Carnivale, Bakhtin

Dancers perform a flash mob in Barcelona

Mikhael Bakhtin,  Rabelais and His World, 1965

A boundless culture of folk humor in the Middle Ages and Renaissance created a sharp contrast to the official serious tone of medieval ecclesiastical and feudal political order. …folk festivities of the carnival type, the comic rites, cults & spectacles,  clowns and fools, giants, dwarfs, and jugglers, a vast literature of parody…linked to the feasts of the Church, themselves drawn from pagan rituals.

Built a second world outside officialdom…a second life of the people, who for a time entered the utopian realm of community: freedom, equality and abundance.

 Carnival celebrated temporary liberation from the prevailing truth and established order; the suspension of all hierarchical rank, privileges norms and prohibitions. People were, so to speak, reborn for new, purely human relations [that] were not only a fruit of imagination or abstract thought, but immediately experienced.

Peter Brueghel, The Fight Between Carnival and Lent, 1559


For the individual and the group, what expressive resources (creative power) might such practices impart?  What functions were served by this folk culture of humor and ritual performance?  In what ways, if any, are comparable expressive resources cultivated by consumerist culture?