The Promise of Sonic Translation: Performing the Festive Sacred in Morocco

How do international music festivals produce experiences of the sacred in multifaith audiences? What is their part in creating transnational communities of affect? In this article, I theorize what I call “the promise of sonic translation”: the trust in the ultimate translatability of aural (as opposed to textual) codes. This promise, I assert, produces the “festive sacred,” a configuration of aesthetic and embodied practices associated with festivity wherein people of different religions and nations create and cohabit an experience of the sacred through heightened attention to auditory and sense-based modes of devotion conceived as “universal.” The festive sacred is a transnational (thus mobile) phenomenon inextricable from the enterprise of sacred tourism. Such festive forms not only produce a Turnerian communitas but also create new transnational categories that mediate religious sentiment and reenchant the world.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Here is the list of Turner’s binary oppositions that he uses to characterise liminality vs the typical social & cultural structure:

Transition / state
Totality / partiality
Homogeneity / heterogeneity
Communitas / structure
Equality / inequality
Anonymity / systems of nomenclature
Absence of property / property
Nakedness or uniform clothing / distinctions of clothing
Sexual abstinence / sexuality
Minimization of status and sex distinctions / distinctions of rank and gender
Humility / just pride of position
Disregard for personal appearance / care for personal appearance
No distinctions of wealth / distinctions of wealth
Unselfishness / selfishness
Total obedience / obedience only to superior rank
Sacredness / secularity
Sacred instruction / technical knowledge
Silence / speech
Suspension of kinship rights and obligations / kinship rights and obligations
Continuous reference to mystical powers / intermittent reference to mystical powers
Foolishness / seriousness
Simplicity / complexity
Acceptance of pain and suffering / avoidance of pain and suffering
Heteronomy and passivity / degrees of autonomy

This is from chapter 3 (p106), Liminality & Communitas, of The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure, 1969.  This chapter also covers the Rule of St. Benedict, Millenarian Movements and the Beat Generation that we spoke about this morning and ties in the idea of communitas, that intense bonding and egalitarianism that often takes place during liminal rites.

For further reading check out Turner’s The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual, 1967, specifically ch 4.