Download Day of Shining Red: An Essay on Understanding Ritual by Gilbert Lewis PDF

By Gilbert Lewis

Anthropologists, in learning different cultures, are usually tempted to provide their very own factors of odd customs once they suppose that the folk concerned haven't given a very good sufficient reason behind those customs. The query how the anthropologist can justify interpretations of customs which transcend these provided by way of the folk themselves runs via this ebook. The e-book makes a speciality of many of the interpretations which were provided through anthropologists of formality and symbolism. It bargains a serious dialogue of theories during this box ordinarily, deciding upon their strengths and weaknesses while utilized to the actual case of puberty rituals in a West Sepik village in Papua New Guinea. It then is going directly to recommend an alternate procedure, which attracts on aesthetic in addition to anthropological thought, and will pay specific cognizance to the emotional and aesthetic reviews of individuals as they practice the rites.

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Extra info for Day of Shining Red: An Essay on Understanding Ritual

Example text

The healer intended to make the patient better and in all three instances he did: the treatment worked. In the first instance, it was Pierre Janet, a self-critical medical practitioner, who used hypnotism to treat certain people; in the second, Franz Anton Mesmer who used animal magnetism; in the third, a shaman who cast out a spirit. In each case, the healer and the patient had grounds to be well satisfied with the treatment. Judged solely as an activity with its purpose demonstrably achieved, we could not tell between them whether one were ritual, another craft.

The quotation from Firth (1967) cited on p. 17). An obsessional neurotic man may express his fears through private ritual and we may come to understand his ritual as symptomatic of these fears. With this understanding we may learn about the personality and experience of the performer but learn little about the society in which he lives. As we examine the rules guiding ritual action in a community we learn about the society and the performance, but not about the 21 Day of shining red individuals who perform it.

But after all this has been said, I would reassert that the anthropologist is not free to assume that everything occurring in ritual aims at mystery and has many meanings. The style in ritual may tend towards clarity, overt meaning and lack of ambiguity; or for certain purposes aim to disconcert, confuse or fascinate. There are suggestive indications when the spectator is invited to 'ungate' through the isolation and situational oddity of some action or object in ritual. The emphasis I gave earlier to the peculiar quality in ritual has been altered by these 31 Day of shining red reflections on how it acts on members of the society to set a frame around certain actions and to arouse their attention.

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