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Csordas   somatics modes of attention
Csordas   somatics modes of attention
Csordas   somatics modes of attention
Csordas   somatics modes of attention
Csordas   somatics modes of attention
Csordas   somatics modes of attention
Csordas   somatics modes of attention
Csordas   somatics modes of attention
Csordas   somatics modes of attention
Csordas   somatics modes of attention
Csordas   somatics modes of attention
Csordas   somatics modes of attention
Csordas   somatics modes of attention
Csordas   somatics modes of attention
Csordas   somatics modes of attention
Csordas   somatics modes of attention
Csordas   somatics modes of attention
Csordas   somatics modes of attention
Csordas   somatics modes of attention
Csordas   somatics modes of attention
Csordas   somatics modes of attention
Csordas   somatics modes of attention
Csordas   somatics modes of attention
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Csordas somatics modes of attention

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  • 1. Somatic Modes of Attention Author(s): Thomas J. Csordas Reviewed work(s): Source: Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 8, No. 2 (May, 1993), pp. 135-156 Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Anthropological Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/656467 . Accessed: 07/02/2013 21:37 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. . Wiley and American Anthropological Association are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Cultural Anthropology. http://www.jstor.org This content downloaded on Thu, 7 Feb 2013 21:37:32 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 2. Somatic Modes of Attention Thomas J. Csordas DepartmentofAnthropology Case WesternReserveUniversity Embodimentas a paradigmor methodologicalorientationrequiresthatthe body be understoodas theexistentialgroundof culture-not as anobjectthatis "good to think,"but as a subject that is "necessaryto be." To argue by analogy, a phenomenologicalparadigmof embodimentcan be offeredas anequivalent,and complement,to thesemioticparadigmof cultureas text.Muchas Barthes(1986) drawsa distinctionbetween the work and the text, a distinctioncan be drawn between the body and embodiment. For Barthes, the work is a fragment of substance,the materialobject thatoccupies the spaceof a bookstoreor a library shelf.Thetext,incontrast,is anindeterminatemethodologicalfieldthatexistsonly when caught up in a discourse, and that is experiencedonly as activity and production(1986:57-68). In parallelfashion, the body is a biological, material entity,while embodimentcan be understoodas an indeterminatemethodological field definedby perceptualexperienceandthe modeof presenceandengagement in theworld.As appliedto anthropology,themodelof thetextmeansthatcultures can be understood,for purposesof internaland comparativeanalysis, to have propertiessimilartotexts(Ricoeur1979).Incontrast,theparadigmof embodiment means not thatcultureshave the same structureas bodily experience, but that embodiedexperienceis the startingpoint for analyzinghumanparticipationin a culturalworld. To best understandthe theoreticalorigin of this problematic,it is useful to distinguishbetweenwhathas come to be calledtheanthropologyof thebody and a strandof phenomenology explicitly concerned with embodiment.Although glimpsesofthebodyhaveappearedregularlythroughoutthehistoryof ethnography (e.g., Leenhardt1979 [1947]), an anthropologyof the body was inauguratedby Douglas(1973),andelaboratedinthecollectionsbyBenthallandPolhemus(1975) andBlacking(1977). The historicalworkof Foucault(1973, 1977)providednew impetus,evidentintheworksof Scheper-HughesandLock(1987), Martin(1987), andlike-mindedsociologist B. Turner(1984). Theworkof Bourdieu(1977, 1984) shifted an earlierfocus on the body as the source of symbolism or means of expressionto an awarenessof the body as the locus of social practice.This is powerfullyevidentin Comaroff's(1985) work,whichexhibitsatheoreticalmove- CulturalAnthropology8(2):135-156. Copyright? 1993,AmericanAnthropologicalAssociation. 135 This content downloaded on Thu, 7 Feb 2013 21:37:32 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 3. 136 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY ment from the social body of representationto the socially informedbody of practice,while still emphasizingthetraditionalfocus on bodysymbolism. Meanwhile, an opening for phenomenologyin anthropologicaltheory has come withthepossibilityof articulatinga conceptof experiencearoundtheedges of the monolithictextualistandrepresentationalistparadigmdominatedby Levi- Strauss,Derrida,andFoucault.Geertz's(1973) concernwith cultureas text was complementedby interestin the phenomenologyof AlfredSchutz,and with the distinctionbetween experience-nearand experience-farconcepts. It has finally become legitimatefor Wikan(1991) to tacklethe problemof an experience-near anthropology,for Turnerand Bruner(1986) to espouse an "anthropologyof experience,"andforJoanandArthurKleinman(1991) todeclarean"ethnography of experience,"approachesthat are more or less explicitly phenomenological. Amongsuchapproaches,afew scholars-influenced especiallybyMerleau-Ponty (1962, 1964) and occasionallyby thinkerssuch as Marcel,Scheler,Straus,and Schilder-have highlightedaphenomenologyof thebodythatrecognizesembodi- ment as the existentialconditionin which cultureand self aregrounded(Corin 1990;Csordas1990;Devisch andGailly 1985;Frank1986;Jackson1989;Munn 1986;Ots 1991,in press;Pandolfi1990).They tendto takethe"livedbody"as a methodologicalstartingpointratherthanconsiderthe bodyas anobjectof study. Fromthesecondof thesetwoperspectives,thecontrastbetweenembodiment andtextualitycomes into focus acrossthe varioustopics examinedby ananthro- pology of thebody.Forexample,theinfluentialsynthesisby Scheper-Hughesand Lock (1987) clearlylays out the analyticalterrainclaimedby ananthropologyof the body. These authorsreworkDouglas's (1973) "two bodies"into three-the individualbody,thesocialbody,andthebodypolitic.Theyunderstandthesebodies as interrelatedanalyticdomainsmediatedbyemotion.To pose theproblemof the body in termsof the relationbetweenembodimentand textualityinvites us to reviewthisfield withaneye tothecorrespondingmethodologicaltensionbetween phenomenologicalandsemioticapproaches.Thismethodologicaltensiontraverses all threebodies sketchedby Scheper-HughesandLock.Thatis, eachof thethree can be understoodeither from the semiotic/textualstandpointof the body as representationorfromthephenomenological/embodimentstandpointof thebody as being-in-the-world. However, the contemporaryanthropologicaland interdisciplinaryliterature remainsunbalancedinthisrespect.A strongrepresentationalistbiasis evidentmost notablyin thepredominanceof Foucauldiantextualmetaphors,suchas thatsocial realityis "inscribedin the body,"andthatouranalysesareformsof "readingthe body."Even Jackson's (1989) predominantlyphenomenologicalformulationis castin termsof thebody as a functionof knowledgeandthought,two termswith strongrepresentationalistconnotation.Yet Jacksonwas perhapsthe firstto point out the shortcomingsof representationalismin the anthropologyof the body, arguingthatthe"subjugationof thebodilytothesemanticisempiricallyuntenable" (1989:122).I wouldendorsethecritiquethatmeaningcannotbereducedto a sign, This content downloaded on Thu, 7 Feb 2013 21:37:32 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 