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Unformatted text preview: Some
Historical
Dimensions
of
the
‘Dialogical
Body’:
 From
Bakhtin’s
Dialogical
Grotesque
Body
to
the
 Monological
Body
of
Modernity
 NORA
RUCK
 University
of
Vienna
 
 
 
 This
paper
tries
to
bring
together
two
different
fields
of
inquiry:
body
history
and
the
dialogical
 self.
 It
 employs
 a
 dialogical
 perspective
 to
 trace
 some
 historical
 trajectories
 of
 a
 particular
 Western
body
concept.
It
is
then
argued
that
a
dialogical
self
perspective
may
shed
new
light
on
 some
well‐established
findings
in
body
history.
The
historical
shift
from
the
so‐called
‘grotesque’
 (dialogical)
 body
 of
 the
 Middle
 Ages,
 as
 described
 by
 Mikhail
 Bakhtin,
 to
 the
 modern
 (monological)
 body
 is
 sketched.
 The
 modern
 body
 is
 identified
 as
 guided
 by
 a
 kind
 of
 body
 knowledge
that
is
deeply
‘physiognomic.’
It
also
echoes
a
shift
in
the
balance
between
the
‘body
 we
are’
and
the
‘body
we
have,’
i.e.,
from
a
truly
corporeal
self
to
a
body
that
is
only
and
loosely
 possessed
by
a
self.
It
is
then
argued
that
a
body‐historical
perspective
may
also
have
merit
for
 dialogical
 self
 theory
 because
 it
 shows
 that
 this
 modern
 conception
 of
 the
 body
 as
 possession
 still
infiltrates
the
notion
of
the
body
in
dialogical
self
theory.
 
 
 
 Psychology
 suffers
from
 a
 severe
 body‐neglect
 syndrome—a
 condition
already
 heavily
 lamented
by
Erwin
Straus
in
1935
(1935/1956).1
Straus
stated
that
psychology
actually
 had
 nothing
 to
 say
 on
 matters
 of
 human
 embodied
 experience
 because
 it
 mistook
 the
 body
 as
 a
 physical
 object
 among
 others.
 He
 identified
 the
 roots
 of
 such
 mechanistic
 understanding
 of
 the
 human
 body
 in
 René
 Descartes’
 separation
 of
 mind
 and
 body,
 which
 subsumed
 bodily
 sensation
 (Empfinden)—the
 epitome
 of
 bodily
 existence
 and
 experience—under
the
rational
conditions
of
the
 cogito.
According
to
Straus,
Descartes
 had
made
a
grave
and
consequential
mistake
in
treating
sensation
as
just
another
mode
 of
rational
consciousness
since
ways
of
embodied
knowledge
could
only
fall
short
to
the
 standards
 of
 rational
 knowledge.
 On
 these
 grounds,
 Straus
 launched
 a
 strong
 plea
 for
 taking
sensation
serious
as
a
dimension
of
human
existence
that
could
not
be
explained
 and
 understood
 by
 recurring
 to
 the
 laws
 of
 either
 physical
 objects
 or
 rationality.
 He
 concluded
that
bodily
sensation
followed
its
own
laws.

 
 In
this
paper
I
position
myself
in
the
fields
of
body
studies
(Bordo,
1993),
body
history
 (Duden,
 1991),
 body
 criticism
 (Wegenstein,
 2006),
 and
 sociology
 of
 the
 body
 (Lindemann,
 2002).
 From
 this
 perspective,
 I
 will
 ask
 questions
 pertaining
 to
 the
 historicity
of
 the
 body.
 In
a
 cursory
 rather
than
detailed
attempt
I
will
 sketch
the
 shift
 from
 a
 medieval
 to
 a
 modern
 conception
 of
 the
 body
 in
 Western
 culture.
 With
 Duden
 (1991)
 I
 start
 from
 the
 assumption
 that
 the
 dimension
 of
 embodied
 existence
 called
 Empfinden
by
Straus
(1935/1956)
is
subject
to
historical
changes,
too.
My
paper
is
also
 an
attempt
to
bring
together
this
line
of
reasoning
about
the
body
with
a
notion
of
the
 self
 that
 has
 gained
 increased
 relevance
 in
 the
 intersection
 of
 cultural/historical
 psychology
 and
 the
 psychology
 of
 the
 self
 over
 the
 last
 years:
 the
 dialogical
 self
 1
I
thank
Gregor
Wasitzky
for
acquainting
me
with
Straus’
early
and
vital
critique
of
objectivist
psychology.

