AAQ&A Topic 8 Date: 13 November 2017 : Outsiders and Ritual Followers
(feel free to add more of these) . Clearly not all of these questions can be properly covered in a meetup, but they give us a conscious choice about what to talk about while making the background context clearer.
1. A lonely figure, the Fastest Gun in the West, rides into a dusty town, strides into the saloon, and all the varmints scatter. After restoring Law and Order, the publican's beautiful daughter falls into his arms, but he sighs a deep sigh and rides off alone again into the sunset. This celluloid hero, the archetype of an outsider, is safely admired at a distance, but when it comes to down and dirty everyday boring existence, the varmints are the life of the party and where every pimply teenager in his heart of hearts wants to be. Playing Bad Boy with the gang is as much a ritual (a mating ritual) for the teenager as going to church on Sunday is for his mom and pop. So where are you - the lonely horseman or the ritual follower? Why?
2. Nature or nurture - what makes an outsider, and what makes a ritual follower?
3. What is your understanding of ritual, broadly defined?
4. How is ritual used to unite people psychologically? Why is it not equally effective on everyone?
5. What are some characteristic rituals of Australian culture(s)?
6. Cultures are defined by their conscious and unconscious rituals, yet they differ in their tolerance of social & psychological outsiders (as distinct from actual foreigners). What are some consequences of this tolerance or intolerance of outsiders?
7. Our civilizations are generally created for average people. The more average you are on any metric (height, intelligence, education, wealth, occupation, hobbies, whatever) the more easily you will fit in with the normal social rituals which go with that metric. Which of these metrics really put you beyond the pale if you are on the outer edge of the bell curve?
8. Some countries, at some point in their history, adopt an ideology or religion which forces the whole zoo of character types in that country to follow a set of official rituals regardless of their personal preferences. When is this kind of force-feeding of public belief productive, and when does it precipitate social breakdown? What is the role of natural outsiders in this scene?
9. The ritual of democracy in its many forms suffers from severe paradoxes. One of the worst is the so-called 'tyranny of the crowd'. This problem is so severe that some 'democratic' systems, (such as in the United States of America), are designed to insulate majority opinion from the actual choice of a leader (in the US through electoral colleges, non-compulsory voting and gerrymanders). What do you see as the best way to give as many people as possible an investment in governance while avoiding the tyranny of the crowd for those not in the crowd?
10. Can you think of historical and current examples of individuals who are instinctive outsiders with no taste for ritual, actually saving that flock wedded to form and ritual from themselves?
Lone messenger or the cavalry?
The Greek chorus
Tyranny of the crowd
Myth cycles & heroes
Solo Performers Vs Spectators & Congregations
Archetypes or Social Constructs?
The highway or the road less taken
The traveller and the tourist
1. All past topic questions are now listed at
2. From another meetup I run for English learners, thirty two sets of 10x questions (from Thor) designed for students of English as a Second Language are online at
convenor: Thor May firstname.lastname@example.org https://independent.academia.edu/ThorMay
>> Note: mailouts by Meetup.com (such as changing a topic etc) are often sent to the spam/trash bin by email programs like Yahoo, Gmail etc. Always check your email trash or spam bins before deleting the contents. [If you are clever, you can also change the filter on these email programs to allow emails from certain sources]
1. All past topic questions are now listed at http://thormay.net/unwiseideas/DiscussionTopics/DiscussionIndex.htm
2. From another meetup I run for English learners, twenty-four sets of 10x questions (from Thor) designed for students of English as a Second Language are online at
Outsiders and Ritual Followers Discussion Questions ©Thor May 2018
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