30 June 2008

Ceremony and ritual

People reveal a weakness of intellectual integrity when they engage in ceremonies with artificial meaning injected into otherwise empty gestures. Rituals pregnant with mystical 'power', initiation and marriage rites replete with vacuous symbology, repetitive motions and noises designed to numb the thinking mind and anesthetise the sensitivity of reason; such group activity is a display of its participants' desperate need for that comfort drug called 'acceptance', that appeasement of anxiety called 'approval' from the social construct, the 'authority' as described by thinkers like Erich Fromm.

Those engaging in rituals and ceremonies of the aforementioned kind give a soundless cry of helplessness, a silent shriek of impotence. They confess an inability to live autonomously, to be the architects of their own meaning. Instead they surrender their powers of self-creation to the group in a pathetic attempt to escape from what is to them the unbearable burden of personal responsibility and accountability for the value of their own lives.

By seeking to 'lose' themselves in inane ceremony as a way of attaining salvation, as a way of entering the blissful place of the 'chosen', ritualists do indeed attain their goal; they lose their authentic selves. The tragedy is that they don't see this as a bad thing. Self-annihilation is actually what they desire.


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