Monday, October 25, 2010


I've thought about this before and it is probably well known, but it is interesting to note. Writing off the top of my head so no real research I suppose, but it is popular knowledge that Halloween stems from a holiday known as "all hallows eve" or something along those lines. I don't intend to claim this is universal, but just in my certain(anglo) historical trajectory this is where Halloween is situated historically.
All hallows eve was the point in time in which the border between the world of the dead and the world of the living became most porous and started to strengthen itself again. This is much like other pagan(for lack of a better metonym) rituals in which the waxing and waning of natural phenomena were encoded(pine trees at the winter equinox, fertility symbols at the rebirth of spring). But instead of something that we have encoded in to scientific discourse(like the cycle of seasons because rotation around the sun and pine trees not losing needles in winter because of their evolution) this border between the world of the living has been effaced with Halloween. Not to make it seem like this was the agenda of someone, this was just a result of one more successive layer of dialectic atop an ever more specific historical trajectory. The culmination of structures of micro-power or the "mutual, indefinite blackmail" of power relations reifying yet one more concept by shuffling it through the zone of exception.

Halloween originally meant that one had to disguise oneself from shades and creatures who might happen to cross the border between the world of the dead and the world of the living. Old religions along my historical trajectory mostly did not have a heaven, simply a world of the dead and a world of the living. Greek religious structures, Roman, Assyrian, and Old Testament all have/had a world of the living and a world of the dead. The idea that there is third world in play is a relatively new innovation. This need to be disguised from the ghouls and lost souls meant a subversion of the general social order. Much like episodes in the winter equinox(x-mas) throughout history: spontaneous ceasefires, the replacement of the king by a town drunk or possibly insane person and killing the unstable individual at the end of the day to symbolize the death and rebirth of the kingdom itself(Sacea). These older rituals that have become encoded in to our culture represent points in time where subversion of the general norms WAS the norm.

So now most people regard Halloween as a day in which dwelling dwellers buy candy and give it to people who come to their door. These people are children dressed in costumes and their guardians. But there is also another halloween in which the older nature of Halloween is made apparent: gender roles, specifically the female role of "slut". I don't mean to slap you in the face with the word, but this is the best description I can come up with. There is a role out there for females to play: "slut", but this role is considered not what "good" females do. For the most part the role that we have created for female demands that they not derive pleasure from sex and not desire sex. Most importantly though: that they never notice the power that comes with sex and exploit it. Such male paranoia about such obvious things has bled in to modern ideas of femaleness. Lets be honest here we all derive pleasure from sex(assuming its not terrible sex), we all desire sex (not all the time but often), and we all seek our own agenda using most of the tools available to us whether it be sex or not. But even though logic cuts through these roles quickly and easily we are still shackled by these roles (male and female alike). We are all stuck policing each other in to these roles.

This other Halloween still celebrates the old pagan rituals' theme of subversion of the existing order and it is adult Halloween. The double standard of "pimp vs. ho" in which men are celebrated and respected for being sexually involved with multiple partners. In colloquialisms these are referred to as "conquests" and other loaded words that betray this double standard. Women on the other hand are ostracized and placed in counter-factual roles if they are perceived to be sexually involved with multiple partners. During Halloween there is a subversion of the existing order in that as we are policing each other in to these reified roles, we no longer can place women in the "slut" role as a result of their knowledge of their own sexuality. On Halloween women having knowledge of their sexuality is normal, so have fun. But keep in mind the reason I am bringing this up, is because it is so apparent when it is not Halloween. Without a subversion of the existing order we may have never known that this double standard is not a universal truth.