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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Monday, December 24, 2012


Here's an idea you can run with. You can become very famous writing this book that I myself don't have time to write. All I ask is that you cite me. If this book already exists, and I don't know about it, and you do, let me know. But please don't tell me about a book that kinda sorta does this, but really doesn't.

Basically, it would be called "aesthetic rationales for the sacred." It would study the way in which aesthetic arguments supplant religious ones, or religious arguments take refuge in aesthetics. This is a familiar idea, one that is all around us, but it needs a full-length book treatment.


profacero said...

Ha! My critique of Mass last night appears to argue in that direction.

An anthropologist of religion alleged to me that the Spirit, if it exists, is revealed in ceremony and not through dogma. I do not know whether this argument counts as aesthetic.

Jonathan said...

Interesting post. (Yours.) What follows from that argument about the sacred being immanent to the aesthetics of the ceremony is that then the dogma seems to wither away. "Oh, we don't care about that, silly atheists!" But then how does it get smuggled back in, once the aesthetic argument gets made?

profacero said...

That Faroese post was a lot of fun to write!

Dogma withering away, yes, the idea appears to lead in that direction but I think all that actually withers away are small points. The ceremony is still a structure that interpellates you in a specific way.

Perhaps the sacred or spirit is one thing that all ceremonies lead to or can, but ceremonies teach different things and I would say that is where the key aspects of the dogma never leave. It is also why there are different religions; also religions are embedded in cultures.

Is it a ceremony that enacts and teaches submission to hierarchy? Does it teach autonomy instead? How does the ceremony engage the body, or not? Does the religion consider nature "fallen" ... and how does the ceremony reflect that?

So I would add to what that anthropologist said that said Spirit is culturally bound.

There is so much to speculate about in all of this.