Thursday, September 29, 2022


From Thomas Howard:
Any criticism of ritual arrives not from a non-ritualist (there are none) but only from another sort of ritual. That is, I may say that such and such a ritual looks childish to me (I find it hard, for example, to see the costumes and liturgies of secret societies as serious). But two things need to be said here. In the first place, it is not the idea of ritual itself that I am criticizing, in that I myself can't walk ten steps without doing something ritually (again, standing aside for a lady, waving to a friend, lowering my voice in a museum). And in the second place, I would have to admit that the ritual that I see as silly probably proceeds very logically from the special set of ideas held by the people in that circle (in the secret society, say), so that their bibs and tassels and most reverend titles make perfect sense given their set of categories. If, then, I want to expose them as silly, I will have to show not that their ritual is silly but that their prior ideas are silly.
Thomas Howard, An Antique Drum, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1969.

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