The Techniques of the Body

Mauss, Marcel 1973. The Techniques of the Body. Economy and Society 2(1): 70-88.

Thus, even before they can swim, particular care is taken to get the children to control their dangerous but instinctive ocular reflexes, before all else they are familiarised with the water, their fears are suppressed, a certain confidence is created, suspensions and movements are selected. (Mauss 1973: 71)
Instincts (reflexes) and emotions (fear, confidence) are taught to be controlled, movements and suspensions (stops, pauses, temporary preventions) are selected to be included in the behavioral repertory.
This was an idea I could generalise. The position of the arms and hands while walking form a social idiosyncracy, they are not simply a product of some purely individual, almost completely physical arrangements and mechanisms. (Mauss 1973: 72)
This sounds like a nonverbal sociolect, although -lect is the wrong suffix, as it refers to lexemes. Sociokinesics?
Lastly, another series of facts impressed itself upon me. In all these elements of the art of using the human body, the facts of education were dominant. The notion of education could be superimposed on that of imitation. (Mauss 1973: 73)
It is important that it is an art. This point of view sees a creative, agentive, reflexive, aspects of using one's body. And indeed, we acquire most of our repertory by way of imitation, behavioral mimesis.
I should never stop if I tried to demonstrate to you all the facts that might be listed to make visible this concourse of the body and moral or intellectual symbols. Here let us look for a moment at ourselves. Everything in us all is under command. I am a lecturer for you; you can tell it from my sitting posture and my voice, and you are listening to me seated and in silence. We have a set of permissible or impermissible, natural or unnatural attitudes. Thus we should attribute different values to the act of staring fixedly: a symbol of politeness in the army, and of rudeness in everyday life. (Mauss 1973: 76)
Significant on so many levels. Concourse! Commanding one's body. Permissibility. Context.
The weaned child. It can eat and drink; it is taught to walk; it is trained in vision, hearing, in a sense of rhythm and form and movement, often for dancing and music. (Mauss 1973: 79)
Of course rhythm is involved in dancing and music, but it is also extremely important in bodily movements in social interactions (synchrony, mirroring, interchange rhythms, etc.).
By definition, rest is the absence of movements, movement the absence of rest. (Mauss 1973: 81)
This can be put in Judith Hanna's terms: movement is the release of energy in space, rest is the conservation of energy (less expenditure).
I ordered the soldiers not to march in step drawn up in ranks and in two files four abreast, and I obliged the squad to pass between two of the trees in the courtyard. They marched on top of one another. They realised that what they were being made to do was not so stupid. In group life as a whole there is a kind of education of movements in close order. (Mauss 1973: 85)
Mauss noticed the importance of cultural patterning of movements. He called it education of movements.
Cases of invention, of laying down principles, are rare. Cases of adaption are an individual psychological matter. But in general they are governed by education, and at least by the circumstances of life in common, of contact. (Mauss 1973: 85-86)
Although cultural patterns of bodily movements are not "invented" or layed down in principles, they are learned or adapted in the course of shared existence in society ("life in common").
I think that the basic education in all these techniques consists of an adaption of the body to their use. For example, the great tests of stoicism, etc., which constitute initiation for the majority of manking, have as their aim to teach composure, resistance, seriousness, presence of mind, dignity, etc. The main utility I see in my erstwhile mountaineering was this education of my composure, which enabled me to sleep upright on the narrowest ledge overlooking an abyss. (Mauss 1973: 86)
This falls in line with Goffman's discussion of the face (having to do with presence of mind, dignity, respectfulness, etc.). Also, define:composure - "The state or feeling of being calm and in control of oneself.", synonymous with calmness, equanimity, serenity, coolness. This is very much related to maintaining a face.
It consists especially of education in composure. And the latter is above all a retarding mechanism, a mechanism for inhibiting disorderly movements; this retardation subsequently allows a co-ordinated response of co-ordinated movements setting off in the direction of a chosen goal. (Mauss 1973: 86)
Ah! Because disorderly movements threaten the face.

Sharp, Lesley A. 2000. The Commodification of the Body and Its Parts. Annual Review of Anthropology 29: 287-328.

