Matera, Italy and Snatching Power From Elders

It was an interesting fragment that just came in via twitter from travel writer and editor Larry Habegger, speaking of one of his favorite moments in the Neiman Conference on Narrative Journalism:

Julian Bond telling youth you must snatch power from elders not wait for invitation

I couldn’t help but think of Matera’s Festa della Madonna Bruna. Matera is a city in Italy’s Basilicata region. The old section of town is a bowl full of Sassi, small hovels dug out of a soft limestone basin. Matera was the impoverished setting of Carlo Levi’s Christ Stopped in Eboli and the film The Passion of the Christ. It’s a town you’ll never forget.

Every year a highly skilled artisan makes up an intricately baroque cart with the brown Madonna enthroned on it. On the night of July 2nd, the cart is slowly pulled through the historic old town, guarded by Carabinieri. You wait for hours as the car trundles through town. It’s the most boring festival in the world—and it’s televised.

Then, suddenly, around midnight, youth appear from the shadows and attack the carabinieri. All hell breaks loose. The scoundrels rip at the paper maché decorations off the cart. The police push back. A battle ensues. The youth scratch and claw until the cart is torn to shreds. We the unordained are left scratching our heads.

Locals, however, applaud.

All because the youth have snatched power from the elders, the entire point of the festival. The triumph of youth and vitality—it’s just what the doctor and Julian Bond ordered.

Matera, Italy and Snatching Power From Elders originally appeared on , updated: Apr 06, 2017 © .

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