Mudcat Café message #2206975 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #106626   Message #2206975
Posted By: Jack Blandiver
02-Dec-07 - 02:33 PM
Thread Name: Songs for the Winter Solstice
Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
Tabster, sorry if I gave the impression I'm trying to belittle what you're saying - nothing could be further from the truth; I'm sure if we were having this discussion face to face it would prove a good deal less frustrating for all concerned! As a non-academic humanistic empiricist myself, I am wary of any level of objective / academic 'interpretation' (whatever stamp this might carry) beyond the thing itself. Reading what you've said above (especially with regard to Mr Hutton) I think, essentially, we're thinking along similar lines.

The interpretation of folkloric practise is a very different thing to the practise itself; those who analyse folklore do so from the position of Objective Outsider, rather than a Subjective Participant. Thus are lines of vested disparity drawn according to a dichotomy between the educated rational observer, and the uneducated rabble that are The Observed - those countless generations of lesser mortals who can't possibly know the 'true' Significance, Provenance or indeed Symbolic Meaning of the customs they have unwittingly perpetuated down the aeons.

That such goings on must have a 'true' Significance, Provenance or indeed Symbolic Meaning, is a supposition made by the academic folklorist who fails to appreciate the immediate significance of that which he / she observes. Academics (be they folklorists or historians) are, after all, rational human beings; staid, educated, disciplined, within a system of well-defined moral & social codes determining both their behaviour and their entire world view in which for every action there simply must be a functional purpose - a reason for doing so - and the more elaborate & complex that meaning, the better it is for all concerned.

I have no doubt whatsoever that pagans are still amongst us; I saw them last night whilst driving home to Lytham from a performance of the Vivaldi Gloria given by the Fleetwood Choral Society; the streets of Blackpool thronging with strapping lads and barely dressed young girls braving the sleeting rain as they queued outside the nightclubs and chip shops. Maybe a few of them were at Mass earlier on too; as contrite or as unrepentant as ever, but ultimately sincere in the humility of their devotions as they take communion without once questioning its significance - nor its provenance or 'symbolic' meaning for that matter because this is about as literal as it gets.

Finally, I am intrigued, if admittedly little sceptical, about these friends of yours. I guess I've been avoiding mentioning it as five generations is a long time for the survival of anything in modern British society. If such a family does indeed exist, and it is what you say it is, then they would be a cultural treasure beyond calculation. I would like to know a little more - indeed, as much as you, or your friends, are prepared to share...