...specialized realms of knowledge and power - including the nation-state, the military, magic, clinical biomedicine, and scientific knowledge and research - expose diverse constructions of the body, its potential fragmentation, and, ultimately, its commodification. (Sharp 2000: 288)
In my first article I had to begin with the working definitions and construct a definition of the human body as it is viewed from the standpoint of nonverbal communication research (nonverbalism). In a way it also pointed at a means of commodification: the body language discourse (the anecdotal, uncritical, pseudo-scientific diversity) commodifies bodily behavior.
The body may be fragmented both metaphorically and literally through language, visual imaging, or the actual surgical reconstruction, removal, or replacement of specific parts. In turn, what do such (de)constructions say about body boundaries, the integrity of the self, and the shifting social worth of human beings? As revealed below, scientific forms of knowledge currently fragment the body with increasing regularity. (Sharp 2000: 289)
Thus, fragmenting is also a marginal concursive operation (one can talk about one part of the body and neglect the others; e.g., only describe the face or physical build of a person). At the moment I am most interested in the nonverbal self, e.g. the "embodied" integrity of the self.
As Lock (1993a) has argued in this journal, anthropology has frequently privileged phenomenological approaches above others. Theorists have drawn especially from Merleau-Ponty (1962) and, more recently, employ Bourdieu's (1977) configuration of habitus, as derived in part from earlier essays on the "techniques of the body" and personhood by Mauss [1973 (1935), 1985 (1938)]. Questions frequently focus on the nature of being-in-the-world, where illness foregrounds the sense of the body-as-self. As the phenomenological philosopher Leder argues (1990:69, 80), whereas wellness may allow the body to "dissappear from awareness and action," pain and disability are often accompanied by "a heightened thematization of the body" (see also Fine & Asche 1988, French 1994, Murphy 1987). A focus on embodiment thus ultimately foregrounds the dualistic separation of body and self. This dualism, so rampant in medical practice, facilitates the depersonalization - and, thus, dehumanization - of persons-as-bodies, a process that ultimately allows for the commodification of the body and its parts. (Sharp 2000: 289-290)
This is of course nothing new. Nikolai Foregger put it bluntly: "Philistine wisdom asserts that only during an illness does one feel one's body. The dancer, however, must always be sensitive to his body's harmony and be aware of every contraction of the muscles." (Foregger 1975: 76). And one of course cannot forget the Platonic contention that the body is an endless source of trouble. The heightened thematization of the body in pain is discussed throroughly by Elaine Scarry (1985). The depersonalization and dehumanization aspect is relevant for my purposes, as this has to do with denying subjectivity (mind, free will, etc.) to bodies and according them to some form of discipline or regulation (e.g., the case of the military).
...commodification exposes the limits of embodiment theory because this process inevitably brings to the foreground the objectification of the body over subjective experience. (Sharp 2000: 290)
THe mystery of commidities lies in the fact that "Value ... does not stalk about with a label describing what it is"; instead it "converts every product into a social hieroglyphic. Later on, we try to decipher the hieroglyphic, to get behind the secret of our own social products" (Marx 1978:319-322). (Sharp 2000: 291)
This is a neat expression; and very applicable. If the body language discourse commodifies bodily behavior then it in fact transforms movements and postures into "social hieroglyphics" which have to be deciphered. This becomes very obvious when we account for people who are not familiar with the body language discourse and claim that they have never had to "puzzle over" (decipher) body language ([lucy 09-08-2009 00:12]).
As Patterson (1982) has argued, dehumanization - as a form of objectification - is intrinsic to enslavement, often characterized by a profound sense of "social death." Slavery is also the point of departure for other exploitative labor practices: Domestic service and child labor, for example, are frequently described as legalized forms of enslavement. In these and other context, the labor process may, in turn, fragment the body. Thus, in English, workers have long been referred to as "hands" [Dickens 1994 (1854)]. The social worth of these and other categories of persons depends heavily on their economic value, so they may also fall prey to forms of bodily trafficking. (Sharp 2000: 293)
I came to the conclusion that involuntary military service is a form of enslavement by viewing it in light of I. Berlin's theory of freedom. It makes sense in this context also, even to the extent of fragmentation. Although instrumental (mediated by a weapon), soldiers may be referred to as "guns" (short for "gunman") and other such examples - these may seem a bit odd viewed in this light, e.g. a "sniper" is a weapon but also the person who uses that particular weapon.
In this vein, women consistently emerge as specialized targets of commodification, where the female body is often valued for its reproductive potential. (Sharp 2000: 193)
I was wondering how to express this in specific words. This has been bothering me for a while now, even more so that the term "body language" has been appropriated by fitness and health organizations to be used metaphorically. Women are indeed more involved with bodies, beautifying and perfecting them, as if their appearance - the outward manifestation (sign) of their reproductive potential - is the only aspect of feminity to be pursued.
Although female bodies dominate scholarly discussions, male bodies may also fall prey to exploitative practices. [...] When set against discussions of women's bodies as highlighted here, far less concern is voiced, for example, over the military use of soldiers' bodies, or the commercial status of sperm donation. (Sharp 2000: 294)
I am instantly reminded of A Love Like Pi's song "Young Men": "Oh, the young men die / And the people shrug their shoulders / Let them go." Somehow it is the case that a young man found dead is a fact of nature, but a young woman found dead is a tragedy. Judging how the male has much shorter (genetically predisposed) life expectancy and how many useless old women there are around - in a rational world - it should be the other way around.
Female reproduction raises many thorny questions about choice as well as about body ownership and integrity. Childbirth, after all, generates a host of medically valued by-products, including the umbilical cord, placenta, and fetal brain matter and other tissues from neonates who do not survive. In such contexts, women might ask are these me? Are they mine? Or are they social property? Pescheky (1995) asserts that alternative readings are possible: e.g. Bangladeshi women's activist F. Akhter scorns Western feminist constructions of the body as property as mirroring capitalist, patriarchal itnerests; to regard the body as property reduces it to "a 'reproductive factory,' objectifies it, and denies" the "natural [reproductive] power" of the body (see Petchesky 1995: 394-95). The irony here is that heated debates over self-ownership - whether phrased in Lockeian, Kantian, or Marxist terms - arise because so much is at stake. As Andrews (1992) argues, it is one thing to claim one's body as one's own property; it is another entirely for other parties to lay claim to it. One only need consider the all-too-real potential of cloning, paired with current attempts to develop an artificial womb, to realize the ability of science to wrench control (and ownership) of culturally specific understandings of "natural" or embodied forms of pregnancy and birth (Squire 1995). These developments bear the frightening potential to render female reproduction and motherhood obsolete. (Sharp 2000: 300)
Yet another #self notion. Aldous Huxley was prophetic in relation with this discussion. If female reproduction and motherhood do become obsolete no one can claim ownership over children, and thus offspring becomes patentless. It is only a step from there to "viviparous" becoming a dirty word.
A political-economic approach to reproduction uncovers other conundrums. Individual nation-states, for example, may insist upon radically different understandings of the body. Militaries, after all, consistently appropriate soldiers' bodies in a host of spatio-temporal settings; and the dehumanizing violence wrought upon bodies through torture exposes nefarious claims upon particularized categories of transgressive bodies (Axel 2000, Daniel 1997, Das 1997, Green 1998, Scarry 1985). (Sharp 2000: 300)
Yup, appropriation of bodies by a total institution. And, of course, Scarry is mentioned.
  • Leder D. 1990. The Absent Body. Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press
  • Fine M. Asche A. 1988. Disability beyond stigma: social interaction, discrimination, and activism. J. Soc. Issues 44:3-21
  • Patterson O. 1982. Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press
  • Axel B. 2000. The Nation's Tortured Body: Violence, Representation, and the Formation of a Skih Diaspora. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press

