Purity is the enemy of change, of ambiguity and compromise. Most of us indeed would feel safer if our experience could be hard-set and fixed in form.
Though it is only specific individuals on specified occasions who can break the rules, it is still important to ask why these dangerous contacts are often required in rituals. One answer lies in the nature of dirt itself. The other lies in the nature of metaphysical problems and of particular kinds of reflections which call for expression. 3045
The origin of the various bits and pieces is lost and they have entered into the mass of common rubbish. It is unpleasant to poke about in the refuse to try to recover anything, for this revives identity. 3050
So long as identity is absent, rubbish is not dangerous. 3053
On this argument everything that is said to explain the revivifying role of water in religious symbolism can also apply to dirt:
In water everything is ‘dissolved’, every ‘form’ is broken up, everything that has happened ceases to exist; nothing that was before remains after immersion in water, not an outline, not a ‘sign’, not an event. Immersion is the equivalent, at the human level, of death at the cosmic level, of the cataclysm (the Flood) which periodically dissolves the world into the primeval ocean. Breaking up all forms, doing away with the past, water possesses this power of purifying, of regenerating, of giving new birth.… Water purifies and regenerates because it nullifies the past, and restores – even if only for a moment – the integrity of the dawn of things. (Eliade, 1958, p. 194) 3070
Though it is only specific individuals on specified occasions who can break the rules, it is still important to ask why these dangerous contacts are often required in rituals. [It’s because] The danger which is risked by boundary transgression is power. [And] Sometimes the claim to superior purity is based on deceit.
Those vulnerable margins and those attacking forces which threaten to destroy good order represent the powers inhering in the cosmos. Ritual which can harness these for good is harnessing power indeed. So much for the aptness of the symbol itself. Now for the living situations to which it applies, and which are irremediably subject to paradox. The quest for purity is pursued by rejection. 3075
It is part of our human condition to long for hard lines and clear concepts. When we have them we have to either face the fact that some realities elude them, or else blind ourselves to the inadequacy of the concepts. 3092
Sometimes the claim to superior purity is based on deceit. 3104
WE&P by: EZorrilla