The Future of Ritual

The article on ‘the future of rituals’ provides what I feel is an important insight into the varying forms of rituals and the difficulty of analysing and defining rituals as they apply in different circumstances. Schechner contrasts the nature of rituals in the animal kingdom with rituals performed by human populations. Towards the beginning of the article he discusses the ‘dancing bee’, and what he is referring to is the way in which bees have been observed to move around the hive in certain synchronised routines, in semi-circles, at precise angles, and of precise distances. Through analyses of these routines it has been found that the dances the bee’s perform are the way in which bee’s communicate with one another. The dance is performed on angles in relation to the sun’s position and show other bees the direction of the food, the breadth of the semicircles they move in provide information about how much food is there, and the length of the lines they walk detail how far away the food is. The author argues that there is an innate evolutionary/biological need for humans and animals alike to have rituals and that they are a necessary part of the survival of both animals and humans. We perform rituals as a means of displaying and reaffirming our culture, we need rituals to survive.   

The author also questions whether rituals that act out scenes of violence make the society less violent overall for their ability to ‘tame’ the violence by reserving violent tendencies specifically for these rituals. I watched a documentary last night that followed a group of American men who were part of a real life fight club in which, once a fortnight they all got together and fought each other with their fists, weapons, and any items they could get their hands on. They claimed they did this to overcome the stress they had in their lives and their fears that if they didn’t release the violence they felt inside them they may end up lashing out at inappropriate times and hitting their bosses, co-workers, or their families. To prevent hurting others, the men perform or act out violent forms of aggression in a ritualised way that does not disrupt social order and values/expectations.

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~ by jackie213 on June 5, 2009.

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