“Democracy, thus French revolution, was not invented by philosophic theory nor by the bourgeois leadership. It was discovered by the masses in their method of action.”
– Raya Dunayevskaya
If we are in the SydArthur Festival looking for shifts of consciousness, then can there be any greater Forever shift in consciousness than the Storming of the Bastille? The Bastille: that grim and grotesque edifice, that omnipresent symbol of injustice and abuse, whose castellated walls overshadowed Paris since Medieval times. So grim, artists depicted it three times larger than reality. The Storming of the Bastille may have only released six old prisoners and a dog, but it relieved a great strain on the psyche of Parisians. And sometimes revolutions need an incendiary act in order to kick-start proceedings. Power to the People. Just as Ginsberg, Hoffman and cohorts had in 1967 surrounded the Pentagon and chanted “Out Demons Out” in protest against the Vietnam War, the Storming of the Bastille was the great symbolic act that put the fate of the people into their own hands. Power to the People.
The mere fact that we can even think about gobbling psychedelics presupposes that we have full bellies – ingesting the sacred mushroom after you’ve eaten the daily food. These people were starving. Like James Brown, who said himself that he’d been unable to address and sing about black consciousness until he’d guaranteed putting food on the table for his family and his musicians, the French peasants could not advance their own cause without food in their bellies. Their benevolent monarchy cared not: “Let them eat cake.” Until the overthrow of such basic injustices, society could go nowhere.
The Storming of the Bastille was a revolutionary act, a great leap forward in the consciousness of the French peasantry. A Ground Zero moment in French history? No, a Ground Zero moment in Human History. Power to the People. Right On.
It’s Day 8 here at the SydArthur Festival and we’re celebrating the Storming of the Bastille with something French, freedom-loving, cathartic, meta-synchronised, fetish-like and awesome in the strictest sense of the word. ‘La LŽgende du Siecle’ by Magma subjects the music fan to a colossal near-Olympian display of avant-Supremes: soul music from the stars. Who would imagine that there could be such a chasm between the haphazard opportunist actions of those Bastille stormers and the Gurdjieffian precision of their freedom-practicing great-great-great grandchildren? Magma trashed General De Gaulle forever with their blazingly futuristic, ardent, post-nationalist, mixed-race, Sun Ra-attitude to a Next World Music. Watch them here in performance, and be astonished.