Murray, Stephen O. and Marcel Mauss 1989. A 1934 Interview with Marcel Mauss. American Ethnologist 16(1): 163-168.

I am the only sociologist who was a student of Emile Durkheim when he was at Bordeaux, before coming to the Sorbonne. I believe that he was the greatest sociologist France has ever had, and I think I am not saying this because he was my uncle. He was great because of (1) the vast range of his scientific knowledge; (2) the fineness and scrupulous character of his own scientific work; (3) the soundness of his profound generalizations inductively arrived at from his materials; (4) his originality and freshness of thought; (5) his extremely extensive activity within his field; and (6) his ability to win men to his side and to inspire them to continue the labor which he showed them needed to be done. (Murray & Mauss 1989: 163-164)
Characteristics of a great mind.
As to my own work, Iam not interested in developing systematic theories. I simply work away on my materials, and if, here and there a valid generalization appears, I state it, and pass on to something else. My major interest is not to set up some broad general theoretical scheme that covers the whole field (an impossible task!), but only to show something of the dimensions of the field, of which so far, we have only touched the edges. We know something, a little here and there, that's all. Having worked in this way, my theories are scattered and unsystematic, and there is nowhere that one can find them summarized. (Murray & Mauss 1989: 165)
Mauss characterizing his own work.
If our French universities have a superiority over American ones, it lies in this fact: that we have many scholars who love scholarship and do research for its own sake. They are indifferent to publication, and many have published little or nothing, but they think, and they know. Their knowledge is so profound that everyone is afraidof them. Tucked away in their studies, boring into unfamiliarrealms, with no one to limit them in any way, they discover new truth that enriches our scholarship immeasurably. In them is our universities' strength! (Murray & Mauss 1989: 165-166)
Wow. Cocky but inspiring.

Bertonoff, Deborah 1967. A Comparative Study of the Movement Accentuation of the Body in Different Nations. Journal of the International Folk Music Council 19: 53-54.

THE three gods of the Indian pantheon are represented in sculpture with many arms, so as to symbolize a multiplicity of actions executed simultaneously. I find a similar manifestation in the classical Indian dance: a contrapuntal simultaneousness in pointing out the direction, and rhythmical accentuation, of the movement executed by the different parts of the body, each of them acting and reacting in its own way. The stony position of a quasi-polyrhythmic phenomenon in the sculptures is transformed in the dance into a polyrhythm of movement. (Bertonoff 1967: 53)
I had no idea that this was the reason for the multiple hands.
From my own choreographical and research work, from always having observed and used bodily reactions in the dance, I have long been aware that every part of the body has a mind and sense of its own. (This is, from a different angle, the same conclusion which led Ouspensky, in his New Model of the Universe, to say that during a dream each one of the different parts of the body thinks independently of the other parts, and in a different way from the others.) Such an experience may lead to a deeper knowledge of the body's reactions to rhythm; using Ouspensky's hypothesis once more we have to say that the feet think, feel and react in their own particular ways; so does the head; the arms, the hands, the fingers, moreover, think and feel by themselves and have each their own memories, their own mental images, their own associations. (Bertonoff 1967: 53)
American psychiatrist - about the same time - posited that when a person's limbs move in different rhythms the person is most likely a schizophrenic. After doing a quick search on Ouspensky (I thought the author had wrongly transliterated B.A. Uspensky's name) I discovered that he was a Russian mystic who wrote about an interesting concept named self-remembering (and I'm an avid fann of #self notions, so I have to look into it.). This was an extremely short but very useful piece.

Lock, Margaret 1993. Cultivating the Body: Anthropology and Epistemologies of Bodily Practice and Knowledge. Annual Review of Anthropology 22: 133-155.