 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
8
‐
17
 8 (Hermans,
Kempen,
&
van
Loon,
1992;
Hermans
&
Kempen,
1993).
It
is
my
contention
 that
 both
 fields
 of
 inquiry
 may
 mutually
 profit
 from
 each
 other’s
 perspectives.
 A
 dialogical
perspective
may
shed
new
light
on
some
by
 now
well‐established
findings
in
 body
 history.
 Reversely,
 a
 body‐historical
 perspective
 may
 serve
 to
 re‐think
 the
 conception
of
the
body
in
dialogical
self
theory.

 
 In
 particular,
I
will
 take
a
 closer
look
 at
 a
 body
concept
I
consider
typical
for
Western
 modernity:
 physiognomy.
 Physiognomy
 literally
 means
 ‘body
 knowledge,’
 and
 it
 operates
 with
 a
 fundamental
 equation
 of
 a
 beautiful
 mind
 and
 a
 beautiful
 body.
 Physiognomic
thought
in
general
has
a
longer
history,
stretching
back
to
Plato’s
(version
 1963,
 p.
 646)
 assumption
 of
 a
 correspondence
 between
 a
 beautiful
 disposition
 in
 the
 soul
 and
 a
 correlating
 beauty
 of
 bodily
 form.
 It
 is
 not
 until
 the
 beginning
 of
 the
 18th
 century,
though,
that
physiognomy
is
elaborated
as
a
systematic
body
of
thought
by
the
 Swiss
pastor
John
Caspar
Lavater
(e.g.,
Lavater,
 1775/1789).
I
will
analyse
his
proposal
 of
 a
 science
 of
 physiognomy
 both
 from
 a
 body‐historical
 standpoint,
 asking
 what
 cultural
 conception
 of
 the
 body
 it
 voices,
 and
 from
 a
 dialogical
 perspective,
 roughly
 employing
 the
 distinction
 dialogical/monological.
 In
 order
 to
 make
 the
 specificity
 and
 boundaries
 of
 this
 body
 concept
 clearer,
 I
 will
 contrast
 it
 with
 a
 historically
 earlier
 notion
of
the
body
described
by
Mikhail
Bakhtin
(1984a):
the
 grotesque
body.
A
deeper
 understanding
of
the
socio‐historical
genesis
of
our
contemporary
notion
of
the
body
is,
 however,
also
necessary
in
order
to
critically
reflect
on
modernist
theoretical
pitfalls
like
 individualism
 and
 rationalism.
 I
 thus
 conclude
 my
 paper
 with
 some
 theoretical
 challenges
 for
 dialogical
 self
 theory
 that
 may
 be
 deduced
 from
 a
 body‐historical
 perspective.
 
 THE
DIALOGICAL
SELF
AS
BOTH
EMBODIED
AND
HISTORICAL

 
 Half
 a
 century
 after
 Straus’
 (1935/1956)
 critique
 of
 psychology’s
 disembodied
 stance
 towards
human
existence,
Hermans,
Kempen,
and
van
Loon
(1992)
took
quite
a
similar
 line
 in
 criticizing
psychology
 as
 individualistic
 and
 rationalistic.
 They,
 too,
 argued
 that
 Descartes
was
to
be
blamed
for
the
“ethnocentric
Western
view
of
personhood”
(p.
23)
 manifest
in
most
psychological
theories
of
the
self.
In
stark
contrast
to
such
conceptions
 of
 the
 self,
 they
 understood
 the
 self
 as
 embodied,
 quoting
 the
 so‐called
 social
 constructionist
 forerunner
 Giambattista
 Vico
 (1744/1990)
 and
 the
 experiential
 realist
 Mark
 Johnson
 (1987).2
 In
 their
 counterproposal
 to
 individualistic
 and
 rationalistic
 theories
 of
 the
 self—the
 dialogical
 self—Hermans
 and
 Kempen
 tried
 to
 overcome
 Cartesian
rationalism
in
the
following
way:
 
 “We
 are
 not
 only
 rational
 animals,
 we
 are
 also
 rational
 animals.
 This
 balancing
 of
 the
 emphasis
requires
acknowledging
the
role
of
the
body
in
the
process
of
knowing
itself.
The
 most
direct
way
to
clarify
this
point
is
to
show
that
the
body,
and,
even
broader,
the
reality
 of
 space,
 is
 in
 the
 mind,
 not
 simply
 outside
 the
 mind.”
 (Hermans
 &
 Kempen,
 1993,
 p.
 9,
 original
emphasis)
 
