The Ethos of John Lennon

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The features and boundaries of pilgrimage have been debated by scholars (Badone and Roseman 2004a, Cohen 1992, Eade and Sallnow 1991, Morinis 1992, Reader and Walter 1993; Timothy and Olson 2006). Although this paper cannot evaluate Strawberry Fields as a place of pilgrimage in the absence of fieldwork, Kruse (2003) suggested the possibility. In light of this possibility, and the centrality of the ethos of peace activism to Lennon memorials, the definition of pilgrimage formulated by Alan Morinis (1992, 4), may be appropriate: “the pilgrimage is a journey undertaken by a person in quest of a place or a state that he or she believes to embody a valued ideal.” This definition of pilgrimage is suitable for understanding the motivation of participants to attend memorial events because, as demonstrated in this paper, many participants come to celebrate Lennon in the context of his peace activism. Further, the attributes of pilgrimage proposed by Ian Reader (1993, 7-8) provide an account of the varying motives of participants who attend the Lennon memorial: “the idea of a journey out of the normal parameters of life, the entry into a different, other, world, the search for something new, the multiple motives of participants, ranging from homage to veneration to the simple impulses of curiosity.” These definitions encompass the differing motives of individuals visiting Strawberry Fields. For some, the memorial would be a sacred space, a location where fans have the opportunity to mourn Lennon's death, offer tributes and be in the presence of his spirit: “You come here, you feel his spirit. His spirit is so alive in here,” a fan comments. Other participants may come to the memorial as one part of their visit to New York City. Badone... ... middle of paper ... ...his paper and in Riddell (2008), on pilgrimage to the gravesite of Jim Morrison, I learned that people apply religious categories to “secular” phenomena, such as memorial objects, strange occurrences become supernatural phenomena, and a musician, such as Morrison, can become a “religious figure.” Erika Doss (1999, 74-75) believes that “as a profoundly religious people, Americans tend to treat things on religious terms, apply religious categories, and generally make a religion out of much of what is touched and understood.” The practice of “parrallelomaina,” as Sean McCloud (2005) characterizes it, that is, understanding religion in popular culture by analogy, may or may not be helpful. What is significant, for future study, I suggest, is the process by which dead celebrity fandom is sacralized and the ability of an ethos to be the foundation of such a community.
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