The anthropology of performance, VW Turner, R Schechner

Tags: indeterminacy, Weltanschauung, experience, social reality, Performance, anthropology, coherent system, social drama, regularization, Part of the process, social order, Theodore Schwartz, cultural representations, lived experience, epistemological tradition, philosophical systems, collective experience, Weltanschauungen, Ihab Hassan, Wilhelm Dilthey, Dilthey, postmodern, Michel Benamou, perspective, Jean Gebser, Erving Goffman, Victor Turner, En Victor Turner, Richard Schechner, The Anthropology of Performance, anthropologists, Sally F. Moore, social interaction, Richard Palmer, The Performance Group, symbols, social psychological, Arnold Toynbee, Charles Caramello, William M. Ivins
Content: TURNER, Victor (1987). "The Anthropology of Perfomance", En Victor Turner (comp.), The Anthropology of Performance, PAJ Publications, New York. THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF PERFORMANCE For years, I have dreamed of a liberated anthropology. By "liberated" I mean free from certain prejudices that have become distinctive features of the literary genre known as anthropological works," whether these are field monographs, comparative studies, or textbooks. Such features have included; a systematic dehumanizing of the human subjects of study, regarding them as the bearers of an impersonal "culture," or wax to be imprinted with "cultural patterns," or as determined by social, cultural or social psychological "forces," "variables," or "pressures" of various kinds, the primacy of which is still contested by different schools or coteries of anthropologists. Briefly, the gente apes natural scientific treatises in style and intention-treatises which reflect the thinking of that period of five centuries which in the West is known as the "modern era." The modern is now becoming part of the past. Arnold Toynbee coined the term "postmodern," Ihab Hassan has given it wide prominence, and Performance in Post modem Culture, edited by the late Michel Benamou and Charles Caramello, attempts to give it greater specificity. I don't like these labels, but it is clear to me that there has been what Richard Palmer, in an article in the Benamou volume, called a "postmodern turn" taken in recent thinking which is having a liberating effect on anthropology, as on many other disciplines. Pre modern, modern, postmodern-these are crude and inelegant terms for the naming of cultural eras of disparate duration. But they may give us a preliminary purchase on the data on performance. "Premodern" represents a distillation or encapsulation of many world-views and cosmologies before and, later, outside the specific emergence in Western consciousness, about five centuries ago, of the modern perspective. Indeed, the Swiss cultural historian Jean Gebser holds that it was, quite literally, the rise of perspective which, as Palmer writes, is "the key to modernity." He summarizes Gebser's argument as follows: "Perspective spatializes the world; it orients the eye 1
in relation to space in a new way ... it represents a rationalization of sight (William M. Ivins).... Perspective leads to the founding of mathematical geometry, which is the prerequisite for modern engineering and modern machinery ... for steadily increasing naturalism in European pictorial representation (but also for its purely schematic and logical extensions) ... both are due to the growth and spread of methods which have provided symbols, repeatable in invariant form, for representation of visual awareness, and a grammar of perspective which made it possible to establish logical relations not only within the system of symbols but between that system and the forms and locations of the objects that it symbolizes ... the combination of the abstractedness of numbers as symbols that measure, with perspective, a way of relating those numbers as symbols to the visual world, leads to a sense of space as measured, as extending outward from a given point; ultimately the world is measurable-epitomized in Galileo's maxim, 'to measure everything measurable and to make what is not measurable capable of being measured' [this attitude is still common among anthropologists-thus George Spindler remarks in the book he edited, The Making of Psychological Anthropology, 1978: 197-198, "if it happens you can count it"]. The spatialization of vision has metaphysical and epistemological implications ... the overemphasis on space and extension divides the world into observing subject and alien material objects ... words are seen as mere signs for the material objects in the world ... time itself is perceived in spatialized terms ... it is regarded as measurable, as a linear succession of present moments ... the perspectival model makes man the measure and measurer of all things ... technologized rationality harmonizes with the protestant ethic-God places his blessing on the individualistic, competitive person (implicitly male) who exercises restraint and represses desires in the interest of more 'rational' goals: power and control ... History, perceived as a straight line that never circles back on itself1 becomes the story of man's gradual self-improvement through the exercise of reason" (pp. 22-25). This, at any rate, was the "modern" climate of thought in which my anthropological training took place. It was a climate in which academic disciplines had clearly defined boundaries which one transgressed at one's peril-boundary 2
ambiguity was, in Mary Douglas's words, a form of pollution, much interdisciplinary work was regarded as an abomination. Within anthropology there was a tendency to represent social reality as stable and immutable, a harmonious configuration governed by mutually compatible and logically interrelated principles. There was a general preoccupation with consistency and. congruence. And even though most anthropologists were aware that there generally are differences between ideal norms and real behavior, most of their models of SOCIETY AND CULTURE tended to be based upon ideology rather than upon social reality, or to take into account the dialectical relationship between these. AII this follows from the perception of reality in spatialized terms. So, too, did the study of statistical correlations between social and cultural variables such as we find in G. P. Murdock's Social Structure. In all this work, as Sally F. Moore has pointed out in her book Law as Process (p. 36): "Whether ideology is seen as an expression of social cohesion, or as a symbolic expression of structure, whether lt is seen as a design for a new structure or as a rationalization for control of power and property, the analysis is made in terms of fit" (my italics). During my field work I became disillusioned with the fashionable stress on fit and congruence, shared by both functionalism and different types of structuralism. I came to see a social system or "field" rather as a set of loosely integrated processes, with some patterned aspects, some persistence's of form, but controlled by discrepant principles of action expressed in rules of custom that are often situation ally incompatible with one another. This view derived from the method of description and analysis, which I came to call "social drama analysis." In fact this was thrust upon me by my experience as a field worker in a Central African society, the Ndembu of Northwest Zambia. In various writings I have given examples of social dramas and their analysis. More to the point, since we will be dealing with the anthropology of performance, I would like to bring to your attention amen of the theatre's discussion of my schema. He is Richard Schechner, Professor of Performance Studies at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, and former Director of The Performance Group, an avant-garde theater company. As he sees it (in the Group, an avant-garde theatre company. As he 3
sees it (in the chapter "Towards a Poetics of Performance," Essays on Performance Theory, 1970-1976, 1977; 120-123): "Victor Turner analyzes 'social dramas' using theatrical terminology to describe disharmonic or crisis situations. These situations-arguments, combats, rites of passage-are inherently dramatic because participants not only do things, they try to show others what they are doing or have done; actions take on a 'performed-for-an-audience' aspect. Erving Goffman takes a more directly scenographic approach in using the theatrical paradigm. He believes that all social interaction is staged-people prepare backstage, confront others while wearing masks and playing roles, use the main stage area for the performance of routines, and so on. For both Turner and Goffman, the basic human plot is the same: someone begins to move to a new place in the social order; this move is accomplished through ritual, or blocked in either case a crisis arises because any change in status involves a readjustment of the entire scheme; this readjustment is effected ceremonially-that is, by means of theater." In my book, Drama, Fields, and Metaphors (pp. 37-41) I define social dramas as units of harmonic or disharmonic social process, arising in conflict situations. Typically, they have four main phases of public action. These are: (I) Breach of regular norm-govemed social relations; (2) Crisis, during which there is a tendency for the breach to widen. Each public crisis has what I now call lamina characteristics, since it is a threshold (limen) between more or less stable phases of the social process, but it is not usually a sacred limen, hedged around by taboos and thrust away from the centers of public life. On the contrary it takes up its menacing stance in the forum itself, and, as it were, dares the representatives of order to grapple with it; (3) Redressive action ranging from personal advice and, informal mediation or arbitration to formal juridical and legal machinery, and, to resolve certain kinds of crisis or Iegitimate other modes of resolution, to the performance of public ritual. Redress, too has its liminal features for it is "be-twixt and between," and, as such, famishes a distanced replication and critique of the events leading up to and Composing the "crisis." This replication may be in the rational idiom of the judicial process, or in THC metaphorical and symbolic idiom of a ritual process; (4) The final phase consists either of the reintegration of the 4
