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IMPLICIT META-TALK AND COLLABORATIVE CREATIVITY INPERFORMANCE: TORAJAN POETICS AND POLITICS Stanislaus Sandarupa Hasanuddin University

1 Introduction Linguistic speeches are anthropologists have shown that ritual

m a i n l y charaterized by the use of formulaic expressions, high

formalization and rigidity. Blochi n d i s c u s s i n g M e r i n a c i r c u m c i s i o n c e r e m o n y i n M a d a g a s c a r a r g u e s t h a t t h e ‘ h i g h l y formalized language’ and the ‘rigidly prescribed behavior in dance movements’ order actions and relationship between participants. In this way there is no way for the structureo f r o l e r e l a t i o n s a n d a u t h o r i t y t o b e c h a l l e n g e d e x c e p t b y a t o t a l r e f u s a l t o u s e t h e accepted form or a total refusal of all political conventions (Bloch 1989 [1974], 24), since“you cannot argue with a song” (ibid. 37). Numerous works have been advanced againstBloch’s thesis (Werbner 1977, Parkin 1984; Schieffelin 1985 for examples). This paper makes the argument that such rigid prescription becomes in part ar e s o u r c e o f k n o w l e d g e a b l e s o c i a l a c t o r s w h o c a n c o n t e s t a u t h o r i t y i n s o n g w h i l e preserving the formal structure of the ritual. It will show how Torajan ancestral rituals p e e c h p a r a l l e l i s m i s p u t i n t o p r a c t i c e , a n d h o w t h i s p r o c e s s i s s u b j e c t n o t o n l y t o regularities but also to hap penstance, potentially of the most unpredictable sort. As a r e s u l t , d e s p i t e t h e f a c t t h a t r i t u a l i s h i g h l y p r e s c r i b e d , t h e p o s s i b l e o u t c o m e s a r e unpredictable because its use may put the conventional senses of signs at multiple risks The value of a sign in r itual speech parallelism is fixed by its contrasts to other s i g n s . Its use, however, is saturated with pragmatic value

a c c o r d i n g t o t h e s u b j e c t ’ s interests. Thus to quote ancestral parallelism in a specific context for a certain purpose isto use it according to the acting subject’s pragmatic interest. The

underlying assumptioni s

that

agents

have

the

potential

to

resist

and

m a n i p u l a t e s t r u c t u r a l c o n s t r a i n t s a n d sometimes marshal enough creative power to transform their structural relations (Giddens1 9 8 4 ) . characteristic of contingency and Thus, a its use has the

becomes

site

o f contestation

(Sahlins 1985; Keane 1997).T h e r i t u a l e m b o d i e s t h e c o n s t r u c t u s e d a t v a r i o u s l e v e l s , p r a g m a t i c a l l y a n d strategically. Above all, just like ordinary speech, ritual speech parallelism also utilizeswhat Silverstein called a metapragmatic capacity in addition to having a pragmatic aspect(1993). He uses the term metapragmatics to refer to both implicit and explicit metatalk, t h a t i s , t h e t a l k a b o u t t h e t a l k . B a t e s o n f i r s t u s e d t h i s t e r m i n 1 9 5 0 ’ s , c a l l i n g i t metacommunication and used the concept to explain how children jointly manage a playsession. The importance of this concept will be shown at two levels of analysis. First, I w i l l s h o w h o w s o c i a l a c t o r s u t i l i z e d this metapragmatic capacity of the language discursively to strategically transform social relations. Metapragmatic capacity is basic tohuman ratiocination and allows for the evaluation and alteration of future action. Indeed,it allows agents to reflexively evaluate and expla in their use of speech acts and those of others including the rationalizations behind them. A metapragmatic description thus p r o v i d e s u s ( s o c i a l a c t o r s a n d a n a l y s t s ) w i t h e m p i r i c a l e v i d e n c e o f what is exactlyh a p p e n i n g at the moment of speaking in

p e r f o r m a n c e . S e c o n d l y , I w i l l s h o w t h e importance of the strategic use of the implicit metatalk and collaboration in ritual as a verbal shorthand to keep the flow of chant without breaking the frame.Using badong (chant for the deceased) as a case study, this paper examines how aritual leader, speaking up formally and publicly to a rival leader, challenged andtransformed the structure of social

relations between the rival leader and himself and withtheir respective co-performers. Prior to taking over leadership, the challenger was a participant to the social event, recognizing his rival as the legitimate leader. By taking upthe leadership position (tomantolo’ batiŋ) through implicit metatalk, he ursurped the previous leader’s power

