A higher power

I am blissfully re-watching footage from yesterday’s Jens Lekman concert. It was one of those nights where you come home from singing with a crowd of strangers to find out that the Chicago Cubs have taken the World Series Title for the first time in 108 years. I’m not a sports-person, or a “native” Chicagoan, but the cheering in the streets and fireworks down our block were a festive conclusion to the day. Wending our way through groups of ecstatic Cubs fans, I felt like I was encountering what Emile Durkheim called “collective effervescence” – powerful collective experiences of shared symbols that, for Durkheim, were at the origins of religious thought, concepts of the sacred, and ‘society’ itself.

I leave with some Durkheim (1912) and some Lekman (2004):

“It is not difficult to imagine that a man in such a state of exaltation should no longer know himself… It seems to him that he has become a new being… And because his companions feel transformed in the same way at the same moment, and express this feeling by their shouts, movements, and bearing, it is as if he was in reality transported into a special world entirely different from the one in which he ordinarily lives…In one world he languidly carries on his daily life; the other is one that he cannot enter without abruptly entering into relations with extraordinary powers that excite him to the point of frenzy. The first is the profane world and the second, the world of sacred things.”*


*1995 [1912]. Durkheim, Emile. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. NY: The Free Press.

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