disturbed social group, or of the social recognition and legitimation of irreparable schism between the contesting parties. First let me comment on the difference between my use of the term "ritual" and the definitions of Schechner and Goffman. By and large they seem to mean by ritual a standardized unit act, which may be secular as well as sacred, while I mean the performance of a complex sequence of symbolic acts. Ritual for me, [as Ronald Grimes puts it]; is a "transformative performance revealing major classifications, categories, and contradictions of cultural processes." For Schechner, what I ca1l "breach," the inaugurating event in a social drama, is always effected by a ritual or ritualized act or "move." There is some truth in this. I wi1l use as al1 example here the first social drama in my book on Ndembu social process, Schism and Continuity. The book contains a series of social dramas focused on one individual ambitious for the power and inf1uence that goes with the office of vi1lage headman. In the first episode this protagonist, Sandombu, "dramatizes" to others in his effective sociocultural field that he is weary of waiting for the old headman, his mother's brother Kahali, to die, by ostentatiously refraining from giving him the portions of an antelope he has ki1led that would be appropriate to Kahali's status, age, and relationship. This refusal to fo1low custom might be regarded as a ritualized act as we1l as a transgression of a custom with ritual implications-since the dividing of a slain animal implies the sharing of sacred substance held to constitute matrilineal kinship. Here is shown the symbolism of blood in matrilineal kinship, and there are many rituals connected both with matriliny and the hunting cults which contain symbols for these "types of blood" (nyichidi yamashi). But I would prefer the terms "symbolic transgression"-which may also coincide with an actual transgression of custom, even of a legal prescription-to "ritual" in the frame of phase 1 (breach) of a social drama. What is more interesting to me in this context than the definition of ritual is the connection established by Schechner between social drama and theatre, and the use made of "the theatrical paradigm" by Goffman and myself. For Goffman, "all the world's a stage," the world of social interaction anyway, and is full of ritual acts. For me the dramaturgical phase begins when crises arise in the daily flow of social 5
interaction. Thus if daily living is a kind of theatre, social drama is a kind of metatheatre, that is, a dramaturgical language about the language of ordinary roleplaying and status-maintenance which constitutes communication in the quotidian social process. In other words, when actors in a social drama, in Schechner's words, "try to show others what they are doing or have done," they are acting consciously, exercising what Charles Hockett has found to be a feature peculiar to human speech, electiveness or reflexive ness, the ability to communicate about the communication system "itself (1960:392-430). This reflexivity is found not only in the eruptive phase of crisis, when persons exert their wills and unleash their emotions to achieve goals which until that time have remained hidden or may even have been unconscious-here reflexivity follows manifestation-but also in the cognitively dominant phase of redress, when the actions of the previous two phases become the subject matter for scrutiny within the frame provided by institutional forms and procedures-here reflexivity is present from the outset, whether the redressive machinery be characterized as legal, law-like, or ritual. It is obvious that Goffman, Schechner, and 1 constantly stress process and processual qualities: performance, move, staging, plot, redressive action, crisis, schism, reintegration, and the like. To my mind, this stress is the "postmodern turn" in anthropology, a turn foreshadowed in anthropological modernity perhaps, but never in its central thrust. This turn involves the processualization of space, its temporalization, as against the spatialization of process or time, which we found to be of essence of the modern. Although there is a major difference between linguistic and anthropological definitions of performance, something of the change from modern to postmodern ways of thinking about sociocultural problems can be aptly illustrated by considering Edmund Leach's recent attempt to apply the linguist's vocabulary to matters anthropological in his article, "The Influence of Cultural Context on nonverbal communication in Man" in Non-Verbal Communication, Robert A. Hinde, ed. (1972:321-322). Leach writes that "the anthropologist's concern is to delineate a framework of cultural competence in terms of which the individual's symbolic actions can be seen to make sense. We can only interpret individual performance 6
in the light of what we have already inferred about competence, but in order to make our original inferences about competence we have to abstract a standardized pattern which is not necessarily immediately apparent in the data which are directly accessible to observation." It was Chomsky who introduced this competence/performance dichotomy, competence being mastery of a system of rules or regularities underlying that kind of language behavior which, for example, we call "speaking English." It was Dell Hymes who pointed out the hidden NeoPlatonism or Gnosticism in Chomsky's approach, which seems to regard performance as generally "a fallen state," a lapse from the ideal purity of systematic grammatical competence. This is clearly exemplified in J. Lyons' article "Human Language" in the same volume as Leach's essay just quoted. He is writing (p. 58) of three stages of "idealization" in "our identification of the raw data" of language-behavior. "First of all," he says, "we discount all 'slips of the tongue,' mispronunciations, ' hesitation pauses, stammering, stuttering, and so forth, in short, everything that can be described as a 'performance phenomenon.' " He then goes on to "discount" (p. 59) a certain amount of the "systematic variation between utterances that can be attributed to personal and sociocultural factors." The "postmodern turn" would reverse this "cleansing" process of thought which moves from "performance errors and hesitation phenomena" through "personal and sociocultural factors" to the segregation of "sentences" from "utterances" by dubbing the latter "context dependent" (hence "impure") with respect both to their meaning and their grammatical structure. Performance, whether as speech behavior, the presentation of self in everyday life, stage drama or social dram, would now move to the center of observation and hermeneutical attention. Post modem theory would see in the very flaws, hesitations, personal factors, incomplete, elliptical, context-dependent, situational components of performance, clues to the very nature of human process itself, and would also perceive genuine novelty, creativeness, as able to emerge from the freedom of the performance situation, from what Durkheim (in his best moment) called social "effervescence," exemplified for him in the generation of new symbols and meanings by the public actions, the "performances," of the French Revolution. 7
What was once considered "contaminated," "promiscuous," "impure" is becoming the focus of postmodern analytical attention. With regard to the structure/process dichotomy mentioned earlier, which is similar, if not identical, to other oppositions made by anthropologists: ideal norms/real behavior mechanical models/statistical models; structure/organization ideology/action, and so on, Sally Moore has many pertinent things to say in Law as Process. She is aware that, as Murphy has argued, "it is the very incongruence of our conscious models and guides for conduct to the phenomena of social life that makes life possible" (1971:240), but also insists that "order and repetition are not all illusion, nor all 'mere' ideology, nor all fictive scholarly models, but are observable [and I would add often measurable] on a behavioral level, as well as in fixed ideas" (p. 38). She proposes that social processes should be examined in terms of the interrelationship of three components: "the processes of regularization [SFM's italics], the processes of situational adjustment, and the factor of indeterminacy" (p. 39). This is really a revolutionary move on Sally Moore's part for she is challenging the Idealist formulations of her prestigious contemporaries. Like Heraclitus she is insisting that the elements (in her case, the sociocultural elements) are in continual flux and transformation, and so also are people. Like Heraclitus, too, she is aware that there is also a strain towards order and harmony, a logos, within the variability, an intent, as James Olney puts it (1972:5) to transform ''human variability from mere chaos and disconnection into significant process." This is, in effect, what the redressive phase in a social drama (the processual microcosm) attempts to do, and what in complex cultures the liminoid per formative genres are designed for. Moore's experience as a practicing lawyer underlies her view that (p. 39) "social life presents an almost endless variety of finely distinguishable situations and quite an array of grossly different ones. It contains arenas of continuous competition. It proceeds in a context of an ever-shifting set of persons, changing moments in time, altering situations and partially improvised interactions. Established rules, customs, and symbolic frameworks exist, but they operate in the 8
presence of areas of indeterminacy, of ambiguity, of uncertainty, and manipulability. Order never fully takes over, nor could it. The cultural, contractual, and technical imperatives always leave gaps, require adjustments and interpretations to be applicable to particular situations, and are themselves full of ambiguities, inconsistencies, and often contradictions." But Moore does not see everything social as amorphous or as unbounded innovation or limitless reinterpretation. She sees that common symbols, customary behaviors, role expectations, rules, categories, ideas and ideologies, rituals and formalities shared by actors do exist and frame mutual communication and action. But she is claiming that the fixing and framing of social reality is itself a process or a set of processes. Whereas anthropologists like Firth and Barth have contrasted structure and process (Barth sees process as a means of understanding social change), Moore sees structure as the ever-to-be-repeated achievement of processes of regularization. As she writes: The whole matter contains a paradox. Every explicit attempt to fix social relationships or social symbols is by implication recognition that they are mutable. Yet at the same time such an attempt directly struggles against mutability, attempts to fix the moving thing, to make it hold. Part of the process of trying to fix social reality involves representing it as stable or immutable or at least controllable to this end, at least for a time. Rituals, rigid procedures; regular formalities, symbolic repetitions of all kinds, as well as explicit laws, principles, rules, symbols, and categories are cultural representations of fixed social reality, or continuity. They present stability and continuity acted out and re-enacted; visible continuity. By dint of repetition they deny the passage of time, the nature of change, and the implicit extent of potential indeterminacy in social relations, Whether these processes of regularization are sustained by tradition or legitimated by revolutionary edict and force, they act to provide daily regenerated frames, social constructions of reality, within which the attempt is made to fix social life, to keep it from slipping into the sea of indeterminacy (p. 41). But as Moore points out, however tight the rules, in their application there is always "a certain range of maneuver, of openness, of choice, of interpretation, of alteration, of tampering, of reversing, of transforming" (p. 41). In brief, within the cultural and social order there is a pervasive quality of partial indeterminacy" (p. 9