4. SOMATICMODES OF ATTENTION 137 a strategythatreinforcesaCartesianpreeminenceof mindoverabodyunderstood as "inert,passive,andstatic"(1989:124).Thiscritiqueshouldnotbe construedas negatingthe studyof signs withrespectto the body, butas makinga place for a complementaryappreciationof embodimentand being in the world alongside textualityand representation.That these are complementaryand not mutually exclusive standpointsisdemonstratedintherapprochementbetweensemioticsand phenomenologyin severalrecentworkson the body (Csordas1993;Good 1992; Hanks 1990; Munn 1986; Ots 1991). Nevertheless, because for anthropology embodimentis notyet developedenoughto be trulycomplementaryto analready maturetextuality(Hanks1989),thisarticlehasthelimitedaimof takingameasured steptowardfilling outembodimentas a methodologicalfield. Reconsideringtheworkof Merleau-Ponty(1962, 1964)andBourdieu(1977, 1984)suggestsbringingintotheforegroundthenotionsof perceptionandpractice. Briefly, whereas studies of perceptionin anthropologyand psychology are, in effect, studiesof perceptualcategoriesandclassifications,Merleau-Pontyfocused on the constitutionof perceptualobjects.ForMerleau-Ponty,perceptionbeganin thebodyand,throughreflectivethinking,endsinobjects.Onthelevelofperception thereis notyet a subject-objectdistinction-we aresimplyin theworld.Merleau- Pontyproposedthatanalysisbeginwith thepre-objectiveactof perceptionrather thanwith alreadyconstitutedobjects.He recognizedthatperceptionwas always embeddedin a culturalworld, such thatthe pre-objectivein no way implies a "pre-cultural."At the same time, he acknowledgedthat his own work did not elaboratethestepsbetweenperceptionandexplicitculturalandhistoricalanalysis (Merleau-Ponty1964:25). Preciselyat thispointwhereMerleau-Pontyleft off, it is valuableto reintro- duce Bourdieu's (1977, 1984) emphasis on the socially informedbody as the groundof collective life. Bourdieu'sconcern with the body, workedout in the empiricaldomainof practice, is paralleland compatiblewith Merleau-Ponty's analysisin thedomainof perception.To conjoinBourdieu'sunderstandingof the "habitus"as an unself-consciousorchestrationof practiceswith Merleau-Ponty's notionof the "pre-objective"suggeststhatembodimentneed not be restrictedto thepersonalordyadicmicro-analysiscustomarilyassociatedwithphenomenology, butis relevantas well to socialcollectivities. Definingthedialecticbetweenperceptualconsciousnessandcollectiveprac- tice is one wayto elaborateembodimentasamethodologicalfield (Csordas1990). It is withinthis dialecticthatwe move fromthe understandingof perceptionas a bodilyprocessto a notionof somaticmodesof attentionthatcanbe identifiedin a varietyof culturalpractices.Ourelaborationof this constructwill provide the groundsfor a reflectionon theessentialambiguityof ourown analyticconcepts, as well as on theconceptualstatusof "indeterminacy"intheparadigmof embodi- mentandin contemporaryethnography. This content downloaded on Thu, 7 Feb 2013 21:37:32 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 5. 138 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY A Working Definition AlfredSchutz,thepremiermethodologistofphenomenologicalsocialscience, understoodattentionto lie in the full alertnessandthe sharpnessof apperceptionconnectedwith consciously turning towardanobject,combinedwith furtherconsiderationsandanticipationsof its char- acteristicsanduses. [1970:316] Merleau-Ponty goes further, pointing out that attention actually brings the object into being for perceptual consciousness: To payattentionis notmerelyfurtherto elucidatepre-existingdata,itis tobringabout a new articulationof them by takingthem asfigures. They are performedonly as horizons,theyconstituteinrealitynew regionsin thetotalworld.... Thusattentionis neitheran associationof images,northereturnto itselfof thoughtalreadyin control of its objects,but the active constitutionof a new objectwhich makes explicit and articulatewhatwasuntilthenpresentedas no morethananindeterminatehorizon. [1962:30] Whatis theroleof attentionintheconstitutionof subjectivityandintersubjectivity as bodilyphenomena?If, as Schutzsays, attentionis a consciousturningtoward anobject,this"turningtoward"wouldseemtoimplymorebodilyandmultisensory engagementthanwe usuallyallowforinpsychologicaldefinitionsof attention.If, as Merleau-Pontysays, attentionconstitutesobjectsoutof anindeterminatehori- zon,theexperienceof ourownbodiesandthoseof othersmustlie somewherealong thathorizon.I suggestthatwhereit lies is preciselyattheexistentiallyambiguous pointat whichthe actof constitutionandthe objectthatis constitutedmeet-the phenomenological"horizon"itself.If thatis so, thenprocessesinwhichwe attend toandobjectifyourbodiesshouldholdaparticularinterest.Thesearetheprocesses to whichwe alludewith the termsomatic modesof attention.Somaticmodes of attentionareculturallyelaboratedways of attendingto and with one's body in surroundingsthatincludetheembodiedpresenceof others. Because attentionimpliesboth sensoryengagementandan object,we must emphasizethatourworkingdefinitionrefersbothtoattending"with"andattending "to"thebody.To a certainextentit mustbe both.To attendto abodily sensation is nottoattendtothebodyasanisolatedobject,buttoattendtothebody'ssituation in the world.The sensationengages somethingin the worldbecausethe body is "alwaysalreadyin the world."Attentionto a bodily sensationcanthusbecome a modeof attendingtotheintersubjectivemilieuthatgiverisetothatsensation.Thus, one is payingattentionwithone's body.Attendingwithone's eyes is reallypartof this same phenomenon,but we less often conceptualizevisual attentionas a "turningtoward"thanas a disembodied,beam-like"gaze."We tendto thinkof it as a cognitive functionratherthanas a bodily engagement.A notionof somatic mode of attentionbroadensthe field in which we can look for phenomenaof This content downloaded on Thu, 7 Feb 2013 21:37:32 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 6. SOMATICMODESOF ATTENTION 139 perceptionand attention,and suggests that attendingto one's body can tell us somethingabouttheworldandotherswho surroundus. Becausewe arenotisolatedsubjectivitiestrappedwithinourbodies,butshare anintersubjectivemilieuwithothers,we mustalso specify thata somaticmodeof attentionmeans not only attentionto and with one's own body, but includes attentionto thebodiesof others.Ourconcernis theculturalelaborationof sensory engagement,notpreoccupationwith one's own bodyas anisolatedphenomenon. Thus,we mustinclude,forexample,theculturalelaborationof aneroticsensibility that accompaniesattentionto attractivenessand the elaborationof interactive, moral,andaestheticsensibilitiessurroundingattentionto "fatness."These exam- ples of attentionto thebodilyformof othersalso includeattendingwithone's own body-there is certainlya visceralelementof eroticattention,andtherecan be a visceralcomponenttoattendingtootheraspectsof others'bodilyforms.Attending toothers'bodilymovementsis evenmoreclearcutincasesof dancing,makinglove, playingteamsports,andin theuncannysense of a presenceoverone's shoulder. In all of these,thereis a somaticmode of attentionto thepositionandmovement of others'bodies. It is a truismthat,althoughourbodies arealwayspresent,we do not always attendto andwiththem.Let me reiterate,however,thattheconstructI am trying to elucidateincludesculturallyelaboratedattentionto andwiththe body in the immediacyof an intersubjectivemilieu. Althoughthereis undoubtedlya cultural componentin anyactof attentionto one's