Rituals and celebrations


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Paul Giamatti as Hamlet in Yale Repertory Theatre’s production of 2013. Photo by Joan Marcus

Essay/
Dance and theatre
Phantasia

Imagination is a powerful tool, a sixth sense, a weapon. We must be careful how we use it, in life as on stage or screen

Paul Giamatti & Stephen T Asma

Photo by Christopher Anderson/Magnum

Essay/
Neuroscience
Myth and the mind

Saturated with rites and symbols, psychology feeds a deep human need once nourished by mythology

Rami Gabriel

An almost deserted village square at Hilibotodane on southern Nias c1906. Anonymous. Photo courtesy Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden, Netherlands

Essay/
Anthropology
Longhouse lockdown

On a regular cycle, the Nias islanders of Indonesia would retreat into enforced seclusion. What can we learn from them?

Andrew Beatty

To marry under the broomstick: detail from Netherlandish Proverbs (1559) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (full painting below). Courtesy the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin/Wikipedia

Essay/
Rituals and celebrations
Broomstick weddings

From Kentucky to Wales and all across the Atlantic, the enslaved and downtrodden got married – by leaping over a broom. Why?

Tyler D Parry

Scientists near the Daneborg research station in Greenland, July/August 2014. Photo by Jean Gaumy/Magnum

Essay/
Philosophy of science
The necessity of awe

In awe we hold fast to nature’s strangeness and open up to the unknown. No wonder it’s central to the scientific imagination

Helen De Cruz

William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody (third from left) alongside the author’s great-great uncle Sheriff Plunkett (right) at Deadwood in 1906. From Deadwood: 1876-1976 (2005) by Beverly Pechan and Bill Groethe/Arcadia Publishing

Idea/
Love and friendship
Friendship is about loyalty, not laws. Should it be policed?

Leah Plunkett

Photo by Getty Images

Essay/
Sports and games
Love is a hold’em game

While some keep their cards close to their chest, others try raising the stakes. What can poker teach us about dating?

Suki Finn

The Funeral of Shelley (1889), by Louis Édouard Fournier. Photo courtesy the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool/Alamy

Essay/
Rituals and celebrations
Death by design

We can chose how we live – why not how we leave? A free society should allow dying to be more deliberate and imaginative

Daniel Callcut

Ethiopian Orthodox Christians pray on the last day of ‘Abiy Tsom’, fifty-five days of fasting ahead of Easter, at Medhane Alem Cathedral in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 7 April 2018. Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Essay/
Rituals and celebrations
Divine transports

Whether via music, dance or prayer, the trance state was key to human evolution, forging society around the transcendent

Mark Vernon

Wittgenstein’s restored hut at Skjolden, Norway. All photos courtesy Jon Bolstad and © Wittgenstein Initiative except where noted

Essay/
Thinkers and theories
Secular pilgrimage

Visiting Wittgenstein’s home evokes the philosopher’s serious, ascetic mind (no doubt he would disapprove its restoration)

Julian Baggini

Greta Garbo photographed by Clarence Sinclair Bull for the film The Kiss (1927). Photo by Getty Images

Essay/
Film and visual culture
Celebrity matters

As aspirational avatars, idolised icons and vessels of collective memory, celebrities permeate all aspects of modern life

Holly Grout