49). Processes of situational adjustment involve both the exploitation of indeterminacies in sociocultural situations and the actual generation of such indeterminacies. Or they may be concerned with the reinterpretation or redefinition of rules and relationships. By regarding a field of sociocultural relations, which may include networks and arenas as well as relatively persisting corporate groups and institutions, as a plurality of processes, some of regularization (or reglementation as Moore now prefers to call them: see pp. 2-3, 18, 21, 29), others of situational adjustment, Moore proposes a model of social reality as basically f1uid and indeterminate, though transformable for a time into something more fixed through regularizing processes. "This is a framework." she holds, ''usable in the analysis of (particular situations and their detailed denouement, and equally usable in the analysis of) larger-scale phenomena such as institutional systems" (p. 52). She warns that ''whether the processes are unchanging or changing is not the dichotomy proposed. Processes of regularization and processes of situational adjustment may each [my italics) have the effect of stabilizing or changing an existing social situation and order. What is being proposed is that the complex relationship between social life and its cultural representation may be easier to handle analytically if the interlocking of processes of regularization, processes of situational adjustment, and the factor of indeterminacy are taken into account" (pp. 52-53). My own work for many years had inclined me in a similar theoretical direction. This direction is towards postmodern ways of thinking. Clearly the factor of indeterminacy has assumed greater importance in today's world. historical events have played their part: wars, revolutions, the holocaust, the fall and fragmentation of colonial empires. But scientific developments in many fields have helped to undermine the modern views of time, space, matter, language, person, and truth. Processes of regularization are still potent in politics and economics; capitalistic and socialistic bureaucracies and legislatures still attempt to fix social reality. In the sciences and humanities work is still done within the constraints of prestigious ''paradigms" (in Thomas Kuhn's sense). In the political macrocosm sharp divisions continue to exist fostered by the regulatory processes of nationalism and ideology. 10
Nevertheless, there is detectible an extensive breakdown of boundaries between various conventionally defined sciences and arts, and between these and modes of social reality. In sociocultural studies the spatiality of modern thought, dependent on what Richard Palmer calls "one-point perspective," shows signs of giving way to multiperspectival consciousness, a field with several variables. The notion of society as an endless crisscrossing of processes of various kinds and intensities is congruent with this view. Time is coming to be seen as an essential dimension of being as well as multiperspectival, no longer merely as a linear continuum conceived in spatial terns. With the postmodern dislodgement of spatialized thinking and ideal models of cognitive and social structures from their position of exegetical preeminence, there is occurring a major move towards the study of processes, not as exemplifying compliance with or deviation from normative models both etic and emic, but as performances. Performances are never amorphous or openended, they have diachronic structure, a beginning, a sequence of overlapping but isolable phases and an end. But their structure is not that of an abstract system; it is generated out of the dialectical oppositions of processes and of levels of process. In the modern consciousness, cognition, idea, rationality, were paramount. In the postmodern turn, cognition is .not dethroned but rather takes its place on an equal footing with volition and affect. The revival of what has been termed ''psychological anthropology," exemplified by the publication of The Making of Anthropology of psychological anthropology (George Spindler, ed., 1978) is, in my view, not unconnected with this view of process and performance, of which the units are total human beings in full psychological concreteness, not abstract, generalized sociocultural entities, but each, in Theodore Schwartz's term, an ''idioverse" with his/her. ''individual cognitive, evaluative, and affective mappings of the structure of events and classes of events'' (1978:410) in his/her sociocultural field. If Schwartz 's formulation seems to be derived from the products of processes of regimentation, and hence to be somewha abstract, the notion of idioverse is a valuable one, for it postulates that ''a culture has its distributive existence as the set of personalities of the members of a population'' (pp. 423-424), thus allowing for 11
negotiation and dispute over what should be authoritative or legitimate in that culture, in other words, for social dramatic action. As Schwartz writes (p. 432): ''The model of culture as a set of personalities does not preclude conf1ictj rather the inclusion of the differences as well as the similarities among personalities in the culture makes social coordination a central research problem implied by this model. Differences may lead to conf1ict or complementarily. The perception of commonality or difference are themselves construal which, at times, my mask their opposite. This view of Schartz's of a culture as consisting of ''all the personalities of the individuals constituting a society or sub society, however bounded'' (p.432), is entirely consistence of processes of regularization (''conflict,'' ''masking of commonality or difference,'' and situational modes of social coordination). Schwartz is also aware of ''indeterminacy'' as the following quotation indicates (p.432): A given personality (the individual's version and portion of his culture) is not necessarily representative in a statistical sense, nor is the approximation to some central tendency the aspect of culture stressed by a distributive model. Rather, this model emphasizes the whole array of personalities, the constructs they bring to and derive from events, and their structuring of events in construct-oriented behavior. Centrality (or typicality) would not necessarily be predictive or (it may even be negatively correlated with) the contribution of a given personality to the structuring of events. It is essential, then, to emphasize that although individual personalities and their cognitive-evaluative-affective constructs of experience are the constituents of culture, they may be discrepant and conflicted among (and within) themselves or with central tendencies or configurations in the overall population of personalities comprising a culture or subculture [my italics]. Similarly the constructs of the individual will vary in the adequacy with which individuals anticipate and conduct the course of events. If performance seems then to be a legitimate object of study for postmodern anthropology, it seems appropriate that we should examine the literature on types of performance. We need not confine ourselves to the ethnographic literature. If man is a sapient animal, a tool making animal, a self-making animal, a symbolusing animal, he is, no less, a performing animal, Homo performans, not in the sense, perhaps, that a circus animal may be a performing animal, but in the sense 12
that man is a self-performing animal-his performances are, in a way, reflexive, in performing he reveals himself to himself. This can be in two ways: the actor may come to know himself better through acting or enactment; or one set of human beings may come to know themselves better through observing and/or participating in performances generated and presented by an (other set of human beings. In the first instance, reflexivity is singular though enactment may be in a social context; in the second case, reflexivity is plural and is based on the assumption that though, for most purposes, we humans may divide ourselves between Us and Them, or Ego and Alter, We and They share substance, and Ego and Alter mirror each other pretty well-Alter alters Ego not too much but tells Ego what both are! When we scan the rich data put forth by the social sciences and the humanities on performances, we can class them into "social" performances (inclouding social dramas) and "cultural" performances (including aesthetic or stage dramas). As I said earlier, the basic stuff of social life is performance, "the presentation of self in everyday life" (as Goffman entitled one of his books). Self is presented through the performance of roles, through performance that breaks roles, and through declaring to a given public that one has undergone a transformation of state and status, been saved or damned, elevated or released. Human beings belong to a species well endowed with means of communication, both verbal and non-verbal, and, in addition, given to dramatic modes of communication, to performance of different kinds. There are various types of social performance and genres of cultural performance, and each has its own style, goals, entelechy, rhetoric, developmental pattern and characteristic roles. These types and genres differ in different cultures, and in terms of the scale and complexity of the sociocultural fields in which they are generated and sustained. But let us take a look for a while at some theories of communication particularly nonverbal communication, because the genres we shall study in this essay, ritual, carnival, theatre, spectacle, film, and so on contain a high proportion of nonverbal symbols. Nonverbal communication is a topic which forces us to give heed to what ethnologists, primate sociologists, and other scientists of animal behavior have to say. I have myself always argued for the importance of biological components in 13