own or another'sbody,it wouldbe too impreciseto label any such act as an exampleof a somaticmode of attention.If you cut yourfingerwhile slicing bread,you'll attendto yourfingerin a way that is moreorlessculturallydetermined(Isitspirituallydangerous?Isitembarrassing? MustI see a doctor?).Whenyou notice someone who weighs 275 pounds,your reactionis alsoculturallydetermined(thatpersonlooksfat,attractive,strong,ugly, friendly,nurturant).To define somatic modes of attentionin such broadterms would probablyonly serve to organize a varietyof existing literaturesinto an overbroadcategory.I suspect,for example, thatwe could identify such loosely defined somatic modes of attentionassociated with a wide variety of cultural practicesandphenomena.Mauss(1950)pointedoutthatthereiswhatwearecalling a somaticmodeof attentionassociatedwiththeacquisitionof anytechniqueof the body,butthatthismodeof attentionrecedesintothehorizononcethetechniqueis mastered.The imaginalrehearsalof bodily movements by athletesis a highly elaboratedsomaticmodeof attention,asistheheightenedsensitivitytomuscletone and the appetitefor motion associated with health-consciousnessand habitual exercise. The sense of somatic contingency and transcendenceassociated with meditationandmysticstateswouldalso be withinourpurview.Therearecertainly somatic modes of attentionto basic bodily processes, such as pregnancyand menopause,in differentcultures.On the pathologicalside, the hyper-vigilance associatedwithhypochondriaandsomatizationdisorder,andthevariousdegrees This content downloaded on Thu, 7 Feb 2013 21:37:32 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 7. 140 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY of vanityor tolerancefor self-mortificationassociatedwithanorexiaandbulimia, couldbe saidto defineparticularsomaticmodesof attention. It is evident thatsome of theseexamplessuggest more or less spontaneous culturalelaboration,whereasotherssuggestmodesthatareconsciouslycultivated (cf. Shapiro1985).Someemphasizeattendingtothebodyandsomewiththebody; some emphasizeattendingto one's own body, some attendingto others'bodies, andsometo others'attentionto ourbodies.My pointis thattheways we attendto andwithourbodies,andeven thepossibilityof attending,areneitherarbitrarynor biologicallydetermined,butareculturallyconstituted.Leenhardt's(1979 [1947]) classic study of the Canaquesof New Caledoniadescribednot only a way of conceptualizingthebodyradicallydistinctfromourown, buttheexclusionof the body per se as an object of consciousnessuntil the people were introducedby missionariesto theobjectifiedbodyof Christianculture.Thissuggeststhatneither attendingto nor attendingwith the body can be takenfor granted,but mustbe formulatedas culturallyconstitutedsomatic modes of attention.I elucidatethis constructwithexamplesfromtheethnographicrecordinthefollowingdiscussion. Somatic Attention and Revelatory Phenomena Thesomaticmodeof attentionI will delineatein thissectionis thatof healers who learnabouttheproblemsandemotionalstatesof theirclientsthroughbodily experiencesthoughtto parallelthoseof the afflicted.I describethe phenomenon forbothpredominantlyAnglo-American,middle-classCatholicCharismaticheal- ers andforPuertoRicanspiritistmediums. TheCatholicCharismaticRenewalis areligiousmovementwithintheRoman CatholicChurch.CatholicCharismaticshave elaboratedPentecostalfaithhealing intoasystemthatdistinguishesamongphysical,emotional,demonic,andancestral sourcesof affliction,andaddresseseach with specific ritualtechniques(Csordas 1983, 1988). A variety of somatic experiences is cultivated in ritualhealing practice,butI shall focus on two types of experiencereportedby healersduring theirinteractionwithsupplicants.Oneis called"anointing,"thesecond,"wordof knowledge." Althoughthephysicalactof anointingpartof thebody,typicallytheforehead orhands,withholy oil is acommonformof blessingamongcharismaticsengaged in healingpractice,a differentuse of the termis of interestin thepresentcontext. A healerwho reportsan "anointing"by Godrefersto a somaticexperiencethatis takentoindicateeitherthegeneralactivationofdivinepower,orthespecifichealing of anindividual.A conventionalanthropologyof ritualhealingwouldsay simply thatthehealergoes intotrance,assumingtranceto be a unitaryvariableorakind of blackbox factoredintotheritualequation,andperhapsassumingthatsomatic manifestationsareepiphenomenaof trance.The analysiswouldgo nofurtherthan informants'reportsthattheseepiphenomena"function"asconfirmationsof divine power and healing. Within the paradigmof embodiment,in contrast,we are interestedinaphenomenologythatwill leadtoconclusionsbothaboutthecultural This content downloaded on Thu, 7 Feb 2013 21:37:32 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 8. SOMATICMODES OF ATTENTION 141 patterningof bodilyexperience,andalso abouttheintersubjectiveconstitutionof meaningthroughthatexperience. The anointingis describedby somehealersas a generalfeeling of heaviness, or as a feeling of lightness almost to the point of levitation. The healer may experiencetingling,heat,oranoutflowof "power"similarto anelectricalcurrent, ofteninthehands,butattimesinotherpartsof thebody.Thehandsof somehealers visiblytremble,andIhavefeltthisvibrationasahealerlaidahandonmyshoulder. Amonghealersthemselves,however,the"authenticity"of thisvisiblevibrationas a manifestationof divine power is sometimes questioned,in the sense that the anointingmaybefeignedorsensationalized.Inalargegrouphealingservice,when thehealermoves fromindividualto individual,layinghandson each,thestrength of theanointingmayvarywitheachsupplicant.Onehealerdescribedanemotional complementof theanointingas a feeling of empathy,sympathy,andcompassion. If thisfeeling were absentas he cameto a particularpersonin line forhis prayer, he mightpassover thatperson,assumingthatGoddid notplanto healheratthat moment. The second Catholic Charismaticphenomenon in this somatic mode of attentionisthe"wordof knowledge."Itis understoodasa"spiritualgift"fromGod by meansof which healerscome to know facts aboutsupplicantsthroughdirect inspiration,withoutbeingtoldby theafflictedpersonoranyoneelse. The wordof knowledgeis sometimesexperiencedas anindeterminate"sense"thatsomething is the case, butvery often occursin specific sensorymodalities.The healermay see an afflictedbody partin the"mind'seye"orhearthenameof a body partor diseasewith"theheart."Onehealerdistinguishedclearlythatwhentheproblemis internal,she typically"sees"theorgan,or cancer,appearingas a blackmass,but whentheproblemis external,she typically"hears"thewordnamingtheillness or thebodypart,suchas armsandlegs. Onehealerreportedthatasnappinginhisearmeanssomeoneintheassembly isundergoinganearhealing,andthatintensepaininhisheartmeansahearthealing. Anotherreportedheatin herelbow on one occasion,interpretingthis as a sign of healingof aninjuryorarthritis.Somehealersreportbeingableto detectheadache orbackacheinasupplicantthroughtheexperienceof similarpainduringthehealing process. Queasinessorconfusedagitationmayindicatetheactivityof evil spirits,and an unexpectedsneeze or a yawn may indicatethata spiritis passing out of the supplicantthroughthe healer. One healercommonly reportedan experienceof "painbackup"frompersonsfilledwithresentmentorpreviouslyengagedinoccult activities.Thepainwouldenterherarmas she laidhandson theperson.It would be necessaryto remove her armand "shakeout"the pain, while the supplicant wouldfeel nothing.Withone handon the supplicant'schest andthe otheron his orherback,sheclaimsto feel what'sgoingon insidetheperson.Forexample,she can tell if thepersonis in bondageto Satan,andshe gets anunspecifiedsensation as thepersonis set free.Theodorof burningsulphurorof somethingrottingalso This content downloaded on Thu, 7 Feb 2013 21:37:32 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 9. 