In a place in the American Northwest, on the outskirts of Eugene, Oregon, a hippie beanfest is celebrated annually. This fair is not quite a quilombo, although it could be. Quilombos are disordered, rebellious, turbulent and Dionysian. They permit peculiarities to meet in a natural state of anarchy manifested in the perpetual present. Notwithstanding, the beanfest of the Northwest induces every participant to highlight one aspect of their individuality, normed by a varied gamut of previously conformed cultural types: fashion, fetish, appearance. This standardizes the revelry and impedes a true celebration, uniforming the fun. By contrast, the true carnival is a ritual of remembrance, rings the warning bells over our own reality and comprises a primordial knowledge— that human beings are nothing but nature. Death is sufficient demonstration of that. The fair, on the other hand, needs rules, security systems, guards, undercover police, all of which go against nature, the planet and the joyous expression of being. Today, for example, it is illegal to smoke a joint in the fair. But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, the Oregon Country Fair began as a sixties festival that wanted to emulate the carnivals of the Middle Ages and was highly anti-establishment in the beginning. Hippies and flower people from all over the world attended, unfolding their colors and rebel smiles against uniformity.
The locals form musical combos, and they play a kind of long folksong that is associated with country music. The curious thing is that they sometimes sing songs that can appear to have too much in common with the lives of their listeners. In reality, this is not strange. It is a product of standardization. The heroes and characters of the songs become stereotypes produced, massified and administrated by the symbolic culture that reproduces control through the image. In this way, standardization appropriates peculiarity and transforms it into a recognizable typology: archetypes, types of physiologies, stereotypes, etc.
Stereotypes are vulgar forms of understanding standardization and exist only by virtue of it. For example, bus drivers always wave to each other when they pass. This happens wherever civilization has had a uniforming and homogenizing impact. The more stereotypes a society has, the higher its level of standardization and alienation. The stereotype is an image charged semiotically and semantically by categories. Its action— which is projected onto reality—is imposed over oppressed groups in the forms of exoticism or demonization. The exotic is a category constructed by the dominant order to infantilize the other and appropriate him or her. Demonization provides self-justification for aggression against the other.
Without categories, the typologies and collective images cannot be widely recognized.
Stereotypes spectacularize uniformity. This is obvious in mass culture: in the mass media culture of audiovisual communication or “mainstream” American culture, for example. Its ideology is mediocrity, and its goal is to make sure that all human beings fit like cogs in a big and incomprehensible machine. Toward this end, standardization is a process of human cretinization through the average, standard formats. These formats contain the values of plutocratic democracy that hold the line behind the gains of the “mediocracies.” That is to say, the standardizing government and ideologies: democratic concepts that are openly embodied by fascism. For the beanfest to again become some kind of quilombo, it is imperative that all the wild feathers of peculiarity be unfurled. If not, the party is transformed into a concentration camp with confetti and balloons, but without sharing, or laughter, or companionship. This is not very different from what happens at official events, which are repeated over and over again in schools and public and private institutions, labor ceremonies, and so on. Truly, the objective of these pseudo-celebrations is to prepare the ideological and emotional foundation for propagandistic indoctrination and repressive control: the twin weapons that the system uses to maintain immobility. The quilombo, on the other hand—as a true carnival—is a form of social staging of consciousness, whose Dionysian practice liberates and separates the reveller from the machine of training and conduct control. That which is Dionysian, in this case, not only disrupts the culture of “reason,” by antithetically opposing itself to the Apollonian, it also dissipates instrumental norms by dismantling the duality between Bacchus and Apollo, which fades away in the rebellious character of the celebration.