 The
 dialogical
 self
 theory
 retained
 William
 James’
 (1890/1952)
 view
 of
 the
 self
 as
 consisting
of
different
constituents:
I
and
Me.
The
I
refers
to
the
reflexive
parts
of
the
self
 (the
 self
 as
 subject,
 knower,
 thinker,
 etc.),
 whereas
 the
 Me
 is
 described
 as
 the
 sum
 of
 2
 See
 for
 a
 more
 detailed
 elaboration
 on
 the
 theories’
 grounding
 in
 social
 constructionism,
 and
 the
 consequences
of
this
fundament
for
its
conception
of
the
body
Ruck
&
Slunecko,
2006.
 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
8
‐
17
 9 everything
one
can
be
said
to
own
(the
self
as
object,
as
known,
thought,
etc.).
In
James’
 account,
the
body
is
part
of
this
sum.
It
is,
as
Hermans
and
Kempen
argue
in
the
above
 quote,
 “in
 the
 mind”
 (Hermans
 &
 Kempen,
 1993,
 p.
 9).
 The
 dialogical
 self,
 however,
 amounts
 to
 a
 ‘narrative
 translation’
 of
 James’
 distinction.
 Each
 Me
 is
 endowed
 with
 a
 voice
to
tell
its
own
story,
resulting
in
a
multiplicity
of
I‐positions.
The
centrality
of
the
 metaphor
 ‘voice’
 is
 indebted
 to
 the
 Russian
 literary
 scholar
 Mikhail
 Bakhtin
 (1984b).
 Bakhtin
 had
studied
 the
works
 of
Fjodor
 Dostoevsky
 and
 concluded
that
 the
heroes
in
 his
novels
had
the
capacity
to
tell
their
stories
by
themselves.
The
author
of
such
novels
 only
functioned
as
a
 ventriloquist
lending
his
voice
to
the
heroes
in
his
novels
so
their
 stories
could
be
heard.
Hermans
and
Kempen
imagine
the
self
in
a
similar
vein:
The
I
is
 but
a
voice
lending
itself
to
different
Me’s
so
that
their
positions
can
be
heard.
 
 The
 embodiedness
 of
 dialogue
 is,
 however,
 hardly
 ever
 taken
 seriously
 in
 research
 employing
 the
notion
of
 dialogical
self
(Zielke,
2006).
 Rare
 and
notable
 exceptions
 are
 mostly
studies
of
pre‐linguistic
dialogues
in
infants
(e.g.,
Fogel,
1993;
Fogel,
et
al.,
2002)
 and
Hermans
and
Kempen’s
paper
about
 Body,
Mind,
and
Culture
(Hermans
&
Kempen,
 1995).
The
embodied
notion
of
the
self
is
thus
hardly
taken
beyond
early
ontogeny,
and
 as
Zielke
(2006)
has
put
it,
the
high
expectations
raised
by
theoretically
claiming
the
self
 as
embodied,
are
not
fulfilled.
On
the
contrary,
the
body
is
all
too
often
discussed
as
part
 of
a
person’s
cognitive
repertoire
(e.g.,
Hermans,
1996,
2001a).
 
 The
dialogical
self
is,
however,
not
only
conceptualized
as
fundamentally
embodied,
but
 also
as
fundamentally
 cultured.
Hermans
(2001b)
thus
called
self
and
culture
“mutually
 inclusive.
In
their
first
assessment
of
culture,
Hermans,
Kempen,
and
van
Loon
(1992)
 advanced
 a
 very
 comprehensive
 interpretation
 of
 self
 and
 culture,
 arguing
 that
 modernity,
with
its
individualistic
and
rationalistic
ideals
of
selfhood,
had
influenced
the
 entire
 organization
 of
 dialogical
 selves,
 restricting
 their
 full
 potential
 and
 resulting
 in
 centrally
 organized
 selves
dominated
by
one
 or
few
 voices.
Quite
curiously,
 some
later
 conceptions
 are
 less
 encompassing.
 When
 explicitly
 presenting
 his
 model
 of
 a
 culture‐ inclusive
 self,
 Hermans
 treated
 self
 and
 culture
 as
 a
 “multiplicity
 of
 positions
 among
 which
 dialogical
 relationships
 can
 develop”
 (Hermans,
 2001b,
 p.
 243).
 In
 this
 conception,
 culture
 is
 a
 voice
 that
 may
 speak
 for
 itself
 or
 speak
 through
 another
 position,
 not
 necessarily
 organizing
 dialogical
 relations
 and
 selves.
 However,
 in
 his
 keynote
at
 last
 summer’s
 Fifth
 International
 Conference
 on
the
 Dialogical
Self,
 Hermans
 (2008)
seemed
to
have
favoured
the
earlier
conception
to
the
later
when
addressing
the
 historicity
of
the
self
as
one
of
the
major
future
venues
for
research
in
 a
dialogical
self
 perspective.
According
to
Hermans,
the
self
in
its
traditional,
modernist,
post‐modernist,
 and
 dialogical
 notion
 underwent
 major
 changes
 that
 involved
 its
 entire
 structure,
 its
 relation
 to
 other
 selves
 and
 the
 entire
 world/cosmos,
 power
 relations,
 moral
 sensibilities,
etc.
In
the
following
sections
I
will
show
that
these
historical
changes
also
 pertain
 to
 the
 body,
 and
 that
 the
 monological
 self
 of
 modernity
 is
 mirrored
 by
 a
 monological
body.

