The In-between


“’Liminoid’ resembles without being identical with ‘liminal’” (32).The term liminoid has a basis in the idea of liminality as described in this wiki. While the liminal stage arises during rituals as a type of “Gust of Wind” (Geertz) phase when participants undergo symbolic loss or death, the liminoid phase is a similar one under different contexts. Let’s start, for instance, by establishing that we must study the rituals in a sort of diachronic symbology. If we allow ourselves to move across time as the ritual progresses, we can see how structure becomes anti-structure and the carnival is present. The way that time is used in both structure and anti-structure will become a pertinent difference between liminal and liminoid.

Specifically, there are five areas of difference between a liminal stage and liminoid. Turner perceives the transition from liminal to liminoid within cultural rituals to be a semi-permanent transition because it involves greater social changes around time and religion. The liminoid, then, arises out the same practices as the liminal. However, there are those five key differences that exist in modern culture which make liminal stages, to Turner, nearly impossible.

First, we must look at the era in which the rituals occur. Pre-industrial revolution, people were doing work according to an ordinance of peace labor. During this time, no one is paid in hourly wages because the idea of selling time was considered perverse. So, people’s natural time references and the idea of “free time” was completely different than post-industrial revolution. This leads us to our second difference of time. According to Turner, the liminal stage only exists in societies where time is bound to the moon, and the liminoid exists where time is bound to the punch clock. The commodification of time is so pervasive at this point that an argument exists of whether liminoid is the only stage being reached at al.

The third difference has to do with the separation of church and state. Previously, in non-secular communities, rituals were required to attend by social law. Therefore, the liminal stages can be characterized as being relevant to everyone and not just some. However, in the shift towards secular societies, the rituals become relevant only to those who chose to participate. Liminoid occurs in rituals that have been marginalized from, not integrated into, society. During the time when liminal was possible, religious practices were more about creating a playful work environment. Now, we are encountered with actual free time that does not require work. So, to participate in a ritual and be part of a liminoid phase is more voluntary than the liminal.

Finally, Turner draws comparison between the audience reached in rituals encompassing liminal versus liminoid phases. The liminoid stage presents itself in times of leisure, when the subject is isolated from the social sphere and is somehow characterized by loss or death. Turner explains “how the liminoid can be an in­dependent domain of creative activity, not simply a distorted mirror­image, mask, or cloak for structural activity in the ‘centers’ or ‘main­streams’ of ‘productive social labor’” (33). The liminoid is marginalized and therefore its audience has no obligation to participate. Those who witness and support a creative notion brought about by the liminoid stage theoretically do so on their own accord, in their own free time.

Source: [1]

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