It’s pretty easy to fall into the trap of negativity – to point out something that’s wrong, to criticize and rage against injustices big or small. It’s harder to articulate a vision of the future, to say something positive. In part, I think this is because of the prevailing culture of cynicism and coolness. Enthusiasm and pleasure (when not ironic or distanced) risk seeming naive.
So much safer and easier to find fault – particularly for those of us with an academic background in the humanities, trained to pull apart arguments, and to find the flaws of illogic, the overlooked dimensions of race or class or gender in whatever text we confront. So most of what I write here is negative, fault-finding, and I find myself reluctant to try to spell out, even tentatively and in the smallest ways, my vision of that other world, of what might dawn when the bad days do come to an end.
But every now and then, something so positive comes along, that it blows your mind and you have to share it. I’m not sure if I could articulate exactly what I find so radical about “The Lost Horizon Night Market” – what about it speaks to me of that “other world” which “is not only possible, she’s on the way,” but reading about it, as Arundhati Roy says, I do “hear her breathe”:
On Saturday, a caravan of 30 box trucks parked along an industrial stretch of Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood for the third-ever Lost Horizon Night Market.
There wasn’t much to see on the street, but a different mini-world was hidden inside each truck.
Revelers slurped udon and miso in the Noodle Truck. They played Ouija and did their nails in the Junior High Slumber Party Truck. They fired paint balls at a guy in a chicken suit in the Shoot the Freak truck. And at the Sleazy Motel truck, a pair of red-uniformed bellhops took reservations and checked clients into either of two grungy bedrooms…..
Other trucks invited visitors to lie in a coffin for their own funeral rites, sing karaoke, get conned by fake scammers, watch a vaudeville show, act in a silent film, sip tea, smoke a hookah or sprawl on a patch of grass sod under a projection of a starry sky.
The Lost Horizon Night Market is a sporadic guerilla [sic] event organized by co-conspirators Mark Krawczuk and Kevin Balktick. Admission is free and none of the volunteer-run trucks charge for goods or services (though they do take tips to cover costs). The number of trucks and visitors has doubled at each event since the first Market happened in September.
Hundreds of people had gathered by the time the Market closed at 2 a.m. this Sunday. They dispersed by taxi, foot and bicycle, splattered with paint, full of noodles, carrying complimentary pregnancy tests from the motel truck.
Once they had gone, the trucks drove away.
(via Laughing Squid.)
What this makes me think of – radical social change-wise – is a powerful observation by one of the key theorists of the situationist struggle and of the events of May 1968 in Paris, Raoul Veneigem:
People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life,
without understanding what is subversive about love
and what is positive in the refusal of constraints,
such people have a corpse in their mouth.