Discourse and the Construction of Society: Comparative Studies of Myth, Ritual, and Classification

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Oxford University Press, Dec 24, 1992 - Religion - 238 pages
In this bold theoretical work, Bruce Lincoln explores the ways in which myth, ritual, and classification hold human societies together--and how, in times of crisis, they can be used to take a society apart and reconstruct it. Without overlooking the role of coercive force in the maintenance (or overthrow) of social structures, Lincoln argues his thesis with compelling illustrations drawn from such diverse areas as Platonic philosophy, the Upanishads of India, ancient Celtic banquets, professional wrestling, and the Spanish Civil War. This wide-ranging interdisciplinary study--which draws on works in history, semiotics, anthropology, sociology, classics, and indology--offers challenging new insights into the complex dynamics of social cohesion and change.

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Contents

Introduction
3
Myth Sentiment and the Construction of Social Forms
15
The Politics of Myth
27
Competing Uses of the Future in the Present
38
Rethinking the Swazi Ncwala
53
Aspects of Ceremonial Meals
75
Reflections
89
Revolutionary Exhumations in Spain
103
Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
110
The Tyranny of Taxonomy
131
The Dialectics of Symbolic Inversion
142
The Uses of Anomaly
160
Unconcluding Postscripts
173
Bibliography
205
Acknowledgments
219
Copyright

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Page 45 - And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood...
Page 45 - Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb ; " for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand before it?
Page 16 - ... those that choose the representers for the making of laws by which this state and kingdom are to be governed, are the persons who, taken together, do comprehend the local interest of this kingdom; that is, the persons in whom all land lies, and those in corporations in whom all trading lies.
Page 176 - Our case is to be considered thus: that we have been under slavery, that's acknowledged by all. Our very laws were made by our conquerors; and whereas it's spoken much of chronicles, I conceive there is no credit to be given to any of them ; and the reason is because those that were our lords, and made us their vassals, would suffer nothing else to be chronicled.
Page 47 - Behold, behold, behold, I the eternall God, the Lord of Hosts, who am that mighty Leveller, am comming (yea even at the doores) to Levell in good earnest, to Levell to some purpose, to Levell with a witnesse, to Levell the Hills with the Valleyes, and to lay the Mountaines low.
Page 16 - ... come nothing at all that is part of the permanent interest of this kingdom to him. That I think is due to a man by birth. But that by a man's being born here he shall have a share in that power that shall dispose of the lands here, and of all things here, I do not think it a sufficient ground.
Page 5 - There is therefore one language which is not mythical, it is the language of man as a producer: wherever man speaks in order to transform reality and no longer to preserve it as an image, wherever he links his language to the making of things, metalanguage is referred to a languageobject, and myth is impossible. This is why revolutionary language proper cannot be mythical. Revolution is defined as a cathartic act meant to reveal the political load of the world: it makes the world; and its language,...
Page 45 - Then the kings of the earth and the magnates and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?
Page 4 - ... only verbal, but also the symbolic discourses of spectacle, gesture, costume, edifice, icon, musical performance, and the like— may be strategically employed to mystify the inevitable inequities of any social order and to win the consent of those over whom power is exercised, thereby obviating the need for the direct coercive use of force and transforming simple power into "legitimate
Page 45 - ... the sky vanished like a scroll that is rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

About the author (1992)

Bruce Lincoln is Caroline E. Haskell Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions in the Divinity School, the University of Chicago. He has published four other books, including Priests, Warriors, and Cattle: A Study in the Ecology of Religions, which won the American Council of Learned Societies Prize as Best New Book in History of Religions in 1981.

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