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Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy [Format Kindle]

Barbara Ehrenreich

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Présentation de l'éditeur

From the bestselling social commentator and cultural historian, a fascinating exploration of one of humanity's oldest traditions: the celebration of communal joy

In the acclaimed Blood Rites, Barbara Ehrenreich delved into the origins of our species' attraction to war. Here, she explores the opposite impulse, one that has been so effectively suppressed that we lack even a term for it: the desire for collective joy, historically expressed in ecstatic revels of feasting, costuming, and dancing.

Ehrenreich uncovers the origins of communal celebration in human biology and culture. Although sixteenth-century Europeans viewed mass festivities as foreign and "savage," Ehrenreich shows that they were indigenous to the West, from the ancient Greeks' worship of Dionysus to the medieval practice of Christianity as a "danced religion." Ultimately, church officials drove the festivities into the streets, the prelude to widespread reformation: Protestants criminalized carnival, Wahhabist Muslims battled ecstatic Sufism, European colonizers wiped out native dance rites. The elites' fear that such gatherings would undermine social hierarchies was justified: the festive tradition inspired French revolutionary crowds and uprisings from the Caribbean to the American plains. Yet outbreaks of group revelry persist, as Ehrenreich shows, pointing to the 1960s rock-and-roll rebellion and the more recent "carnivalization" of sports.

Original, exhilarating, and deeply optimistic, Dancing in the Streets concludes that we are innately social beings, impelled to share our joy and therefore able to envision, even create, a more peaceable future.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 909 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 337 pages
  • Editeur : Metropolitan Books; Édition : 1st (26 décembre 2007)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B000Q9F4O2
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°515.794 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)

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Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5  40 commentaires
32 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 I WANNA ROCK 28 janvier 2007
Par Anthony Pierulla - Publié sur Amazon.com
If you have ever wondered why you dance, when we and where dancing started,why has there always been dancing, why have some tried to stop it and most of all why does our heart beat faster, a glow come over our body, and our soul seems to rise to a place of unknown joy.

Well my friend this beautifully written work will give you a lot of ideas.

From the savannas of Africa to fiords of Norway you will have new insights into why we dance everywhere and why we will never stop until the last heart stops "beating."

I have always known dance has eternal powers but until I read this I never thought how these powers had been copted in the pursuit of bellicose motives that turned brother against brother.

Thanks to an NPR interview, that did not come close to doing this book justice, and the omnipresence of Amazon I was able to order, receive, read, digest and recommend this joy of a book in a matter of days. A Dionyesian feast that will dance in your mind for a lifetime. Thank you so much Ms. Ehrenreich.
17 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent book, Well Researched 22 novembre 2009
Par Tim Warneka - Publié sur Amazon.com
I listened to the audio version of this book.

I found this book to be fascinating and stimulating. As a life-long Roman Catholic, I thought the earlier reviews that decry the author for her 'church bashing' and 'Stalin'-like approaches were rather unfair and unnecessarily ad hominem. The author clearly put a great deal of time and effort into this book (either that, or she has an amazing team of researchers working for her! ;-D). It was fascinating for me to listen as she wove disparate pieces of information into a beautiful tapestry about the history of collective ecstatic dance in the Western world. (These kinds of books are very difficult to write. If you haven't tried to write a book such as this, I would strongly invite you to do so ... you'll gain a new appreciation for authors such as Ehrenreich who make it look so easy.)

I picked this book up because I very appreciated the author's Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America and Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream. I appreciate the author because she is focusing on issues that, in my opinion, should deeply concern today's Christians, such as the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer.

As a mental health professional, I also found her discussion on depression and mental health issues to be very insightful.

The person who read the audio book did a wonderful job. I found her voice very easy to listen to. The only critique I would offer to the publisher is that I sometimes found it difficult to tell where a particular quote ended and where the text resumed (in several cases knowing where they quote ended made a significant different in understanding the text).

