Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Hazing, Dionysian Style

Hope nobody just ate.

I'm in an existentialism class, and we're studying Nietzsche. The Birth of Tragedy, to be exact.

Loft, the professor, was lecturing about the two driving forces of art - the Apollonian and the Dionysian. Apollonian is basically illusionary; it creates the impression of individuality. It is associated with reason.

Dionysian is the opposite, of course. It breaks down individuality, reducing everything to primordial irrationality. Dionysian art is basically music. Think of the dance floor, when it's really intense - everyone is grooving as one, you aren't thinking about anything. Nothing rational about it - it fully accepts the abject, the disgusting.

Loft was telling us about a Dionysian festival he once attended. He did his postgrad at a university in Brussels. This university doesn't have Frosh Week - it has a Frosh Month. It takes them about 2 months to stock the beer - he said he saw stacks of kegs bigger than houses.

You can imagine what the fourth week was like. Live bands playing everywhere, the entire student body drunk out of their minds.

And thus, the initiation rituals begin.

A group of students line. The first person slams back beers until they vomit. They vomit into a cup; then pass the cup to the person behind them, who drinks it. That person then vomits, and passes the cup to the person behind them, and so on. The last person in line then returns the cup to the first person, who drinks. The circle is complete; a Dionysian ritual that makes them all One.

I didn't have the heart to ask Loft if he was involved in that.

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