Carnival is here again, its ubiquitous rhythms infecting every corner of the land at this time. At Carnival the nation become schizophrenic – bad vs good, positive vs negative, flesh vs spirit. How shall we choose? Carnivals originally flourished in Catholic countries of Europe: Italy, Spain, France etc. This means there is something viscerally Catholic about Carnival.
Carnival loses its meaning when people start “playing the body” instead of “playing the mas”. Playing the body invariably ends up in vulgarity and nakedness. Then there is the issue of noise pollution and auditory damage: people, including children, on top of the “big truck” with music blasting – a noise pattern also noticeable in our Catholic primary schools Carnival “jump-up”.
This level of noise permanently damages hearing as noted by medical doctors. There is also the issue of the shallowness of many of the songs and the decline in political and social commentary. In spite of that, the Church will not condemn the Carnival. It depends on what you are looking for. Skinny Banton’s “Wrong Again” turns domestic violence on its head. Men are victims of “horning” – emotional violence – too!
3 Canal had an impressive musical-drama production at The Black Box this season. It centred on the word “Love” spelt backward and turned upside down. The poetic insight here is to turn the word inside out and upside down to discover its true meaning. 3 Canal reminded us of the need to be vigilant in an elections year against the “vampires” who come talking to us about love of people and country when all they want to do is suck our economic blood and fill their pockets.
Another area of Carnival we can defend and promote is Kiddies Carnival. Parishes can organize a Kiddies Carnival “jump up” for children. It will be a safe space for children to enjoy themselves and learn their cultural traditions. Parish “Ole Mas” should also be encouraged. Ole Mas is a way of not taking ourselves too seriously. We laugh at everything and everyone and disregard the pressure to be politically correct at every turn.
So let’s look again at the Carnival and retrieve and celebrate the good. It is easy to curse the darkness of Carnival. Are you prepared to do the hard work in order to bring in the light?