B e c o m i n g C a r n i v a l
but a placement ofthe concept ofcarnival in termsofits performative consequences,which is to say anevent that can not only be analytically invok-ed,butalso one that can be re-placed in terms ofitspotential strategic and political possibilities.Nolonger simply a medieval subversion ofeverydaysocial life,the carnival can now be seen as a modelfor the (parodic) performance ofidentity itself.And parody itself,not then as a cynical critiqueofmeaning,but a playful subversion ofthe con-ditions upon which a social meaning is grounded.A convoluted position to be sure,for as the parodyenacts the inverse roles ofthe social self,so too doesit reinforce precisely the collapse ofmeaning whichrenders the selfa function ofits social roles.And if the carnival can subvert,revive or renew theparticipation ofa selfin a social world,it is onlybecause it makes apparent the transparency of social meaning to begin with.For it is not just thecarnival that imitates,but the study ofthe carnivalitselfthat sets its method as that ofremainingwithin the confines ofa carnival thinking.In otherwords a study that necessarily aims to imitate itself,to double back on its own criticisms and to enactthe assertions it seeks to make.And a redefinition ofcarnival imitation then,wherein its process becomes inherently heteroglos-sic.And not just Bakhtin’s textual heteroglossia,but a performed heteroglossia for a carnivalesqueparticipation that seeks to remove the conditions of structural and textualized meaning.For it is ulti-mately these forms ofmeaning that cause the socialstasis that makes the carnival necessary.And theassertion then that ifone can take on various iden-tities,including those taken up both within andoutside ofparticipation in the carnival,the state of identity is no less contextual than the state of meaning itself.A simple reformulation ofBakhtin’sdefinition really,in that now:
At any given time,inany given place,there will be a set ofconditions that will insure that a selfacting (participating) in that place and at that time will have an identity different than it would have under other conditions.
And all ofthis simply to suggest that the carnivalis necessarily ambivalent and inclusive.Not merelyan analytic model,but a performative positioning.For as carnival laughter is both mocking andrenewing,it is also not devoid ofits own truth.Rather,and this perhaps must be emphasized,
thecarnival laughs seriously
.In other words,one mustavoid the tendency to be too serious (or to read tooseriously) when speaking ofcarnival,lest one beaccused ofmisunderstanding the concepts oneinvokes.An ambivalent role-play then,one that is,ofcourse,more play than role,but neither to theexclusion ofits opposite,the ‘real’being – orperhaps better stated the
And ifthe carnival selfis one that is ambivalent inits participation,it is precisely because ofitstwofold relationship to laughter and seriousness.An attitude that bears strong affinity with Deleuzeand Guattari’s notion ofbecoming.A becomingthat is not precisely a becoming somethingdifferent,but rather an ambivalent becoming of sorts.A liberation from a
role that necess-arily entails the embracing,not ofa
space between roles
.And as the carnival isresistant to the static and complete,so too abecoming selfworks in the spaces between com-pletion:‘the selfis only a threshold,a door,abecoming between two multiplicities’(Deleuze andGuattari 1987:249).And the becoming-animal is ofspecial import-ance here simply because ofthe recontextualizationofthe carnival as a self-reflexive performance.Asubversion ofthe roles embraced in day-to-day life.And a contemporary becoming that strugglesagainst the self,subverting the constraints ofthehuman by becoming animal.
Do not imitate a dog,but make your organism enter intocomposition with
in such a way that theparticles emitted from the aggregate thus composed willbe canine as a function of the relation of movement andrest,or of molecular proximity,into which they enter.(Deleuze and Guattari 1987:274)
And so,to subvert the static nature ofa self-as-human,what better way than the enacting (the