PERFORMANCE AND HAZING
Birth is a rite of passage and so is death, our final performance. Between birth and death there are other passages:our first word, school, dating, love, puberty,jobs, marriage, downsizing, childbirth, sickness, old age and more sickness.
Common characteristics of rites of passage are:
For example, birth! We are isolated in a hot tight, airless uterus, squirming, trying to swim. Mom eats biscotti, drinks capuchino,drops wine on our bald, misshapen head and after nine months of this we choke ourselves out of that impossibly tight space to be slapped to tears and then de-clogged in our eyes and de-mucosed by suctions and latex fingers unclogging our air passages of soft, gooey, curled milk phlem. Isolation, change, transformation and a baby is born into the circle.
The cycle continues and we get to do the ritual of inclusion again and again on our own AND unless our culture addresses rites of belonging in a sophisticated way(see American Indian vision quests)we are relegated to our devices and make up somewhat pitifull rituals of belonging for ourselves because we all need a group of peers recognizing and clapping for our isolation cycle, and friends giving us attention for our change cycle and family rejoicing with us when we are reborn, we come from our struggles and life passges feeling unconnected to ourselves and each other, completely unceremonied!!
I have always felt that performance art/body art is a life of creating brilliant rites of passage. We are not performing public penances or self inflicted masochistic rites. We are not acting out neurotically. Conversely performance gives artists a chance to practice for the passages to come but also to perform in substitution for the audience members unaware of their need to make a big deal out of their life or not skilled enough to make up a ritual of inclusion for themselves.
And I also have always felt that hazing is a brilliant rite of passage although it is often performance gone amock and powered by power crazy-male actions. Maybe it's the alcohol that throws it all off. But admittedly, the greeks are smart enough to know that they need to belong. Smart enough to know that they need ritual. Smart enough to know that they need to get high. Once they clean up their methodology, they will be performing an important service to their brothers and sisters.