I’ve been living among the Nacirema for many months now and have observed their rituals and participated in the customs. Nacirema culture reflects complex ritual and symbolic systems, most of which center around the revered ritual rectangle.
Every Nacirema carries with them a ritual rectangle, the they believe to hold all the information in the universe, and which is used as a means of communication with others. They stare in deference at their rectangle from the moment they wake up to the moment they sleep, attempting to absorb wisdom.
The rectangle is also used as a vehicle to portray one’s life to friends, family, and even strangers, but the life that is portrayed is often not in line the reality of their lives. The rectangle is used in every part of their lives and is never far from their person.
They use it to create portraits of themselves, holding it at different heights and angles for extended periods of time while they turn their heads, change their expressions, and adjust the light around them in order to portray themselves in what they consider to be the most beautiful possibly way.
These portraits are often then manipulated with more color and lighting changes before being shared through the ritual rectangle. This particular ritual is done in order to earn accolades from others. This ritual is repeated often, though sometimes the subjects of the ritual rectangle portraits include kin or friends, pets, the environment, and the Nacirema even create portraits of their food before it is consumed.
Many socio-cultural events and rites of passage are not considered complete until a ritual rectangle portrait is created and shared with others. The ritual rectangles power is regularly depleted by extended ceremonial use and its power must be renewed through the use of a specific cord or stand.
When looking at the Nacirema, we must also look at how they survive and earn capital. The Nacirema sit for hours on end not only on their ritual rectangles, but also at desks with a large box for hours. Their bodies are hunched over using their fingers to input numbers and symbols, only getting up to grab sustenance or to relieve themselves. These vocations are seen to some of Nacirema as high stance symbols bringing in a large amount of capital. Those who are not proficient enough to have this sedentary assignment are forced to stand at the mercy of other Nacirema’s. Some are even seen working multiple assignments just to acquire more capital. The amount of capital one has decides where one falls in the social hierarchy. Capital and social hierarchy is all some Nacirema seem to care about giving their whole lives to an assignment just to be able to give ritual gifts and live in grand structures.