My MFA thesis with it’s focus on ritual has recently taken an interesting turn towards craft.
After spending the past several months dissecting ritual, determining what is and isn’t a ritual, I’ve come to the conclusion that rituals in our modern society are by necessity very subtle. As a culture we have trouble talking about anything beyond what we can prove. Imagination is for kids and artists, spirituality is for people who don’t believe in science or weird new-agers. I’m exaggerating a little, but the point is that we are not a culture that believes in magic; we believe in logic and science. Hence our rituals no longer focus around ephemeral gods and their blessings or wrath.
In the past century, our civilization has travelled through an industrial age to a material age and we are now passing into an information age. The industrial age and it’s obsession with mechanizing and quantifying all of our daily needs led us into a material age where objects rule. As the pendulum has swung so far towards the side of mass production, the leading, first world countries have reached a state of critical mass where material goods saturate our lives. Most of us are satiated in our material possession which is why we are now devaluing goods and valuing information. Information is the new “god” of modern culture.
My observation is that there is a subculture of people who are looking to regain or maintain knowledge and connection to basic life necessities ie. food, home, craft. This back to land, locavore movement, is in a sense a neo-religion for our modern secular culture. We want to bring meaning back into our lives by being connected to the things that sustain us. Thus, craft, once a means of creating basic life goods, is now a symbol of higher values for both the patrons and professionals. I believe that practicing a craft, is a vessel for achieving the feeling of reverence that many of us seek.
Craft, more than ever, is a ritual.