 
 THE
‘GROTESQUE’
NOTION
OF
THE
BODY
 
 In
 Rabelais
 and
 his
 World,
 Bakhtin
 (1984a)
 analyses
 medieval
 folk
 culture
 and
 the
 carnival
as
a
subversive
counter‐culture
to
the
official
culture,
and,
so
might
be
added,
to
 the
 mind/body
 separation
 predominating
 religious
 and
 philosophical
 doctrine.
 The
 body
of
(catholic)
medieval
folk
culture
is,
of
course,
fixated
on
social
hierachies,
it
is
a
 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
8
‐
17
 10 working
body,
and
a
devoutly
catholic
body.
But
what
interests
Bakhtin,
is
that
it
is
more
 complex
 than
 that
 because
 it
 also
 exists
 on
 a
 second
 plane
 of
 reality
 that
 turns
 all
 existing
hierarchies
and
doctrines
upside
down:
It
is
a
reality
of
the
marketplace
with
its
 jugglers,
 acrobats,
 vendors,
elixirs,
magicians,
 clowns,
 trainers
of
 monkeys,
 and
people
 that
 would
 later
 be
 called
 ‘freaks.’
 It
 is
 also
 a
 world
 of
 curses
 and
 oaths,
 and,
 not
 the
 least,
 of
 the
 carnival.
 This
 second
 plane
 of
 reality
 and
 of
 bodily
 life
 is
 structured
 according
to
the
principles
of
what
Bakhtin
calls
“grotesque
realism,”
and
it
will
capture
 everyone—including
the
aristocracy
and
the
clergy—during
certain
times
of
the
year.
In
 the
 material
 body
 of
 grotesque
 realism,
 cosmic,
 social,
 and
 bodily
 elements
 together
 built
up
an
indivisible
whole:

 

 “Contrary
 to
 modern
 canons,
 the
 grotesque
 body
 is
 not
 separated
 from
 the
 rest
 of
 the
 world.
 It
 is
 not
 a
 closed,
 completed
 unit;
 it
 is
 unfinished,
 outgrows
 itself,
 transgresses
 its
 own
limits.
The
stress
is
on
those
parts
of
the
body
that
are
open
to
the
outside
world,
that
 is,
the
parts
through
which
the
world
enters
the
body
or
emerges
from
it,
or
through
which
 the
body
itself
goes
out
to
meet
the
world.
This
means
that
the
emphasis
is
on
the
apertures
 or
 the
 convexities,
or
 on
 various
ramifications
and
 offshoots:
the
 open
mouth,
the
 genital
 organs,
the
breasts,
the
phallus,
the
potbelly,
the
nose.”
(Bakhtin,
1984a,
pp.
26­27)
 
 The
grotesque
body
concept
is
profoundly
 dialogical,
and
 this
is
why
it
exaggerates
and
 transforms
 into
 hyperbole
 those
 parts
 of
 the
 body
 that
 are
 especially
 prone
 to
 the
 docking
of
 the
other,
and
which
 dissolve
the
borders
between
self
and
 other.
 Medieval
 folk
culture
 has
 a
general
interest
 in
everything
that
 protrudes
 or
 sticks
out,
in
 all
the
 cases
in
which
the
body
transgresses
its
limits
or
the
limits
of
some
classical
body
ideal.
 For
 this
 reason
 it
 has
 a
 certain
 fascination
 with
 bodies
 that
 were
 in
 the
 Middle
 Ages
 coined
 ‘monstrous’:
 with
 giants,
 dwarfs,
 people
 with
 missing
 or
 additional
 limbs,
 Siamese
 twins,
 etc.
 (see
 Daston
 &
 Park,
 1998).
 They
 were
 mostly
 seen
 as
 divine
 signs
 delivering
 God’s
 messages.
 What
 is
 most
 interesting
 about
 these
 bodies
 from
 the
 perspective
 of
 grotesque
 realism,
 though,
 is
 that
 they
 turn
 the
 classical
 rules
 of
 proportion
and
of
the
general
organization
of
the
human
body
upside
down.
 