Since the body mediates all reflection and action upon the world, its centrality to the anthropological endeavor seems assured, but a perusal of the canon of social and cultural anthropology indicates that the body's explicit appearance has been sporadic throughout the history of the discipline. (Lock 1993: 133)
This is how I feel about semiotics. The body mediates both the Merkwelt and the Wirkwelt and surely is central to the semiotic endeavor, yet explicit reference to the body is scarce in semiotic discourse.
Keat has pointed out that contemporary philosophers and social scientists have spent a great deal of time discussing the distinctiveness of human beings, but at the same time have held firm to an assumption about the "non-distinctiveness" of the human body. Because human evolution and variation among human populations ahve always been part of the anthropological bailiwick, anthropologists have proved a good deal more alert to the theoretical challenges posed by the body than have other social scientists. Nevertheless, they have tended to accept that the physical body falls "naturally" into the domain of the basic sciences and is therefore beyond the pervue of social and cultural anthropology. (Lock 1993: 134)
This I encountered in Sharp's (2000) article also: there's a tendency to speak about a non-distinct body, an abstraction which should encompass all varieties of the human form.
A shift in perspective can be observed since the late 1970s. Bethelot has recently noted that the "body would appear to be everywhere". Paradoxically, since closer attention has been paid to bodily representation, the body has become more elusive, fluid, and uncontrollable. Many researchers who have attempted to theorize and grapple with epistemology have become progressively eclectic in their efforts to portray the body in its infinite complexity while becoming increasingly aware that the "problem" of the body will not be settled. (Lock 1993: 134)
I believe this is what is called the corporeal turn. Perhaps it only coincides with but perhaps it is caused by the surge of interest in nonverbal communication which occurred in the beginning of the 1970s.
For the Annales group, the corporeal body was a tabula rasa, the "first and most natural tool of man" - an artifact from which the social order was created. Mauss believed that all bodily expression is learned, nevertheless he tried, through comparative taxonomy, to demonstrate the interdependence of the physical, psychosocial, and social domains, and both he and Van Gennep showed that body techniques, whether used primarily in ritual or in everyday life, correspond to sociocultural mapping of time and space. (Lock 1993: 135)
Well, I am now aware of the Annales school/group, and I somewhat concur with the body being the first and most natural instrument in man's use, yet I did know (did not come to realize this from "The Techniques of the Body") that Mauss fell into the "relativist" camp on the notorious argument. But of course it makes sense - anthropology looks for differences in comparing different societies and cultures; yet I am reluctant to take Lock at her word and will see in the future if Mauss's view was indeed as onesided as it appears here.
Ellen has called for recognition of a dialectical relationship between "the cerebral, the material and the social" (54:370). He concedes that because cognitive structures are biologically grounded, body classifications cannot be arbitrary; culture simply provides the appropriate labels to affix to physical sensations. (Lock 1993: 136)
Ayayay how close this is to the Tomkins/Ekman neurocultural account of emotion. Yet culture is not only about language (the lexical labels) but also structures the physical sensation in many ways. Ironically, Ellen's article is the very same "Anatomical classification and the semiotics of the body" which appeared alongside with Ekman's expose in The Anthropology of the Body (Blacking ed. 1977).
Ellen also claims that in another sense culture can be dominant, and nature, including the body, is then redefined and reified largely in terms of culturally determined categories - rather than perception dominating classification, it is the classificatory system [code?] itself that becomes concretized. The shifts in orientation of authors such as Ellen, Douglas, Sahlins, and other stimulated a fundamental reformulation of the problem of the body as one of semiosis, in other words, how the body functions as both a "transmitter" and "receiver" of information, in turn a function of the positioning of the individual in society. Nevertheless any connection between knowledge and practice remains essentially obscure, as does the problem of individual meanings attributed to cultural symbols and their manipulation, related in turn to relationships of power. (Lock 1993: 136)
Damn this is good. It neatly connects semiosis (bodily sign-processes) and social positionality. For the obscure problems of knowledge, practice, and the transactions between individual and sociocultural, I have began to utilize the notion of self-communication (or rather a whole complex of #self notions which enable to recognize the subjective position in numerous practices, including power operations).
Over the past twenty years, conceptual appraoches to the body have tried to overcome a radical separation of knowledge and practice (in poststructuralist terms, of text and enactment), largely through decentering the cognitive construction of knowledge. Interpretations that seek explicitly to collapse mind/body dualities, or that are essentially dialectical or montage-like in form, are now privileged. The body is no longer portrayed simply as a template for socila organization, nor as a biological black box cut off from "mind," and nature/culture and mind/body dualities are self-consciously interrogated. (Lock 1993: 136)
Aww fuck I used "text" and "(re)enactment" in my article. Does this make me a poststructuralist? Surely my nonverbalist project is not inhibited by these notions, but they merely enable me to reduce complex phenomena into more fathomable ones. I also feel a bit guilty because I have interrogated the nature/culture dualities already and the mind/body duality is not far off. Aww... This is what happens when you're immersed in the literature of the 70s and suddenly come across a paper from the 90s which is immersed in the same discourse - Lock has drawn conclusions which I am still trying to draw. Damn.
...subjectivity and it's relation to biology and society cannot be ignored. (Lock 1993: 136)
At least I have formulated my own conceptual map or phraseology. This exact sentence I woud phrase: "individual semiosis and it's relation to species-specific and socio-cultural processes cannot be ignored."
As a result, coneptual dichotomies inevitably metasticize into one another. (Lock 1993: 137)
They do what? It appears this is a common misspelling of metastasize {me-TAS-ta-size} - "to change, spread or transform dangerously or destructively."
Drawing on a reformulation of Mauss' concept of habitus, Bourdieu's theory was explicitly grounded in the repetition of unconscious mundane bodily practices. Formulated in opposition to Levi-Strauss, it was designed to overcome a rigid dualism between mental structures and the world of materjal objects. Bourdieu can be accused of ignoring dissent and social transformation, but he has had, along with de Certeau and Elias, a pervasive influence on anthropological thinking about the bodily practices of everyday life, thier reproduction through enculturation, and their relationship to discourse. (Lock 1993: 137)
I wonder what does it say about me that I already know about all these men?
Foucault's discussion of biopower has had a profound effect on anthropological representations of the body. Central to his theory is the concept of "surveillance," institutionalized through disciplinary techniques, resulting in the production of docile bodies. (Lock 1993: 140)
Somehow I have missed the "docile bodies" part of Foucault's argument, but then again I haven't read his major works yet. Presently it seems to describe very exactly of what happens in Orwell's 1984.
Rather than focusing on the physical domination of subjects by institutions, Seremetakis analyzes the expression of pain by individual subjects, interpreting it as a challenge to hegemonic order. Through an examination of the semiotics of expressed grief and its relationship to shared moral inferences, she shows that truth claims can be asserted through emotion, and concludes that it is particularly when the subject is in conflict with the social order that emotions are forcefully expressed. (Lock 1993: 141)
This is one way to go about it. And a good way, I presume, as in all of my source materials (the three dystopias) the protagonists are in conflict with the social order and express doubt, confusion, anger and pain at the situation. That is, instead of the institutional approach, the ways the individual responds to institutions can be viewed. The rest of the article similarly gives short overviews of different anthropological works, many of them overlapping with Sharp's article. As a sidenote, this relatively short article has a record amount of references ("literature cited"): 258. That's approximately the amount I coult muster if I used EVERY book and article I have read during the past 2.5 years AND a lot of my citations are frankly unusable. So kudos, M.L.
  • Le Breton D. 1985. The Body and Individualism. Diogenes 131: 24-45.
  • Jackson M. 1983. Thinking through the body: an essay on understanding metaphor. Soc. Anal. 14: 127-149.

