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magic AND ritual - 17 MAGIC AND RITUAL CURING(4/07 Magic as...

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17. MAGIC AND RITUAL CURING (4/07) Magic as ritual One class of ritual has gotten great attention over years, i.e. magic, any form of ritual where some concrete, instrumental goal is intended: ritual to make someone love you, to make crops grow, to kill someone Much confusion caused in past by trying to discuss magic and religion as completely separate and antithetical categories, when in fact overlap. If church congregation prays for rain, then magical as well as religious Not a neutral, quiet subject; rather has heated intellectual history. In renaissance and early modern Europe, magic wasn’t OK, prohibited by church, considered that ultimately depended on demons. But many practiced magic With Reformation, one of most common Protestant accusations against Catholic church was that involved magic With colonialism, colonizers often said natives superstitious, prone to magical thinking In studies of “primitive mentality”, magic often cited as proof Number of 19 th and early 20 th century anthros saw magic as logical failure Frazer said primitive man thought he was omnipotent; to say something was to make it happen: this was stage of magic. Then awful realization that not omnipotent, in fact powerless, so power must be elsewhere: start of religion And then finally, science, complete rationality Completely imaginary sequence, Frazer actually had no idea what people in pre-industrial societies were thinking Bronislaw Malinowski, came after Frazer, studied magic in Trobriand Islands off N.Guinea. Modified Frazer. Said magic not instead of technology but as supplement. Said there is always gap between what technology will do and what one wants, esp. in premodern societies with simple technology Said that magic was way to deal with uncertainty and anxiety Predicted that magic would be where greatest gap His example was fishing magic in Trobriands. 3 varieties. Inside reef safe, low returns. Outside reef more dangerous, could be greater returns, but also could be skunked. Way offshore, greatest danger and uncertainty but also greatest payoff sometimes. M said magic varied directly with uncertainty and danger. (B. Malinowski, 1948, Magic, Science, and Religion .) Several studies since then replicate M’s results. Richard Price studied fishing magic on Martinique. Thought there was no fishing magic until left bailer, calabash, upside down, panicked crew, metaphor for canoe. Found there was magic and varied with danger and uncertainty.
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George Gmelch, studied personal magic in baseball. Nomar Garciaparra the most extreme example but such personal magic pervasive in baseball. Found that most magic for pitching and hitting, most uncertainty, also where most likely to get into extended good or bad runs of luck. Base-running and fielding more predictable, less magic.
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