142 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY indicatesthe presence of evil spirits, while the aromaof flowers indicates the presenceof GodortheVirginMary. Themostcomprehensivephenomenologicalreportwasgivenby ahealerwho distinguishedthree componentsof word of knowledge. First was the sense of certaintythatwhathe would say was actuallyhappening.Secondwas a series of wordsthatwouldcome tohim in abbreviatedsequence,suchas"heart.. of alady N yearsold ... seatedin the lastpew...." He wouldcall these wordsout to the assembly,muchasone wouldreadfromateleprompter,exceptthatheheardrather thanreadthem.Finally,atthe sametimehe wouldfeel afingerpressingsoftly on thepartof his bodycorrespondingto theafflictedpartof thepersonbeinghealed. I will now turnto what I take to be essentiallythe same somatic mode of attentioninadifferenthealingtradition,PuertoRicanespiritismo(Harwood1977). Two main culturaldifferences distinguishsomatic attentionin espiritismoand Charismatichealing.First,whereasforCatholicCharismaticsanointingsaredirect experiencesof divine power and words of knowledge are divinely empowered directexperiencesof the supplicant'sdistress,for espiritistas,the corresponding experiencesaretheworkof spiritsthatenterorpossess thehealer.Theseareeither good guidingspirits,called guias, or bad,distress-causingspirits,called causas. The spiritsdominatethe healing process in that they are essential not only to diagnosisbutalsoto treatment;andhence,thesomaticexperiencesattendedto are evenmoreprominentthanamongCatholicCharismatics.Specificspiritsmayhave distinctandrecognizablevoices, odor,or impacton the healer'sbody.However, thespiritsthemselvesaremoreoften seen andheardamongspiritiststhanamong Charismatics,and spiritisthealerscan distinguishbetween good guias and bad causas. Thesecondimportantculturaldifferenceis withrespecttoconceptionsof the bodythatgo well beyondritualhealing.The abilityto see spiritsfromin backof theeyes (ojo oculto)maybe associatedwiththeinterpersonalsalienceof theeyes andthe glance also found in the evil eye (ojo malo). The experienceof a spirit enteringthroughthestomachmaybe associatedwiththeculturalemphasisonthat organnot only as a seatof emotion,butalso as anexpressiveorganwith its own mouth(boca del estomago).Theexperienceof spiritsasfluidos coursingthrough the body may be associatedwith a humoralconceptionof how the body works. Although I would not rule out any of these experiences for Anglo-American charismatics,itis doubtfulthattheywouldbecultivatedwithintheirsomaticmode of attention. Despitethesedifferences,theexperiencesreportedby thetwotypesof healer arenotablysimilar,althoughespiritistacategoriesdescribingtheseexperiencesare even more explicit in distinguishing sensory modalities than the Charismatic anointingsandwordsof knowledge.Based on writingsof, anddiscussionswith, leadingresearcherson espiritismo(Koss,Harwood,andGarrison),thephenomena appeartofall intofourcategories:seeingthespirits(videncias),hearingthespirits This content downloaded on Thu, 7 Feb 2013 21:37:32 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 10. SOMATICMODESOF ATTENTION 143 speak(audiciones),sensing immediatelywhatis on theclient's mind(inspiracio- nes),andfeelingthepainanddistresscausedintheclientbyspirits(plasmaciones). Mostof thedifferenceslie invisualexperiences,sinceCharismaticstypically see situationsor images of problems,ratherthanproblemsobjectifiedas spirits. Perhapsmost similarare the proprioceptiveexperiences,orplasmaciones. Koss (1988) cites use of the verbplasmar to referto mediums' molding or forming clients' pain or emotionaldistress within theirown bodies. Harwood(personal communication)adds thatplasmaciones aretransmittedthroughthe mediumof plasma,whichinspiritistdoctrineis a spiritualsubstancelinkingpersonsto spirits andto one another. According to Harwood, the plasmaciones experienced by healers might includepain,tingling,vibration,orafeelingof elationif possessedbyaguia spirit. AlthoughGarrison(personalcommunication)doesnotrecognizethetermplasma- ciones,sheacknowledgessensaciones thatmightincludeheadache,stomachache, ortensionpickedupfromtheclient.Koss (1988, 1992)presentsthemostelaborate inventory,includingfeeling of electricalcharge,acceleratedheartrate,pain and othersymptomsfeltatthecorrespondingbodysite,cool airblowingacrosstheskin startingfromthehead,tingling,energyenteringthestomachandleavingthehead or moving like a snake in the body,fluidos like sexual energy,buzzing sounds, body lightness, rapid thinking, feelings of contentmentand relaxation in the presenceof a good spirit,feelings of nervousness,fatigue,or fearin thepresence of abadspirit.Again,theprincipaldifferencesappeartobeassociatedwiththerole of spiritsand with particularauditory,olfactory,or proprioceptiveexperiences associatedwithparticularguias.Theelaborationof interactionwithnegativespirits augmentsthe espiritista repertoireof negative experiencesand compulsions to speakor hearinvoluntarily.Among CatholicCharismatics,evil spiritsareoften ritually"bound"to preventtheirmanifestationin theformof shrieking,writhing, vomiting, or challenging the proceedings. The acquiescence of spirits to this practiceof bindingis doubtlessdue in partto aclass habitus(Bourdieu1977) that encouragesbehavioralmoderationamong middle-classCharismatics.Protestant Pentecostals,typically of more working-classprovenance,tend to requiresome somaticmanifestationas a sign of a demon's departurefromits host. In addition, evil spiritsintheCharismaticsystemaremanifestonly intheafflicted,notthrough thehealer. Related Phenomena in Nonreligious Healing The somaticmode of attentionin both espiritistaandCatholicCharismatic systems is indigenouslyarticulatedin termsof religious revelation.I will now brieflyexaminerelatedphenomenain two healingsystemsthatlack suchovertly religious character.Daniel (1984) describes the diagnostictaking of pulses by practitionersof Siddha medicine in South Asia as a three-stageprocess that culminateswith physicians makingtheirown pulse "confluentand concordant" withthatof theirpatients.This final stagebearsthenamecamanilai, the stateof This content downloaded on Thu, 7 Feb 2013 21:37:32 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 11. 