I have to ask how these instruments could invalidate

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I have to ask how these instruments could invalidate a religious rite. What is a religious rite that a camera could invalidate it ? And remember that Judge MacBride came to the breakfast from the world of courts of law, where also cameras have usually been forbidden. If we define a religious rite as a sequence of actions whose meaning or validity would be weakened by photography, then the proceedings of a court of law constitute, indeed, a religious rite. Put it this way: The Ancient Mariner could not have blessed the sea snakes unaware if he had been accompanied on his famous voyage by a pressman with camera and flashbulbs. Insofar as religion is concerned with absolution of guilt (and occidental religion is concerned with this, among many other matters), the rite which is the necessary condition for absolution must be partly (but which part?) unconscious, unaware. If the Ancient Mariner had said to himself, ―I know how to get rid of the guilt of killing the Albatross: I will go back to the tropics and find some sea snakes, and I will bless them by moonlight,‖ the Albatross would have stayed hanging on his neck to this day. But, after all, there never was any Albatross, nor any Ancient Mariner. It is only a story, a poem, a work of art … a parable. *** Kommentar [d26]: Paraphrase of McCullochs‟s double question what is a number that a man may know it: and what is a man that he may know a number ? See chapter II, footnote 12.
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There is a story, rather well known, of a man who got into a bus with a big cage covered with brown paper. He was quite drunk and quite a nuisance, insisting that the cage be set next to him on the seat. They asked him, ―What is in the cage?‖ and he told them, ―A mongoose .‖ They asked him what he wanted a mongoose for and he explained [[p_077]] that a drinking man needs a mong oose for the snakes of delirium tremens. They said, ―But those are not real snakes.‖ He answered triumphantly in a whisper, ―Ah … but you see, it‘s not a real mongoose.‖ Is that the paradigm for all religion and all psychotherapy. Is it all bosh? And what do we mean when we say, ―There is no Santa Claus!‖? *** If it‘s all bosh, then the sensible man will simply go home and forget it. He might spend the evening fixing the plumbing in his house or filling out his income-tax returns. But such sensible men have never been numerous enough to tidy up the civilization, getting rid of all mythological ―junk.‖ Indeed almost every culture of the world has its mythical figures and forces the children to look directly at these figures to learn that they do not have the same reality as pots and pans or even persons. In every initiating culture, the novices must first experience the mystery of the masked figures and then each novice must wear and dance in the mask. He must himself swing the bull-roarer and will do so with glee. (But why so gleeful?) And what of the Bread and Wine? The communicant ―partakes‖ of these – eats and drinks them and there could hardly be a more definitive demonstration that the Bread is indeed just bread and the Wine of no
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  • Fall '19
  • Gregory Bateson

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