Saturday, October 27, 2007

it's late october in carbondale, a town that has a long, violent and ongoing relationship with the halloween holiday season. years ago halloween was a large drinking festival, all through the seventies and eighties; in the nineties it turned violent; in this decade the town and university worked together to clamp down on it until finally this year the students moved their celebration up to the 20th. though that celebration was without incident, nevertheless it seems like an edgy time, anything could happen. the weather is cold and rainy after a dry spell that was so bad that leaves withered, turned early and blew away. people have been stealing halloween decorations and smashing pumpkins at an alarming rate- of course, maybe it bothers people that christmas decorations have already come out at some stores, winter set in before anyone was ready, and that all these truly in-your-face kinds of decorations are offensive anyway. but i have another theory for why it's such an edgy holiday- witches, grim reaper, skeleton bones, etc.

my theory is that it really is a long holiday season- halloween, all saints day, all souls day, guy fawkes day, sadie hawkins day, and on bad years, election day to get everyone's mind off the rest. in fact, halloween's original purpose was to distract attention from the others, like mardi gras does for lent. if you set fires throughout the countryside, burn all your old leaves and twigs, then the gray ashes rise in cold bitter winds of early november- which, to me, has always been the most beautiful of months, a month so beautiful that it needs an extended, subconscious, edgy set of virtually unknown holidays to usher it in. all saints day needs no introduction- i'm the wrong guy to introduce it anyway, with a veritable lack of religious education in my background- i could barely tell you the difference between all saints' day and all souls' day. but i can tell you that guy fawkes was the guy who tried to blow up the british parliament (or did blow it up?) so it's a kind of anti-holiday, the holiday for the sick and twisted, the down-with-the-system folks. but i couldn't even tell you who those folks are, today, in modern britain, or even here, where it's all gotten kind of muddled and a few tattoos or a little bit of face hardware doesn't mean a whole lot anymore. sadie hawkins day is the turn-the-system-on-its-ear holiday of all holidays, but who would know that from a junior high dance? what i'm saying is that all these holidays, including election day itself, which has a sick and twisted polarity to it, are largely subconscious, and definitely in tune with the weather. think about it- as october, show-your-colors month, bright, splashy, movie photography at every step, turns into bleak, brownish wet muddy half-frozen path with dry blizzardy snow blowing around the brown cackly leaves, in the same way, the hard-drinking, outlandish-costumed, 18-22-year-old dramatic extravaganza turns into a barren kind of report-card-staring, dysfunctional-family-around-a-golden-turkey kind of hollowness, in homes throughout the countryside. election years take the whole polarity and puts it in a brightly colored, media-glowish carnival-type wrapper, complete with pretty faces, beautiful spouses, empty promises, commercials like sharp shining knives twisting in a cooked bird. the cruel reality of people's true voting preference like a harsh blizzard, a car that won't start on a cold, rainy-icy courthouse parking lot. not that i have experience with any of this, but i can tell you, that when february rolls around, or april in more northern climes, the grass and leaves do come back, it softens up a bit, the animals will return from hibernation, what few are left. and that, just as, no matter how dry it was, there will be some oranges, some reds, some yellows, various hues of brown- and, on the other side, various shades of brown, like grays, ranging from dark to light, to snow flurry, to misty fog drifting, a few errant leaves in a wistful dance, before giving it up, and drifting to the cold frozen dew. that the people- and their carnival, mardi gras, and halloween- these are the grand marshals of the big parade, the big show, the great movie, where in truth, all the bad actors and actresses should just step aside, and let nature read its lines.


Blogger Peggy said...

Guy Fawkes didn't succeed in blowing up the houses of parliament. Bonfire Night (Nov 5th) or Guy Fawkes Night celebrates the foiling of yet another Catholic plot to overthrow the government. It was tough times back then for the Catholics.

12:07 PM  

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