I came across this review by Simon Callow of Barbara Ehrenreich’s Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy and thought I’d pass it on.
The book is around five years’ old now. I cite it as a reminder that emotions were once collective experiences. In some places, of course, they still are. But as societies are atomized, increasingly emotions are privatized and we are alone together. [Zygmunt Bauman is good at explaining this.]
This is not a done deal. Nothing is written. It can be changed. For the lost generation on the streets, it’s going to have to change. As the Situationists put it: ‘Underneath the pavement, the beach’.
A note to ‘collective joy’: while our fore bearers may have found joy in dancing, they also found it in those festivals of cruelty that Nietzsche wrote about. Public executions were regarded as a good day out in 18th century England.