Zvee Zahavy posts the fascinating question of whether blogging is liturgy. All liturgies are rituals, so we can begin by asking if blogging is a ritual. There is something ritualistic about it, in that it follows certain procedures and obeys certain loosely defined rules of what counts as a proper blog. It even has its own vocabulary. But is that enough for it to be a ritual?
I think not. A great deal of behavior is ritualized, but not all ritualized behavior is a ritual.
Ronald Grimes, perhaps the most influential founder of the field called Ritual Studies, distinguishes “ritualizations” from actually acted out “rites.” What he calls rites, most people call rituals. Rituals, in that sense, get names: bar mitzvah, Kol Nidre, a funeral, Easter vigil, Shabbat services. Secular examples include birthday parties, St. Patrick Day parades, and a Christmas office party.
Ritualizations include any behavior that gets formalized and consciously repeated a certain way. Grimes mentions canoeing, watching TV, and housework. These are ritualizations but not yet rituals. They might become rituals, but to do so, in my view, they would have to have cultural importance beyond themselves; they would have to mean something, the way a birthday party means celebrating another year of life, an office party at an accounting firm means marking the end of tax season, and Shabbat services mean keeping Shabbat.
Blogging is a ritualized form of communication. It is a ritualization. It is not a ritual, although, conceivably, for certain bloggers under certain circumstances, it might become one.
But blogging is definitely a performance, in the Schechner sense.
Liturgy, ritual, performance… Maybe your next post could untangle these terms!
Tell me more.