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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On the other, it is regardedas a medical phenomenon,or “syndrome” Enoch and Trethowan ; Klein ; Schodt Thus, we mustinclude,for example,the culturalelaborationof an erotic sensibility that accompanies attention to attractivenessand the elaborationof interactive, moral, and aestheticsensibilities surroundingattentionto “fatness.

Daniel’s interpretationof Siddhapulse diagnosisalso raisesa methodological issue, and requiresus to returnfor a moment to the domain of semiotic analysis. Merleau- Ponty proposedthat analysis begin with the pre-objectiveact of perceptionrather than with alreadyconstitutedobjects. In a largegrouphealing service, when the healermoves from individualto individual,laying handson each, the strength of the anointingmay vary with each supplicant.

Harwood personal communication adds that plasmaciones are transmittedthroughthe medium of plasma, which in spiritistdoctrineis a spiritualsubstancelinkingpersonsto spirits and to one another. First was the sense of certaintythat what he would say was actuallyhappening.

The categoriesof trance and altered states of consciousness remain virtual blackboxes, andone colleague’s suggestionof”proprioceptivedelusion”is no help at all. 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.

Indiana University Press, Why is there an place for a paradigm of embodiment in anthropological theory? The Birthof the Prison. Theirprojecthas been begun in the semiotic paradigmof textuality, but a substantialcontributioncan also be made through elaboration of a phenomenological paradigmof embodiment.

Somatic Modes of Attention

I perceivetheotheras a pieceof behavior,forexample,I perceivethegriefortheanger of theotherin his conduct,in his face or his hands,withoutrecourseto any”inner” experienceof sufferingor anger,and becausegrief and angerare variationsof belonging to the world, undivided between the body and consciousness, and equally applicableto theother’sconduct,visible in his phenomenalbody, as in my own conduct as it is presentedto me.

Precisely at this point where Merleau-Pontyleft off, it is valuableto reintro- duce Bourdieu’semphasis on the socially informed body as the ground of collective life. To Merleau-Ponty,authenticacts of expression “forthemselves”constitutea world and are transcendent,but once a linguistic and culturalworld is already constituted,reiterationof those acts is no longer transcendent,no longer projects itself into the world,andpartakesmore of being “initself.

In its postmoder juxtapositionof interpretivepossi- bilities, it poses a challenge of reflexivity for the participantobserver, and in so doing, it arguesthatthe domainof interpretivepossibilities is continuousbetween those of observerand those of observed.


The first step toward understanding the political relevance of affect is to recognize that it is not just a locus of subjectivity but a feature of intersubjectivity. Most important,he argues that such experiences are communicationfrom patients,and againsttraditionaltheoriesof countertrans- ference thatimpugnthem as pathologicalreactionsof the therapist.

It is the fundamentalindeterminacyof existence thatis sensed as missing by those anthropologistsattractedto the postmodernistmethodologicalshift from patternto pastiche,from key symbols to blurredgenres. Has your conceptualization of embodiment shifted since you wrote the article? Must I cskrdas a doctor? For example, the influentialsynthesis by Scheper-Hughesand Lock clearly lays out the analyticalterrainclaimed by an anthropologyof the body. Are we to place words of knowledge, plasmaciones, cama nilai, and embodied countertransferenceon somatlc equal moes as phenomenato be interpreted,or can we justify using the last of these as a frameworkfor interpretingthe formerthree?

I would endorsethe critiquethatmeaningcannotbe reducedto a sign, This content downloaded from Ourconcernis the culturalelaborationof sensory engagement,not preoccupationwith one’s own body as an isolated phenomenon.

This final stage bears the atteniton cama nilai, the state of This content downloaded from What has inspired your work, and in what ways might it contribute to a more thorough understanding of affect? Based on writingsof, and discussions with, leadingresearcherson espiritismo Koss, Harwood,andGarrison ,the phenomena appearto fall into four categories: In this he is faced xsordas a differentproblem,however: Originat- ing in primordialexperiencecharacterizedby the absenceof dualitybetween mind and body, self and other, the phenomena are objectified in reflective practice, througha particularsomaticmode of attention.

CatholicCharismaticshave elaboratedPentecostalfaith healing into a system thatdistinguishesamongphysical,emotional,demonic,andancestral sources of affliction, and addresseseach with specific ritual techniques Csordas Further Readings Bourdieu, Pierre. Also, the abnormalpulse of the patientindexes humoralimbalance,whereasthe normalpulse of the physi- cian indexes healthyhumoralbalance.

The sense of somatic contingency and transcendenceassociated with meditationandmystic stateswould also be within ourpurview. In addition, evil spiritsin the Charismaticsystem aremanifestonly in the afflicted,not through the healer. Klein, Hilary Couvade Syndrome: On Bourdieu’s side, the locus of these differences is his rejection of the conceptsof lived experience,intentionality,andthe distinctionbetweenconscious- ness in itself andfor itself.

From the perspectiveof embodiment,however, the notion of somatid distance is too abstract,and the semiotic analysis allows only the conclusion that suffering jodes shared “in some sense.

The analysis would go no furtherthan informants’reportsthatthese epiphenomena”function”as confirmationsof divine power and healing. If language is understood first of all as an expression of, in Merleau-Ponty’s term, our “sonorous being,” then it’s already invested with affect.


Ricoeur, Paul The Model of the Text: Why did Csordas choose to explore an embodiment framework through healing?

Excess of joy weeps… Exuberance is Beauty. Nevertheless,this exampleremindsus thatobjective analyticcategoriesbecome objective througha reflective movement within the process of analysis.

Somatic Modes of Attention — Cultural Anthropology

Because we arenot isolatedsubjectivitiestrappedwithinourbodies, but share an intersubjectivemilieu with others,we must also specify thata somaticmode of attention means not only attention to and with one’s own body, but includes attentionto the bodies of others. In his early programmaticwork, Blacking referredto the existence of “sharedsomaticstates”as the basis for a kind of “bodilyempathy,”but offered no specific examplesof anythingsimilarto what we have describedabove To recognize the embodiedness of our being-in-the-worldis to discover a common groundwhere self andotherareone, for by using one’s body in the same way as others in the same environmentone finds oneself informedby an understandingwhich may thenbe interpretedaccordingto one’s own customorbent,yet which remainsgrounded in a field of practicalactivity and thereby remainsconsonant with the experience of those among whom one has lived.

In parallel fashion, the body is a biological, material entity, while embodimentcan be understoodas an indeterminatemethodological field definedby perceptualexperience and the mode of presenceand engagement in the world.

It would be necessary to remove her arm and “shake out” the pain, while the supplicant would feel nothing. I submit based on observationsmade while my wife and I were expecting the birthof our twins that such a reinterpretation of couvade is in order. Bourdieu,in rejectingthe distinctionbetween “in itself” and “foritself,” can avoid this problem by conceptualizingthe result of indeterminacyas regulated improvisation,open-endedyet circumscribedby the dispositionsof the habitus.

Please provide a description of what affect means to you. That these are complementaryand not mutually exclusive standpointsis demonstratedin the rapprochementbetweensemioticsand phenomenologyin several recent works on the body Csordas ; Good ; Hanks ; Munn ; Ots 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. This critiqueshould not be construedas negating the study of signs with respect to the body, but as making a place for a complementaryappreciationof embodiment and being in the world alongside textuality and representation.