144 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY equipoise.Only afterexperiencingthe sharedpulsationsof cama nilai does the Siddha physician truly know the patient's humoraldisorder.In this instance, divinely inspiredspontaneityis replacedby cultivateddiagnostic skill, but the somaticmode of attentionremainscharacterizedby its referenceto anotherper- son's suffering. Daniel'sinterpretationof Siddhapulsediagnosisalsoraisesamethodological issue, andrequiresus to returnfor a momentto thedomainof semioticanalysis. Adoptingthecategoriesof Peirceiansemiotics,Danieldescribestheinitialrelation betweenthephysician'spassivefingertipsandthepatient'spulseas indexical-in theircontact,theyindexeachotherasnormalorabnormal.Also, theabnormalpulse of thepatientindexeshumoralimbalance,whereasthenormalpulse of thephysi- cian indexeshealthyhumoralbalance.As thephysician'sown pulseemergesand becomesconfluentwith thatof the patient,the "indexicaldistance"betweenthe signs decreases,untiltherelationshipbetweenthetwo pulses is transformedinto aniconicone,andthetwosignsbecomeone.AccordingtoDaniel,"Atthismoment of perfecticonicity,thephysicianmay be saidto haveexperiencedin some sense thesufferingas well as thehumoralimbalanceof thepatient"(1984:120). The semioticanalysisis of value in allowingDaniel to compareSiddhaand similar traditionalhealing systems with Westernbiomedicine in terms of the relativepowerof indexicalityor iconicity institutionalizedwithinthem (cf. Kir- mayer 1992 and Ots 1991). Fromthe perspectiveof embodiment,however, the notionof indexicaldistanceis too abstract,andthe semioticanalysisallows only the conclusionthatsufferingis shared"in some sense."Daniel is forced into a neologismto expresshis understandingthat,insofaras the processof takingthe pulseneutralizesthedivide betweenpatientandphysician,objectivityis replaced by "consubjectivity."The problematicof embodimentwouldpick uppreciselyat this point, with a phenomenologicaldescriptionof "consubjectivity"as charac- teristicof aparticularsomaticmodeof attention. A finalexampleof this somaticmodeof attentioncomes fromcontemporary psychotherapy.Typically reportedclinical experiencesinclude a stirringin the penisin themale therapist'sencounterwitha "hystericalfemale,"or apropensity to yawn whenfaced with anobsessive patient.Suchphenomenaoccurspontane- ously inpsychotherapy,as in thereligioussettingsdescribedabove,butthemode of attentionto them is not consistently elaboratedas indicative of something importantaboutthe patientor the conditionbeing treated.Only certainschools, suchasexperiential,transpersonal,andanalyticalpsychology,appearsympathetic to more explicit recognitionof these phenomena.Samuels, for example, gives severalexamplesof countertransferenceas a "physical,actual,material,sensual expressionin the analyst of something in the patient'spsyche" (1985:52). He includesbodilyandbehavioralresponses,suchas wearingthesameclothesas the patient,walkingintoalamp-post,sensationinthesolarplexus,painin aparticular partof the body; affectiveresponses, such as anger,impatience,powerfulness, powerlessness;andfantasyresponses, suchas suddendelusionalthoughts,mental This content downloaded on Thu, 7 Feb 2013 21:37:32 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 12. SOMATICMODESOF ATTENTION 145 imagery,or sensorydistortions.Most important,he arguesthatsuchexperiences arecommunicationfrompatients,andagainsttraditionaltheoriesof countertrans- ferencethatimpugnthemas pathologicalreactionsof thetherapist. Thisnewexampleraisesanothermethodologicalissue,thatof thesubject-ob- jectrelationshipasitpertainstotheinterpretiveframeworkswe bringtotheobjects of ouranalyses.HereI am not referringto our"objective"analysisof subjective phenomena,suchassomaticmodesof attention,buttothewayourowninterpretive subjectivityconstitutesor objectifies the phenomenaof interest.For the present discussion,workon countertransferencefromanalyticalpsychology may appear toofferavalidinterpretiveframework.How canthisbe,however,whenanalytical psychology is itself the source of precisely the kind of datawe wish to analyze under the heading of somatic mode of attention?Are we to place words of knowledge,plasmaciones, cama nilai, and embodiedcountertransferenceon an equalfooting as phenomenato be interpreted,or can we justify using the last of theseas a frameworkfor interpretingtheformerthree? The natureof this problemis illustratedby the following vignettefrommy fieldwork.The settingwas a CatholicCharismatichealingsession conductedby a healerwho was also a trainedpsychotherapist,and who made particularuse of "bodywork"techniques.Inthissession, sheaskedtheclient,a 37-year-oldman,to performtheposturesof a techniqueknownas "grounding,"andto reportwhathe felt in his body. In the context of ongoing therapeuticattentionto the theme of overdisciplineandexcessive needforcontrol,itwasnotsurprisingthatheobserved thathisfistswereclenchedandhiskneeslocked.However,atthementionof locked knees,my own crossedleg jumpedas if it hadbeentappedby adoctor'shammer in atestof reflexes. Insofar as my own somatic mode of attentionwas circumscribedby the motivesof ethnography,I didnothesitatetousemyownexperienceasanoccasion fordatacollection.Ilateraskedthehealerhow shewouldaccountformykneejerk, andif it werepossible fora non-believerto experiencethedivinely inspiredword of knowledge.She respondedthatthe experiencecould not be definitivelyinter- preted,butthatit couldbe one of threethings:a somaticresponsecausedby God, a consequenceof my sharingsome of thesamepersonalityissues as theclient, or a naturalresultof deepattachmentto another'sexperience.This"nativeexegesis" subsumesnotions of divine agency, countertransference,and a psychosomatic understandingof empathy.In its postmoder juxtapositionof interpretivepossi- bilities, it poses a challengeof reflexivityfor the participantobserver,and in so doing,it arguesthatthedomainof interpretivepossibilitiesis continuousbetween thoseof observerandthoseof observed. It may be arguedthat,althougha categorysuch as countertransferencemay not be morecorrect,it may be morevaluablefor a comparativeanalysisof such phenomena,andthatcomparisonitself is thesourceof validity.Nevertheless,this exampleremindsus thatobjectiveanalyticcategoriesbecomeobjectivethrougha reflectivemovement within the process of analysis.I would arguethatit is the This content downloaded on Thu, 7 Feb 2013 21:37:32 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 13. 146 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY perspectiveof embodimentitselfthatfacilitatesthisinsight.Ifthesameinsightcan alsobe arrivedatthroughotherapproaches,I wouldatleastarguethatembodiment offersawayto understanditinmoredepth.Inanyevent,itis necessarytoelaborate thefindingthattheattempttodefineasomaticmodeof attentiondecentersanalysis such thatno categoryis privileged,andall categoriesarein flux betweensubjec- tivity andobjectivity. The Flux of Analytical Categories All theexampleswehavecalledupontoillustratethenotionof somaticmodes of attentionaredrawnfromthedomainof healing.If suchmodesof attentionare generalphenomenaof humanconsciousness, we would expect thatthey can be identifiedin otherdomainsas well. Forexample,Becker(in press)has observed that in Fijian culturethe body is not a function of the individual"self"as in Euro-America,butof the community.An ongoing surveillance,monitoring,and commentaryon body shape includes the changes that begin when a woman becomespregnant.Fijiansregardit as essentialthata womanmakeherpregnancy knownpublicly,lest thepowerof its secrecyresultin boatscapsizing,contamina- tionof food, andthespoilingof groupendeavors.Unrevealedpregnanciescan be manifestinthebodilyexperiencesof others:illness orweightloss causedby food cooked by the pregnantwoman; loss of hair caused by cutting it; a lactating mother'smilkdryingupbecauseof aglance.Thisphenomenonwasfullycultivated as asomaticmodeof attentionbyonewomanwhoexperiencedanitchinherbreast whenevera memberof herfamily becamepregnant.Such evidencetypicallyled theheadof thehouseholdto summonthefamily's young womenandurgeone of themto revealherpregnancybeforesomethinguntowardoccurred. An approachto culturalphenomenathroughembodimentshouldalso make possible the reinterpretationof data already analyzed from other standpoints (Csordas1990).Weshouldthennotonlybeabletodiscoverundocumentedsomatic modes of attentionas in the