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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Somatic Modes of Attention

Fourth, remember the words of William Blake: A notion of somatic mode of attentionbroadens the field in which we can look for phenomena of This content downloaded from We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship.

On the one hand, it is thoughtof as a ratherodd custom in which the man “simulates”or “imitates”labor Broude ; Dawson ; Munroeet al.

Kosspresentsthe most elaborate inventory,including feeling of electrical charge, acceleratedheartrate, pain and othersymptomsfelt at the correspondingbody site, cool airblowing acrossthe skin startingfrom the head, tingling, energy enteringthe stomachand leaving the head or moving like a snake in the body, fluidos like sexual energy, buzzing csords, body lightness, rapid thinking, feelings of contentment and relaxation in the presenceof a good spirit, feelings of nervousness,fatigue, or fear in the presence of a badspirit.

Towardan Ethnographyof Expe- rience. Koss, Joan The Experience of Spirits: This critiqueshould not be construedas negating the study of signs with respect to the body, but as making a place for csordss complementaryappreciationof embodiment and being in the world alongside textuality and representation. Such phenomenaoccur womatic ously in psychotherapy,as in the religious settingsdescribedabove, but the mode of attention to them is not consistently elaboratedas indicative of something importantabout the patient or the condition being treated.

Yet Jackson was perhapsthe first to point out the shortcomings of representationalismin the anthropology of the body, arguingthatthe “subjugationof the bodily to the semanticis empiricallyuntenable” Uni- versity of Chicago Press. Koss cites use of the verb plasmar to refer to mediums’ molding or forming clients’ pain or emotional distress within their own bodies.

Devisch, Rene, and Antoine Gailly, eds. Defining the dialectic betweenperceptualconsciousness and collective prac- tice is one way to elaborateembodimentas a methodologicalfield Csordas Ironically,the approachthroughembodimentthathas allowed us to elaborate somaticmodes of attentionas a constructwith some demonstrableempiricalvalue has also disclosed the rather slippery notion of the essential indeterminacyof existence.


Somatic Modes of Attention — Cultural Anthropology

Thus, we could say thathuman action is transcendentin takingup situationsand endowing csorfas with meaning thatis open-endedand inexhaustiblewithoutever outrunning those situations; and situations cannot be outrun because they are structured accordingto an enduringsystem of dispositionsthatregulatepracticesby adjusting them to other practices, thereby creating the condition of possibility for the open-endedness of action.

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 Must I see a doctor? I define three dimensions of the field, including structures of agency in the relation between our bodies and the world, sexual difference, and components of corporeality.

Sensation is inherentlyempiricist,however, and atttention a con- ceptionof culturalmeaningas referentialmeaningimposedon a sensory substrate. Thus, one is payingattentionwith one’s body. Munn, Nancy The Fame of Gawa: He claims that,”as an acquiredsystem of generativeschemes objectively adjustedto the aftention which it is constituted,thehabitusengendersall the thoughts,all the perceptions,andall the actions consistentwith those conditions,and no others” A Cultural Phenomenology of Charismatic Healing.

Beginning from perceptualreality, however, it then becomes relevant to ask how our bodies may become objectified throughprocesses of reflection. Perhapsmost similar are the proprioceptiveexperiences,or plasmaciones. This content downloaded from Excess of sorrow laughs. These are perhapsdualities that he is too quick to collapse, however, unless the “conditionedand conditionalfreedom”of the habitus’s”endlesscapacityto engenderproducts”includesthe capacityfor its own transformation Is it related somatuc older concepts like “ideology” or “structures of feeling”?

This phenomenonwas fully cultivated as a somaticmode of attentionby one woman who experiencedan itch in herbreast whenever a memberof her family became pregnant. Originat- ing in primordialexperiencecharacterizedby the absenceof dualitybetween mind and body, self and other, the phenomena are objectified in reflective practice, througha particularsomaticmode of attention.

Somatic Modes of Attention | Thomas Csordas –

Parables for the Virtual: Therearecertainly somatic modes of attention to basic bodily processes, such as pregnancy and menopause, in different cultures. In a largegrouphealing service, when the healermoves from individualto individual,laying handson each, the strength of the anointingmay vary with each supplicant. In this instance, divinely inspired spontaneity is replaced by cultivated diagnostic skill, but the somatic mode of attentionremains characterizedby its referenceto anotherper- son’s suffering.


BeautrixPflederer and Gilles Bibeau,eds. Yet, if indeterminacyis fundamentalto existence, only carefulelaborationof its defining features, such as Merleau-Ponty’stranscendenceand Bourdieu’s improvisation, csorsas allow it to become an awarenessof our existentialconditionwithoutbecoming an excuse for analyticalimprecision. Only certainschools, such as experiential,transpersonal,and analyticalpsychology, appearsympathetic sommatic more explicit recognition of these phenomena.

Typically reportedclinical experiences include a stirring in the penis in the male therapist’sencounterwith a “hystericalfemale,”or a propensity to yawn when faced with an obsessive somaric. They understandthese bodies as interrelatedanalyticdomainsmediatedby emotion. Blacking,John TheAnthropology of atrention. The natureof this problem is illustratedby the following vignette from my fieldwork.

The physician Rita Charondescribesher practiceof writing fiction to clarify her feelings when confused or distressed about a patient.

The relevantquestionsbecome whetherthe heat experiencedby the healeris really the same as we feel when we blush, whetherthe tingling is really the same as the tingling of anticipationwe feel in other highly meaningfulsituations,whetherthe “painbackup”in the healer’s arm as she lays her hands on a person’s shoulderis really the same feeling we have when our arm “falls asleep”after remainingtoo long in anuncomfortableposition. For Barthes, the work is a fragment of substance,the materialobject that occupies the space of a bookstoreor a library shelf.

Whiting The Couvade: Frank,Gelya On Embodiment: Post a Comment Please log in or register to comment. The spirits dominate the healing process in that they are essential not only to diagnosisbut also to treatment;and hence, the somaticexperiencesattendedto are even moreprominentthanamongCatholicCharismatics.

We thus returnto the notion of indeterminacy,not to make it determinateas a concept thatcan be applied in our analyses, but to give some theoreticalgroundsfor acceptingit as an inevitable backgroundconditionof our analyses.

By reducingmeaningto sensationor biologicalfunction,this approachrequiresa reconstitutionof meaning thatbypassesthe bodily synthesis of sensory experienceand the culturalsynthesis of sacredexperience.