Communication & Body Language:
Crapanzano (1986) suggests that
much of Geertz‟s analysis is
his rhetorical strategy of connecting with the „audience‟, which
simultaneously undoeshis interpretive authority.
“Interpretation has been understood as a phallic, a phallic
-aggressive, a cruel and violent, a destructive act, and as a fertile, a fertilizing, a fruitful, and a creative one. Wesay a text, a culture even, is pregnant with meaning. Do the ethnographer's presentations becomepregnant with meaning because of his interpretive, his phallic fertilizations" (52). This quote callsattention to the fact that what is in the culture-text is put there by Geertz, and reflects better his owndispositions than the Balinese he writes about. Geertz uses connections in the western canon tohighlight and hermeneutically decipher the Balinese cockfight, but his
colorless, abstract metaphors subvert both his description and his interpretation. Indeed, they subvert his authority.[...] Geertz offers no specifiable evidence for his attributions of intention, his assertions of subjectivity, his declarations of experience. His constructions of constructions of constructionsappear to be little more than projections, or at least blurrings, of his point of view, his subjectivity, with that of the native, or, more accurately, of the constructed native" (74).Crapanzano (1992) further
attacks Geertz‟s theoretical apparatus
in the book
& Hamlet‟s Desire
dilemma was that, as noted by Benjamin (1923), translation is
about a deeper understanding of ones‟ own text and not the one being translated, Hamlet‟s desire
is to be heard not by himself, but by an existent audience. For Geertz, should we consider culture a Shakespearian soliloquy, then the stories are not really for ourselves; Hamlet speaks to himself not for himself, but for a missing audience. Who would that missing audience be, but Geertz himself (or his wife is who is all but missing from his narratives). Such a critique returns us to Crapanza
earlier statement on the pregnancy of symbols. To this end, Schneider (1987) has noted in
response to Geertz‟s “Art as a Cultural System”, that turning cockfights into stories that Balinese
tell themselves about themselves extends the realm of textuality beyond public codes, and into a
realm where „cracking the code‟ is only truly done by the ethnographer.
This issue arises from a double synecdoche made by Geertz: first that of trading culture asrepresentation (part for whole), and thus (according to Aristotle argument against iconic doubles)outside of the represented, and second reducing culture to meaning (whole-for-part). But, thequestion we must then ask, is whether meaning lies outside of the individual or their actions
that is, are actions, ess
ential in „doing‟ the cockfight, part of the individual or outside of themselves?
Are they habitus? Jackson (1983) recognizes such a problem in this type of understanding meaning, and insteadlocates meaning within action in his analysis of ritual
a personalrealization of social values, an immediate grasp of general precepts as sensible truths. Such a view is consistent with the tendency to effect understanding through bodily techniques, to proceedthrough bodily awareness to verbal skills and ethical views. Bodily self-mastery is thus everywhere
the basis for social and intellectual mastery” (329).
As such, Jackson writes against anthropologicaldiscourses that define culture in terms of language or cognition (as is done by interpretiveanthropology as a whole), and that leave bodily praxis as a secondary effect.
Jackson mounts this critique through an analysis of women‟s initiation ritual in Zulu,
“ritual meanings are not often verbalized and perhaps cannot be becaus
e they surpass
and confound language” (
). Ritual “does not necessarily involve verbal or conceptual
knowledge; rather, we might say that people are informed by and give form to a habitus which only an uninformed outside observer would take to be an obje
ct of knowledge. […] Initiation rites[among Zulu women] involve a „practical mimesis‟ in which are bodied forth and recombined
elements from several domains, yet without script, sayings, promptings, conscious purposes, or
even emotions. No notion of „copying‟ can explain the naturalness with which the mimetic features