Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Ritual and Response

I attended a meeting today for graduation. I will be a marshal (yet, I get no badge -- how is that fair?), so there are additional duties I needed to know about. Graduation is already a step back in time to the medieval universities and their rituals and robes. Now I have additional complex steps within the ritual. Some marshals are banner-bearers, some student-herders; I will be a name-caller. The unpleasant scrutiny that "fame" brings (in this case, a faculty award is all the fame it needed), also carries extra duties and responsibilities. I will be visible in a public ritual, something I have usually sought to avoid. Middle child syndrome: always hungering for the spotlight, but inevitably uncomfortable in it.

I was struck by the gravity of the ritual, and yet the reluctant recognition that it could not be controlled. "Try to get the students to stay" was the theme, whether it was to get them in line for the procession or in their seats after the walk across the platform. And then there's the arena itself--keep off the grass! Minute Maid Park has to be maintained in game shape. What to do when rituals collide? No victory laps for the graduates; decorum must be maintained!

5 comments:

dj sciz said...

Hi, K.A., Gene directed me here after reading that I'm hungry for non-Jungian interpretations of the tarot. I'll keep coming because it's interesting! I am imagining enacting medieval ritual at Minute Maid park. I heard that a man recently scattered his mother's ashes at a sports stadium -- Eagles, I think? And after the newspaper report, some women I correspond with confessed to have been involved in some way in the discreet scatterings of ashes at sports stadiums. Is this widespread? How is it to be comprehended? What is the overlap between ritual and sports stadiums? It seems almost too easy to say that sports stadiums are American cathedrals, but maybe it's actually that simple!

K. A. Laity said...

Hey DJ -- it's great to see you here. I dunno about the sports arenas as churches, but I suspect you're right (something I've been working on). There's a wonderful bit in Beyond the Fringe written by Alan Bennett called "The English Way of Death." It talks about the difficulty of carrying out a last request: to have one's ashes scattered at Blackpool (a popular British resort) and finally dealing with it by pretending to "feed the pigeons." I am sure that Americans ignore most of what's going on around them, so no one would likely pay any attention to someone spreading ashes at a stadium...what was the question?

Oh, wait -- ritual and stadiums. Wait for the book! It will be great!

Gene K. said...

Houston has the perfect example of the confluence of ritual and sports stadiums - read all about it!

Gene K. said...

some women I correspond with confessed to have been involved in some way in the discreet scatterings of ashes at sports stadiums.

Makes sense to me - it's The Great Escape to the beyond...

K. A. Laity said...

If I follow Osteen's 7 steps, will I also get $75 million?