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Republican entertainments might often take the form of the contest or the demonstration.But they might also be the special celebration of ordinary living itself—the “festival”: Plant a stake crowned with flowers in the middle of a square; gather the people together there, and you will have a festival.

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The drama, when it was given too much power, crowded out the true entertainments of any republican political community— entertainments whose delights must be rooted in that self-regard and free judgment in daily activity which strengthens the bonds of citizen to citizen.

(Bear in mind that Rousseau, in ancien régime Paris, loved the theater: “Racine charms me and I have never willingly missed a performance of Molière.” A corrupt order, of nobility and monarchy, could hardly be made worse by drama and might be made better.

But the philosopher loved a republic more.) Rousseau expected that a republic’s civic entertainments would be displays of what people already do.

Singing, building, decorating, beauty, athletics, and dancing gave pleasure and “entertainment” because the participants not only accomplished the acts but became spectacles to themselves—and to others, their equals and fellow-citizens, who had done just the same activities.

To Rousseau, a republic is a political community in which each person is equal and sovereign—as it should be to us, today, living in the American republic.

The citizen is not sovereign alone, but sovereign through his activity in a community of peers.

Wild shows Grylls purposefully demonstrating more extreme methods of survival in harsh conditions.

The program has shown him eating raw meat and live fish, staving off hypothermia after intentionally jumping in a frozen lake, and drinking the fluids of elephant feces for hydration.

Here is a standard misconception: since the noblest forms of artistic endeavor are fictional and dramatic (the novel, film, painting, plays), it can be assumed that the major, proper products of television will be its dramatic entertainments, the sitcom and the hour-long drama.

I think this is wrong, and very possibly wrong for a whole number of reasons.

not only of our ideal, and our average, but of our fallen extreme.

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