful are almost always angry at anyone who is able to tap into that inner joy and dancing that the Hindus, calling it ananda, say is at the heart of our being. Resentment and inhibition hold people back, and an authoritative voice is often required in order to declare the joy and give it space through fiat. This is an authority-from-within that comes from the strong power of frith, a no-nonsense grounding in the strength of frith that has no time for pettiness that would obstruct its possibilities and growth. This can be compared to the no-nonsense attitude of the farmer or gardener who has a love for growing things, and is going to apply a spirit of pragmatism that will not brook anything interfering with growth.

This is not the enforced pseudo-joy of "kumbaya"-land. No one is forced. Rather, in the free zone everyone feels so free that the joy becomes infectious, but everyone can choose their level of participation. What is forcibly confronted are resentful, spoil-sport attitudes that would attempt to wreck the frith. In other words, antagonists to the process of frith-and-mirth-building. No one has to participate in a feeling they don't truly feel, but they oughtn't wreck it either. If they have something authentic to add, even if (constructively) critical, if it comes with a friendly spirit, it may be added to the fellowship to enrich it. In the free-zone, everyone can find their own space, their own niche, and be themselves. Inhibitions are given a space to melt. But those who reinforce those inhibitions through ridicule and resentment must be confronted or ousted. On the other hand, just hanging out is totally acceptable --- yet it is notoriously difficult to resist Frodi's charisma when he begins riling up games and dancing. No one is forced, but everyone is invited, and the welcome is so warm that it tends to thaw frozen attitudes.

Frodi's free-zones, certainly the aspect of the insurrection against the giants that made the movement delicious and irresistable, may be compared to Hakim Bey's concept of the "Temporary Autonomous Zone", of which Bey says(, "Participants in insurrection invariably note its festive aspects, even in the midst of armed struggle, danger, and risk. The uprising is like a saturnalia which has slipped loose (or been forced to vanish) from its intercalary interval and is now at liberty to pop up anywhere or when. Freed of time and place, it nevertheless possesses a nose for the ripeness of events, and an affinity for the genius loci... Pearl Andrews was right: the dinner party is already "the seed of the new society taking shape within the shell of the old" (IWW Preamble). The sixties-style "tribal gathering," the forest conclave of eco-saboteurs, the idyllic Beltane of the neo-pagans, anarchist conferences, gay faery circles...Harlem rent parties of the twenties, nightclubs, banquets, old-time libertarian picnics--we should realize that all these are already "liberated zones" of a sort, or at least potential TAZs. Whether open only to a few friends, like a dinner party, or to thousands of celebrants, like a Be-In, the party is always "open" because it is not "ordered"; it may be planned, but unless it "happens" it's a failure. The element of spontaneity is crucial. ...The essence of the party: face-to-face, a group of humans synergize their efforts to realize mutual desires, whether for good food and cheer, dance, conversation, the arts of life; perhaps even for erotic pleasure, or to create a communal artwork, or to attain the very transport of bliss-- in short, a "union of egoists" (as Stirner put it) in its simplest form--or else, in Kropotkin's terms, a basic biological drive to "mutual aid."" These are excellent words.

Bey also says, "The ancient concepts of jubilee and saturnalia originate in an intuition that certain events lie outside the scope of "profane time," the measuring-rod of the State and of History. These holidays literally occupied gaps in the calendar--intercalary intervals. By the Middle Ages, nearly a third of the year was given over to holidays. Perhaps the riots against calendar reform had less to do with the "eleven lost days" than with a sense that imperial science was conspiring to close up these gaps in the calendar where the people's freedoms had accumulated--a coup d'etat, a mapping of the year, a seizure of time itself, turning the organic cosmos into a clockwork universe. The death of the festival." To this, we must remember that Freyr was ár-guð, the allvaldr of the annus, the "calendar-god" as it were, the god of festivals that marked out the year. Let us keep in mind that the word "freóls" means both "free" and a "holiday" or "festival", and both words are related to Freyr's name ; moreover, in this regard, we get that örr vas Froði, liberal/generous was Frodi. In other words, one of the ways that Frodi's insurrection worked was through the generous fostering of the freóls-spirit, and Bey's linkage to the "ancient concepts of jubilee and saturnalia" is quite apropo here. E.P. Thompson, in Customs in Common, demonstrates that holidays and other traditional celebrations can become events around which to organize.

In saturnalia, the upside-down hierarchies are made fun of, and people transform the serious into the carnivalesque. Bakhtin's notes on the carnivalesque in his Rabelais and His World are important here. Jubilee as a saturnalian custom must also be fully considered, and indeed, in another chapter we will give these concepts of festival, saturnalia, carnival, and jubilee their full weight, as they impinge upon our topic with great force.

The myths themselves require that we enter into them in order to understand them fully. I consider Frodi's Insurrection Against the Giants to be in a sense a kind of ongoing project that asks of us not to take the tale at face value but to problematize it such that we attempt to visualize it with increasing resolution and clarity. To say that a revolution of joy was fostered is one thing ; to really understand how that might be implemented is another. On the one hand, it sounds wonderful, and inspiring, which it is ; but on the other hand, considering the nitty-gritty of how to undo the hardened attitude fostered by trauma and habitual neglect of all that allows a human soul to blossom and prosper underlines what an immensely difficult and indeed gargantuan task this actually was, underlining that organic to the movement portrayed in the story is the indwelling presence of the guð of voluptatem, the pleasure-, the delight-, the joy-god himself, for only that indwelling power of immanence, that divine incarnation of the megin of ananda can overcome such obstacles.


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