The Odyssey Experience: Physical, Social, Psychological, and Spiritual Journeys

By Neil J. Smelser | Go to book overview

FIVE
Some Miscellaneous, More or
Less Invented Experiences

By now the reader of these pages will have become aware of a pervasive difficulty I faced in organizing the chapter headings of this volume. Chapters 3 and 4 divided the world of odyssey experiences into religious and secular forms, but that division proved inexact. Chapter 3 included mainly religious illustrations, but I had to slide over into some mainly secularized cousins. Similarly, I include in chapter 6 what I call coercive illustrations, meaning the exploitation of odyssey experiences for political and social control. Yet many of the examples in earlier chapters—mainly rites of passage—have coercive or quasi-coercive elements as well, so the distinction between voluntary and coerced implied by the chapter headings is actually blurred. In constructing the table of contents, I struggled with alternative ways of organizing the chapters, but principles of inclusion and exclusion proved leaky, with empirical illustrations spilling over into chapters where they did not seem appropriate. I could have “solved” this problem only by

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The Odyssey Experience: Physical, Social, Psychological, and Spiritual Journeys
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Preface xi
  • One- The Essentials of the Experience 1
  • Two- Autobiographical Roots Some Personal Odysseys 28
  • Three- Religious Foundations and Their Derivatives 57
  • Four- Secularized and Commercialized Odysseys 97
  • Five- Some Miscellaneous, More or Less Invented Experiences 155
  • Six- Some Coercive Odyssey Experiences 180
  • Seven- Additional Theoretical Reflections 206
  • References 221
  • Index 249
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