Ritual Definition Archetype

Durkheim`s perspective enriches our understanding of the modern rite, which can be described as a “creative act” that gives life to a number of phenomena that would be meaningless without the rite. Here we have the need for symbolization and narration in a controlled structure, true in itself and for itself. The rites have a symbolic action that orders life in society. In her book Rites and Contemporary Rituals, Martine Segalen defines rite as “a specific spatio-temporal configuration through the use of a series of objects, through specific behavioral systems and languages, through emblematic signs whose coded meaning is one of the common goods for a particular group”. ⁶ It is a definition, she explains, which makes it possible to maintain morphological criteria while insisting on the collective dimension; Such a definition also makes it possible to understand the nature of individual behavior during the initiation rite, and mental belonging “is based on values related to social choices considered important”. ⁷ The definitions proposed by Durkheim and Mauss make it possible to understand the effectiveness of the rite in its ability to symbolize – but also to sustain – a faith through which we give a magical and particular influence to such rites. Symbolization breathes life into all the designated deities (deities, demons, allies, etc.) that make the rite work; it is a perspective that Mary Douglas, an English anthropologist, sought to broaden by conceiving of the rite as a symbolic act, which she described as “effective”⁵; This effectiveness allows the rite to survive the test of time. Many thinkers have struggled to understand this effectiveness, and because, as JZ Smith says, consumerism and business seem to have taken much of the place that the rite once occupied. We “consume” the products of culture that rarely have a real symbolic value – strong enough – which would make them a real substitute for the ritual phenomenon experienced by premodern societies. Consumerism has a symbolic function and, as a means of escape – in the space of a purchase – provides access to what Durkheim called a “moment of creative effervescence”. However, with many consumer goods, including works of art, we lose the participatory and collective aspect. Paradoxically, when there is no shortage of collective experiences – matches in the stadium, celebrations in the cities, much like Turner`s communitas – they are a wobbly representation of rituals, perhaps because Van Gennep`s model is not systematic. We experience separation and liminality (for example, corporate retirement celebrations resemble Turner`s anti-structure), but incorporation rites are not always present.

Both holidays and Christmas holidays quickly fade when December 26 is over. Marriages often betray administrative and financial gain, and which, by being articulated around such advantages, becomes a hasty formality¹⁷. Events such as Black Friday exacerbate social fragmentation and many divisions, including ideological divisions, thus casting doubt on the presence and validity of such holidays or customs. In the absence of initiation rites in society, individuals condemn themselves to derive a certain malaise, while a perfect existence is nothing more than a discreet voice that does not reach the depths of a psyche in difficulty. There is no doubt that the modern world offers explanatory and interpretative depth about the world in which we all live, but such “mechanization” does not claim to fully meet all theological, metaphysical and religious needs. Modern models that allow rituals to satisfy metaphysical needs are discrete; These needs are not just about a purely abstract and metaphysical worldview; On the contrary, they concern the immediate and the present: sexual life, relationships, understanding what it means to be a man or a woman, understanding the value of work; All speak of a need given the responsibility of each individual in society. And when the individual struggles to understand his place as a human being in the cosmos, life in society becomes the mirror of such a predicate. By individualizing them, the rites are made and recycled without ever really touching the essence of what makes a human being. For young people, it is a constant back and forth between social complexity and psychological difficulties; He or she fails to fully enter life, probably because the impoverishment of ritual forms crystallizes modern practices that partially function. In many respects, modernization fails to integrate the initiatory function of the rite; And if these modern rites legitimize the passage of the individual from one social status to another, the function of “socialization” assigned to the modern rite shows how the deep meaning has been lost. One loses the understanding of emotions and their management, the evacuation of personal crises and metaphysical fears that cannot be completely dissolved; As a result, we rarely experience those “moments of effervescence” that reform the situation of the members of society.

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