Another earlier-written piece, again back in 2014, I think. Communitas was an idea talked about by anthropologists Turner and Gennep, which refers to a natural sense of togetherness and sociality that acts as psychic glue for healthy communities.
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Like sunlight breaking out from behind the clouds, this feeling falls on you. Community; family—a sudden and wild recognition of something shared that was not asked for, but happened anyway. I imagined that there was something of what those old Church Revivalists might have felt when they were swept up in rapturous dancing, laughing, or singing in tongues as the Spirit moved through them.
But unlike what I imagine those ceremonies to be, this dancing in the center of the mine, and on the motorways, and the singing before police lines didn’t feel like a blessing being bestowed from on high. It was like a gift rising up, from the stamping of our feet, from the earth beneath us, awakened by our willingness to put our bodies where they felt needed. It feels instead as if people are batteries [or solar chargers perhaps] and if you get enough of them in the right place, at the right time, all intent on the same cause, then…
Pow. Hit by a wave of spontaneous community, a spiritual anti-anxiety pill as a part of me moved and laughed and danced and realized it might all be okay, if we keep this going. These people are on my side, as I am on theirs, and together, we are something bigger than the sum.
Such thoughts to have in the middle of a coal mine, with my skin dried and cracking from the toxins, legs aching, eyes sore from the mile-long visions of torn and ruined earth.
Ribs aching either from laughing or crying I’m not sure, but I am pulled back into my body and suddenly returned to my normal state—only this time there is something just slightly different about the architecture of my mind. I still have the same monolithic neuroses standing old and decadent in my mind, but it feels as though perhaps they have been weakened, perhaps a few walls have been thrown down by that solar-community-generated pulse of commonality. It feels like an upgrade, an achievement unlocked, or a leveling up.
The Late Renaissance thinkers used to talk of noble civilization like a flame that was given by progressive, classical cultures like the Greeks and the Romans, and passed down to learned and wise thinkers through paintings, sculpture, and hesitant science. In that idea it was the job of the modern to keep that torch alive, and to carry it forward into the Enlightenment and beyond…
Of course, that was all tosh – but if there is a flame that is carried in the hearts, then I think it must be this. This sense of coming-togetherness. This sense of being strong. This sense of finding yourself, amidst a sea of friends.