 THE
PHYSIOGNOMIC
NOTION
OF
THE
BODY
 
 A
 critical
 transformation
 takes
 place
 in
 the
 early
 Renaissance.
 The
 body
 becomes
 a
 “strictly
completed,
finished
 product”
(Bakhtin,
1984a,
p.29).
What
is
interesting
about
 this
 body
concept
from
 a
body‐historical
point
 of
view
is
the
very
fact
 that
the
 body
is
 turned
into
a
product.
Furthermore,
it
loses
its
primordial
ties
to
other
bodies
and
to
the
 world,
 becoming
 “isolated,
 fenced
 off
from
all
other
bodies”
(ibid.).
Whereas
grotesque
 realism
 dedicated
 its
 utmost
 attention
 to
 the
 openings
 of
 the
 body,
 the
 Renaissance
 eliminates
“all
signs
of
its
unfinished
character,
of
its
growth
and
proliferation,”
and
“its
 protuberances
 and
 offshoots
 were
 removed,
 its
 convexities
 (signs
 of
 new
 sprout
 and
 buds)
smoothed
out,
its
apertures
closed”
(ibid.).
The
Renaissance
is
thus
fundamentally
 a
project
of
bodily
closure.
The
fencing
off
of
the
body
is
more
than
a
metaphor
here.
It
 bespeaks
 the
 creation
 of
 a
 monological
 body
 carrying
 a
 single
 (increasingly
 scientific)
 truth,
and
only
one
layer
of
reality,
whereas
the
grotesque
body
existed
on
several
layers
 of
reality.
Even
more
significantly,
the
body
loses
its
primordial
bonds
with
other
bodies
 and
with
the
world.
It
becomes
a
discrete
entity
of
its
own.
 
 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
8
‐
17
 11 According
to
body‐historian
Barbara
Duden
(1991),
it
was
not
until
the
late
18th
century
 that
this
body
canon
actually
started
to
guide
the
ways
in
which
people
would
feel
and
 experience
their
bodies.
We
can
get
a
glimpse
of
how
pervading
the
new
body
concept
 was
by
then
by
considering
John
Caspar
Lavater’s
physiognomy.
The
impact
of
Lavater’s
 four
 Physiognomical
 Fragments
 for
 the
 Promotion
 of
 the
 Knowledge
 and
 Love
 of
 Man
 published
 in
 Zurich
 between
 the
 years
 1775
 and
 1778
 can
 hardly
 be
 overstated.
 He
 worked
as
a
Protestant
pastor
in
his
hometown,
and
he
would
soon
be
seen
as
a
kind
of
 relationship
guru
(Wegenstein
&
Ruck,
submitted).
It
is
said
that
newly
engaged
couples
 would
 consult
 his
 wisdom
 of
 physiognomic
 match‐making
 in
 order
 to
 get
 an
 expert’s
 approval
of
their
fit,
and
that
in
certain
villages,
people
would
wear
masks
on
the
streets
 because
they
were
afraid
of
being
diagnosed
by
a
hobby
physiognomist.

 
 To
Lavater,
what
makes
us
human
and
what
constitutes
our
relations
with
other
beings
 is
 the
 fact
 that
 we
 instinctively
 and
 intuitively
 make
 judgments
 of
 what
 we
 see
 (1775/1789).
 We
 could
 paraphrase
 physiognomy
 in
 terms
 of
 Lavater
 as
 the
 highest
 expertise
in
body
judgment.
Or
 in
other
words:
to
relate
is
to
know,
to
know
is
to
judge.
 Lavater
has
a
rather
deterministic
view
of
man.
He
believes
in
a
stable
and
single
nature
 of
each
man,
deduced
only
by
the
science
of
physiognomy.
The
face
can
be
handled
like
a
 diagnostic
 toolkit,
 according
 to
 an
 equation
 between
 inner
 and
 outer
 beauty:
 “Beauty
 and
ugliness
have
a
strict
connection
with
the
moral
constitution
of
Man.
In
proportion
 as
 he
 is
 morally
 good,
 he
 is
 handsome;
 and
 ugly,
 in
 proportion
 as
 he
 is
 morally
 bad”
 (Lavater,
1775/1789,
p.
135).
 
 Figure
1
belongs
to
a
series
from
ugliness
to
 beauty
 produced
 by
 Lavater
 on
 two
 consecutive
 days
 in
 November
 1797.
 In
 a
 caption
 below
 the
 drawing,
 Lavater
 says
 about
this
“ugliest
ugliness”:

 
 “The
 unnaturally
 prominent
 forehead;
 the
 wild
 eyebrows;
 the
 angular
 and
 blunt
 nose;
 the
 lacking
 upper
 lip;
 the
 preponderant
 lower
 lip,
 which
 almost
 reaches
 the
 end
 of
 the
 rather
 short
 nose;
 the
 small
 chin
 becoming
a
goiter;
[all
these
characteristics]
 determine
 ugliness
 and
 stupidity.
 The
 eye
 is
 goodis.”
 (Translation
 Wegenstein
 &
 Ruck,
 submitted)
 