For people interested in historical Christianity, collective healing rituals, mental health, dance, martial arts, and other forms of physical movement, I would highly recommend this book.
15 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A Good and Informative Read 8 juillet 2008
Par Cynthia Roses-Thema, Ph.D. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Good research comes from good questions. Barbara Ehrenreich's book is the result of two excellent questions that she writes are prompted by a sense of loss: "if ecstatic rituals and festivities were once so widespread, why is so little left of them today? If the `techniques' of ecstasy represent an important part of the human cultural heritage, why have we forgotten them, if indeed we have?"
Going chronologically from the stone age cave drawings where the collective experience of dancing and feasting was felt so important as to record it, Ehrenreich sweeps through to present times, to what she calls an age of spectacle and sports. Along the way, Ehrenreich tells you about anthropologists who in the beginning neglected dance altogether and psychologists who are still too busy studying only the depressed individual to take any notice of those of us who experience joy. She takes a long hard look at Calvinism through the immensely troubled life of John Bunyan and tracks the dance mania in the 13-15th century Europe that ended in a crackdown on bodily movement from both Church and State in the 16th century. Ehrenreich cleverly posits this crackdown could very well be linked to the European Depression in the 17th century and she cites evidence in the novels, poetry, and autobiographies of the times. She finds only sporadic outbreaks of collective joy in present times, one such episode emanating from the sixties culture.
Coming to this book as a dancer and knowing the joy of dance I interpret Ehrenreich's work as demonstrating the struggle that exists in the physical body when you dance. In other words, to move or not to move. In reference to society, the ability to dance and feast and move the boundaries of gender, ethnicity, and social position versus the habit of sitting still for fear of losing both self-control and social positioning.
Ehrenreich's examples are interesting, her connections are insightful, and the book is easy to read. If humans for so many years devoted so much time and energy to the pursuit of collective joy what threatens us from pursuing this experience now? She does answer her questions. You'll have to read the book to find out what they are.
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 an invitation to think, not a history of dance 30 juin 2007
Par Bonnie Gordon - Publié sur Amazon.com
Barbara Ehrrenreich is a writer and thinker involved in the exploration of social phenomenon. She is certainly a political thinker and definitely has a point of view about social phenomena as they impact modern life. She is not an historian or an anthropologist. I'm at a loss to understand the criticism of this book based on what it never pretends itself to be, a history of dance or an anthropological study of the ecstatic phenomenon.
Several people have found it necessary to point out that Barbara Ehrenreich is on the left politically and a product of the 1960s with an "ah hah" mentality that seems to indicate she has has somehow tried to hide this, or that it inherently shameful. Social thinkers who propose changes in the way we currently conduct our lives or our society ALWAYS have ideas which they promote (pejoratively described as biases) because they actively advocate for change. It would be dishonest to attempt to hide them behind a false "objectivity."
This kind of false "objectivity" has sapped the life, not only from much that passes for social commentary, but also from investigative journalism, in which the collection of a quote or two from "authorities" on each side of a conflict has replaced the search for the truth about a given situation. It has also lead to the false notion that the truth is always located in the middle of the road.
Bravo to Barbara Ehrenreich who never hides behind this sort of fakery in her search for the truth as she sees it. She invites readers to join the dance of two mindes, the writer's and the reader's, in thinking about topics that engage her own thoughts.
Some critics seem to be attacking the fact that her writing is interesting and fun to read. Never fear! I managed to read the book and enjoy it very much while maintaining my critical faculties and without agreeing with every one of Ehrenreich's conclusions. I did learn a lot AND my mind was engaged to think about dance and the human capacity for collective joy in ways that are new and exciting to me.
58 internautes sur 77 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An interesting, although biased, reflection on a phenomenon in social history 16 janvier 2007
Par Dr. Jonathan Dolhenty - Publié sur Amazon.com
Barbara Ehrenreich's "Dancing in the Streets" is a rather unique approach to the subject of a human behavior which has roots going back to, probably, prehistoric days. And her discussion of the topic will, I suspect, be controversial and criticized from some viewpoints, particularly those who may be bothered by the subtitle: "A History of Collective Joy." However, the fact is that this is one of humankind's oldest traditions, the communal celebration of whatever it was that was important to the community -- fertility, security, the annual harvest, or whatever. Promoters of an "autonomous" individualism take note: this is not a book you will happily read. On the other hand, those who think that the individual person doesn't really count -- only the group matters -- may not like it either.

