Between Christmas and New Year I always get a feeling of disorientation. I never knew why this was until I married an Anthropologist! She gave a name to hook into this: Liminality. It is not a common term; my computer dictionary didn’t even have it. A little red line appeared under the word. So I’ve checked that I did spell it right and now it is in the dictionary.
Liminality is the state of being between two stages of life. Anthropologists use this for being in between beginning and ending parts of a rite of passage. People often leave the community for this period. The most obvious for us may be the honeymoon where you are between singleness and settled married life.
Being between Christmas and New Year does the same thing. In liminal periods, incidentally, social roles are often disrupted. For instance, in Pantomime the Dame is played by a man and the hero is played by a young woman.
I never really know what to do during this time. Eat more cannot be an option! Of course we go for walks…when its not pouring down. But I’m sort of at a loose end. I don’t really want to start any major project because New Year pops up just as you get going. Writing blogs is a good activity hat you can start and finish in this period ;).
So why am I waffling on about liminality. Apart from the fact that I am suffering from its effects. Well, I do think that this is a concept that can help us as we engage with contemporary society. Change is here to stay is a phrase I often use. Contemporary Western culture seems change. Nothing can stay the same. “Progress” or “Economic Growth” are lauded as vital where as “Static” or “Economic Stagnation” are the terms which seem most to be avoided.
This constant change means, that in some sense, society is suffering some sort of liminal state constantly. Some people feel almost in culture shock in their own country. Change wont go away. So I ask, where is our stability in a changing world?