December 1st, 2006

breaking bad

Ritual - deep human need?

I blame the patriarchy is a drily funny feminist blog by 'Twisty', who survived big-time cancer this year, and is teetering on the edge these days. In her post today ('Sod off God') she asks an interesting question. We are often told that there is a deep human need for ritual. Yeats said 'How but in custom and in ceremony/ Are innocence and beauty born?'

But Twisty says

My suspicion is that ritual is no deep human need. As a concept it gives off quite the lip-wrinkling whiff of eau du primitif. And what about that trio of stinky undertones — conformity, obeisance, and orthodoxy — that comes with it? Add the collateral conditions of exclusivity and tradition, and you got yourself all the field marks of one of those bogus assumptions that status-quoticians are always trumpeting as “natural” or “instinctive” but which are really just tools of the patriarchy or opiates of the people

Ritual doesn't do much for me. I dislike church services. I'm not that keen on elaborate pagan rituals or state openings of parliament or graduation ceremonies either. Are there are two types of people (those who like ritual, and those who don't)? Is ritual something everyone dislikes? Is it one of those bell-curves, and I am off at one of the thin ends?

Do you like rituals?