A Theatre of Cyborgs and Zombies: Mapping the Performance of Sacred Ritual at the Altar of Popular Culture
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Ever since the ancients, ritual has played a central role in human society. Traditionally exercised within a context of religious or spiritual belief systems, in late industrial and globalized society one finds its position increasingly challenged by the changing cultural landscape, in which the central role of religion in constructing shared narratives and social cohesion has been replaced by the dominant discourse of popular culture. Within this environment, the ritualistic methods are adapted to fit a new paradigm; one that is increasingly technocratic, commodifying, and dependent on structures of media power. This affects both the performance of ritual and the production of meaning which underpins the functional structures of society and its embedded values. In the following research I will attempt to map out how ritual, as the foundational element of the sociocultural apparatus, is challenged and transformed by its entanglement with new media technologies that are at work in the production, dissemination and consumption of pop culture, and how this affects both the individual participating subject as well as the broader society of which they are a part. If our society is indeed fundamentally constructed through the dynamic interplay of belief systems and associated practices, then having a deeper understanding of the role of new technologies and their various implications is essential. What I aim to achieve in this thesis is to develop a conceptual vocabulary as a set of tools to analyze and understand how the performance of ritualistic behaviors in a technocratically mediatized environment shapes the very discourse which produces it, and the implications this might have on how we should aim to participate in it.