I do not, at this point at least, quite buy into the "performance art" comparison. I think of Jeremiah as a kind of shaman, for the shaman, to the that I understand this figure, can behave in ways that defy the norms while using means that in the hands of the shaman become objects of power. In ritual cultures, these acts are moments of boundary breaking. The trickster, the trance inducer, the mad dancer---these are actions the shaman may display---but this "playing is not a performance; he is understood as a messenger of the gods, and therefor possessed. The culture of J. was such a rich ritual culture, however distant it may be from more exotic examples, and certainly compared with our own ritually poor one. In our culture the artist, ever seeking attention and thereby livelihood, can ransack the cupboards of props to astonish the bourgeoisie but never wears the prophetic mantle. The term "performance artist" may cast J. as a resourceful actor in the public sphere, but I believe he is prompted by forces that belong to the shamanic rather than the artistic tradition.

Expand full comment