symbolism, since I see the planet Terra as essentially a single developing system, based, in its vital aspect, on cellular structures which display a remarkable uniformity in different genera and species of living things. I am sure that a biologist from outer space would find the various Terran life-forms to be made of similar stuff, a planetary kinship group, from biological amoeba to high-cultural products like the works of Homer, Dante and Shakespeare, Leonardo and Beethoven. Mankind differs from most other ''kinds" in the degree of its self-consciousness, its evolving reflexivity, made possible by language and the dialectic then made mandatory between linguistic and biological modes of responding to environments of varying kinds. In an article entitled ''Formal Analysis of Communicative Processes" (in the I Hinde volume, op. cit., pp. 3-35), D. M. MacKay uses the ''information-system approach" in order to understand what is going on in non-verbal communication. His detailed argument results in a simple model:
Non-verbal signals
goal-directed (g-d) Non-goal-directed
interpreted as g-d not interpreted as g-d
MacKay argues that ''communication" in the strict sense only occurs when the originator of a non-verbal signal A's action is goal-directed to a recipient B. One must use a more neutral expression, he argues, when there is no goaldirectedness or ''intention" (from intender arcum in. Latin for ''to draw a bow at," implying A's selection .of B as a ''target"). For example, we may simply say that B perceives whatever he does about A, or that information flows from A to B. He gives several examples of how to distinguish communication proper from mere perception or information flow. "Suppose," he says (p. 20), "that in the Boy Scout tent, A, poor fellow, tums out to have sweaty feet. B's internal state of readiness is likely to be very different according to whether he perceives A as an unsuspecting sufferer or as one who knows his olfactory armament and has the aim of stimulating B with it." Only the second case would constitute communication. 14
MacKay distinguishes between in such a way as and in order to. For example, "a new-bom baby cries in such a way as to get attention. Later on, it may learn to cry in order to get attention" (p. 24). MacKay claims that his model raises a series of scientific questions for further research. In this case, the question is posed as to what are the stages by which the baby's crying "in such a way as" develops into crying ''in order to" get attention. '"What kinds of behavioral situation might be diagnostic of the presence and nature of evaluative feedback upon the action concerned? ...and so on" (p. 24). Robert Hinde has criticized MacKay's model, though mainly from the viewpoint of an evolutionary biologist. These scientists have (p. 88) tended to focus on the distinction between behavior which appears to have become adapted in evolution for a signal function, and that which does not. But behavior adapted for a signalling function mayor may not be "'goal-directed" to that end. Indeed, some such behavior may be goal-directed in a sense, but towards broadcasting signals rather than towards affecting the behavior of a particular individual. Furthermore, behavior which is goal-directed towards affecting the behavior of others may be idiosyncratic and not adapted through processes of natural selection to that end. Nevertheless, MacKay is saying some useful things about human communication which may be applied to performance theory. If we take into account the Freudian model according to which human personality consists of several differentiated, but interrelated structures (for example, id, superego, ego), involving unconscious, preconscious, and conscious levels of awareness, we may conjecture that non-verbal signals may be goaldirected by unconscious id wishes and desires of the sender and interpreted either consciously or unconsciously by the receiver in terms of some internal goal criterion of his/hers. Similarly signals may be emitted from the superego, or normative-prescriptive system of the sender to a receiver who may interpret them at the cognitive-perceptual or ego level-or at the unconscious level by id or superego structures. There may also be conflict within the personality of the receiver over the interpretation of the nonverbal signal on both levels and in and between the structures. A woman's smile might be interpreted, for example, by a 15
male receiver as at once politeness, invitation, and temptation, with the consequent problem as to which was really intended, and if so what signal to emit in response. How nonsensical, even arch, the "communication engineering" type jargon sounds! Social and cultural performance is infinitely more complex and subtle than the non-verbal communication of animals. Its messages are through both verbal and non-verbal media, and its verbal media are varied and capable of communicating rich and subtle ideas and images. This may be a good opportunity to discuss some of the approaches which I have found useful as conceptual underpinning for the analysis of types and genres of performance. ln the first place, the Western anthropological tradition has moved well away from the study of what D. H. Lawrence called "man alive," or, better, ''man and woman alive." It shared the Western passion from Plato on, (even some aspects of Heraclitus, his backing of the Logos, for example) for explanation via models, frames, paradigms, competence, plans, blueprints, preliminary representations, hypothetical or stylized representations. In practice, this way of thinking rests on the real political power of effecting what one proposes, making one's archetypes work by the effective application of force. The Western philosophical traditionPlato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hegel, Kant, to name but a few, and all the anthropological structuralisms, are hooked on this belief in predetermined orderings. In my view there is such a thing as ''natural" or ''social" law; communitas rests on Buber's I-Thou and ''essential We." Extreme individualism only understands a part of man. Extreme collectivism only understands man as a part. Communitas is the implicit law of wholeness arising out of relations between totalities. But communitas is intrinsically dynamic, never quite being realized. It is not being realized precisely because individuals and collectivities try to impose their cognitive schemata on one another. The process of striving towards and resistance against the fulfillment of the natural law of communitas necessitates that the unit of history and of anthropo1ogy (which takes into account the sociocultural schemata) and also the unit of their analysis is drama, not culture or archive. And certainly not structural relationship. Structure is always ancillary to, dependent on, 16
secreted from process. And performances, particularly dramatic performances, are the manifestations par excellence of human social process. In saying these things I reveal myself an adherent of that epistemological tradition which stresses what Wilhelm Dilthey calls lived experience." For Dilthey experience is a many faceted yet coherent system dependent on the interaction and interpenetration of cognition, affect, and volition. It is made up of not only our observations and reactions, but also the cumulative wisdom (not knowledge, which is cognitive in essence) of humankind, expressed not only in custom and tradition but also in great works of art. There is a living and growing body of experience, a tradition of communitas, So to speak, which embodies the response of our whole collective mind to our entire collective experience. We acquire this wisdom not by abstract solitary thought, but by participation immediately or vicariously through the performance genres in sociocultural dramas. I will now call your attention to the distinction between such static models for thought and action as cosmologies, theologies, philosophical systems, ethical systems, and ideologies, and what Dilthey calls a Weltanschauung. The former are static, the latter is dynamic. And since Dilthey insists that experience is equa1ly woven from the three strands of thought, feeling, and wi1l, a Weltanschauung has, like a prism, a three-sided structure. Thus it consists of: (1) a Weltbild, that is, a body of knowledge and belief about what is cognitively taken to be the "real world"; on this (2) is raised a set of value judgments expressing the relation of the adherents to their world and the meaning (Bedeutung) which they find in it-Dilthey sees value as dominantly formed by affect; (3) this set in turn supports a more or less coherent system of ends, ideals, and principles of conduct, which are the point of contact between the Weltanschauung and praxis, the sociocultural interaction, making it a force in the development of the individual, and, through him, of society at large. This "last component represents the action of the wi1l, the connative aspect of systematized experience. The point is that for Dilthey the Weltanschauung is not a permanent, fixed structure of eternal ideas but itself represents at any given moment a dispensable stage in mankind's unending struggle to find a convincing solution to what Dilthey calls "the riddle of life." He 17
seems to mean by this the mysteries and paradoxes that surround the great crises of birth, mating, and death, the seasonal round, and its perils of drought, flood, famine, and disease, the endless battles of man's rational activity against the forces and necessities of nonhuman nature, the never ending task of satisfying with limited means his unlimited appetites, the paradoxes of social control in which a person's or group's loyalty to one legitimate cause, or moral principle, automatically renders them disloyal to others equally valid-in summary, the whole mystery of humanity in the world. Weltanschauungen, then, are built up as much on tropes as on reasons, as much on metaphors and synecdoche's as on concepts. What is unknown is guessed at on the analogy of the known, what is unintelligible is explained on the analogy of the intelligible. But Weltanschauungen are continually subject to revision, their personifications and metaphors are much more mutable than cognitive constructs. Their forms differ as the collective experiences underlying them differ, in ways conditioned by climate, topography, history, technological invention, and by the genius of rare individuals. I am sufficient of a cultural Darwinist to suppose that there is a kind of competition among Weltanschauungen, whereby the fittest survive and are selected to receive detailed development at the hands of successive generations. Particular periods of history and particular clusters of societies and nations become dominated and characterized by a particular Weltanschauung. But Weltanschauungen, like all else that motivates humankind, must be performed. Dilthey saw this clearly and argued that every type of Weltanschauungen expresses itself in at least three modes. These are what he ca1ls "religious, esthetic, and philosophical forms." An anthropologist might find this distinction to be itself the mark of a specific cultural type, "Western Civilization," for these three categories have arisen in that cultural tradition. Nevertheless, let us bear with him a while, for his discriminations proceed from one of the most creative minds in social science. The ground of religion, according to Dilthey, rests on two opposite types of reflection-mankind is a ref1exive species, as I have so often insisted. The first is those regular but mostly uncontrollable processes of nature, both meteorological 18
