Friday, November 06, 2015

We hide it

In brief, it is my general thesis here that ritualization, as a strategic mode of action effective within certain social orders, does not, in any useful understanding of the words, 'control' individuals or society. Yet ritualization is very much concerned with power. Closely involved with the objectification and legitimation of an ordering of power as an assumption of the way things really are, ritualization is a strategic arena for the embodiment of power relations. Hence, the relationship of ritualization and social control may be better approached in terms of how ritual activities constitute a specific embodiment and exercise of power.— Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, page 170

<idle musing>
I like that nuancing. If it were blatant, we might/would see it. Peter Leithart has a post today about what he calls our "double consciousness" in these types of things. Here's the relevant paragraph, but the whole thing is worth a read:

The double consciousness is most evident in the fact that we won’t admit that we have a double consciousness...He [Mitchell, What Do Pictures Want?] offers a simple illustration: “when students scoff at the idea of a magical relation between a picture and what it represents, ask them to take a photograph of their mother and cut out the eyes” (9). And he offers the image of the destruction of the World Trade towers as a more complex example. The images we saw were layered, since the event itself was meant to be a message more than a strategic military action. And the images of the event are living symbols that are part of the ongoing aftermath of the event they depict. Pictures of the billowing fire and smoke against the deep blue Manhattan sky live because they crystallize a form of life that is feared and despised.

With pictures as with so much else, we really haven’t escaped our pre-modern past. We have never been modern.

Ain't that the truth!
</idle musing>

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