- Taschenbuch: 114 Seiten
- Verlag: St Augustines Pr Inc (April 1999)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 1890318337
- ISBN-13: 978-1890318338
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13,7 x 1,3 x 21,3 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 1 Kundenrezension
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 2.374.938 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
In Tune with the World: A Theory of Festivity (Englisch) Taschenbuch – April 1999
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In this stimulating and still-timely study, Josef Pieper takes up a theme of paramount importance to his thinking - that festivals belong by rights among the great topics of philisophical discussion. As he develops his theory of festivity, the modern age comes under close and painful scrutiny. It is obvious that we no longer know what festivity is, namely, the celebration of existencc under various symbols. Peiper exposes the pscudo-festivals, in their harmless and their sinnister forms: traditional feasts contaminated bhy commercialism; artificial holidays created in the the interest of merchandisers; holidays bhy coercion, decreed by dictators the world over; festivals as military demonstrations; holidays empty of significance. And lastly we are given the apocalyptic vision of a nihilistic world which would seek its release not in festivities but in destruction. Formulated with Pieper's customary clarity and elegance, enhanced by brilliantly chosen quotations, this is an illuminating contribution to the understanding of traditional and contemporary experience.
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I had never read anything of Pieper's before and knew only his name from hearing of "Liesure, the Basis of Culture." I found him to be an interesting writer. He is a philosopher of Christian background who writes philosophy rather than religious texts. He references here Aquinas, Nietzsche, Rousseau and the French Revolution, and socialists from Hitler to Trotsky. He is therefore, squarely in the realm of the philosophical conversation of the 20th century.
As for what festivity is, let me try to summarize his argument:
Festivals are special days, and therefore require ordinary days to exist.
Ordinary days are days consisting of servile work, that is, work that is not just busy but has meaning in the utilitarian support of life.
The opposite of servile work is not non-work but non-utilitarian work.
Therefore, festivals are days of non-utilitarian activity, or work that is meaningful in itself.
In order to define festivals, then, one must be able to define work that is meaningful in itself.
Historically, religious and philosophical authorities have defined contemplation--the joy of seeing the world--as the ultimate form of activity that has meaning in itself.
In order to engage in contemplation, one must have existential wealth, or the ability to be joyful; i.e., festivity and nihilism are not compatible.
Joy requires an object or reason for joy, and if festivity requires joy, festivity then requires an object or reason, such as an event like a marriage or birth.
Events are reasons for joy only if they are microcosms of the essential goodness of the universe.
Therefore, festivals are properly days for remembering or confirming the essential goodness of the universe: "To celebrate a festival means: to live out, for some special occasion and in an uncommon manner, the universal assent to the world as a whole."
Pieper goes on to examine other aspects of festivity, such as its ritual nature, its need to touch on something eternal, its relationship to art, Easter as its ultimate example, and its relationship to modernity, including the incompatibility of festivity with totalitarianism.
Although Pieper writes in a somewhat serpentine fashion, digressing and then returning to his main point over and over, and can be hard to follow at times because of this, I think this would an interesting read for anyone serious about festivals and celebrations, Christian or not.
I wasn't halfway through the first chapter before I was disappointed with In Tune with the World. It was my own fault: Despite the book's subtitle, I had been expecting practical suggestions for recovering festivity in a society where abundance is commonplace. However, when Pieper says "a THEORY of festivity," that is exactly what he means.
What's more, the first few pages put me off because Pieper seems to be dividing our lives between work and festivity, with work pretty much defined as what men do to earn a living, and I kept thinking, "But you still expect the women to cook and clean for your festivals; if they separated their work from the feast, it wouldn't be much of one!" He was writing in the early 1960's, so I can't say he's free from that attitude, but there's much more to what he is saying, and my preconceptions definitely distorted that first chapter.
Before I had finished the book, however, I realized that it deserved re-reading for what it is rather than for what I wanted it to be. I'm not generally one to read books of philosophy -- largely, I'll admit, because I find them hard going. There is only so much of this kind of writing I can take without my eyes glazing over: "Human acts derive their meaning primarily from their content, from their object, not from the manner in which they are performed. Play, however, seems to be chiefly a mere modus of action, a specific way of performing something, at any rate a purely formal determinant."
The text is well worth working through, however -- perhaps several times.
Pieper writes as a Christian, and clearly views Christian festivals as the highest and best of celebrations. Yet the theory of festivity he posits has its roots firmly in pagan, primitive, Jewish, Roman, and other practices as well, and the book is rife with quotations from sources many and varied.
You can read In Tune with the World in under an hour, but Pieper's ideas are inexhaustible. If you consider what he has to say about the festivals of the French Revolution, you'll never look at the Olympic Opening Ceremonies the same way again.
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