Fijiancase, butalso be able to recognizethemright underourethnographicnoses in well-documentedsituations.I submit(basedon observationsmadewhilemy wife andI wereexpectingthebirthof ourtwins)that such a reinterpretationof couvadeis in order.The coreof thephenomenonis that anexpectantfatherexperiencesbodily sensationsattunedto thoseof his pregnant mate. Couvadehas been understoodin one of two ways in the literature.On the one hand,it is thoughtof as a ratherodd customin which theman"simulates"or "imitates"labor(Broude1988;Dawson 1929;Munroeet al. 1973).Ontheother, it is regardedas a medicalphenomenon,or "syndrome"(EnochandTrethowan 1991;Klein 1991;Schodt1989).Thus,couvadeis eitherexoticizedas aprimitive charade,orpathologizedas a psychosomaticoveridentification.Reconceivedas a somatic mode of attention,it appearsinstead as a phenomenonof embodied intersubjectivitythatis performativelyelaboratedin certainsocieties, while it is eitherneglectedorfearedas abnormalin others. This content downloaded on Thu, 7 Feb 2013 21:37:32 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 14. SOMATICMODESOF ATTENTION 147 Pendingadditionalempiricaldescriptionsof somaticmodesof attention,we can provisionally turn to the implications of the constructfor a paradigmof embodiment.In outliningthe phenomenologyof somaticmodes of attentionin espiritistaandCatholicCharismatichealing systems, I rigorouslyrefrainedfrom invokinganycategoryotherthan"experience"andcastthedescriptionstrictlyin termsof sensorymodalities.Inthesucceedingsection,I showedthatthesemodes of attentioncannotbesubsumedentirelyunderthecategoryofreligiousexperience, andthat,in impingingon moreconventionalcategoriessuchas countertransfer- ence, theypose a challengeof reflexivity.The pointI wantto makenow is about thepovertyof ouranthropologicalcategoriesforgoinganyfurtherinunderstanding whatitistoattendtoone's bodyinamodesuchasthatdescribedabove.Weoperate withcategoriesof cognitionandaffect,neitherone of whichalonecandojustice tothesephenomena,andbetweenwhichthereexists anearlyunbridgeableanalytic gulf. The categoriesof tranceandalteredstatesof consciousnessremainvirtual blackboxes,andonecolleague'ssuggestionof"proprioceptivedelusion"is nohelp atall.To suggestthattheyareformsof "embodiedknowledge"is provocative,but doesn't necessarilycapturethe intersubjectivenatureof thephenomenawe have described.In his earlyprogrammaticwork,Blackingreferredto the existence of "sharedsomaticstates"as thebasisforakindof "bodilyempathy,"butofferedno specificexamplesof anythingsimilarto whatwe havedescribedabove(1977:10). I wouldliketogo furtherhereandbrieflydiscussthesephenomenaunderfour additionalcategories,if only to emphasizethatwe remainill-equippedto interpret them. These categories are intuition,imagination,perception,and sensation. I restrictthediscussionin this section to the Charismaticandespiritistarevelatory phenomenadescribedabove. First,consideranointings,wordsof knowledge,videncias,andplasmaciones as kindsof intuition.ThephysicianRitaCharondescribesherpracticeof writing fiction to clarify her feelings when confused or distressedabouta patient.She begins with known facts, tying togetherevents, complaints,and actions of the patient,whilemakingherselfanactorin thestoryfromthepatient'spointof view. She is "notsurprisedwhendetailsthatI imagineaboutapatientturnoutto be true. Thereis, afterall,adeepspringof knowledgeaboutourpatientsthatisonlyslightly tappedin ourconscious work"(1985:5). I thinkit is not difficultto conceive of intuitionasembodiedknowledge.Thenwhynotconceiveof revelatoryphenomena assensoryintuition?Healersaswell asphysiciansnotonlysharewiththeirpatients ahighlyorganizedsetof bodilydispositionssummarizedbyBourdieu(1977)under the termhabitus,butalso acquirea cumulativeempiricalknowledgeof therange of humandistressastheyexpandtheirexperience. Again,letustrytounderstandrevelatoryphenomenaasformsof imagination. In currentscholarship,imaginationis discussed almost exclusively in terms of visual imagery, which is in turn readily thought of as "mental"imagery. So ingrainedis theconceptof mentalimagerythatthe termphysicalimagerystrikes one almostas an oxymoron.Yet if we allow the othersensorymodalitiesequal This content downloaded on Thu, 7 Feb 2013 21:37:32 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 15. 148 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY analyticstatuswith the visual, an expandedconcept of sensory imagerywould allow us to avoidthe arbitrarydichotomythattemptsus to analyzeCharismatic wordsof knowledgeintodistinctcategoriesof mentalimagesandphysicalsensa- tions,andanalyticallytoseparatespiritistvidenciasfromplasmaciones.Wewould then be taking a methodologicalstep away from an empiricistconception of imaginationasabstractrepresentationtoaphenomenologicalconceptionof imagi- nationas afeatureof thebodilysynthesis,whichMerleau-Ponty(1962) described ascharacteristicof ahumanconsciousnessthatprojectsitselfintoaculturalworld. Oncemore,whatif we takeseriouslytheindigenousclaimthatthesephenom- enaareformsofperception,ifnotof thedivinethenof somethingelsewecanaccept as concrete?This is a challenging proposition,and merits invoking Schwartz- Salant's(1987) attemptto integratealchemicalthinkingintocurrentpsychothera- peutictheory.He suggestsconceivingof an interactivefield betweentwo people thatis"capableof manifestingenergywithitsowndynamicsandphenomenology." This "in-between"field is palpableonly on certainlevels of perceptionin which theimaginationitselfcan"becomeanorganthatperceivesunconsciousprocesses" (1987:139).Samuels(1985), whoseworkhasbeendiscussedabove,offersarelated formulation,which,like thatof Schwartz-Salant,is derivedfromanalyticalpsy- chology. He elaboratesHenry Corbin's concept of the mundusimaginalis, or imaginalworld,as a distinctorderof realitythatexists bothbetweentwopersons intherapeuticanalysis,andbetweensenseimpressionsandcognitionorspirituality. Althoughtheconceptionof imaginationasasenseorganhasitsattraction,itcreates methodologicalproblemscommon to any model thattries to define "levels"of perceptionor consciousness.In addition,it does not addresstheproblemthatwe have no independentway of "perceiving"unconsciousprocesses so as to verify whatis beingperceivedinrevelatoryphenomena. Sensationis yet anothercategoryunderwhichwe mightchoose to subsume these phenomena.Sensationis inherentlyempiricist,however,andforces a con- ceptionof culturalmeaningasreferentialmeaningimposedonasensorysubstrate. Therelevantquestionsbecomewhethertheheatexperiencedbythehealeris really the sameas we feel whenwe blush,whetherthe tinglingis reallythesameas the tinglingof anticipationwe feel in otherhighlymeaningfulsituations,whetherthe "painbackup"in thehealer'sarmas she lays herhandson a person'sshoulderis reallythe samefeeling we have when our arm"fallsasleep"afterremainingtoo longinanuncomfortableposition.All of thesewouldbeinterestingdeterminations, butwouldnotsuittheaimsof a culturalphenomenology.By reducingmeaningto sensationorbiologicalfunction,thisapproachrequiresareconstitutionof meaning thatbypassesthebodilysynthesisof sensoryexperienceandtheculturalsynthesis of sacredexperience. The indeterminacyin ouranalyticcategoriesis revealedwhen we encounter phenomenaas essentiallyambiguousas somaticmodesof attention.This indeter- minacy, it turnsout, is an essential element of our existence. Merleau-Ponty objectedtoconceivingperceptionas anintellectualactof graspingexternalstimuli This content downloaded on Thu, 7 