one thinks of Circus,
the first images
that come to mind are usually those of laughing
children, clowns and dancing-bears.
Without much effort, vivid memories of childhood float to the surface and, for a
moment, our adult cynicism is challenged by a little pang of nostalgia for our
lost innocence. Such is the evocative power of Circus.
Circus hasn't always meant those things. Quite
the contrary! About a
century ago, to our great-grandparents, it evoked the most challenging,
tantalizing and steamingly sexy show they could imagine. In a world where the
hem-line was below the ankle, and honorable women mounted horses with their legs
together sideways, the view of a scantily dressed female bobbing up and down, on
a galloping horse was, to say the least, compelling... And that's without
mentioning the impression left by beautiful young trapezists, as they flew
through the air, hanging upside down, before the invention of the modern bra...
without reason, the
Church had a dim
opinion of Circuses
and even today, in certain regions of southern
not the only subject that was upsetting for religion. Since the
middle of the 19th.
century the Bible's
dogma of the Earth's creation
had been rocked by
boom of Circus was also the boom of the Great
World Expositions, the
building of the
from the clear political content of this last point - let's not forget that the
heyday of Circus was contemporary, in fact, to the first trade unions and the
beginning of the socialist movements - the new feeling of human empowerment that
emerged from the 19th. century had another major consequence: Sports
de Coubertin, in his
inauguration speech for the rebirth of the Olympic
Games summed up the
spirit when he talked about sport as a road leading man out of slavery and
stuff, all this, you might think. Too heavy, maybe, as your mind goes back to
your own personal recollections of clowns and dancing-bears... Well, in fact,
there were also clowns and dancing-bears
for, just as now, people went to the Circus
primarily to have a good time!
naturally, people identified themselves in
the clowns and their
witty blunderings rather than in the perfection and discipline of the supermen
they had just seen. And when for example the
clowns ran in their puny little canon
after the magnificent flight of the "Human
laughter that echoed around the ring was born from the pleasure of-n the face of
witnessing, reenacted, their own feelings of inadequacy in the face of modern
life's towering achievements.
the other hand a show of just clowns would not have been conceivable. The mere
suggestion of it would surely have sounded quite indecent and possibly taken as
some kind of nihilist provocation ! There was no question that humor needed a
serious counterpart to exist.
was the heart of the magic formula on which Circus was based: A
celebration of Positivism tempered by 'humor's healthy doubting.
For circus, like science is all about being clear and pushing back the limits of
the unknown..... Until the clowns come and wreck any attempt of being too
serious about life.
is the spirit that has kept my
Family, the Bassi,
passionately obsessed by Circus for 130
Circus was overtaken by
Technology. Films and
later TV became
the vehicles of Information. Mass public transport took away Circus's
position as being the
purveyor of dreams of foreign travel. The public broadcast of sport on radio
and again, later, on TV channeled in it's favor the desire of
physical action... Yet
all these explanations are just elements in a broader more painful picture.
is Society, itself,
that has lost it's desire to celebrate. Gradually, under the joint weight of
overpopulation, pollution, urban decay and all the other ills of our world,
the simple naive belief in progress has gone. And without faith in a common
sense of destiny and purpose, the
jugglers, acrobats and clowns of
Circus become quaint little symbols of past innocence. Ghosts of a time when Society
was still young...
The nostalgic reminder of our childhood.
is there any hope ? Yes,
the InterNet !
strange, complex reasons, the net has brought the future back into fashion... A
19th century innocence
and scientific virginity has returned on the back of cyberspace
and, once again, there's talk of the wonders of human
symptom of the 19th
century is the "goldrush"
mentality The "free
scramble that we are experiencing to stake out new claims on a new frontier.
New land is the virtual land.
with new vast amounts of virtual
land for our cramped
cities - to flee old
power structures in a land where things are
still free -