 Figure
1.
 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
8
‐
17
 12 Lavater
 finds
 the
 ugliness
 of
 this
 face
 in
 comparison
 to
 classical
 Greek
 rules
 of
 proportion
 and
 is
 especially
 negative
 about
 protruding
 or
 inverting
 characteristics
 of
 the
 face,
 about
 everything
 that
 seems
 too
 small
 or
 too
 big
 in
 proportion
 to
 the
 whole.
 The
 ugliest
 ugliness
 would
 be
 a
 perfectly
 grotesque
 body.
 To
 Lavater,
 however,
 beauty
 equals
 proportion,
 and
 an
 excessive
body—or
a
body
transgressing
 the
 rules
 of
 proportion—bespeaks
 an
 excessive
 character
 and
 provokes
 disgust.
 He
 becomes
 even
 more
 judgmental
 when
 comparing
 a
 male
 Bashkir
to
a
female
Georgian:

 
 “How
 great
 soever
 may
 be
 the
 distance
 between
 human
 forms,
 between
 men
 and
 men,
 this
 Bashkir
 certainly
 stands
 on
 the
 lowest
 step;
 ...
 .It
 is
 (1)
 the
 unnaturally
 projecting,
 not
 human,
 and,
 indeed,
 impossible,
 inclination
 of
 the
 forehead
 downward;
 its
 unevenness;
 …
 (6)
 the
 monstrous
out­pouting
under
lip;
….
These
 Figure 2. traits,
 individually,
 decisively,
 speak
 stupidity,
and
impossibility
of
improvement.”
(Lavater,
1778/1804,
pp.
266­267)
 
 Again,
it
is
 an
unnatural
projection
and
inclination,
an
unevenness,
etc.,
that
altogether
 speak
 of
 the
 worst
characteristics
imaginable
 for
Lavater.
Note
 that
in
Lavater’s
world
 view
there
is
a
hierarchy
of
human
bodies
stretching
from
the
lowest
being
on
earth
up
 to
God.
This
religiously
inspired
chain
of
being
would
in
the
course
of
the
19th
century
be
 substituted
 by
 an
 evolutionary
 chain
 of
 being
 (see
 Gilman,
 1999).
 The
 main
 tenor
 remains
 the
 same,
 though:
 Different
 groups
 of
 people
 can
 be
 bunched
 together,
 according
 to
 nationality
 or
 later,
 ‘race,’
 and
 ranked
 hierarchically
 based
 on
 bodily
 characteristics
which
in
turn
bespeak
their
morality
or,
later,
genetic
fitness.

 
 THE
MODERN
MONOLOGICAL
BODY
AS
A
BODY
WE
‘OWN’
 
 Physiognomy
and
theories
of
scientific
racism
flourishing
during
the
late
19th
and
early
 20th
 centuries
 share
 some
 core
 tenets
 that
 might
 be
 called
 monological.
 The
 physiognomic
body
concept
is
monological
and
individualized
in
various
senses:
It
is
a
 pre‐determined
entity
by
itself
that
disposes
of
only
one
layer
of
reality.
There
is
a
single
 meaning
 attached
 to
 and
 written
 onto
 the
 outside
 surface
 of
 the
 individual
 body—its
 character—and
it
is
to
be
revealed
by
the
physiognomist.
Furthermore,
the
body
is
not
 meaningful
 on
 its
 own,
 but
 only
 gains
 meaning
 in
 the
 act
 of
 (physiognomic)
 interpretation,
and
 insofar
it
 bespeaks
the
 character
it
 is
 said
 to
house.
 The
body
 does
 not
lose
its
significance
as
suggested
by
the
characterization
of
the
modern
self
as
purely
 rationalistic,
on
the
contrary,
it
is
of
utmost
importance
for
a
scientific
intent
of
decoding
 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
8
‐
17
 13 so‐called
internal
forces
that
has
just
started
to
take
off
at
the
time
and
place.
Until
the
 inception
 of
 intelligence
 tests
 in
 the
 USA
 of
 the
 1920s,
 scientists
 would
 continue
 to
 measure
and
judge
bodies
in
order
to
decipher
their
supposed
messages
about
morality
 and
intelligence
(Tucker,
1994).
The
monological
body
is
furthermore
not
primordially
 intertwined
with
others
and
with
the
world.
On
the
contrary,
it
has
to
enter
relations
 ex
 post.
 Most
 importantly,
 the
 basic
 interaction
 that
 qualifies
 humans
 as
 humans
 is
 judgment
 (in
 the
 case
 of
 Lavater:
 judgment
 about
 bodies)—a
 prototypically
 rational
 operation.
The
epitome
of
this
relation
is
between
the
physiognomist
and
his
subject,
 a
 relationship
void
of
dialogical
reciprocity
as
the
subject
never
talks
back.