and biological, with which we all have to come to terms. The second is represented by those mysterious accidents by which our lives are sometimes so powerfully affected, even when our circumstances seem to be most fortunate. Religion posits that both regular processes and unexpected accidents are due to the agency of invisible, transhuman powers or beings, and in each Weltanschauung the idea of such powers is gradual\y elaborated by mythological fantasy and theological speculation. Since, so Dilthey argues, a Weltanschauung must give meaning to practical life, the question arises how we are to order and systematize our relations with these unseen powers. In Sally Moore's terms means must be found to reduce the indeterminacy of their action and to regularize their relations with us. Therefore, says Dilthey, primitive societies generate over time a system of symbolic ideas and practices, a ritual system, which eventually gives rise to and comes under the control of a group or class of priestly regulators. Dilthey further supposes that as societies increase in scale and complexity something like the notion of an ''inner life" develops and individuals of genius, shamans, prophets, and mystics emerge who begin to develop a ref1exive system of doctrine which reinterprets traditional ritual and mythology in terms of inner experience. Today anthropologists would demur. They believe that Shamans, and other types of inspirational religious specialists, are more prominent in hunting and gathering societies, considered simpler than in societies with well developed agricultural systems, in which calendrical cults, supervised by priests, and with cognitively well developed cosmologies are dominant. However. Dilthey is correct in supposing that prophets, Shamans raised to a higher power, tend to emerge when relatively stabilized agricultural societies are seriously threatened by political and cultural change. Mystics, on the other hand, may emerge in response to the growing banality of ritualistic action in well bonded societies characterized by the absence of variety, let alone change, over many generations. Viewed from the religious standpoint, a Weltanschauung sees the meaning of visible social life to be determined by its relation to an unseen world from which the known experienced world has proceeded. For social peace and development it is held to be necessary that individuals and groups, through cultic observances and solitary prayer and 19
meditation, should find meaning and value to be derived from messages credibly transmitted from the unseen world through various media: prophecy visions, apparitions, miracles, heroic acts of faith such as martyrdoms, divination, augury, and other extraordinary processes and phenomena. Ethical standards are believed to be promulgated by invisible powers; they are put beyond the range of human wisdom and creativity. Dilthey considers that the aesthetic or artistic viewpoint, which can be detected in many Weltanschauungen, is not only different from, but also antithetical to the religious. The artist tries "to understand life in terms of itself," rather than in terms of the supernatural. The thoughts and passions and purposes of human beings, and the relationships into which they enter with one another and with the natural world provide for the artist a sufficient basis from which to derive the meaning of life. He is alert to all the senses, not merely sight, and it is in intense and complex sensory codes that he attempts to give per formative reality to that meaning. He is often a fierce opponent of theory, particularly cognitive theory. He scorns to contribute to philosophy. Yet, for an anthropologist, given to inference, a Weltanschauung is fairly easily inferable from aesthetic production. Aesthetics, in complex cultures, are pervaded by ref1exivity. The style and content of novels, plays, and poems reveal what Geertz has called metasocial commentary. In literature of all types writers directly or through their characters proliferate in reflexive generalizations, which nevertheless stop short of cognitively elaborated theories. The strain towards system, paradoxically, seems to be strongest in preliterate or barely literate agricultural cultures, and in the heads of sophisticated literate urbanized individuals of Western high cultures. Artists tease their readers or viewers with works which the latter treat as a type or "re-presentation" of reality, which they compare with the rest of their experience, and are compel1ed to ref1ect upon their meaning. The aesthetic form of Weltanschauung, one might say, cleaves closest to the experiential ground of all valid knowledge. According to Dilthey the philosopher differs from both the man of religion, and the artist. His great aim is to elicit from experience a system of concepts and universal truths bound together by a chain of mutual logical implication. Although 20
most philosophers have been, as anthropologists would assert, ''culture-bound'' their goal is to know, if possible, all that is to be known, and to find for that knowledge a logical1y exact and valid foundation. To this end, particularly since Kant; they engage in endless criticism, whose goal is to reduce every experience to constituent factors and to trace every proposition to its ultimate ground, never resting till they have related all facts to an Ultimate reality, all knowledge to a highest truth, and all value to a supreme good. Their ideas are derived from every possible source, including religion and art, as well as empirical science, but the intelligible whole in which these data are evaluated has a distinctive character. The world is represented as a rational system whose structure and properties can be made the object of a demonstrable science. For Dilthey, this science is "metaphysics." Religion, aesthetics, and philosophy are I what he regards as the three media of expression of every Weltanschauung. As an anthropologist I propose to translate these epistemological media into cultural media, that is, such institutions as ritual, carnival, theatre, literature, film, spectacle, and television. But Dilthey, with his German passion for classification, and his scientist's drive to comparative study, proceeds to classify Weltanschauungen into three types. Personally, I regard this taxonomic frenzy of Dilthey's as a culture-bound denial of his own true position, as we shall see. For what he sees as separate types are often processes which have different characteristics at different times. Nevertheless, his types are useful heuristic devices, helping us to find our way into a new sociocultural "field." For Dilthey, Weltanschauungen may be classified into three broad types: (I) naturalism (2) the idealism of freedom; and (3) objective idealism. Naturalism sees the criterion of the good life either in pleasure or power, both regarded by Dilthey as representing the animal side of human nature. In religion this represents an assertion of the claims of the world and the flesh and proclaims a revolt against otherworldliness, even, in some instances against religion itself as the epitome of other-worldliness. In art naturalism takes the form of "realism," the picturing of people and things as it is thought they really are without idealizing, lt's use in literature must, however, be distinguished from philosophical Realism, which is, of course, the doctrine that universals or abstract terms are 21
objectively actual (here the opposed term would be Nominalism which asserts that universals and abstract terms are mere necessities of thought or conveniences of language and therefore exist as names only and have no general realities corresponding to them). For Dilthey, though, realism in art tends to manifest the dark forces of passion, thereby exposing higher ideals and principles as illusory or even hypocritical. At the philosophical level Dilthey regards Naturalism as a view of the world as a mechanical system composed of elements all of which are clear and distinct, that is, mathematically determinable. The natural world, known and experienced scientifically, is all that exists-there is no supernatural or spiritual creation, contro1 or significance. This view, says Dilthey may be helm as a doctrine of the nature of reality-in which case it is better termed materialism-which explains thought, will, and feeling only in terms of matter, that is, whatever occupies space and is perceptible of the senses in some way either directly or by means of instruments. It may also be held, more cautiously, as a methodological principle-as in the case of Positivism, established by Auguste Comte, all still deeply influential in the thinking of the social sciences. Here philosophical thought is held to be based solely on observable, scientific facts and their relations to one another speculation about or search for ultimate origins is firmly rejected. Naturalism, in Dilthey's sense, is associated with sensationalism in philosophy, the belief that all knowledge is acquired through the senses the ability of the brain and nerves to receive and react to stimuli. In ethics Naturalism is either hedonistic-that is, it conceives that pleasured variously regarded in terms of the happiness of the individual or of society, is the: principal good and proper aim of action or preaches liberation through enlightenment and the destruction of illusion-false perceptions, conceptions, or interpretations, particularly unscientific notions and prescientific prejudices persisting through tradition. In his Introduction to Weltanschauungslehre (translated as Dilthey's Philosophy of Existence by William Kluback and Martin Weinbaum, from Vol. VIII of his Gesammelte Schriften, pp. 75-1I8, Leipzig and Berlin, I9I4-36, New York: Bookman, I957) Dilthey mentions Democritus, Protagoras, Epicurus, Lucretius, Aristippus, Hulme, Feuerbach, Buechner, Moleschott and Comte as representatives of this philosophy. 22