Kroeber, A. L. 1956. The Place of Boas in Anthropology. American Anthropologist 58(1): 151-159.

The strictures of Boas' Kwakiutl ethnography seem largely to reduce to a charge that he did what seemed feasible and important to him, and not what his critics would have preferred him to do. First of all, he gathered an enormous corpus of data - pretty much unexampled, at least in America. (Kroeber 1956: 151)
This seems to be a pertinent problem in almost any type of creation, be it science or entertainment. The best thing to do seems to be exactly this - what is feasible (possible) and seems important (good).
...linguistic facts are adhered to with unanimity within a language and therefore have a greater objectivity and certitude than most cultural ones. Everyone speaking English agrees that the plural of "tree" is "trees" and that most other words pluralize the same way, but that there are a few others that use "-en" instead. In non-linguistic culture there are far more alternatives and choices. (Kroeber 1956: 152)
This is very true. I think it is largely because language use is explicit - there are rules to be followed and language users are very aware of them (the rules are taught at school). But in the nonverbal sphere there are very few explicit rules and even those that are seem to be malleable. For example, if you misspell awfully lot of words in a text you appear to be uneducated; but if you choose to paint pictures in a non-realistic or even childish way it is your artistic merit. With social interaction the picture is of course much more complicated, because there ARE rules, they are simply very difficult to point out because the context is more important than the behavior itself.
I doubt very much that Boas neglected cultural dynamics. He certainly professed it as his chief aim in anthropology during the some twenty or thirty final years of his life when he is charged with having held up its development. In fact, he may possible be credited with having originated the slogal "cultural dynamics." And it is a sort of slogan, or, at least, one of those phrases arousing pleasurable emotions. Like freedom, and working in depth, and synthesis, all of us are for it. Has anyone ever announced a preference for cultural statics? (Kroeber 1956: 153)
Welp, presumably, "the conservatives" - whoever they may be - have a preference for culturla statics. But indeed, even in cultural semiotics, dynamics is heralded as something that arouses pleasurable emotions. Ours is of course very rigid, semiospherical model, in which cultural dynamics has been reduced to the interactions of texts, languages and codes, but whatever; there are better models available, surely.
Tarde tried to analyze the psychology involved in tradition, change, fashion, etc., and applied keen perception to many concrete situations in culture history. He was translated by Elsie Clews Parsons in her early, sociological days. Like William James, Tarde has been nearly forgotten by psychologists because of the preference for objective techniques over ideas. (Kroeber 1956: 154)
Tarde has of course by now given new life in French philosophy by Deleuze and his students. Interestingly, there is a book by Tarde in UTLIB, titled On communication and social influence : selected papers (1969) which undoubtedly falls into my field of interest.