 
 It
 is
 such
 power
 relationships
 between
 the
 epistemological
 subject
 and
 object,
 which
 Bakhtin
(1984b)
never
tired
of
criticizing—juxtaposing
it
with
a
dialogical
approach
that
 would
let
the
subjects
speak
for
themselves
and
out
of
themselves.
The
power
hierarchy
 is
twofold,
though:
It
is
directed
against
other
bodies
by
the
ones
claimed
to
be
experts
 in
 ‘body
 knowledge,’
 and
 it
is
directed
 against
 each
 and
every
 body
 by
 each
and
 every
 self
owning
its
body.

 
 The
turn
from
the
dialogical
body
to
a
modern
monological
body
owned
by
a
self
echoes
 what
body‐historian
Barbara
Duden
(1991,
p.
3)
has
referred
to
as
the
“body
I
‘have,’”
to
 a
large
part
overshadowing
the
 body
as
felt
and
experienced,
a
concept
of
the
body
that
 still
guided
folk
culture
in
the
beginning
of
the
18th
century.
Analysing
the
journals
of
a
 medical
doctor
in
German
Eisenach
in
the
early
eighteenth
century,
Duden
encounters
a
 body
concept
so
alien
to
her
own
that
she
spends
the
entire
book
struggling
to
overturn
 her
 former
 belief
 that
 body
 perception
 was
 ahistoric.
 Although
 the
 doctor
 whose
 journals
 she
 analyses
 must
 have
 been
 familiar
 with
 advances
 in
 anatomy
 such
 as
 the
 drawings
of
the
famous
Vesalius,
this
objectified
vision
of
the
body
had
not
yet
entered
 his
medical
practice.
The
doctor
was
himself
still
part
of
a
world
in
which
a
nun
urinated
 through
 the
 mouth
 on
 several
 occasions,
 or
 a
 sudden
 fright
 caused
 the
 menses
 of
 a
 young
woman
to
stagnate,
thus
inseminating
her
with
melancholic
thoughts.
Eisenach
in
 the
 early
 18th
 century
 was
 (still)
 a
 world
 in
 which
 bodies
 were
 perceived
 as
 parts
 of
 their
 surroundings,
 and
 skins
 as
 permeable
 and
 porous
 mediators.
 Under
 the
 skin— where
we
imagine
and
all
too
often
accordingly
perceive
anatomically
defined
organs— men
 and
 women
 in
 Eisenach
 perceived
 a
 rather
 undifferentiated
 region
 of
 metamorphoses
between
body
fluids.
Various
fluids
could
change
into
one
another
and
 would
take
whatever
orifice
of
the
body
that
gave
a
way
out.
Several
accounts
of
patients
 testify
 that
 the
 menses
 could
 also
 leave
 the
 body
 through
 the
 mouth
 or
 a
 wound,
 and
 that
 it
 could
 just
 as
 well
 do
 so
 in
 the
 form
 of
breast
 milk.
 These
 accounts
 are
 quite
 at
 odds
 with
 our
 present,
 medically
 informed,
 understanding
 of
 our
 own
 bodies,
 but
 in
 early
 18th
 century
 Eisenach,
they
 made
 perfect
 sense
as
 a
cultural
 conception
that
 had
 not
yet
anatomically
mapped
out
the
body
.

 
 Accordingly,
the
skin
was
perceived
as
a
mediator.
In
a
dialogical
perspective
we
could
 say
 that
 the
 skin
 was
 the
 medium
 in
 which
 dialogical
 interchange
 between
 body
 and
 world
 took
 place.
 Duden
 (1991)
 often
 emphasizes
 that
 the
 doctor’s
 female
 patients
 never
 referred
 to
 their
 bodies
 as
 something
 they
 owned.
 Likewise,
 the
 power
 relationship
between
doctor
and
patient
was
not
yet
in
place
the
way
we
know
it.
Duden
 refers
 to
 the
 doctor’s
 medical
approach
as
one
 that
 let
the
patients
speak
in
their
 own
 voice.
Nevertheless,
she
detects
some
crucial
changes
that
differentiate
the
body
concept
 of
early
18th
century
Eisenach
from
the
grotesque
body
Bakhtin
described.
She
refers
to
 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
8
‐
17
 14 these
changes
as
a
rupture
in
the
continuous
give‐and‐take
between
inside
and
outside.
 Towards
the
end
of
the
18th
century,
an
objectified
version
of
the
body
started
to
guide
 everyday
 body
 perception.
 The
 objectification
 of
 the
 body,
 what
 Foucault
 coined
 the
 medical
 gaze
 (1973),
 was
 mirrored
 by
 the
 body
 as
 possession
 on
 an
 individual
 level.
 People
would
refer
to
their
bodies
as
something
they
owned.
Duden
(1991)
 unfolds
the
 socio‐genesis
 of
 this
 modern
 body
 concept
 with
 several
 examples.
 Claudia
 Benthien
 (2002)
has
shown
that
the
meaning
of
the
skin
changed,
too.
It
was
then
seen
as
a
solid
 surface
 housing
 an
 inside.
 It
 is
 thus
 not
 by
 chance
 that
 the
 ways
 of
 body
 knowledge
 Caspar
Lavater
 employed,
 focus
on
this
solid
surface:
the
 face.
 We
can
 frame
 Lavater’s
 focus
in
Bakhtin’s
candid
terms:

