Ritual Returns

I like to view this description of ritual and the effects of reenactment by Israel Scheffler in In Praise of the Cognitive Emotions as a syntagm, a progression.

The marking out of ritually commemorated events helps to define a temporal matrix, and reenactment elaborates it further by articulating an ever-expanding ritual tradition. Concomitantly, reenactment serves also to form a conception of community. For the performers of past ritual replicas constitute a body of actors to which present performers relate themselves through reenactment and, hence, indirectly to one another. The community thus defined bears not only common bonds to the past but also common orientations in the present and outlooks for the future. Thus, an organization of time, as well as of the space occupied by a historical community, is facilitated. […] we have to do with a cognitive ordering of categories of time, space, action, and community.

I wonder about broadening this description from ritual in its religious sense to repeated gesture generally. Time: I have written and read yesterday, I do so today and hope to do more tomorrow. Space: I have published bits and pieces in a given venue at regular intervals. Action: each published bit is an intervention that welds quotation and commentary into an exploration of what remains to be said. Community: here the mark of a question is raised. Community is not an outcome. It is the prerequisite for the ordering of time and space and the permitting of allowable action. Dialogue of the Dead is a form of contemplation that virtualizes community. So can we say that ritual arranges the passages between the virtual and the actual?

And so for day 1054

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