Garnett, A. Campbell 1950. In Search of the Miraculous by P. D. Ouspensky. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 268: 248-249

David Hume's famous essay on miracles concluded that the only real miracle is that people believe in them. In this book, miracle is defined in a highly sophisticated way as the penetration into an unknown reality behind "the thin film of false reality" which constitutes our ordinary experience. Nevertheless, one does not read far before seeing that Hume's conclusion applies here too. (Garnett 1950: 248)
The thin film of false reality and penetrating it reminds me of what Devereux wrote about the philosophy of Yoga: "The underlying psychology of yoga is sophisticated but simple. A key concept is illusion, or maya. Maya is a sanskrit term which refers to the unreal world in which we life."
The author's description of his youthful thoughts reveal a speculative but completely uncritical mind with a lively curiosity concerning the mystical. He meets an Indian "teacher" referred to as "G" and in the course of the succeeding years absorbs from him a tissue of nonsense concerning astral bodies and the determining influence of the moon on human events that is utterly ludicrous. (Garnett 1950: 249)
Heh. This is how I feel about semiotics at times, especially with the less scientific and more "mystical" lecturers: that we (the students) are made to absorb a tissue of nonsense. Wikipedia of course tells us that this "teacher" is George Gurdjieff.
For a political scientist there are two sobering thoughts in discovering a book like this. The first is the evidence it affors of the extent to which even intelligent people can be attracted to fantastically illogical schemes of thought, unsupported by anything worth calling evidence, and out of harmony with the traditional patterns; for a certain level of intelligence somewhat above the average is required to read a book of this sort, and the publishers evidently think there are enough buers to make it profitable. The second is the fact that the "teachers" revered in India, a country of great strategic importance in our world today, are steeped in this sort of uncritical mysticism, and out of it can come a variety of illogical fanaticisms responsive to whatever the pressures of the course of events may be. (Garnett 1950: 249)
Here we have a good case of ethnocentrism: the author of this review passes judgment on the thought systems of India being "fantastically illogical", "uncritically mystical" and "fanatistic" - a contention important ONLY BECAUSE India is "a country of great strategic importance." It is frightening that a political scientist, intelligent enough to merit writing reviews, can exhibit such crude attitudes.

Gordon, Mel 1978. Gurdjieff's Movement Demonstrations: The Theatre of the Miraculous. The Drama Review: TDR 22(2): 32-44.

