Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Modern Primitive: A Reflection of Modern Culture?

The Modern Primitive Movement, perhaps characterized by "Burning Man" which we focused on in class, is an interesting movement in today's society. Such a movement looks to certain rituals, practices and body modifications from "primitive" societies to incorporate into modern society and to form community. From "radical" practices  (at least to modern western society) such as suspension, to simple ideas surrounding community, the rise of the modern primitive movement demonstrate the lack of some aspects in today's western society that clearly this community of people find missing.

Modern Western society is characterized by the normal "able-bodied" capitalist patriarchy. Such a society promotes a certain body, a certain state of being that is acceptable and the importance of the individual, perhaps because of the hierarchical associations that occur within such a system. The Modern primitive movement, I think, attempts to fight this system through its practices and rituals. Firstly, I think it attempts to attack the individualization of today's society by creating a community of like-minded people and by creating a space for people who may not fit into western society. Secondly, by including such rituals such as suspension, other body modifications that are reflective of other cultures, and aspects of paganism it is creating a certain spirituality that seems to not exist today in western society. Again, this spirituality and practicing of rituals again feeds into the creating of community that rebels against the individualism of the United States.

We can see these aspects of the modern primitive movement in less extreme forms of body modification as well. Aspects such as tattoos and piercings, which in today's society are becoming more and more mainstream, share some of these same associations. Fakir shares this belief and discusses this in his workshops. He asserts that the tattoo artist in today's society functions like a modern day shamaan. I find this concept interesting and I think we should pay more attention to practices we engage in our daily life that reach for these same values of spirituality and community that the Modern Primitive Movement works toward.

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