Learning from our body: Important Topics

Adam and Lock’s book begins the Introduction with a question “Do I have a body?” (I’ve got a body?) [1; NS. viii]. It is not without reason that the two authors express this obvious-sounding proposition in the form of an interrogative sentence. By the very nature of theory, research in the humanities is to question the very things that seem obvious or are taken as truth. This form of questioning also shows that the methodological foundation of the study of the body is anti-essentialism, that is, the refusal to see the body as something static, immutable, possessing values. default value.

So what is the focus of body research? On the one hand, it is impossible not to see the importance of the body to human cognitive activities: we use our bodies and senses to perceive and interpret the world around us. Where we position our bodies determines how the world appears to us. We also use our bodies to form identities such as gender, race, ethnicity, social group, etc. through gestures, posture, voice, dress, and jewelry. The body is a place people can exploit to create cultural codes, morals or to dress the ego. But on the other hand, man is not completely free from his body, the body is not always a good expression of our intentions. There are always impositions, restrictions, even taboos placed on people’s practices on the body, from simple everyday things like what we wear, how we wear our hair, how we To what extent do we go out on the street, how can our image be praised and not made ridiculous? The body, therefore, has always had deep and subtle ties to cultural institutions. However, it not only endures and accepts those constraints and oppressions, but always has the potential to resist. For humanities scholars, this is the focus of research: the body is seen as the focal point where we can observe cultural, political and social pressures on people, but also where we see the human resistance to those impositions and limitations. Even the first signs of cultural resistance in social life are often from the body, which the hippies movement arose in the United States in the 1960s associated with men wearing long hair, long beards, Tattoos, dusting clothes are among many examples that are easy to observe. Resistance from the body is the resistance from the bottom up, often of a deeply self-conscious nature about the situation that people want to negate, and therefore easy to create spillovers.

In fact, in the history of culture, there have always been physical practices to resist the power of the invisible gaze. One example cited in this book is the ordination of grotesque, deviant bodies during medieval European carnivals, the meaning of which has been analyzed so convincingly by Mikhail Bakhtin in the his research. The carnival abolished social divisions by class, sex, and age, challenged the Christian ideology that dominated the West at the time, and in particular, legitimized forms of expression. , in which the most important is what is attached to the body, loose, eccentric, outside of all the rules prescribed in daily life. Although this rebellion of the body took place only during the limited period of carnival, it raised medieval people to question the inevitability of rules, norms, and regulations. body culture in daily life. Such a carnival spirit is, in fact, always present in contemporary life. The physical resistances also reflect the constant shifting of the cultural center and periphery.

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