Drawing on pre-Christian Assyrian, Phrygian, Armenian, Zoroastrian, Sufi, Tibetan, and Persian elements at the time of the Russian Revolution, George Ivanovich Gurdjieff attempted to create a school of thought that would coordinate and expand Western man's anatomic and intellectual centers of energy into newly dynamic forms. Certain physical and mental activities, Gurdjieff believed, could bring about a total alteration of consciousness. For over sixty years his philosophy has found adherents among the intelligentsia of the Russian, French, and English-speaking world. Directors, choreographers, musicians, designers, painters, writers, and psychologists like Nikolai Evreinov, Sergei Diaghilev, Thomas de Hartmann, Alexander and Jeanne Saizmann, Louis Jouvet, Felix Labisse, J.B. Priestley, Aldous Huxley, Katherine Mansfield, Frank Lloyd Wright, Moshe Feldenkrais, and Peter Brook have all sought artistic inspiration in the esoteric teachings of the Russian-born mystic. (Gordon 1978: 34)
My brief familiarity with Gurdjieff's thought on wikipedia indicates towards the common element here being psychedelic drugs, e.g. Huxley'd soma.
Throughout his adolescence, Gurdjieff developed a joint interest in religion and science. At Kars, he prepared both for the priesthood and for a vocation in medicine. But after a prolonged study of the most up-to-date texts in psychology and neurophysiology, Gurdjieff concluded that none of the current theories could adrequately explain the supernatural phenomena that he had observed since his childhood. Of course, much of what he saw was simple tricks or the result of hypnotic suggestion, but some of it, Gurdjieff felt, was not. (Gordon 1978: 34)
This merely adds a drop into my cup of "psychology and neurophysiology constitute a petri dish for wack ideas." Neurobiology I consider the most dangerous - knowing a lot about the functioning of the nervous system, brrrr.
It was at this time that Gurdjieff read the translation of the recently rediscovered tables of the Gilgamesh epic. The long-lost poems just published in an archeological journal closely resembled the chants about Gilgamesh that his father sang to him as a child. The fact that this complicated myth was handed down orally with such great precision for over 5,000 years electrified Gurdjieff. Perhaps, as was frequently suggested to him, certain kinds of occult wisdom and practice were preserved as well in faraway or inaccessible places. (Gordon 1978: 34-35)
This is a powerful suggestion and I have felt something analogous in my own work - that there is a wealth of knowledge hidden away in the repositories of libraries and only recently digitalized databases.
In the monasteries and cliff communities of Abyssinia, among the wisemen of the Hindu Kush, and elsewhere, Gurdjieff began to find what he sought. He learned not only the language but each region's customs and rituals. In Bokhara and Afganistan, Gurdjieff was taught dervish-whirling and other Sufi ceremonial magic. After the return of the century, Gurdjieff found himself at the court of the Dali Lama in Lhasa. Besides immersing himself in Tibetan ritual practices, Gurdjieff acted, according to British intelligence, as an undercover agent for the Czar. It is now widely accepted that during his period of intense spiritual-seeking, Gurdjieff engaged in political espionage and dubious business activities to fund his travels and those of his friends. (Gordon 1978: 35)
This seems probably. If he indeed acted like a proto-anthropologist, and was soul searching (or just looking for fights), he might have just as well passed socio-political information to his homeland. Even the earliest travellers are reported to do this, presently I see no harm in this kind of "cross-pollination". It makes for interesting reading.
The function of all art - that is, sacred or objective art, a key to the fourth way - Gurdjieff maintained, was not the invocation of esthetic beauty or the imitation of surface reality, but rather the initiation of the recipient into a completely different plane of understanding, to awaken him into experiencing the sense of cosmic place and time, to permanently shatter and enlarge his socially-delimited notion of personality. (Gordon 1978: 37)
It is a crude simplification on my part, but it sounds like "altered states of consciousness," which can be brought about by the physical movement of the body (e.g. dance).
The movement work soon became a focal point of the Institute, as Gurdjieff further elaborated on one of his theses - that man is controlled by three interconnected vital centers: those of cognition, feeling, and movement. Each thought or sentiment expressed itself in a gesture or pose. Correspondingly, every movement creates a change in the mind or nervous system. According to Gurdjieff, particular physical or psycho-physical activities, such as those he learned in Central Asia or Tibet, could alter one's means of perception or intellection in very radical ways. (Gordon 1978: 38)
This sounds like a common proposition in modern social and cultural studies: that man consists of the cognitive and affective "embodiment." And I presume "embodiment" to mean an active (not a static, unmoving, braindead) body.
The sacred gymnastics employed a different kind of logic, being more for the dancers than the spectators, although they were frequently performed before large audiences. Unliek Dalcroze's eurhythmics and Laban's eukinetics, which were also created to affect the performer's psychological state, Gurdjieff's gynmastics often lacked any sort of graceful or beautiful dance rhythms. Instead, participants were given complicated angular or difficult movements to reproduce. (Gordon 1978: 39)
I should look into eukinetics when I finally come to Laban(otation).
During this period, Gurdjieff developed his "Stop Exercise," a training devise that would eventually be a trademark of his Institute and system. Again, believing that internal and physical actions were intrinsically linked, Gurdjieff states that one major reason mankind's spiritual evolution had been stymied was the individual's reliance on habitual mental, emotiona, and motor activities. By altering one aspect in one of the vital centers, other changes would follow. According to Gurdjieff, the average person possesses about thirty automatic attitudes or poses. All of man's physical movements are concerned with passing from one habitual position to another. These limited postures are generally socially conditioned. Each epoch, each nationality, each occupation has its own particular repertory of movements that prevents the individual from perceiving new sensations and thoughts. An English scholar cannot understand the thought-processes and feelings of a Manchu prince or medieval French laborer without studying and imitating the way each expresses fear or carries his body or sits. Before one can comprehend new sources of knowledge, a motor change must be affected. (Gordon 1978: 39)
This is where Gurdjieff seems like an early nonverbalist. Indeed, his first-hand "anthropological" experience with how different societies and cultures carry their bodies must have seem self-evident to him. In our day-to-day activities we rarely if ever notice how limited our bodily movements actually are. It is indeed possible that acquiring a larger repertory or even "stepping out of the box" of repertories and inventing unique movements could produce cognitive processes and affective states unknown in routine life.
Any break in a person's prearranged movement patterns, Gurdjieff believed, would result in a change of consciousness. While eating or socializing on the stage, when they were least expecting it, Gurdjieff would command his students to stop. Between positions, as if they were caught in a photograph, the students were isntructed to hold these new poses, completely arresting their musculature. Without changing the tension of their facial muscles, their gaze, and so forth, each student was required to concentrate on each new grouping of muscles, to block out any old flow of feeling or thinking, to absorb just what he experienced at the instant of the command. Occasionally, since they could not unfreeze their awkward postures at the moment of the command, disciples fell right offstage when performing. Over a period of time, Gurdjieff's pupils developed a totally new, unnatural and non-habitual sense of balance. That and the sharp and unpredictable tableauz impressed many spectators. (Gordon 1978: 39)
Neat. I am a person with a very limited repertory. Perhaps I should work the Stop Exercise during my military service to combat the disciplinary restriction of body movements most likely evident in army training. At this point I'm presuming that the objective of the training process in military is to reduce the movements of the body to those of the most utilitarian, most powerful, most efficient... That is, like Orwell's "newspeak", it aims to get rid of movements that are not "useful" for war. By exercising the Stop Exercise one could still acquire unprescribed agility.
Like a wiseman in a Sufi community, Gurdjieff made personal demands on each of his students. A woman who enjoyed eating sweets and smoking would be forbidden to do so. Special exercises in attention and "self-remembering" would be tailored to the needs of each student. (Gordon 1978: 41)
This is what I'm most interested in. How would these exercises be tailored individually? What were they?
Smoking an Egyptian cigarette and dressed in a tuxedo, Gurdjieff approached one end of the stage. On the opposite side were his students. Suddenly Gurdjieff tossed something into the air. Racing to catch it, the performers were stopped with Gurdjieff's command. Frozen into a kind of racetrack photo, the pupils were transformed into statues of "petrified rabbits," as one critic wrote. Letting a minute pass, Gurdjieff gave another command for them to relax. Returning to the side of the stage, the performers repeated the exercise several times. (To demonstrate a student's complete immobility, on one occasion, Gurdjieff walked up to him and pushed him over.) (Gordon 1978: 43)
Le impressive.

Mace, C. A. 1931. Faculties and Instincts. Mind 40(157): 37-48.