 
 “All
orrifices
of
the
body
are
closed.
The
basis
of
the
image
is
the
individual,
strictly
limited
 mass,
 the
 impenetrable
 façade.
 The
 opaque
 surface
 and
 the
 body’s
 “valleys”
 acquire
 an
 essential
 meaning
 as
the
 border
 of
a
closed
 individuality
 that
 does
 not
 merge
 with
 other
 bodies
and
with
the
world.”
(Bakthin,
1984a,
p.
320)
 
 In
 the
 tradition
 of
 philosophical
 anthropology
 (Plessner,
 1928;
 for
 a
 sociological
 re‐ interpretation
 see
 Lindemann,
 2002)
 the
 human
 body
 is
 considered
 to
 be
 a
 two‐fold
 existence:
 we
 are
 bodies,
 and
 at
 the
 same
 time
 we
 have
 bodies.
 Note
 that
 being
 our
 bodies
 reverberates
 what
 Straus
 (1935/1956)
 has
 called
 sensation
 (Empfinden).
 From
 this
 perspective,
 what
 took
place
in
 the
late
 18th
century
was
that
a
 certain
 dimension
 (having
 our
 bodies)
 of
 our
 bodily
 existence
 took
 dominance
 over
 another
 dimension
 (being
our
bodies).
Duden
(1991)
refers
to
this
moment
as
a
change
of
balance.
 
 This
 modernist
 focus
 on
 the
 closed
 and
 individualized
 body
 not
 only
 penetrates
 the
 work
 of
 Caspar
 Lavater
 which
 I
 have
 mainly
 discussed
 as
 an
 example
 of
 such
 a
 body
 concept.
It
also
slips
through
the
backdoor
of
William
James’
(1890/1952)
discussion
of
 the
body
as
the
sum
of
a
man’s
[sic!]
possessions.
James,
too,
slides
over
the
role
of
the
 body
we
 are
at
the
expense
of
the
body
we
have.
In
extension,
dialogical
self
theory
gets
 trapped
 in
 a
 modernist
 preconception
 when
 framing
 the
 dialogical
 self
 as
 a
 mind
 that
 provides
 space
 for
 the
 body
 (see
 Ruck
 &
 Slunecko,
 2006).
 It
 is
 not
 the
 case
 that
 one
 dimension
 of
 our
 bodily
 existence
 has
 been
 lost
 altogether
 in
 some
 free‐floating
 modernist
 rationality.
 Rather,
the
 modernist
 gaze
 has
overlooked
an
 essential
mode
of
 our
existence,
in
turn,
however,
co‐producing
the
realities
it
looked
at.
The
“balancing
of
 the
 emphasis,”
 Hermans
 and
 Kempen
 have
 called
 for,
 does
 not
 stop
 short
 at
 acknowledging
“the
role
of
the
body
in
the
process
of
knowing
itself”
or
at
showing
“that
 the
body,
and,
even
broader,
the
reality
of
space,
is
 in
the
mind”
(1993,
p.
9).
Rather,
it
 requires
a
serious
emphasis
on
the
fact
that,
way
beyond
early
ontogeny,
we
are
indeed
 dialogical
bodies
with
all
their
societal,
political,
historical,
and
cultural
possibilities
and
 constraints.
 
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 AUTHOR
BIOGRAPHY
 
 Nora
 Ruck
 is
 currently
 working
 on
 her
 PhD
 thesis
 „The
 beautiful
 face
 in
 the
 age
 of
 technological
 reproduction”
 as
 part
 of
 the
 transdisciplinary
 DOC‐team
 “Criticizing
 science
 by
 politicizing
 epistemology
 and
 the
 body.
 Feminist
 venues
 for
 a
 transdisciplinary
critique
of
science.”
She
is
the
recipient
of
a
‐fellowship
of
the
Austrian
 Academy
 of
 Sciences
 at
 the
 Department
 of
 Basic
Psychological
 Research/
University
of
 Vienna.
 Research
 interests:
 cultural
 psychology,
 feminist
 studies
 of
 science
 and
 technology,
body
history,[email protected] Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
8
‐
17
 17 ...
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