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Ritual, Performance, And The Sequestering Sacred Space

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Chapter Summary

One of the great difficulties in studying ritual is that participants, and scholars, miss the utter ordinariness that suffuses rites, even those that are formal and elevated. So a typical ritual studies tactic, especially when investigating things sacred, is to search out the ordinary beneath the special and sacred. Scholars usually recognize the metaphoric dimension of ritual. Applying a theory, like performing a play or enacting a liturgy, amounts to a metaphoric move. A ritual metaphor is a drastically embodied symbol, in which symbol and symbolized are simultaneously identified and differentiated. Arts theories are less important for outcomes they predict than for perspectives they provoke. At the heart of every arts theory and method are metaphors so pervasive and tenaciously guarded that they function as ultimate, or sacred, postulates. Theory-using is a form of screening, both priestly and performative.

Keywords: arts theory; liturgy; performance; ritual; ritual metaphor; sacred space



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