As a general rule, I found the Mardi Gras events to be a continual crescendo of size and diminuendo of intensity. “Extension is the complement of soul,” I believe is the relevant apothegm (if you keep on saying it to yourself enough over a period of years you will feel how much truth is in those six words). Krewe du Vieux was all Carnival soul, with its Priapic floats, wit, trangression, and fantastic music (the music never got better, and the small-street setting never was excelled). My second favorite night was Thursday night (Muses, Krewe D’Etat, Chaos), then almost in descending order: Friday, Saturday, Monday, Sunday, Tuesday. The parades waxed exoteric. But the social iron of the city did get hot and did flow a bit, and I met huge numbers of people during the last four days.
Next time, I would see more of Rex, and try to get some of the ritual that closes off Carnival. Fat Tuesday itself lacked concluding and pointed ritual. And what I would do myself is get every dainty dish I love most, pizza and cherries and pineapples and insalata caprese and the like, and have a great dinner and eat them all. For in the end, it is the “boeuf gras,” the fatted calf, which is slaughtered to close Carnival, and you want that kind of death and closure to start the next period of your life.
The whole experience does have spiritual value – Mass on Wednesday was one of the most moving Church experiences I’ve ever had. I found myself weeping at the gift of life again and again. But admittedly, that’s not just because of Carnival.