Somatic Modes of Attention Author(s): Thomas J. Csordas Source: Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 8, No. 2 (May, ), pp. Published by: Wiley on behalf of. Somatic Modes of Attention Author(s): Thomas J. Csordas Reviewed work(s): Source: Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 8, No. 2 (May, ), pp. Somatic Modes of Attention Thomas J. Csordas DepartmentofAnthropology Case WesternReserve University. Embodimentas a paradigmor methodological.
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I restrictthe discussion in this section to the Charismaticand espiritistarevelatory phenomenadescribedabove. This intersubjectivityis not an interpenetrationof intentionalities,but an interweavingof familiarpatternsof behavior: Samuelswhose workhas beendiscussedabove,offers a related formulation,which, like that of Schwartz-Salant,is derived from analyticalpsy- chology.
He suggests conceiving of an interactivefield between two people thatis “capableof manifestingenergywith its own dynamicsandphenomenology. To define somatic modes of attentionin such broad terms would probablyonly serve to organize a variety of existing literaturesinto an overbroadcategory. Third is your own gut feelings ranging from anxiety to elation — ethnography itself includes a somatic mode of attention.
I will now briefly examine relatedphenomenain two healing systems that lack such overtly religious character. He has conducted ethnographic research with Charismatic Catholics, Navajo Indians, and adolescents in the American Southwest on topics including therapeutic process in religious healing, ritual language and creativity, sensory imagery, self transformation, techniques of the body, causal reasoning about illness, and the experience of psychiatric inpatients.
In sum, Merleau-Pontysees in the indeterminacyof perceptiona transcen- dence that does not outrunits embodied situation,but that always “assertsmore things than it grasps: Among healersthemselves,however, the “authenticity”of this visible vibrationas a manifestationof divine power is sometimes questioned, in the sense that the anointingmay be feigned or sensationalized.
Here, Bourdieu’s analysis of universes of practice subsisting alongside universes of discourse provides a corrective, forcing us to generalizethis sedimentationfrom languageto the restof the habitus, and to acknowledge Merleau-Ponty’sproblem as endemic to his conception of existence.
Paul Rabinow and William Sullivan, eds.
For example, the influentialsynthesis by Scheper-Hughesand Lock clearly lays out the analyticalterrainclaimed by an anthropologyof the body. Why did Csordas choose to explore an embodiment framework through healing? It may be arguedthat, althougha category such as countertransferencemay not be csorcas correct,it may be more valuable for a comparativeanalysis of such phenomena,and thatcomparisonitself is the source of validity.
Otherwise,the principleof indeterminacybecomes a disguise for lack of analyticspecificity, and habitusloses its value as an analytic construct. In our concluding comparison of Merleau-PontyandBourdieu,we have seen thatthe relationsbetweenembodiment itself and textuality, and between representationand being in the world, are This content downloaded from To pay attentionis not merelyfurtherto elucidatepre-existingdata,it is to bringabout a new articulationof them by taking them as figures.
When you notice someone who weighs pounds, your reactionis also culturallydetermined thatpersonlooks fat, attractive,strong,ugly, friendly, nurturant. The Body and Society. BeautrixPflederer and Gilles Bibeau,eds. Much as Barthes draws a distinction between the work and the text, a distinction can be drawn between the body and embodiment.
I elucidate this constructwith examplesfromthe ethnographicrecordin the following discussion. The categoriesof trance and altered states of consciousness remain virtual blackboxes, andone colleague’s suggestionof”proprioceptivedelusion”is no help at all.
In Sociologie et Anthropologie.
Personand Myth in a MelanesianWorld. Embodiment, Alterity, and the Theory of Religion. I would argue that it moded the This content downloaded from In this he is faced with a differentproblem,however: Even though I don’t make much explicit use of affect as a concept, I have to conclude that these concerns are what led the curators of this collection to include my article, and I’m gratified to have attentkon article recognized in this way.
Attendingwith one’s eyes is reallypartof this same phenomenon, but we less often conceptualize visual attention as a “turningtoward”than as a disembodied,beam-like “gaze.
Somatic Modes of Attention | Thomas Csordas –
I suspect, for example, that we could identify such loosely defined somatic modes of attention associated with a wide moded of cultural practicesandphenomena. In somaric end, Bourdieu’sprincipleof logical indeterminacybecomes the condi- tion for regulatedimprovisation,whereasMerleau-Ponty’sprincipleof existential indeterminacybecomes the conditionfor transcendencein social life.
An approachto culturalphenomenathroughembodimentshould also make possible the reinterpretationof data already analyzed from other standpoints Csordas Thus, we mustinclude,for example,the culturalelaborationof an erotic sensibility that accompanies attention to attractivenessand the elaborationof interactive, moral, and aestheticsensibilities surroundingattentionto “fatness.
From the perspectiveof embodiment,however, the notion of indexical distance is too abstract,and the semiotic analysis allows only the conclusion that suffering is shared “in some sense. How does the concept of affect contribute to embodiment as a methodological field?
Somatic Modes of Attention
The Primacy of Perception. For Barthes, the work is a fragment of substance,the materialobject that occupies the space of a bookstoreor a library shelf. Language and Lived Space Among the Maya. In the book I’m working on I go on to identify the threshold between embodiment as a methodological field and two overlapping methodological fields, namely animality and materiality.