Embodiment as Memory

“If all societies… that seek to produce a new man through a process of ‘deculturation’ and ‘reculturation’ set such store on the seemingly insignificant details of dress, bearing, physical and verbal manners, the reason is that, treating the body as a memory, they entrust to it in abbreviated and practical, i.e. mnemonic, form the fundamental principles of the arbitrary content of the culture.. The principles em-bodied in this way are beyond the grasp of consciousness, and hence cannot be touched by voluntary, deliberate transformation, cannot even be made explicit; nothing seems more ineffable, more incommunicable, more inimitable, and, therefore, more precious, than the values given body, made body by the transubstantiation achieved by the hidden persuasion of an implicit pedagogy, capable of instilling a whole cosmology, an ethic, a metaphysic, a political philosophy, through injunctions as insignificant as ‘stand up straight’ or ‘don’t hold your knife in your left hand’….”

Bourdieu, Pierre. OUTLINE OF A THEORY OF PRACTICE. Trans. Richard Nice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977. 94. Web.


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