A came from a small village in Saŋŋalla’ from a moderately well-off family. Hemarried B’s first cousin on the fathers’ side who also claimed to have some relation to thenoble chief of the area, so they were brothers -in-law. After marriage, they first movedinto the remote village of Sillanan where his wife’s family members including B lived. Itw a s h e r e t h a t h e b e c a m e a m e m b e r o f badoŋ group under the leadership of his wife’sfamily member, Ambe’ Beŋgo. In the 1980’s new shops at the market place of Mebal iwere built up, so A sought a renter’s permit and opened a small waruŋ (pub). In the longrun, A’s waruŋ became known because of the special way he provided local food and palm wine. People from as far as the towns of Ma’kale and Rantepao went there to eat and drink. He and his wife then moved to this place. The location of this market place isclose to the main road that connects Makassar and Toraja. Occasionally, they went back to his wife’s natal village of Sillanan located at the foot of the mountain some kilometersaway from the new place, where B continued to live as a farmer. In addition to running asmall waruŋ , A was also an active member in the church and because of a talent for of composing parallel lines he was often invited to be a master of ceremon y ( protokol

) inmany rituals. B on the other hand, continued to live in the village closer to the leader of their badoŋ organization. Both A and B became well known within this organization.A series of events had produced tension among members of their organization, w h i c h all over Toraja land as Pa’badoŋ became Sillanan, even more was known

‘Sillanan when its

B a d o ŋ Organization’ (SBO). This

uncertainty

visible

authoritativeleader Ambe’ Beŋgo died in 1993. Under his leadership, SBO was well developed and b e c a m e w e l l k n o w n , b e c a u s e a s p e o p l e n o t e d , i t s t o o d f o r t h e p r e s e r v a t i o n o f t h e traditional badoŋs that other organizations have moved from because of the influence of C h r i s t i a n i t y a n d modernity. Before to he died some at the age of 75, his authority to lead had the

beend e l e g a t e d

potential

leaders,

p e r f o r m a n c e s a t v a r i o u s p l a c e s occasionally. While the leader was ailing, three persons were interchangeably assignedt o lead the performances. The three

p e r s o n s w e r e A , a n d B , p l u s a n o t h e r p e r s o n P o ŋ Ka’ka’ (C), who lived in two different places. The first two were involved in the event.For several years after Ambe’ Beŋgo’s death, this organization had no formal l e a d e r . T h e r e h a d l o n g b e e n a d i s c o u r s e g o i n g o n a b o u t w h o w o u l d b e a l e a d e r . A s I heard various versions of this uncertainty over leadership, the organization seemed not to b e i n a r u s h t o f i n d a single leader because they continued to be invited to do

t h e performances in the death rituals of different villages. The sponsors of the death ritualusually contacted one of the three ritual leaders, and whoever was contacted became theritual leader for that particular performance. Each claimed the same performers and usedthe

same

name

under

different

leaders

when

they

were

invited

to

do

the

performance.Before long, th is practice developed into an implicit competition. One told members about the weakness of each other though, apparently, performances went on smoothly.A f t e r t h r e e y e a r s o f u n c e r t a i n t y , a c o m p l i c a t i o n e m e r g e d . A s I o b s e r v e d , membership in the organization ha d grown larger as had the dissatisfaction with its f i n a n c i a l m a t t e r s . D u r i n g t h e t i m e o f m y s t u d y t h e r e w e r e n o w r i t t e n d o c u m e n t s maintained of the list of members, performances made, and the amount of m o n e y received from

donations for various performances. Instead, much talk flew around about19

the misuse of money. As Poŋ Jen revealed to me, he was suspicious about the possibilityof corruption extending back to when the authoritative leader was ailing. The other twoleaders said the same thing but without a direct accusation. After each performance, the o r g a n i z a t i o n u s u a l l y o b t a i n e d s o m e d o n a t i o n f r o m t h e organizers of death ritual for whom they performed but as some

m e m b e r s d e s c r i b e d t h e y d i d n o t g e t w h a t t h e y expected from their leaders. As usual, criticism against one another was never direct, butwas conveyed to third-party members and further relayed and of course the sender couldimmediately deny that he had spread the rumor when he was confronted. Of the three persons, A c laimed that no one could compete with him. Another member told me thatamong the three A was the most expert person on this ritual. As he said, A knew verywell the ondo , ‘movement’, quality of voice ( oninna ), which is good to hear (

mammi’ diraŋŋi ). Moreover, his verbal skill of kadoŋ badoŋ , ‘ritual text’ surpassed the other two.Unfortunately, said this man, he was not native to the village where the organization existed so his composition was not well founded sometimes. In another ritual event, whenI met the well-known ritual singer Tato’ Dena’ and the young tomina Marten I asked t h e m a b o u t h i m , a n d b o t h a g r e e d emphatically that he was sometimes rude in hiscomposition, and that was why he was rarely invited to be a master of ceremony ( protokol ).A admitted this but he said that the reason was that he was expert on retteŋ (poeticdueling). He was known as sharp in using the lines to criticize his adversaries in public,w h i c h p e o p l e d i d n o t l i k e . B u t h e a d d e d , h e w a n t e d t o b e l i k e a gora-gora toŋkon ,‘sitting throat’ (see Chapter 4). He acknowledged that the burden of the badoŋ ritualleader was a heavy responsibility ( passanan magasa ). One of the most difficult aspectswas to compose lines that really fit the status of the dead person. As we have seen, thelines that the ritual leader composes for performance are not just related to an expressionof grief for a dead person and his trip to the next world, but it touches on contextual factors in relation to his life phases, and social status markers. In other words, recognitionof the structure of society is a crucial part of this