Feb 2013 21:37:32 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 16. SOMATICMODESOF ATTENTION 149 producedby pregivenobjects.Instead,he arguedthattheperceptualsynthesisof theobjectis accomplishedby thesubject,whichis thebodyasafieldof perception andpractice(1964:15-16). Ineffect,Merleau-Ponty'sexistentialanalysiscollapses the subject-objectduality in orderto pose more precisely the questionof how attentionandotherreflectiveprocessesof the intellectconstituteculturalobjects. In takingup this enterprise,we find thatthe ambiguitybetweensubjectand objectextendsto ourdistinctionsbetweenmind andbody, andbetweenself and other.Withregardto thefirstof thesedistinctions,if we beginwiththelivedworld of perceptualphenomena,ourbodiesarenotobjectstous.Quitethecontrary,they arean integralpartof the perceivingsubject.On the level of perceptionit is not legitimatetodistinguishmindandbody,sincethebodyis itselfthe"generalpower of inhabitingall the environmentswhich the world contains"(Merleau-Ponty 1962:311).Beginningfromperceptualreality,however,it thenbecomesrelevant to ask how our bodies may become objectifiedthroughprocesses of reflection. Likewise,inthelived world,we do notperceiveothersasobjects.Anotherperson isperceivedasanother"myself,"tearingitselfawayfrombeingsimplyaphenome- non in my perceptualfield, appropriatingmy phenomenaandconferringon them thedimensionof intersubjectivebeing,andso offering"thetaskof atruecommu- nication"(Merleau-Ponty1964:18). As is true of the body, other persons can becomeobjectsfor us only secondarily,as theresultof reflection. Itis inthisembodiedrealitythatwe havehadtobegintheanalysisof wordof knowledge,plasmacione,camanilai,andembodiedcountertransference.Originat- ing inprimordialexperiencecharacterizedby theabsenceof dualitybetweenmind and body, self and other, the phenomenaare objectifiedin reflective practice, throughaparticularsomaticmodeof attention.Farfromprovidingacausalaccount of thesephenomena,ouranalysishasshownthedifficultyof evenfindingadequate descriptivecategories.Whatis revealedby a returnto the phenomena-and the consequentnecessity to collapse dualitiesof mind andbody, self and other-is insteada fundamentalprincipleof indeterminacythatposes a profoundmethodo- logical challengeto the scientificideal.The "turningtoward"thatconstitutesthe objectof attentioncannotbe determinatein termsof eithersubjector object,but only real in termsof intersubjectivity. What's the Use of Indeterminacy? Ironically,theapproachthroughembodimentthathasallowedus toelaborate somaticmodesof attentionasa constructwithsomedemonstrableempiricalvalue has also disclosed the ratherslippery notion of the essential indeterminacyof existence.Thisis doubtlessrelatedtothediscoveryof existentialandmethodologi- cal indeterminacyin recentethnographicwriting(cf. Favret-Saada1980;Jackson 1989; Pandolfi 1991; Stoller 1989). Inevitably,perhaps,when we try to give theoreticalformulationto thisindeterminacy,we easilyslipbackintothelanguage of eithertextualityor embodiment,representationor being in the world. In the present context, I can only point to this problem by briefly summarizingthe This content downloaded on Thu, 7 Feb 2013 21:37:32 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 17. 150 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY principleof indeterminacyasformulatedby Merleau-Pontyforperception,andby Bourdieuforpractice.We thusreturnto thenotionof indeterminacy,notto make it determinateas a conceptthatcan be appliedin our analyses,butto give some theoreticalgroundsfor acceptingit as an inevitablebackgroundconditionof our analyses. Merleau-Ponty,havingdemonstratedthatallhumanfunctions(e.g.,sexuality, motility,intelligence)areunifiedina singlebodilysynthesis,arguesthatexistence is indeterminate insofarasitistheveryprocessbywhichthehithertomeaninglesstakesonmeaning, wherebywhathadmerelya[forexample]sexualsignificanceassumesamoregeneral one,chanceistransformedintoreason;insofarasitistheactoftakingupadefacto situation.Weshallgivethename"transcendence"tothisactinwhichexistencetakes up, to its own account,andtransformssucha situation.Preciselybecauseit is transcendence,existenceneverutterlyoutrunsanything,forin thatcasethetension whichis essentialto it [betweenobjectiveworldandexistentialmeaning]would disappear.Itneverabandonsitself.Whatitisneverremainsexteral andaccidentalto it,sincethisisalwaystakenupandintegratedintoit.[1962:169] The transcendencedescribed by Merleau-Pontyis thus not mystical, but is groundedin the world,suchthatexistentialindeterminacybecomesthe basisfor aninalienablehumanfreedom. For Bourdieu, the synthesis of practicaldomains in a unitaryhabitus is likewise basedon indeterminacy,butthis variantof indeterminacydoes not lead to transcendence.Insteadof anexistentialindeterminacy,Bourdieu'sis a logical indeterminacy,which neverexplicitlyorsystematicallylimitsitselftoanyoneaspectof thetermsitlinks, buttakeseachone,eachtime,asawhole,exploitingtothefullthefactthattwo"data" areneverentirelyalikeinall respectsbutarealwaysalikein some respect .... [Ritual practiceworksby]bringingthesamesymbolintodifferentrelationsthroughdifferent aspectsorbringingdifferentaspectsof thesamereferentintothesamerelationof opposition.[Bourdieu1977:111-112] Logical indeterminacyis the basis for transpositionof different schemes into differentpracticaldomains,exemplifiedinhis ethnographyby theKabyleapplica- tion of the male-female opposition to outside-inside the house and, again, to differentareaswithinthehouse.Itis also thebasisforthepolysemyandambiguity epitomizedbytheKabylecookingladlethatis sometimesmale,sometimesfemale. In sum, Merleau-Pontysees in the indeterminacyof perceptiona transcen- dence thatdoes not outrunits embodiedsituation,but thatalways "assertsmore thingsthanit grasps:when I say thatI see the ash-trayover there,I supposeas completedanunfoldingof experiencewhichcouldgo onadinfinitum,andIcommit a whole perceptualfuture"(1962:361). Bourdieu sees in the indeterminacyof practicethat,since no personhas conscious masteryof the modusoperandithat This content downloaded on Thu, 7 Feb 2013 21:37:32 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 18. SOMATICMODESOFATTENTION151 integratessymbolicschemesandpractices,theunfoldingof his worksandactions "alwaysoutrunshis consciousintentions"(1977:79).Itwouldbe convenientif we could pose these views of indeterminacyas perfectlycomplementary.Thus, we couldsay thathumanactionis transcendentin takingup situationsandendowing themwithmeaningthatis open-endedandinexhaustiblewithouteveroutrunning those situations;and situations cannot be outrunbecause they are structured accordingtoanenduringsystemof dispositionsthatregulatepracticesbyadjusting them to other practices, thereby creating the condition of possibility for the open-endednessof action. However, there are serious conceptual differences betweenthetwo theoriststhatputthisinterpretationin doubt. On Bourdieu's side, the locus of these differencesis his rejectionof the conceptsof livedexperience,intentionality,andthedistinctionbetweenconscious- nessinitselfandforitself.ThisrejectionrequiresBourdieutogroundtheconditions for intelligibilityin social life entirelyon homogenizationof the habituswithin groups or classes (1977:80), and to explain individual variationin terms of homologyamong individuals,such thatindividuals'systems of dispositions are structuralvariantsof thegrouphabitus,ordeviationsinrelationtoastyle(1977:86). Merleau-Ponty,on theotherhand,insistson