Friday, April 29, 2011

Eleni Stecopoulos: on "Somatics"

For my last post at Harriet for the month, I gave Eleni Stecopoulos a questionnaire about "somatics," which she responded to most generously. So generously in fact that only her first response appears at Harriet. The others will hopefully be appearing at Wild Horses Of Fire soon.

It’s all psychosomatic. And somatopsychic. I don’t think you really escape your formation; you can only become aware of it and move towards some other understanding/practice that is remedial. I remember this New York Times article which opens with an anecdote about a medical conference on the ways those in “developing” countries somatize their depression in stomachaches, dizziness, and other mysterious physical symptoms: “Toward the end of the meeting, a doctor from India stood to speak. ‘Distinguished colleagues,’ he said, ‘have you ever considered the possibility that it is not that we in the third world somaticize depression, but rather that you in the developed world psychologize it?’” (“Mending of Hearts and Minds,” NYT 5/21/02). In the West the body is othered, but also in the sense of being displaced onto “the other,” whose labor disburdens or delivers the colonizer of his body. (And at the same time this other gets mystified as a healer who can resurrect the absent body. Think of Artaud among the Tarahumaras.)

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