Feste – parties, celebrations, feasts, fêtes – can be defined in many ways. For some, they are times of rapturous ecstasy; for others, inward reflection and contemplation. Both definitions are correct, as each draws on a different celebratory paradigm. Most generally, celebrations are events that stand out from everyday life and aim to cultivate specific emotions in exemplary fashion. Together, our forms of celebration amount to an emotional division of labor. Ecstatic events, like Carnival or New Year’s, promise to free us from the ordinary; intimate celebrations (birthdays, weddings, Christmas) focus on our ideas of love and interiority; days of national commemoration and victory celebrations are exercises in pride; funeral celebrations help us cope with sadness and pain. I will show how feelings become thematized during, and in connection with, celebrations by considering a few examples from love related festivals such as weddings and Christmas.
Rüdiger Zill has been on the research staff at the Einstein Forum since 1997, where in addition to his other work he runs the Passions in Cultures series. Before that he taught philosophy at the Technische Universität Dresden. His dissertation, completed in 1994, explores the function of models and metaphors in affect theory. His publications include Hinter den Spiegeln: Zur Philosophie Richard Rortys (co-edited, 2001); Gestalten des Mitgefühls (edited, 2006); Ganz Anders? Philosophie zwischen akademischem Jargon und Alltagssprache (edited, 2007); Zum Lachen! (co-edited, 2009); Metapherngeschichten: Perspektiven einer Theorie der Unbegrifflichkeit (co-edited, 2011); Wahre Lügen: Bergman inszeniert Bergman (co-edited, 2012). Together with Annalise Acorn he is also coeditor of the journal Passions in Context.