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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Two main cultural differences distinguish somatic attention in espiritismo and Charismatichealing. 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.

It may be arguedthat, althougha category such as countertransferencemay not be more correct,it may be more valuable for a comparativeanalysis of such phenomena,and attwntion is the source of validity. Excess of joy weeps… Exuberance is Beauty. How does the the concept of “somatic modes of attention” fill this opening?

The ability to see spirits from in back of the eyes ojo oculto may be associatedwith the interpersonalsalience of the eyes and the glance also found in the evil eye ojo malo. In currentscholarship,imaginationis discussed almost exclusively in terms of visual imagery, which is in turn readily thought of as “mental”imagery. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. As somaitc physician’s own pulse emerges and becomes confluent with that of the patient, the “indexicaldistance”between the signs decreases, until the relationshipbetween the two pulses is transformedinto an iconic one, andthe two signs become one.

My point is thatthe ways we attendto and with our bodies, modds the possibility of attending,areneitherarbitrarynor biologically determined,but areculturallyconstituted. AlthoughGarrison personalcommunication does not recognizethe termplasma- ciones, she acknowledgessensaciones thatmight includeheadache,stomachache, or tensionpickedup from the client. Help Center Find new research papers in: 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 my article recognized in this way.


This new exampleraises anothermethodologicalissue, thatof the subject-ob- ject relationshipas it pertainsto the interpretiveframeworkswe bringto the objects of our analyses. While existence is not text, it is essentially textualizable. Are we to place words of knowledge, plasmaciones, cama nilai, and embodied countertransferenceon an equal footing as phenomenato be interpreted,or can we justify using the last of these as a frameworkfor interpretingthe formerthree?

Paths Toward a Clearing: Geertz,Clifford The Interpretationof Cultures. In a largegrouphealing service, when the healermoves from individualto individual,laying handson each, the strength of the anointingmay vary with each supplicant.

Conditions for Creativity in Ritual Language. Favret-Saada; Jackson ; Pandolfi ; Stoller In the context of ongoing therapeuticattentionto the theme of overdisciplineandexcessive needfor control,it was not surprisingthathe observed thathis fists wereclenchedandhis knees locked.

Thereis, afterall, a deep springof knowledge aboutourpatientsthatis only slightly tapped in our conscious work” In addition,it does not addressthe problemthat we have no independentway of “perceiving”unconscious processes so as to verify what is attwntion perceivedin revelatoryphenomena. Based on writingsof, and discussions with, leadingresearcherson espiritismo Koss, Harwood,andGarrison ,the phenomena appearto fall into four categories: 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.

MeaningfulAction ConsideredAs a Text. 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.

Somatic Modes of Attention

This is a challenging proposition, and merits invoking Schwartz- Salant’s attemptto integratealchemicalthinkinginto currentpsychothera- peutic theory. Medical AnthropologyQuar- terly 2: At that time I defined embodiment as an indeterminate methodological field, but without elaborating in any detail how that field somatc constituted.

One healerdescribedan emotional complementof the anointingas a feeling of empathy,sympathy,and compassion. I will now briefly examine somaric two healing systems that lack such overtly religious sommatic. Whiting The Couvade: Merleau-Ponty,on the other hand, insists on the a priorinecessity of intersubjec- tivity,pointing out that any actor’s adoptionof a position presupposeshis or her being situatedin an intersubjectiveworld, and thatscience itself is upheld by this basic doxa.

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.


Somqtic healerwho reportsan “anointing”by God refers to a somatic experiencethatis takento indicateeitherthe generalactivationof divinepower,or the specifichealing of an individual. Whatit is neverremainsexteral andaccidental to it, sincethisis alwaystakenupandintegrated intoit.

Originat- ing in primordialexperiencecharacterizedby the absenceof dualitybetween mind and body, self and other, the phenomena are objectified in reflective practice, througha particularsomaticmode of attention.

Is it related to older concepts like “ideology” or “structures of feeling”? The categoriesof trance and altered states of consciousness remain virtual blackboxes, andone colleague’s suggestionof”proprioceptivedelusion”is no help at all.

They tend to take the “lived body” as a methodologicalstartingpoint ratherthanconsiderthe body as an object of study. An ongoing surveillance,monitoring,and commentary on body shape cssordas the changes that begin when a woman becomes pregnant.

Somatic Modes of Attention — Cultural Anthropology

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.

Insteadof an existential indeterminacy,Bourdieu’s is a logical indeterminacy,which limitsitselfto anyone aspectof thetermsit links, neverexplicitlyor systematically buttakeseachone,eachtime,as a whole,exploitingto thefullthefactthattwo”data” are never entirelyalike in all respectsbut are always alike in some respect Insofar as my own somatic mode of attention was circumscribedby the motives of ethnography,I did not hesitateto use my own experienceas an occasion for datacollection.

The text, atention contrast,is an indeterminatemethodologicalfield thatexists only when caught up in a discourse, and that is experienced only as activity and production Kir- mayer and Ots Despite these differences,the experiencesreportedby the two types of healer arenotablysimilar,althoughespiritistacategoriesdescribingthese experiencesare even more explicit fo distinguishing somatjc modalities than the Charismatic anointingsand words of knowledge.

They understandthese bodies as interrelatedanalyticdomainsmediatedby emotion. Most of the differenceslie in visual experiences,since Charismaticstypically see situationsor images of problems, ratherthan problemsobjectified as spirits.