Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mourning rituals

I find I'm absolutely fascinated by the images of mass mourning we've been getting from North Korea. These are all from the New York Times; the one above appeared in the paper the day the news broke. 
I'm not saying I doubt the genuineness of the emotion shown here - especially as a crowd phenomenon it makes sense. But I also don't doubt that these displays are organized. I don't see a contradiction here. Seen from religious studies, true performance of correct feeling is a familiar phenomenon - but still in its way a baffling one. I take as confirmation of the intentionalness of the desired emotion North Korean
TV's including this scene of students at an acting school weeping. They're actors! Are we to think this is involuntary? I doubt it. Something beyond spontaneous expression of "genuine" emotion is at play here.

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