(2) The second type of Weltanschauung, the idealism of freedom is based, Dilthey tells us, on our inner experience of free will, and was "the creative conception of the mind of the philosophers of Athens" (loc. cit., 61). This interprets the world in terms of personality its exponents "are pervaded to the tips of their fingers by the consciousness of totally disagreeing with naturalism" (p. 62). Their basic premise is that there exists in man a moral will which we can know to be free from physical causation; this will is bound, not physically but morally, and therefore freely, to other wills in a society of moral persons. For many of these idealists of freedom the relations between these persons is held to depend upon an absolute free, personal agent, in other words, Deity, God. In religion this Weltanschauung appears as Theism, in particular Christian Theism where the fundamental premise of Naturalism, that ex nihilo nihil fit, "nothing is made from nothing," that is, something, for example, is eternal is contradicted by the doctrine of creation ex nihilo, ''out of nothing." In art, and this is what has pertinence for our later study of modem drama from an anthropological perspective, the idealism of freedom emerges as the conception of the world as a ''theatre of heroic action," for example, in the works of Corneille and Schiller. Corneille, for example, liked to set up historically true but surprising situations that forced a number of characters into action and in which the individual, through his heroic and magnanimous decisions, his heinous crimes, or his renunciations, proves his powers of transcendency. Corneille favored what is called "the ethics of glory," by which the hero convinces himself and seeks to convince others of his self-possession and superiority of spirit. Freedom of the will appears in the elucidation of the hero's inner conflicts as well as great feats whereby he tries to reconcile his will and his passions in order to achieve his goal. Some heroes rationalize their motives while acting in bad faith-a source of irony. For Schiller the artist's role is to show the moral growth of the individual pitted against the necessities of reality. The idealism of freedom or personality, in Dilthey's view, developed in philosophy from the conception of reason as a formative power in Anaxagoras, Plato, and Aristotle, to the medieval conception of a world governed by the personal providence of God, and thence in Kant and Fichte to the idea of a supersensible world of values, which are real only 23
in and for the infinite will which posits them. Dilthey finds among its modem representatives Bergson, the Neo-Kantians, and the pragmatists. (3) Objective idealism: this third type is based, says Dilthey, on a contemplative and affective attitude to experience. We read our own feelings and mental activities into the external world, regarding it as a living whole which continually realizes and enjoys itself in the harmony of its parts; we find the divine life of the whole immanent in every part, and rejoice to find ourselves in sympathy with this life. This Weltanschauung, he goes on, emerges in the pantheism of Indian and Chinese religion; in art its most notable exponent is Goethe. The epistemology of this third type of philosophy lays emphasis on "intellectual intuition"-the intuitive grasp of the wholeness of things. Dilthey finds examples of in Stoicism, in Averroes, Bruno, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Shaftesbury, Schelling, Hegel and Schleiermacher. Dilthey argues in Die Drei Grundformen der Systeme in der ersten Halfes 19 Jahrhundert (G.S., IV, 528-5), that the history of recent philosophy can be described and elucidated in terms of a conf1ict between the three types. Since Weltanschauungen are more than merely cognitive structures, but are ways of looking at the world and life in which cognitive, affective, and volitional elements are bound up together and are alike primary, they are seldom found in their pure form, often hybridize, and must be seized as lived experience. But I don't want to become involved in Dilthey's philosophical speculations, only to give you a notion of how his general approach to cultural dynamics provides some reinforcement for my views on the anthropology of performance. As I insisted earlier the truly "spontaneous" unit of human social performance is not a roleplaying sequence in an institutionalized or "corporate group" context, it is the social drama which results precisely from the suspension of normative role-playing, and in its passionate activity abolishes the usual distinction between flow and reflection, since in the social drama lt becomes a matter of urgency to become reflexive about the cause and motive of action damaging to the social fabric. lt is in the social drama that Weltanschauungen become visible, if only fragmentarily, as factors giving meaning to deeds that may seem at first sight meaningless. The per 24
formative genres are, as it were, secreted from the social drama and in turn surround it and feed their performed meanings back into it. The social drama is an eruption from the level surface of ongoing social life, with its interactions, transactions, reciprocities, its customs for making regular, orderly sequences of behavior. It is propel1ed by passions, compel1ed by volitions, overmastering at times any rational considerations. Yet reason plays a major role in the settlement of disputes which take the sociodramatic form. Particularly during the redressive phase-though here again nonrational factors may come into play if rituals are performed (performance here being in terms of regularizing process) to redress the disputes. In other words, there is a structural relationship between cognitive, affective, and conative components of what Dilthey cal1cd lived experience. This is clearIy shown in the characteristic sequential structure of the social drama. Although al1 these psychological processes coexist during every phase of a social drama, each phase is dominated by one or the other. In detailed analysis it would be possible to demonstrate how the verbal and non-verbal symbolic codes and styles employed by the actors correspond to some extent with the primacy of a particular psychological tendency. For example, in the first phase-breach-affect is primary, though an element of cognitive calculation is usually present, and the transgressor's will to assert power or identity usually incites the will to resist his action among representatives of the normative standard which he has infringed. The state of crisis involves all three propensities equally, as sides are taken and power resources calculated. Quite often, however, when a social field is divided into two camps or factions, one will proceed under the ostensible banner of rationality, while the other will manifest in its words and deeds the more romantic qualities of willing and feeling. One thinks immediately of the American Civil War, the American and French Revolutions, the Jacobite rebellions of 1715 and 1745, and the Mexican Insurgencia of 1810. All these are on the scale of macro politics, but my studies of micro political situations directly among the Ndembu and indirectly from anthropological literature indicate that a similar dichotomy exists on the small-scale order. As mentioned, a cognitive emphasis tinges social attempts 25
to remedy disorder, though first will must be applied to terminate the oftendangerous contestation in crisis. Cognition reigns primarily in judicial and legal redressive action. Where such action fails, however, to command sufficient assent, will and emotion reassert themselves. This reassertion may proceed in opposite directions. On the one hand, there may be reversion to crisis, all the more embittered by the failure of restitutive action. On the other hand, there may be an attempt to transcend an order based on rational principles by appealing to that order which rests on a tradition of coexistence among the predecessors of the current community, whether these are conceived as biological ancestors or bearers of the same communal values. This kind of ordering is better regarded as the crystallization of joint experience, handed down in striking. or potent cultural forms and symbols and bears rather the character of orexis (feeling and willing) than rational planning. Thus when legal redress fails, groups may turn to activities which can be described as "ritualized," whether these "rituals" are expressly connected with religious beliefs or not. Anti-religious states and societies have their redressive ceremonies, sometimes involving public confession by those held responsible for breaching the norms or transgressing the values of societal tradition. Legal action itself, of course, is heavily ritualized. But in these more fully ritualized: procedures what is being introduced into situations of crisis is the non-rational," order of society itself, felt rather than conceived as the axiomatic source of human bonding. It is the "social will." The potency of ritual symbols is well recognized by the antagonists in the phase of crisis. In Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors I show how, in the Mexican Insurgencia, Hidalgo seized the banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe to rally the peasants, while Viceroy Venegas of Spain endowed Our Lady of Remedios with a field Marshall's baton to strengthen the loyalty of the people of Mexico City. In the final stage, the restoration of peace, which entails either a reestablishment of viable relations between the contending parties or a public recognition of irreparable schism, cognitive criteria tend to come uppermost again, if only in the sense of a rational acceptance of the reality of change. Every social drama alters , in however miniscule a fashion, the structure (by which term I do not 26
