I’ve been reading Canetti’s Crowds and Power recently. I figure with the amount of protesting going on in the world, it only makes sense.
Whether America, Russia or most recently the coup d’ etat in Myanmar. Crowds seem to be popping up all over the globe. Canetti’s work highlights many of the significant impacts crowds have on their environment and I am finding that recent current events serve as a pragmatic example. It is almost like the world realizes I am reading Canetti’s work and is provided real-live representations. Though, I rather it not.
One topic I find interesting is flight crowds. You ever hear the term fight or flight? Think of crowds running from some kind of threat. Like some kind of natural disaster that has come and everyone is running for their lives. I guess the crowds depicted in Godzilla are pretty solid examples.
Here is one of my favourite quotes so far:
“No-one is going to assume that he, out of so many, will be the victim and, since the sole movement of the whole flight is towards salvations, each is convinced that he personally will attain it” (53).
Thinking about it, I don’t think I have ever been in a flight crowd before. But I do feel that if I was trying to avoid being disintegrated by Godzilla’s atomic breath, running in the middle of a large crowd would provide some relief, though not much. I have to agree with Canetti’s description, because I do think I would feel like I could escape and those around me had a higher probability of being picked off.
You ever watch a horror or thriller film where the main character is fleeing from someone or something trying to kill them and they’ll try to lose their predator in a public place. I always feel like if I was the main character I’d without a doubt lose my threat in the crowd. What is it about a crowd that makes us feel like that.
This is a long read, but you don’t have to read it from beginning to end. You can jump around and read at your leisure.
Have a look here.
Check out my man Alan Watts too. He got some great ideas.
Canetti, Elias. Crowds and Power.First Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1984.