When speaking of rituals, David Bowie once mentioned his essential “awe of the universe.” Rituals are not beautiful for what they represent, but for what they do for their practitioners: for their aesthetic appeal: for their sheer power to define in a vacuous world of competing identities: for their ability to peek out from our distracted lives and wave, reminding us that we live in a miraculous world.
Rituals and structures create an easement, or catharsis, for many who chose to create or follow them. They find a calm and productivity in rigidity, like the generative constraints of creative writing. For instance, given our current political climate on and off campus, tensions constantly soar from brains to hearts to bodies. Tension, bodily and otherwise, defines the Grinnell College campus community in its competitive academic culture, its cult of stress, and its social-justice pissing contests. Grinnell has fallen ill and continues to poison itself.