mean a permanent ordering of social relations but merely a temporary mutual, accommodation of interests) of the relevant social field. For example, oppositions may have become alliances, and vice versa. High status may have become low status and the reverse. New power may have been channelled Into new authority and old authority lost its legitimacy. Closeness may have become distance and vice versa. Formerly integral parts may have segmented, formerly independent parts may have fused. Some parts may no longer belong to the field after a drama's termination, and others may have entered it. Some institutionalized relationships may have become informal; some social regularities become irregularities or intermittences. New norms and rules may have been generated or devised during the attempts to redress conflict; old norms may have fallen into disrepute. Bases of political support may have altered. The distribution of the factors of legitimacy may have changed, as have the techniques (influence, persuasion, power, and so on) for gaining compliance with decisions. These considerations, and many more, have to be rationally evaluated by the actors in a social drama, in order that they may take up the threads of ordinary, regular, custom and norm-bound social life once more. From the standpoint of relatively well-regulated, more or less accurately operational, methodical, orderly social life, social dramas have a "Iiminal" or "threshold" character. The latter term is derived from a Germanic base which means "thrash" "thresh," place where grain is beaten out from its husk, where what has been hidden is thus manifested. That is why in my first study of social dramas in Ndembu society, Schism and Continuity, I described the social drama (p. 93) as "a limited area of transparency on the otherwise opaque surface of regular, uneventful social life. In the social drama latent conflicts become manifest, and kinship ties, whose significance is not obvious in genealogies, emerge into key importance. Through the social drama we are enabled to observe the crucial principles of the social structure in their operation, and their relative dominance at successive points in time." Manifestation, to revert to the "thrashing" metaphor, is the "grain" and "husk" of social life, the values and anti-values, the relationships of amity and enmity, which are revealed in the often passionate action of the social 27
drama, and thus becomes part of a community's reflexive store, its knowledge of itself, stored in the bins of Iega1 precedent, common knowledge, and even ritua1 symbolism-if the drama is redressed by ritual means. Let me make the simple point again that I regard the "social drama" as the empirical unit of social process from which has been derived, and is constantly being derived, the various genres of cultural performance. One phase of the social drama in particular deserves attention as a generative source of cultural performances. This is the redressive phase, which, as we have seen, inevitably involves a scanning of and reflection upon the previous events leading up to the crisis that has now to be dealt with. I have mentioned legal and judicial processes as having an important place here, and that these are often highly formalized and ritualized. As Sally Moore and Barbara Myerhoff put it in the book they edited, Secular Ritual (1977:3): "collective ritual can be seen as an especially dramatic attempt to bring some particular part of life firmly and definitely into orderly control. It belongs to the structuring side of the cultural historical process." Since law is concerned with orderly control, legal and religious ritual have much in common. One difference is that in law cognitive processes assume priority, in religion orectic processes prevail, though both have similar procedures involving repetition, conscious "acting" stylization (as Moore and Myerhoff put it: "actions or symbols used are extra-ordinary .themselves, or ordinary ones are used in an unusual way, a way that calls attention to them and sets them apart from other mundane uses" 1977:7), order ("collective rituals are by definition an organized event, both of persons and cultural elements, having a beginning and an end, thus bound to have some order. It may contain within it moments of. or elements of chaos and spontaneity, but these are in prescribed times and places," p. 7), evocative presentation style of "staging" ("collective rituals are intended to produce at least an attentive state of mind, and often an even greater commitment of some kind." p. 7). and have a social "message" and "meaning." These formal characteristics of collective ceremony or "ritual" are clearly transferrable to other genres, and are shared with, for example, theatre and games. Law and religious ritual, seen as a pair. however, can be distinguished 28
from other kinds of per formative genres. Myerhoff argues, in "the area of meaning and effect." She sees collective ceremony (law-ritual) as a container a vehicle that holds something. It gives form to that which it contains-for ritual is in part a form, and a form which gives meaning (by "framing") to its contents. The work of ritual (and ritual does "work,' as many tribal and post-tribal etymologies indicate) is partly attributable to its morphological characteristics. Its medium is part of its message. It can "contain" almost anything, for any aspect of social life, any aspect of behavior or ideology, may lend itself to reutilization, as the late Professor S.F. Nadel argued in Nupe Religion in 1954 (p. 99). And as Myerhoff points out, once an event or person or thing has been put into the ritual form and mode recognized by a given culture it has "a tradition-like effect" whether "performed for the first or thousandth time" (Moore and Myerhoff. 1977:8). Her chapter in Secular Ritual describes "such a once-and-only event. a graduation ceremony in an urban social center for the aged. The graduation combines many elements from the several cultural backgrounds of the members to make a unique composite ("bricolage")... Though performed only once it is supposed to carry the same unreflective conviction as any traditional repetitive ritual, to symbolize for the participants all that that they share in common, and to insist to them that it all fits together by put-, ting it together as one performance" (pp. 8-9). Here I would take mild issue with Myerhoff's term "unreflective"-l would see such a ritual, which the context of her recent book shows to have been itself a phase in a communal social drama, as involving reflection on the past myths and history of the group's culture (Judaism and Yiddishkeit). The "tradition-like" ceremony was, in terms of her own analysis, "an effort to have that past make sense in the situation rf. their peculiar collective present" (Myerhoff, 1977:9). Both religious ritual and legal ceremony are genres of social action. They confront problems and contradictions of the social process, difficulties arising in the course of social life in communities, corporate groups, or other types of social fields. They are condemned with breaches of regular norm-governed relationships; involving action of the sort we would cal1 in our culture crime, sin, deviance, offense, misdemeanor, injury, tort, damage, and so forth. In addition to the redress 29
of immediate issues, the reconciliation of the parties involved, and, in extreme cases, the condign punishment, elimination, or ostracism of inveterate offenders, legal and religious rituals and ceremonies are what Moore calls "a declaration against indeterminacy" (1977: 16). Through "form and formality they celebrate man-made meaning, the cultural1y determinate, the regulated. the named, and the explained ... Ritual is a declaration of form against indeterminacy therefore indeterminacy is always present in the background of any analysis of ritual. ln deed there is no doubt that any analysis of social life must take account of the dynamic relation between the formed and "the indeterminate" (pp. 16-17). Of course, what is socioculturally indeterminate may be biologically, even sociobiologically determinate; or an indeterminate phase of social process may result from contradiction between principles or rules, each of which would produce systematic social action if conceded unimpeded validity. Thus being a "good son" may mean being a "bad citizen," if family loyalty obstructs civil justice. When we examine some Icelandic family sagas we will see how confused states of affairs, crises of conscience, arise from sociostructural contradictions. My contention is that the major genres of cultural performance (from ritual to theatre and film) and narration (from myth to the novel) not only originate in the social drama but also continue to draw meaning and force from the social drama. I use "force" here in the Dilthey an sense. For him, Kraft, "force" meant something different in the humanistic studies from what it means in natural science. In the human studies, force means the influence which any experience has in determining what other experiences shal1 succeed it. Thus a memory has force m so far as it affects our present experience and actions. AIl the factors which together lead up to a practical decision are forces, and the decision itself is a force in so far as it leads to action. This category, so conceived, is an expression of something we know in our own lives. In natural science. Dilthey argues it is different. There the concept of force is not drawn from experience of the physical world but projected into it from our inner life; and it is bound up with the idea of laws of nature and physical necessity, to which the human studies offer no parallel. In other words, in the natural sciences "force" is used metaphorically; in physics 30
the definition of force as the form of energy that puts an object at rest into motion or alters the motion of a moving object" derives ultimately from human inner experience of acting vigorously and effectively, of controlling persuading or influencing others. Thus the "force" of a social drama consists in its being an experience or sequence of experiences which significantly influences the form and function of cultural per formative genres. Such genres partly "imitate" (by mimesis), the processual form of the social drama, and they partly, through reflection, assign meaning" to it. What do I 'mean" by '.meaning" here? I am aware of the formidable ambiguities of this term, and of the controversies surrounding it. To mean" is, in its simple lexical definition, to have in mind, to have an opinion. to intend, and derives ultimately from the Indo-European base maino, from which are derived, O. E. maenan and German meinen, all of which signify "to have an opinion." Broadly speaking, a '.meaning' is .'what is intended to be, or in fact is, signified, indicated, referred to, or understood." But in the context of the humanistic studies, I would prefer to look at the term. again influenced by Dilthey, somewhat as follows: If a given human collectivity scans its recent or ; more distant history-usually through the mediation of representative figures, such as chronicler,. bards, historians, or in the lineal lens of per formative or narrative genres-it seeks to find in it a structural unity to whose total character every past, culturally stressed collective experience has contributed something. If the relevant agents of reflexivity go further and seek to undestand (Dilthey uses the term Vestehen, around which numerous methodological and theoretical controversies have raged since the late nineteenth century, especially when it has been contrasted with the German term, Wissen, "knowing. Acquaintance," which is conceived as denoting a form of conceptual activity peculiar to the physical sciences but which sociological positivists believe is also applicable to the data of the social sciences-but let's pass over this thorny topic for the present!) and interpret (deuten) the structural unity of their past social life, to explore in detail the character and structure of the whole and the contradictions made by its various parts, we must develop new categories to understand the nature of their quest. One is meaning which Dilthey employs in two 31
