Getting Ghoulish

Halloween is good for adults, better than vitamins and a full daily allowance of fiber. It gives us an excuse to be silly and creative for no reason—in public!

jack o'lanternOne of the departments in my building transformed its office into The Price Is Right, complete with products and tags that opened to reveal the cost of each item. In practical mode, recreating The Price Is Right logo and printing it on all those tags for one day’s entertainment would be deemed a waste of time, but in Halloween mode, it is awesome.

Halloween mode changes our approach to the day. We appreciate, honor, and enjoy each other’s wackiness. We anticipate and look for fun and unexpected things to appear in ordinary places—at work, at home, on the street.

I think we would all benefit from spending more time in Halloween mode. Too often we feel our actions have to be productive in order to be worthwhile. There’s a great passage in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that explains how the humans think they’re smarter than the dolphins because the dolphins play all day while humans accomplish things, and the dolphins think they’re smarter for the same reason.

Productivity isn’t bad, but its usefulness to our souls is limited. Very few of us light up after completing a task, no matter how useful, the way we do when the International Education office appears dressed as a group of loud, American tourists, complete with fanny packs and Hawaiian shirts.

Halloween gives us some time to enjoy rather than worry, to create rather than produce. We might consider granting ourselves that freedom more than once a year.

8 thoughts on “Getting Ghoulish

  1. In general, I worry about sanitizing the carnivalesque. Disneyland is not it. I am not sure that the cathartic expells the twisted grudges, the grinding apathies and so what is really lost by pre-empting it? I think a room filled with painstaking, giggled creativity may be a qualitatively and quantitatively better replacement. There is a sense that it is generative, going places, socially binding–even if on the literal level it does not add up–and so it is doing more things better than a Mardi Gras. If it cannot show us a social binding beneath-and-before Society, perhaps the creation of The Price Is Right for a single day is still a better binding than the “indicative,” everyday mode. “Who says dark is deep?”

    • I hadn’t considered the carnivalesque, perhaps because it generally scares the crap out of me, but I don’t think Halloween’s been that for a long time, at least in this country. I like “generative” and “socially binding” and “painstaking, giggled creativity.”

  2. Thank you, Rachel, for your appreciation of all things silly and non-productive. I spend so much of my day making things “right” at work that I enjoy spending some of the other hours of my day just making things. It doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, because, well, everyday life (family, pets, cooking, cleaning, “Survivor”) takes a lot of time, but I have no one else to blame but myself when there’s a layer of dust on my studio table.
    I read this the other day and it’s definitely going to be included in my homemade calendars next year: “The things we make, make us.” Exactly.

    • Ha! I went to find the source of that quote, and it’s from a new Jeep ad campaign! It’s a little disturbing to think some marketing company developed my new creativity mantra, but I guess even Nietzsche had to pay his bills somehow.

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