The Death and Resurrection Show

Rogan Tayor. The Death and Resurrection Show: From Shaman to Superstar. Antony Blond, 1985.
Taylor argues that popular entertainment - the world of the clown, juggler, pantomime - descends from the shaman of nomadic cultures who hid behind a facade of 'show-biz' in disapproving agricultural societies. The early chapters give an excellent summary of shamanism. The shaman is seen as the precocious, often sick and disturbed adolescent who is initiated into shamanism by descent into the underworld, where he or she suffers ordeals, including dismemberment, then may ascend into the upperworld. Christianity rejected the transformative power of the underworld, turning it into a p lace of perpetual punishment, and it was the underworld associations of popular entertainment which led to the hostility of the Christian Church. While this thesis is clearly very convincing when dealing with Harry Houdini for example, or some modern pop stars, the argument for the inclusion of Charlie Chaplin or Louis Armstrong is very much weaker. – Peter Rogerson

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