Sacrifice, from the Latin sacer facere, means to make sacred. Sacred means set apart, separated. In The Idea of the Sacred, Rudolf Otto identifies it with the non-rational, while Mircea Eliade relates it in a non-opposing way to the profane. To make sacred has a strong kinship with the object of performance art, which is to do in presence. To perform requires that the artist sets theself apart and somehow consecrates an action to another. It is indeed an offertory, and as such it is worth a price as high as its symbolic transcendence. It is not a real transcendence though; price is convention just like any other linguistic convention, and its economy may be subject to speculation just like any other theology.
When you set something apart from you, that consecration allows you to recall that nothing belongs to you. When you set yourself apart from the others in a consciously manner such as a performance action, you offer yourself to consecration, and you therefore recall the other, who may be a collective intelligence, that neither you belong to them, nor does anyone belong to anyone else. One cannot be someone else’s property. This is why slavery and every form of exploitation is a perversion. This is why rape, torture, molestation, and every sort of abuse and violence is a perversion, and I will say even consensual abuse because I believe consensus to be a form of violence upon the dissent that is intrinsic to the reality of separate bodies.
I’ve been suggesting that under certain circumstances I found us, sometimes two of us, sometimes three, to be one continuous body. I even tried to reproduce that awareness while working with teams in creativity workshops. I could only find that continuity is possible to perceive insofar there is an attentive, unprejudiced, and respectful recognition of the presence, dignity and unreachability of the other. Not being reachable is not a property of theological objects or, if you prefer, metaphysical entities. The other is not within my reach, and my otherness too is out of reach for me. I need the other to be myself reachable. I need the flesh of the other to feel mine as continuity beyond myself.
If Hebrew commandments had it that you should do offerings and even sacrifice animals to god, something that can only be understood in a non-rational context of moral speculation, it was because the sacrifice is a reminder of the un-property of things created, including human beings who sacrifice goats and doves. The Shoah is so called because it was an excessive, atrocious, and unnecessary sacrifice, and one of the peaks of human perversion. The ones who performed that Holocaust set apart in ineffably violent ways a part of the humanity they belonged to. It is a mistake to dehumanize the aggressor because it exposes a drive for assimilation and annihilation that is a sacred part of the human. It is that hideous sacred part of us that we should sacrifice, or separate from us, or exorcize before any attempt to offer something that is not our property.
Suicide too is a perversion, although probably a lesser one, since it is the setting apart of oneself from being and a consecration to nothingness. However, it is also a violence that I hope would never be necessary.