The rule of freedom
Rabelais, Bakhtin, Abhinavagupta
Transgressive laughter is best understood through the principle of "freedom" (svātantrya), the central concern of Rabelais, Bakhtin, and Abhinavagupta. The medieval Christian dispensation revolved around the opposition, alternation, and complementarity between the stern, ascetic, otherworldly spiritual ideal of the Church and the periodic extended license of the popular carnival that rejuvenated this world of piety by rendering it topsy-turvy. Through Rabelais, the unschooled obscene clamor of the primordial folk found unvarnished expression in early Renaissance literature. Even while cultivating a superior and exclusive literate world, the medieval elites had fully participated in the unseemly carnivalesque laughter. Age-old festivals parodying and profaning ecclesiastical rites held in the vicinity of, and with the implicit sanction of, the Church were officiated by the lower clergy. As Bhairava-incarnate, Abhinavagupta's praxis of transgressive sacrality offers a more adequate framework for understanding the still Christian project formulated by Rabelais through the Abbey of Theleme: "Do what thou wilt!".
Chalier-Visuvalingam, E. (2018)., The rule of freedom: Rabelais, Bakhtin, Abhinavagupta, in L. Bandlamudi & E. V. Ramakrishnan (eds.), Bakhtinian explorations of Indian culture, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 55-71.
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