Body Thoughts by Andrew Strathern

By Andrew Strathern

Presents a very good overview of anthropological concept at the physique

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It is also a form of appeasement, which we can expect to limit the aggressive response of the dominant other: exactly as one may be enjoined to "crawl" to the boss in hopes of gaining a reprieve after wrongdoing. I would suggest that it is from these ethological sources that the elementary power of bodily symbolism is drawn. As he acknowledges, Connerton's exposition here draws heavily on that by Rappaport (1979). Rappaport's own insights are, in turn, based partly on those of the linguist Charles S.

These two forms of action also often form the basis of the identi- fication of the performer in a ritual with the mythical dead whose actions are being recalled, an identification that reaches an appropriate bodily climax in possession, when the ancestors or the heroes take over the bodies of performers who represent them and thus, as Connerton says, represent themselves to the spectators (1989, 69). The actors thus "become" the ancestors, and this could not happen without the union of the ancestral spirits and the bodies of the performers.

Of the dead are represented as standing at the heads of dreamers also. Sneezes, pro- ceeding suddenly from the head, could be taken as prophetic, since they were a sign of disturbance in the psuche within the head. By synec- doche, again, the hair could be taken as a seat of the soul or as a substi- tute for it, and death was sometimes represented in poetry as the action of the death god in cutting a lock of hair (0o8). The final point here is that the head was seen as the seat of life in another, concrete sense as the vessel of the procreative seed or semen, transmitted to the male testes via the cerebrospinal column.

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