ways. The first defines the meaning of a part as "the contribution it makes I" to the whole." The "whole" here would seem to be a complex of ideas and values akin to Clifford Geertz's notions of "world view. (itself akin to Dilthey.s Weltbild) and ethos (or moral system). The resultant character of the whole is also said to possess "meaning" (Bedeutung) or sense (Sinn). Dilthey throws in for good measure the categories of value (Wert) and end (Zweck) or good (Gut), and relates them along with meaning to the three structural "attitudes of consciousness" cognition, affect, volition, mentioned earlier. Thus, the category of meaning arises in memory, in cognition of the past (that is, meaning is cognitive, self-reflexive, oriented to past experience, and concerned with negotiating about "fit" between present and past, as the phenomenological sociologists like GarfinkeI and CicoureI might say today). The category of value arises, according to Dilthey, dominantly from feeling or affect (that is, value inheres in the affective enjoyment of the present). The category of end (goal, or good) arises from volition, the power or faculty of using the wiII, which refers to the future. These three categories, says Dilthey, are irreducible, Iike the three structural attitudes, and cannot be subordinated to one another. Nevertheless, for Dilthey, value, end and meaning are not of equal value insofar as they may be regarded as principles of understanding and interpretation. He defines value, for example, as belonging essentially to an experience in a conscious present. Such conscious presents, regarded purely as present moments, totally involve the experience, to the extent that they have no inner connection with one another, at Ieast of a systematic, cognitive kind. They stand behind one another in temporal sequence, and, while they may be compared as "values" (having the same epistemological status), they do not form, since they are quintessentially momentary, qua values, transient, anything like a coherent whole-if they are interconnected, the ligatures that bind them are of another category. As Dilthey sees it, "From the standpoint of value, Iife appears as an infinite assortment of positive and negative existence-values. It is Iike a chaos of harmonies and discords. Each of these is a tone-structure which fills a present; but they have no musical relation to one another." Dilthey's view of value phenomena differs, 32
markedly, of course, from that of many contemporary scientists. Robin Williams sums up their position quite well in the IESS (Vol. XVI, p. 283): "It seems all values contain some cognitive elements..., that they have a selective or directional quality, and that they involve some affective component ... when most explicit and fully conceptualized, values become criteria for judgment, preference, and choice. When implicit and unreflective, values nevertheless perform as if they constituted grounds for decisions in behavior." Williams does not analyze so finely as Dilthey; he gives value cognitive and co native attributes which Dilthey reserves to other categories. The advantage of Dilthey's position, it seems to me, resides in the articulating (as well as reflexive and retrospective) character he assigns to meaning. The category of end or good, for example, shares the Iimitation of value, and, indeed, for Wilhelm Dilthey, depends on it. It can show Iife as a series of choices between ends, but finds no unity in this sequence of choices. Ultimately, it is only the category of meaning that enables us to conceive an intrinsic affinity between the successive events in life, and all that the categories of value and end can tell us is caught up in this synthesis. Moreover, Dilthey tells us, since meaning is specifically based on the cognitive attitude of memory, and "history is memory", meaning is naturally "the category most proper to historical thought" (G. S., VII, 201-2, 236). I would add, to socio-processual thought also. Now I see the social drama, in its full formal development, its full phase structure, as a process of converting particular values and ends, distributed over a range of actors, into a system (which may be temporary or provisional) of shared or consensual meaning. The redressive phase, in which feedback is provided by the scanning mechanisms of law and religious ritual, is a time in which an interpretation is put upon the events leading up to and constituting the phase of crisis. Here the meaning of the social life informs the apprehension of itself; the object to be apprehended enters into and determines the apprehending subject. Sociological and anthropological functionalism, whose aim is to state the conditions of social equilibrium among the components of a social system at a given time, cannot deal with meaning, which always involves retrospection and reflexivity, a past, a history. Dilthey holds that the category of meaning is all pervading in 33
history. The storyteller, at the simplest narrational level, for example, "gains his effect by bringing out the significant moments in a process. The historian characterizes men at significant, turning-points in life [Lebenswendungen-what I would call "crises"] as full of meaning in a definite effect of a work or a human being upon the general destiny he recognizes the meaning of such a work or such a human being" (G. S., VIl:234). Meaning is the only category, which grasps the full relation of the part to the whole in life. In the category of value, or again in that of good or end, some aspect of this part-whole relation is of course made visible; but these categories are, as Dilthey insists, abstract and one-sided, and, he holds, we cannot think in terms of them without finally encountering some brute fact, some empirical coexistence of experiences, which these categories do not help us to resolve into a living whole. It is at this point that we should invoke the comprehensive category of meaning, a category by definition inclusive, laying hold of the factors making for integration in a given situation or phenomenon whereby the whole, the total sociocultural phenomenon becomes intelligible, of which value and end were but aspects. Meaning is apprehended by looking back over a process in time. We assess the meaning of every part of the process by its contribution to the total result. Meaning is connected with the consummation of a process-it is bound up with termination, in a sense, with death. The meaning of any given factor in a process cannot be assessed until the whole process is past. Thus, the meaning of a man's life, and of each moment in it, becomes manifest to others only when his life is ended. The meaning of historical processes, for instance, "civilizational" processes such as the "decline and fall of the Roman Empire," is not and will not be known until their termination, perhaps not until the end of history itself, if such an end there will be. In other words, meaning is retrospective and discovered by the selection action of reflexive attention. This does not, of course, prevent us from making judgments, both "snap" and considered, about the meaning of contemporary events, but every such judgment is necessarily provisional, and relative to the moment in which it is made. It rests partly on the positive and 34
negative values we bring to bear on events from our structural or psychological perspective, and for the ends we have in mind at the time. The encounter of past and present in redressive process always leaves open the question whether precedent (an ingredient in Moore's "processes of regularization") or the unprecedented will provide the terminal "meaning" of any problem-situation. At every moment, and especially in the redressed of crises, the meaning of the past is assessed by reference to the present and, of the present by reference to the past; the resultant "meaningful" decision modifies the group's orientation to or even plans for the future, and these in turn react upon its evaluation of the past. Thus the apprehension of the meaning of life is a1ways relative, and involved in perpetual change. Of course, cultural devices exist which attempt to "fix" or "Crystallize" meaning, such as religious dogmas, political constitutions, supernatural sanctions and taboos against breaking crucial norms, and so on, but, as we said earlier, these are subject to manipulation and amendment. REFERENCES · Benamou, Michel, and Charles Caramello, Eds. 1977. Performance in Postmodern Culture. Madison, Wisconsin: Coda. · Dilthey, Wilhelm. 1914-1936. Gesammelte Schriften. Vols. 1-12. Stuttgan: Teubner. · Hinde, Roben. 1974. Nonverbal Communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. · Hockett, Charles. 1960. "Logical Considerations in the Study of Animal Communication" in W. E. Lanyon and W. N. Tavolga, Eds. Animal Sounds and Communication. Washington, D.C. American Institute of Biological Sciences. Pp. 392-430. · Leach, Edmund. 1972. "The Influence of Cultural Context on Nonverbal Communication in Man," in Robert A. Hinde, ed., Nonverbal Communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pp. 321.322. , · MacKay, D. M. 1972. . "Formal Analysis of Communicative Processes, " in Robert A. Hinde. Ed., Nonverbal Communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pp. 3-25. · Moore, Sally F., and Barbara Myerhoff. Eds. 1977. Secular Ritual Amsterdam: Van Gorcum. · Murphy, R. F. 1971. The Dialectics of Social Life. New York: Basic Books. 35
· Olney, James. 1972. Metaphors of Self. Princeton: Princeton University Press. · Schechner, Richard. 1977. Essays on Performance Theory. 1970-1976. New York: Drama Book Specialists. · Schwartz, Theodore. 1978. "Where is the Culture? " in George Spindler. Ed., The Making of Psychological Anthropology. Berkeley: University of California Press. Pp. 419-441. · Spindler. George, ed. 1978. The Making of Psychological Anthropology. Berkeley: University of California Press. · Turner, Victor. 1957. Schisrn and Community. Manchester: Manchester University Press. · -------------------1974. Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors. lthaca: Cornell University Press. 36

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