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Friday, October 25, 2019

Liminality in "How ancient rituals help us adapt to the digital age" c/o G. Tett

How ancient rituals help us adapt to the digital age

Ceremonies and symbols matter more than ever in a disorienting world

Context: "This week I made a pilgrimage to the east coast of Scotland to participate in that classic ritual of modern middle-class life: a university graduation".
"However, heritage marketing is not the only factor, given that such rituals also occur in places that do not have 600 years of history behind them. Another way to frame the issue is to ponder a concept first developed by the ethnographer and folklorist Arnold van Gennep, and later elaborated by the anthropologist Victor Turner and the psychologist Carl Jung – “liminality”.

This word comes from the Latin limen – doorway or threshold – and refers to the idea that whenever societies or people make a transition, they typically use rituals and symbols to mark this. 

These usually contain three parts: a ritual to show the end of the old life; a ritual to mark the entry into the new one; and a “liminal” stage between the two, when the transformation occurs. Moreover, in that liminal state the normal rules of life tend to break down. Liminality is the cultural equivalent of the pupation that insects undergo: patterns become untethered and fluid, to be remoulded".

Tett, Gillian. 2019, How ancient rituals help us adapt to the digital age. FT Weekend, Magazine, June 29-30, p.46.