Halloween is coming in a few days. It'll be a Thursday this year, which is an awkward day for a holiday. Whatever anyone does on Thursday night, there's still Friday (work, classes) to get through. Thursday night parties lead to Friday hangovers with no chance to sleep late, and a Friday morning post-Halloween Walk o' Shame is awkward indeed. Sitting hungover at a coffee shop in last night's Halloween costume on a Saturday or Sunday morning at least guarantees you'll be in good company. Coming home in last night's costume through crowds of office-bound day-dwellers is just a bit embarrassing.
Still and all, I like Halloween. I like it because it's an autumn holiday, one with lots of memories of childhood autumns. I like it because it opens the holiday season that takes us to year's end. And I like it because it's one of the trio of holidays that are about sex and delights.
Halloween as a holiday for children is one thing--- that's ghost stories and candy corn and candles inside jack o' lanterns. But Halloween for university girls and twentysomethings is about throwing off inhibitions. It's about slutty costumes, and well it should be. Halloween is a chance to give yourself to the night and to physical desire.
New Year's Eve and Valentine's are about sex, too, but in very different ways. Valentine's is about structured romance and the rituals of romance, and it's about romance as social display. New Year's Eve is about a kind of elegant, melancholy abandon. Kissing a beautiful stranger at the tick of midnight on New Year's Eve is about saying goodbye to another vanished year and about hoping the kiss will be a kind of magic for the new year. Halloween is something much more immediate, something much more basic. Halloween is about physical desire. It's about lust, and we need holidays that celebrate lust.
We've forgotten about lust, and about how powerful and exhilarating it can be. Or maybe not forgotten--- maybe we've become afraid of it. Lust and desire aren't about a cost-accounting view of life. They aren't about rational planning, or about understanding the "deeper context" and "genealogy" of things. Lust and desire are immediate. They're about immediate pleasure and immediate need. We're afraid of that now. We're afraid of the irrational in pleasure, afraid of risking our carefully-constructed social selves for pure adventure and physical delight.
We do need more of that, though. We need a holiday that is about slutty costumes and adventures and losing oneself in the night. We need holidays that proclaim that just for the night, the rules are suspended and that you're free to just seek out pure physical delight.
It will be a bit awkward this year. Friday may be a bit awkward--- hungover, yes, and an odd kind of speed bump before the weekend. But I think that Halloween needs to be valued as one night when you can dress up as someone seeking immediate pleasure, one night where you can shed a daytime identity and take up new masks...or throw away the mask you wear all day.
There are three days in any year where we celebrate the different aspects of sex and romance. Halloween isn't about chocolates and champagne, or about sympathetic magic under the ticking clock. It's about something much about pure id, pure adventure. Value that--- value that and go explore. You can stay home later and watch "Arsenic and Old Lace" or "The Trouble With Harry". Take Halloween night and go explore physical delights and all the things you can be or create.