Her purpose for writing this book is clearly stated in the introduction: "If ecstatic rituals and festivities were once so widespread, why is so little left of them today? If the 'techniques' of ecstasy represent an important part of the human cultural heritage, why have we forgotten them, if indeed we have?" Well, I, personally, am not so sure that her initial assumptions are, in fact, true. I think it might be argued that the ecstatic rituals and festivities are still present with us, but they have simply taken on a different "form" consonant with the requirements of a "mass civilization" which has evolved over the past few centuries. I am not as pessimistic as she appears to be about the "collective joy" phenomenon. I do have friends who regularly participate in such behavior, although not for the benefit of the media, and their "rituals," if that be the appropriate word, are not for public consumption.

One of the problems with reading any book which falls within the "history" genre is to grasp and understand the particular viewpoint of the author or the stance which the author takes in selecting the facts presented and the interpretation of those facts in the larger context of the era or topic under examination. We have, for instance, many books about American history which are written from a conservative point of view or from an economic-determinism point of view or from a socialist point of view or from some other sociopolitical point of view. History books of a truly "objective" character are rather rare; virtually every one of them is "framed" to present some bias which the author of the book wants the reader to accept. "Dancing in the Streets" is no exception.

So, first, let me get into the disclaimer mode, just to protect myself from being accused of selling out to many of the very ideas that I personally oppose. I am well aware that many (if not all) of Barbara Ehrenreich's works are written on the socialist, "radical" feminist, and neo-marxist pallet of class, racist, gender, and power-politics. I have read or heard her interviews and, from both the so-called "left" and "right" perspectives, studied the evaluations of her contributions to current thought. Furthermore, while I may disagree with some of her interpretations, I cannot disagree with the facts she selected for this book (citations provided) and, moreover, she does deserve a hearing, in spite of the opinions that some commentators may have regarding her own political and social philosophy.

That being noted, what can really be said about this new book of hers? Interesting? Yes. Valuable? Yes. Thoughtful? Yes. A good history of something which may have been lost or, probably in most cases, diminished -- the phenomenon of "collective" joy? Yes. The final say on the issue? I think not. But that doesn't matter. She has something to say and, in my opinion, that something needs to be addressed. The eleven chapters of her book, beginning with "The Archaic Roots of Ecstasy" and ending with "Carnivalizing Sports," I will, for the purposes of this review, ignore. These chapters simply provide the foundation for her conclusion section, which is what I found most interesting and to which I would like to direct my attention. Her conclusion section, titled "The Possibility of Revival," will likely upset some politically conservative readers but, nevertheless, Ehrenreich, in spite of her specific sociopolitical bias, has some important things to say and they should be thought about seriously.

For instance, she says: "There is no powerful faction in our divided world committed to upholding the glories of the feast and dance." I think that is true. Then she points out: "The Protestant fundamentalism of the United States and the Islamic radicalism of the Middle and Far East are both profoundly hostile to the ecstatic undertaking." I think that is also true. Both socio-religious views do seem to be opposed to what constitutes "joyful" celebration in the sense in which Ehrenreich describes it. Then, "Even communism, which might have been expected to celebrate human sociality, turned out...to be a drab and joyless state of affairs, in which, as in the capitalist West, mass spectacles and military parades replaced long-standing festive traditions." I also think that is true, as a brief perusal of modern social and political history will show. Any argument against these assertions?

While I do not accept the "class-warfare" or "class-consciousness" concept of historical determinism as a fundamental factor in the philosophy of history, the fact of the matter is that throughout human history one's social and/or economic status was important, even vital, to one's personal standing in the community, not to mention one's personal fulfillment and happiness, and simply cannot be cast aside, even though many commentators would like to deny it or ignore it. Like it or not, Ehrenreich is quite right in pointing out that civilization "tends to be hierarchical, with some class or group wielding power over the majority, and hierarchy is antagonistic to the festive and ecstatic tradition." And, for those of us who are lowercase "L" libertarians, she says that "This leaves hierarchical societies with no means of holding people together except for mass spectacles -- and force." And force, of course, we moderate libertarians understand -- and, for that matter, we don't much like mass spectacles either.

I recommend this book to all those interested in social history and cultural studies, as long as the reader recognizes that Ehrenreich writes from a particular sociopolitical perspective. Regardless, she has raised some interesting questions worth thinking about. Now that I'm finished with this review, I'm going out to find some of this "collective joy." In times like these, what other therapy is necessary?
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