EXPLANATIONS of the experiences and the behaviour of men and the lower animals by reference to a system of dispositions called the 'instincts' have enjoyed a considerable vogue in recent years. The enjoyment, however, has been more than a little dirturbed by a group of critics who would convict the whole procedure of fundamental error. (Mace 1931: 37)
The language of the late 20s and early 30s is pleasurable in a way: dispositions, vogue, mild, strictures, etc.
It is sometimes said, for example, that the 'faculty' must be rejected from scientific Psychology because it is an unobserved and unobservable entity. This however is a consideration of very little weight. Unobserved and unobservable entities play an honorouble part in all sciences. The description would apply to a coefficient of expansion, to a Mendelian unit character, to an electron and to many of the cause factors which are 'postulated' to explain observed facts. (Mace 1931: 37-38)
"Faculty" is "an inherent mental or physical power." It seems to be in some way related to "competence" expounded since the 50s. In a characteristic lingo, what we would today call "covert behavior" in behavioristic jargon, is here "unobserved and unobservable" - a much more clear expression. It is also worth noticing that much of semitic phenomena are merely "postulated to explain observed facts." That is, semiotics is very theory-laden. Mace makes a case for this not being so bad, as there are many unobservable entities which still play an honorable part in the sciences.
A second of the less fundamental lines of criticism arises from the fact that performances which are supposed to spring from the same faculty are independently variable. Memory for faces may be good and memory for names poor. Such facts, however, so far from constituting an objection to the conception of a faculty would in fact increase their number. They would modify our classification of the faculties without affecting the validity of the concept as such. (Mace 1931: 38)
There seems to be a similar problem in semiotics with the notion of "code" - the varieties of codes are possibly infinite. Another example falls into the same category as the example brought by Mace: that today psychologists recognize several dozens of different "memory systems." As a sidenote, the word "soporific" is interesting - "Tending to induce drowsiness or sleep." Very simple, yet unknown.
McDougall defines an instrinct as a "disposition which determines its possessor to perceive and pay attention to objects of a certain class, to experience emotional excitement of a particular quality upon perceiving such an object, and to act in regard to it in a particular manner, or at least to experience an impulse to such action". (Mace 1931: 45)
Mace's own discussion is beyond my comprehension (too philosophical? I'm not getting the jist of the arguments) but this definition is neat. If explained correctly in light of definition, nonverbalism could be described as an "instinct". It would be an acquired instinct, of course, and contrary to the common use of the term (by which an instinct is not acquired), but still, it's neat.
In the first place I think it would be widely agreed that McDougall's use of the term 'instinct' is unfortunate. It may be admitted that the dispositions which he calls 'instincts' certainly exist. But the word is required for an immense variety of specific tendencies which his formulae fail to cover. I should therefore favour a revival of a term which has been unnecessarily discarded from our psychological vocabulary. His instinct might be described as the fundamental propensities. (Mace 1931: 46)
It would indeed make more sense if McDougall's definition be appropriated to "propensities", a rare word, but distinct from "instinct" and relatively similar (without the biological connotations). In short, nonverbalism can be a propensity. Define: "An inclination or natural tendency to behave in a particular way." Synonyms: inclination, tendency, leaning, proclivity, bent. I especially like the last one. This is of course "thin ice," as surely there are more such terms which are "discarded" from scientific vocabularies.
To summarise. Criticism of the doctrine of instincts as involving the fallacy of the discredited faculty-psychology must be in part accepted as just. There is, however, no single fallacy of this type, but rather a whole series. These have in common the attempt to explain observed events by reference to conepts which may be described as "formal derivatives" of the observed events. (Mace 1931: 48)
And of course nonverbalism could be accused of these fallacies and I will remain blissfully ignorant of them because I have no interest in logic. I will not fare well in the field of science, but as long as I am able to humor myself and "potential readers" with gaining knowledge, all's fine.

Kenez, Peter 1980. Letters from Russia 1919. by P. D. Ouspensky. Slavic Review 39(3): 496-497.

I have seldom seen a more useless little book. P. D. Uspenskii, the famous mystic and comrade of Gurdjieff, spent some months in 1919 in White-occupied Ekaterinodar. He wrote five "letters" for the British journal, New Age, in which he tried to describe the conditions in the war-torn country. The articles were very brief and now make up less than fifty short pages of text. Whatever Uspenskii's other talents, he was not a good journalist. He had no eye for the small detail which would bring his subject alive. He lavked the ability to explain to the uninformed the tremendous complexities of the political situation. Thus, his book offers little more than exclamations about how terrible things were. (Kenez 1980: 496)
I have seldon seen a more negative review. Nevertheless, some valid points to keep in mind can be abstracted from this critique: notice the small detail and explain it in it's complexity. Another reviewer (on the web) explains that Ouspensky was travelling in Egypt, Ceylon and India and learnt upon his return to Russia that there was a war. Thus it is easily explainable why Ouspensky was not aware of everything the reviewer in 1980 was.
I cannot imagine anyone who could possibly profit from reading this book. (Kenez 1980: 497)
Perhaps one day I could prove this reviewer wrong.

Anonymous Reviewer 1956. The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution. by P. D. Ouspensky. The Quarterly Review of Biology 31(4): 340.

Ouspensky deals, in the course of five lectures grouped here in book form, with the problem of man's ability to know himself as an acting machine, brought to a certain level of perfection by nature but capable of evolving to greater perfections by self-knowledge, self-development and self-determination of direction. His theme is that man can take over at a point where nature left off, but that to do this man must develop inner qualities and capabilities of which he is now but dimly aware or even fails to recognize. Few would disagree with this point of view, but Benjamin Franklin summed this up more simpli in Poor Richard's Almanac: There are three things extremely hard, steel, a diamond, and to know one's self. (AUTOR xxxx: X)
This is the age-old case of γνῶθι σαυτόν ("know thyself", gnōthi seauton).


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