the apriorinecessityof intersubjec- tivity,pointingout thatany actor'sadoptionof a positionpresupposeshis or her beingsituatedin anintersubjectiveworld,andthatscience itself is upheldby this basicdoxa.This intersubjectivityis not aninterpenetrationof intentionalities,but aninterweavingof familiarpatternsof behavior: Iperceivetheotherasapieceofbehavior,forexample,Iperceivethegriefortheanger of theotherinhisconduct,inhisfaceorhishands,withoutrecoursetoany"inner" experienceof sufferingor anger,andbecausegriefandangerare variationsof belongingto the world,undividedbetweenthe body andconsciousness,andequally applicabletotheother'sconduct,visibleinhisphenomenalbody,asinmyownconduct as it is presentedto me. [Merleau-Ponty1962:356] Thisanalysisis echoedby Jackson: To recognizethe embodiednessof our being-in-the-worldis to discover a common groundwhereself andotherareone,forbyusingone's bodyin thesamewayas others in the sameenvironmentone findsoneself informedby anunderstandingwhich may thenbeinterpretedaccordingtoone's owncustomorbent,yetwhichremainsgrounded in a field of practicalactivity andtherebyremainsconsonantwith the experienceof thoseamongwhom one has lived. [1989:135] Becausebody andconsciousness areone, intersubjectivityis also a co-presence; another'semotionis immediatebecauseit is graspedpre-objectively,andfamiliar insofaras we sharethesamehabitus. Intheend,Bourdieu'sprincipleof logical indeterminacybecomesthecondi- tionforregulatedimprovisation,whereasMerleau-Ponty'sprincipleof existential indeterminacybecomestheconditionfortranscendencein sociallife. Eachprinci- This content downloaded on Thu, 7 Feb 2013 21:37:32 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 19. 152 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY pie has a weakness,basedon the implicitfavoringof textualityor embodiment, representationorbeingintheworld.We will leave ourdiscussionwithasummary of theseissues. To Merleau-Ponty,authenticactsof expression"forthemselves"constitutea world and are transcendent,but once a linguistic and culturalworld is already constituted,reiterationof those acts is no longertranscendent,no longerprojects itself intotheworld,andpartakesmoreof being"initself."ForMerleau-Pontythis problem subsists primarilyin the domain of speech, where the speakingword becomes sedimentedas thespokenword.Here,Bourdieu'sanalysisof universes of practice subsisting alongside universes of discourse provides a corrective, forcingus to generalizethissedimentationfromlanguageto therestof thehabitus, and to acknowledgeMerleau-Ponty'sproblemas endemic to his conceptionof existence. Theproblem,requiredby the (uncollapsedor uncollapsible)dualityof the"initself"(being)and"foritself' (existence),is havingtodistinguishgenuine, transcendentexpressionfrom reiteration.This leads directlyto the dilemmaof havingtospecifyconditionsunderwhichpersonscanbecomeobjectstoothersand to themselves,andunderwhichsocioeconomicclassescanbecomeobjectstoother classes andto themselves,as opposedto beingsubjectsof theirown action.While existenceis nottext,it is essentiallytextualizable. Bourdieu,in rejectingthedistinctionbetween"initself"and"foritself,"can avoid this problemby conceptualizingthe result of indeterminacyas regulated improvisation,open-endedyetcircumscribedby thedispositionsof thehabitus.In thishe is facedwithadifferentproblem,however:accountingforchange,creativ- ity,innovation,transgression,andviolation.He claimsthat,"asanacquiredsystem of generativeschemesobjectivelyadjustedto theparticularconditionsin whichit is constituted,thehabitusengendersallthethoughts,alltheperceptions,andallthe actionsconsistentwiththoseconditions,andnoothers"(1977:95).Thisis difficult to conceive,he claims,if one remainslocked in thedilemmasof determinismand freedom,conditioningand creativity.These are perhapsdualitiesthathe is too quick to collapse,however,unless the "conditionedandconditionalfreedom"of thehabitus's"endlesscapacityto engenderproducts"includesthecapacityfor its own transformation(1977:95).Otherwise,theprincipleof indeterminacybecomes a disguiseforlackof analyticspecificity,andhabitusloses its valueas ananalytic construct.Althoughthehabitusbearssomeof theschematismofafixed text,itcan be transcendedin embodiedexistence. Conclusion Approachingculturalphenomenafrom the standpointof embodimenthas allowed us to definea constructof somaticmodes of attention,whichhas in tur led us to a principleof indeterminacythatunderminesdualitiesbetweensubject and object, mind and body, self and other. In our concluding comparisonof Merleau-PontyandBourdieu,we haveseenthattherelationsbetweenembodiment itself and textuality, and between representationand being in the world, are This content downloaded on Thu, 7 Feb 2013 21:37:32 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 20. SOMATICMODESOF ATTENTION 153 indeterminateaswell. Theseindeterminaterelationsconstitutetheshiftingexisten- tial groundon which contemporaryethnographysuggests we must increasingly situateculturalphenomena.Ourattemptsto objectifyin analysisareanalogousto thedefinitivegestureof the Senoufodivinerin strikinghis thigh(Zempleni1988) to confirmhis pronouncement.The actis notso muchaninvocationof thesacred as it is anembodiedstatement,in defianceof thewisdomthatone neverstepsinto thesamerivertwice, thatone has snatcheda definitiveoutcomefromtheindeter- minateflux of life, andthat,once andforall, "Thisis theway it is." Itis thissameprincipleof indeterminacy,inherentinsociallife, thathascome totheforeintheconsciousmovementof postmodernisminartandtheunconscious dissociationof signsandreferents,symbolsanddomains,incontemporaryculture. Itis thefundamentalindeterminacyof existencethatis sensedasmissingby those anthropologistsattractedto thepostmodernistmethodologicalshiftfrompatternto pastiche,fromkey symbolsto blurredgenres.Theirprojecthasbeen begunin the semioticparadigmof textuality,but a substantialcontributioncan also be made throughelaborationof a phenomenologicalparadigmof embodiment.Yet, if indeterminacyis fundamentalto existence,only carefulelaborationof its defining features,such as Merleau-Ponty'stranscendenceandBourdieu'simprovisation, will allowittobecomeanawarenessof ourexistentialconditionwithoutbecoming anexcuse for analyticalimprecision. Notes Acknowledgments.Portionsof thisarticlewerepresentedin 1988tothesymposium, "BeyondSemanticsandRationality,"organizedbyGillesBibeauandEllenCorinatthe12th InternationalCongressof AnthropologicalandEthnologicalSciencesinZagreb.A version waspresentedtothesession"EmbodiedKnowledge,"organizedbyDeborahGordonand JeanLaveatthe1988AnnualMeetingof theAmericanAnthropologicalAssociationin Phoenix.Sincethattime,IamgratefultoJanisJenkinsforongoingscholarlydiscussionthat challengedmetorefinemyargument.Thanksaswelltothetwoanonymousreviewersfor CulturalAnthropology.FieldworkamongCatholicCharismaticswassupportedbyNational InstituteofMentalHealthgrantR01MH40473. References Cited Barthes,Roland 1986 TheRustleofLanguage.R.Howard,trans.NewYork:Hill&Wang. Becker,AnnE. Inpress NurturingandNegligence:WorkingonOthers'BodiesinFiji.InEmbodiment andExperience.ThomasJ.Csordas,ed.Cambridge:CambridgeUniversityPress. Benthall,Jonathan,andTedPolhemus,eds. 1975 TheBodyAsaMediumofExpression.NewYork:E.P.Dutton. Blacking,John 1977 TheAnthropologyof theBody.London:AcademicPress. This content downloaded on Thu, 7 Feb 2013 21:37:32 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
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