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2007 03 14
Angle of Incident #45: Seminar 7, Surveillance, Part 3
After which, Johnathan Tyrrell continued his consideration of ritualized events with an anatomy of the legislated pillow-fight:

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SYNTHETIC EVENT
Jonathan Tyrrell


On the weekend there was a large pillow fight in a public square in Rome. I found out that this was one of a series of international flash mobs that occur at highly specific times and locations, predetermined online.

Last week I wrote about a fictional laundry festival happening on a street not 500 metres from where the non-fictional pillow fight actually happened [or at least I have to believe happened, since I learned of the fight through the same digital means that allowed me to fabricate the festival].

Despite the ironically similar backdrops and bizarre fetish of the bedroom flannel these two festivals, in origin, are fundamentally opposite [I will not dwell on the fact that contrary to the innocent nature of the laundry festival, the pillow fights have a strong undercurrent of frenzied violence made acceptable only by the plush contours of the weapon, but I will however allude to it from within the fortress of these brackets].

For me, the most important difference is that the pillow fight is a completely synthetic event which is predetermined and executed with military precision. It is at once place specific and placeless. The laundry festival on the other hand crystallizes around an unprompted action, which becomes a ritual by accretion and is inevitably vulnerable to the same Darwinian process of elimination that sees some rituals rise and fall while others continue. In a sense, the laundry festival earns the right to be a ritual because it survives. But far be it for me to say that since I synthesized the whole thing.

Regardless of what the comparison reveals it does leave me asking myself: in a time when we seem to be dying for collective ritual, how do we find an alternative to synthetic event?


[email this story] Posted by Gary Michael Dault on 03/14 at 01:10 PM

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