The Disappearance of Rituals

A Topology of the Present

This compact and intense treatise argues that we are living through a crisis of community and attendant loss of ritual power. But Han isn’t interested in reverting to past ways; rather, the book looks unsparingly at what it means to live in an era of neoliberalism punctuated by a cult of authenticity, the lack of boundaries between work and life, an exploitative insistence on empathy, and little means of rest. The book is percussively structured—in tone, it reads more like a manifesto than an essay—and I don’t agree with all of Han’s assessments. But I did find myself nodding furiously more than once, and writing “oof” in the margins of several pages.

Related writing