chapter  8
29 Pages

REFLEXIVITY IN FESTIVAL AND OTHER CULTURAL EVENTS Don Handelman

It is those meta-messages which arise within the world of play, and which in turn comment on ordinary life (or on another reality of reference), that make the reality of play a medium of self-reflexivity. Given the nature of play, its premises of make-believe and pretense, it is a medium particularly suited to doubt and to question the routine postulates of other realities. Thus it is this negation of the taken-for-granted exigencies of routine life, and this dissolution of necessity in the means-ends relationships of causal epistemologies, which make those messages that arise in play such acute commentaries on the realities of reference within which the world of play arises. Unlike, for example, ritual and ceremony which 'discourage untrammeled inquiry1 (Moore and Myerhoff 1978: 14) into the phenomenal coherence of cosmic and social order, the messages of play do exactly the converse. They take apart the clock-works of reality, and question their organization, and indeed their very validity as human and as cultural constructs.