Monday, December 10, 2012
Sovereignty, the Hidden Goal Behind the Sacrifice
Symbolically, along with the object itself, the one who offers a sacrifice is seen as removed from the demands of utility and consequently as possibly a sovereign subject. Those who offer the sacrifice are not completely dominated by the needs of the system or the process, but, rather, can exist free of their constraints in the moment of the sacrifice.
Hence giving a sacrifice becomes an acquiring of power. Sacrificial gift-giving has the virtue of surpassing of the subject who gives, but in exchange for the object given, the subject appropriates the surpassing: He regards his virtue, that which he had the capacity for, as an asset, as a power that he now posses. He enriches himself with a contempt for riches, and what he proves to be miserly of is in fact his generosity.
Thus by making a display of his disregard for his excess he obtains in the eye of the other who observes (and thus the necessity for giving over private destruction) a status, a power of expenditure and destruction. It is a means of killing two birds with one stone. Not only is the necessary annihilation accomplished, but also there is acquired the respect and regard of the other members of the society. Thus, paradoxically, by giving one is in fact gaining in prestige and societal power and status.
This is tied to his conception of sacrifice in that the gift is an escape from the circle of necessity. “An article of exchange, in these practices, was not a thing; it was not reduced to the inertia, the lifelessness of the profane world. The gift that one made of it was a sign of glory, and the object itself had the radiance of glory. By giving one exhibited one’s wealth and one’s good fortune (one’s power).” Thus by association the giver escapes the domination of objectivity through an assertion of the ability to engage in such expenditure. As the object is taken from the realm of utility to the sacred uselessness of sacrifice, so too is the subjecthood, a basic freedom to express an individual will, of the giver affirmed through his ability to expend beyond the demands of utility.