performance. In addition to the use of e x p l i c i t s t a t u s m a r k e r s i n t h e i n s e r t i o n l i n e s t h a t a r e e i t h e r a d d e d t o e a c h l i n e o r t h e insertion phrase that are sung by simban and simboloŋ groups, the whole lines may in oneway or another be colored with words that sometimes do not fit the dead person’s socialstatus. It is this aspect of composition that he finds the most difficult to accomplish. In p a r t t h i s i s c a u s e d b y m i x e d m a r r i a g e a n d a l s o p e o p l e a l w a y s w a n t t o b e b e t t e r t h a n others.Others have also criticized A when he made a big mistake in a performance atLeatuŋ, Patua’, his own village. The ritual leader composed the lines higher than the status of the dead person and his family members and he did it intentionally. Despite thefact that this family who organized the funeral ritual was of low class (commoners), hecomposed the lines to be sung that fit high middle class status. His evaluation was not b a s e d o n s o c i a l s t a t u s , a s B c o n t i n u e d , b u t o n t h e e l a b o r a t i o n o f t h e d e a t h r i t u a l performance, where a number of pigs and buffaloes were sacrificed. This was possible ina new situation especially because the deceased’s children had made a wide network because of their jobs. The high-class representative thought that this was an

incorrect performance because the words were not true words ( taŋŋia kada toŋan ). He was alsocriticized because in another ritual event he advised the children of the deceased to use 20

symbols such as beadwork, red cloth and kris as decoration in front of the reception hall( lantaŋ karampoan

) where they received guests. When someone protested such use of symbols, he advised the children to answer simply, ‘this comes from pens and papers’.This answer had a deep implication meaning the authority being built was not based ontradition hence it will not erode and corrupt the authority of the elders. Instead, it is a newconstruction of authority’.B w a s a q u i e t p e r s o n a n d a p p a r e n t l y h e w a s v e r y k n o w l e d g e a b l e a b o u t t h e i r tradition and the tradition of their badoŋ organization. He was not like A who was invitedi n C h r i s t i a n r i t u a l s t o b e a p r o t o k o l , but he seemed to concentrate on the k n o w l e d g e pertaining to the

preservation of their distinctive badoŋ organization. Someone told methat he had magic that he used to protect the whole troop when others placed magic on them while they were performing. He was also sharp in his criticism and well known for his knowledge on poetic dueling.In people’s view, C was the least expert among the three. In his speech he alwaystalked with a high tone, a bit bombastic ( tibura’-bura’ ). In a performance in Awa’, near Ma’kale said another member, people threw stones at them because they were offended by the lines C composed . In the leader’s view he made the comparison between the bigwaves on sea with a big wave of people attending the ritual. It was an elaborate deathritual ( siampa’ re’dena tasik ‘find a boiling water on sea, kumaladanna bura-bura

, ‘thecoming up of fo ams’). However, the organizer thought that these lines depicted him as being able to organize this big ritual because of the money he obtained from outside. Ashe said, ‘I have been called puaŋ since long time ago, I am not a new rich’.This was some aspect of situations that surrounded this organization. The three had equal chance to be chosen as the leader of this organization. As A expressed to me itwould be good if they soon organized a meeting to elect a new leader. But the other twonever accepted such suggestion. As I found out later on, B and C cooperated to prevent Afrom being a leader in this organization. 6. Conclusion In this paper I have shown the importance of the strategic use of implicit metatalk and collaborative creativity exercized in the per formance by keeping the the flow of chant without breaking the frame. One of the central problems that anthropologists facein interpreting social action is the problem of attributions of agency to participants in public events. Such problem arises where me mbers of different groups engage in socialinteraction when they participate in a mixed–group such as the badoŋ ritual troop. Rather t h a n a s s u m i n g ‘ i n d i v i d u a l ’ a n d ‘ g r o u p ’ a s l o c i o f a g e n c y prior to interaction, I haveshown that the relevant attributions of a g e n c y a r e c o n s t r u c t e d a n d c o n t e s t e d i n t h e practice of badoŋ ritual performance. In this case I have shown how agency arises out of t h e c o l l a b o r a t i v e interaction between individual and group to create challenge. As

aresult, through moments of interactio n, and only through cooperation between theindividual initiator and corporate group, the performance

p r o v i d e s c h a l l e n g e t o t h e existing type of ritual exchange structure. I thus offer a paradigmatic example of how 21

agency is not just a property of individual but a group altogether (cf. Merlan and Rumsey1991) in which without the latter the former is incapacitated to effect transformation