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Earth EEs/EHEs; Planetary Consciousness
Record Type: Review   ID: 768

The Future of Ritual: Writings on Culture and Performance

Schechner, Richard

 This is a difficult book to review briefly, and yet it is very relevant. It has several thrusts, a basic one being that in the "global village" there is much cross-fertilization going on among cultures, which in turn is giving rise to forms of public ritual that impact in politics. In a way Schechner, who is an art professor at New York University, observes the impact of social rituals at both the individual and the social-cultural end of the spectrum. Another thrust is the dynamics of generating performances that may start out as play but can end up changing political or cultural conditions. He discusses ritual not only in terms of Western but also Eastern (Hindu, Chinese) culture. Along with Victor Turner, he relates ritual to play, both of which take place in a liminal state in which exceptional human experiences are likely to occur, and where there are EHEs, the individual recognizes his or her connection to everyone and everything. Perhaps what happens in an EHE is that one becomes aware, in the words of Turner, whom Schechner quotes, that "each of us is a microcosm, related in the deepest ways to the whole life-history of [the Earth]" (p. 257). Schechner is not comfortable with the global aspects of this image because he fears Western hegemony, but if in fact what is experienced in such states is truly global, then that act depotentiates any power play of any culture over another, including that of the West. The experience of global unity releases our individuality, at both the personal and cultural levels, or so it seems to be for the exceptional human experiences that result. But Schechner views this as "Western reification and appropriation" (p. 254).
Publisher Information:London: Routledge, 1993. 283p. Bibl: 266-276; 6 figs; 56 illus; Index: 277-283
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