Authenticity, Anthropology, and the Sacred

Charles Lindholm
2002 Anthropological Quarterly  
My charge for this paper was completely open-ended. I was told I could "write about anything I liked, as much as I wanted, in any format I pleased". While liberating, this unaccustomed freedom also caused me considerable anxiety. I am used to following a certain rhetorical structure: writing a set number of pages on a particular topic in a preordained style. In a very minor way, the nervousness generated by the openness of my mandate for this article resembled what occurs anytime the bases for
more » ... ction are problematic, ambiguous, or absent entirely, and where limits are unknown. As many social theorists have argued, the disoriented and anxious state caused by lack of boundaries and absence of rules is commonplace today, and is a consequence of the rupture with the past associated with the triumph of capitalism. i The authoritative worldviews that existed previously were the products of a process of sacralization that provided human beings with the legitimization of their daily orientation to action. This sacralization of a meaning system was, as Weber says, first aroused by a creative act of charismatic connection which stimulated an immediate, magical sense of transcendence and participation; primary charisma was then rationalized and channeled into sacred objects. As time passed, and the immediate compulsion of the original irrational charismatic annunciation
doi:10.1353/anq.2002.0035 fatcat:xdlhehz5drfpjorb6c23jrxzp4