Sharing a moment, telling stories, a feast of life

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One of my book-mentors, Thomas Moore, enriched my vocabulary with this beautiful and almost forgotten Latin term: Con-vivium. "To live with." To experience together. To indulge in feast communally. To share the sensual stimulation. I’d like to ficus on the authentic feeling liberated from all the sneer over the assumed pathos.




Some of the first (and still quite rare) art movies that I have seen and that sketched this phenomenon: Le fate ignoranti, Babettes gaestebud, Antonia's line - bewitched me, excited me, evoked butterflies in my belly. Initially without really knowing why - but when I have first time heard of this quality and received a name for it, those films have become the most tangible examples of what my soul was craving for.

Babette teaches puritans to enjoy life
through senses, feast and true community
(Copyright): Babettes gæstebud (1987) - co-production

Alternative family on the terrace in Rome,
for outcasts, broken souls and lovers
(Copyright): Le Fate Ignoranti (2001) - co-production

Antonia's family doesn't judge,
it protects and supports and grows
(Copyright): Antonia's Line (1995) - co-production

The images of convivial moments got stuck in my head, I followed them (quite literally) around the world. A carrot tied to a stick tied to a back of a donkey. The less they were likely to ever fulfill, the more they grew in significance for me.




The inkling that this term embodies, the concept it evokes, was a force comparable to gravity - it propelled me in life quite like butterfly-chasing of stories (note: it should work reverse) and fox-hunting of adventures. Togetherness complemented the picture. The experience of true, genuine, loving, caring, sharing exchanges with people - as the sweet happyend at the end of any story or adventure. An ideal, a dream, a Fata Morgana. Ironically - enacting also Viktor E Frankl's thesis on quest for meaning. I imagined that the physical move - the traveling itself - will be a sparkle sufficient enough to incite and invite the convivial encounters. Instead, I ended up with feelings of being stuck, disconnected, storyless, adventureless, unable to share the occasional experience of beauty.




Some people criticize religion, because The Content (the guidelines? following of the inspiring example? trying to make the best out of oneself?) is often overshadowed by the ceremony, costumes and opulence. The artifacts, the superficial, the materialism, the show, the vanity. But one can re-read this complaint also in light of one-sided spiritual(ist) obsession with concepts that are uplifting and angelic, accompanied by the disapproval of the transient matter and the flesh.

Ancient drag show
(Credits): Wikipedia - Wlaam97

Humiliating splendour
(Credits): Wikipedia - Lothar Wolleh

Timeless sense of drama
(Credits): Wikipedia - Tenan

I like to tease by reversing the dispute, in footsteps and free interpretation of Moore's writing. The qualities of Ceremony, the Ritual, the Show, the Magnificence, and the convivial Togetherness - might be actually the point of it all, the valuable part, "that which feeds the soul" - much more than the fierce and righteous content of the sermon. So sing the hymns, dress up in your best Sunday clothes to show off in front of your neighbors, kneel and stand and queue and shake hands and eat the host. Participate in the repetitive unchanging ritual that transcends the physical facts and constraints of life. Reinvent your world that misses humbleness and pride and zeal and connection and blessing - again and again and again.

Village feast to talk to neighbours

Pueblo fiesta to escape the ordinary

Town's annual fair to meet lovers

When you indulge in a feast - with your family, friends, or "brothers and sisters" - you don't just treat your senses, you don't just digest food, you don't just build social networks. You create beauty, you confirm beauty, you eat and sip the body and the blood of Life itself. A literal and a symbolic meanings are enacted in the same moment. You live life, you celebrate life, you create the best of life - in the same time.

Festive decoration

food that provides immediate physical quality

the sense of excitement.

Convivial moment is not just "an encounter", a one-on-one with friend - it is the consummation of concept/sense/feeling of community, as much as sex can be a physical expression of love. A feast, sharing the experience of eating the food and the art, exchanging ideas in conversation - is simultaneously a physical and a symbolic event. It contains both celebratory/festive quality, as much as natural matter-of-fact spontaneity. Some parts of it are elaborate and ritual, some open to be filled in with "here and now" content. It is no coincidence, that the feast often appears in the core scenes of religious stories.

Connected through indulgement ...
(music festival)

... with sense of togetherness ...
(gay pride)

... meeting the likeminded folks.
(fetish fair)

Of course, any event or gathering can happen without the Conviviality. The presence of it seems almost to be an elusive mystery. Still, one can recognize it, cultivate sensitivity towards it, invite it, allow it to happen. It requires sensual openness, capacity for wonder, perceiving what's happening around the person also on a non-literal level, pausing and seeing (in the widest sense - on par with meditation), familiarity with ritual and will to celebrate, enjoy, indulge. As much as all of this appears to be the natural magnet of humankind, nowadays the opposite seems to be the reality of the world of consuming/executing/producing humanoid robots.

Being in the same spot?

Being surrounded by crowds?

Witnessing the same event?

I have a feeling that only what you can step out of, you can really be in the middle of. Next time you do your BBQ, movie evening with friends, Christmas dinner, reunion with classmates, or pop-up at a random party - withdraw aside for just a moment and observe what's (not) happening. If fetishes express our need for stories through collecting things, if addictions may subsitute empty rituals of confirmation of beauty, then the way how we withstand certain humiliating interactions, assume the unconfortable roles, play the game of the group - can comment on what we are willing to endure to get a taste of Convivium.

Take a breath ...
(Credits): Wikipedia - czampal

... to step out ...

... and feel it.