Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Fire Sermon at Mardi Gras

Imagine walking down St. Charles after one of the big nighttime parades--Bacchus, Endymion, or that godawful year we had Bacchendymion. Now imagine walking the parade route and seeing no garbage anywhere. Personally, I would be totally freaked out. Garbage is an such an integral part of the Mardi Gras experience that it's absence makes us feel like something isn't entirely right. It makes us uneasy.

When I look at post-parade trash I see vestiges of joy, happiness, merrymaking, and life. When we were talking about "The Fire Sermon" section of The Waste Land in class, someone (sorry, I can't remember whom) said that they thought that the narrator's reaction to the clean river was weird. The narrator seems to feel sad at the absence of trash:

The river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers, 
Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends 
Or other testimony of summer nights.

I think maybe we judged him too quickly. Trash, while symbolic of death and decay, also reminds us of life being lived. What do y’all think? Are you nostalgic about trash?

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