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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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In sum, Merleau-Pontysees in the indeterminacyof perceptiona transcen- dence that does not outrunits embodied situation,but that always “assertsmore things than it grasps: This is difficult to conceive, he claims, if one remainslocked in the dilemmasof determinismand freedom, conditioningand creativity.

This content downloaded from If one were to say that affect refers more to feeling and sensibility while emotion refers more to the meaning and positive or negative valence of a situation, it would seem only to set one on the path to separating this domain of experience into spheres associated with body and mind — a path, if I may say so, toward a slippery slope of dualism.

Thanksas well to thetwoanonymous reviewersfor CulturalAnthropology. For example, the influentialsynthesis by Scheper-Hughesand Lock clearly lays out the analyticalterrainclaimed by an anthropologyof modds body. Only certainschools, such as experiential,transpersonal,and analyticalpsychology, appearsympathetic to more explicit recognition of these phenomena. On the one hand, it is thoughtof as a ratherodd custom in which the cwordas “simulates”or “imitates”labor Broude ; Dawson ; Munroeet al.

While existence is not text, it is essentially textualizable. Jackson,Michael PathsTowarda Clearing: A healerwho reportsan “anointing”by God refers to a somatic experiencethatis takento indicateeitherthe generalactivationof spmatic the specifichealing of an individual. Sensationis yet anothercategory underwhich we might choose to subsume these phenomena.


In my own current way of thinking, affect fits into embodiment as a methodological field as one among ten components of corporeality. Yet, if indeterminacyis fundamentalto existence, only carefulelaborationof its defining features, such as Merleau-Ponty’stranscendenceand Bourdieu’s improvisation, will allow it to become an awarenessof our existentialconditionwithoutbecoming an excuse for analyticalimprecision.

The text, in contrast,is an indeterminatemethodologicalfield thatexists only when caught up in a discourse, and that is experienced only as activity and production Defining the dialectic betweenperceptualconsciousness and collective prac- tice is one cdordas to elaborateembodimentas a methodologicalfield Csordas Attendingwith one’s eyes is reallypartof this same phenomenon, but we less often conceptualize visual attention as a “turningtoward”than as mdoes disembodied,beam-like “gaze.

Somatic Modes of Attention

Anotherreportedheat in her elbow on one occasion, interpretingthis as a sign of healing of an injuryor arthritis. Abstract In this article, Thomas Csordas contributes to the development of embodiment as a methodological field.

First,whereasfor CatholicCharismaticsanointingsaredirect experiences of divine power and words of knowledge are divinely empowered direct experiencesof the supplicant’sdistress, for espiritistas, the corresponding experiencesarethe workof spiritsthatenteror possess the healer. Within the paradigm of embodiment, in contrast, we are interestedin a phenomenologythatwill lead to conclusions both aboutthe cultural This content downloaded from Mauss, Marcel Les Techniquesdu Corps.

Somatic Modes of Attention | Thomas Csordas –

BeautrixPflederer and Gilles Bibeau,eds. How does the concept of affect contribute to embodiment as a methodological field? I will now briefly examine relatedphenomenain two healing systems that lack such overtly religious character. This rejectionrequiresBourdieuto groundtheconditions for intelligibility in social life entirely on homogenizationof ssomatic habitus within groups or classes Briefly, whereas studies of perception in anthropology and psychology are, in effect, studiesof perceptualcategoriesandclassifications,Merleau-Pontyfocused on the constitutionof perceptualobjects.

On the level of perceptionit is not legitimateto distinguishmind andbody, since the body is itself the “generalpower of inhabitingall the environments which the world contains” Merleau-Ponty The Flux of Analytical Categories All theexampleswe have called uponto illustratethe notionof somaticmodes of attentionare drawnfrom the domain of healing. It is in this embodiedrealitythatwe have had to begin the analysisof wordof knowledge,plasmacione, cama nilai, andembodiedcountertransference.


First was the sense of certaintythat what he would say was actuallyhappening. This indeter- minacy, it turns out, is an essential element of our existence. Queasinessor confused agitationmay indicatethe activity of evil spirits,and an unexpected sneeze or a yawn may indicate that a spirit is passing out of the supplicantthroughthe healer.

The sense of somatic contingency and transcendenceassociated with meditationandmystic stateswould also be within ourpurview.

Does attention to affect change the field for potential political action? Contributionsto Asian Studies Would you categorize your work as “affect studies”? Csoedas 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.

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. Is it related to csorras concepts like “ideology” or “structures of feeling”? Merleau- Ponty proposedthat analysis begin with the pre-objectiveact of perceptionrather than with alreadyconstitutedobjects.

attenfion Embodiment, Alterity, and the Theory of Religion. Nevertheless, because for anthropology embodimentis not yet developedenough to be trulycomplementaryto an already maturetextuality Hanksthis articlehas the limitedaim of takinga measured step towardfilling out embodimentas a methodologicalfield.

The pain would enterher armas she laid hands on the person.