Russell - Text and Performance Quarterly Vol 24 No 3/4...

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Text and Performance Quarterly 13 Routledge Vol. 24, No. 3/4, July/October 2004, pp. 233-254 « ^ T.yto,(.F,.nc»cr..p A Long Way Toward Compassion Larry Russell Pilgrimage to a shrine of healing in northern New Mexico provides a ritual possibility for a community's passionate response to human suffering. Drawn to their substantial and robust performances, I join one of several groups traveling to the sacred site. During the passage I am guided by fellow travelers whose practices resist the silence of a society more receptive to a discourse of pleasure than of pain. As the pilgrims figuratively and literally gather the concerns of villagers along the route, they manifest this distress in their bodies as they make their way across the landscape. In an autoethnography of my journey, I explore my physical, emotional, and intellectual participation in the habitus of a pilgrim as I am confronted by the question of compassion at the center of my life. Keywords: Pilgrimage; Ritual; Autoethnography; Healing; Compassion Pilgrimage is a ritual journey in which the end is both the pilgrimage site and the path toward that site. It is a way of becoming which is realized in performance. Tom Driver emphasizes the urgency of the participant's intention, viewing pilgrimage as "a journey undertaken out of felt necessity" (42). Victor and Edith Turner describe the movement as "exteriorized mysticism" (7). Simon Coleman and John Eisner account for the popularity of pilgrimage in the sensual reinforcement of objects and the substantiality of pilgrimage practices (208). Nancy Frey's interviews with pilgrims (to Santiago de Compostela in Spain) suggest that their symbolic and geographic itinerary traces a progression toward "transformation—perhaps of both the self and society" (219). The potent metaphor of a journey in pilgrimage suggests a passage realized through heightened awareness of performance. As the participants' bodies follow a path, they also trace a larger scheme in a "kinaesthetic mapping of space, a charting by bodily movement of the contours of the religious landscape" (Sallnow 148). Despite this and other suggestions that pilgrimage deploys bodies as precise Larry Russell is an Assistant Professor at Hofstra University where he teaches performance studies and ethnography. He wishes to thank Penny Simi whose support and assistance has been invaluable to this study. This article was originally a part of a Ph.D. dissertation at Southern Ilhnois University under the direction of Nathan Stuckey. Correspondence to: Larry Russell, Assistant Professor, Department of Speech Communication and Rhetorical Studies, 111 Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York 11549. Email: [email protected] ISSN 1046-2937 (print)/ISSN 1479-5760 (online) © 2004 National Communication Association DOI: 10.1080/1046293042000312733
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234 I. Russell instruments of cartography, boundaries blur as the same landmarks orient bodies in space, figures in myth, and events in the lives of participants (Turner and Turner 7-11).
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