Re: body mods, Western bias and marginality

John McCreery (jlm@TWICS.COM)
Sat, 20 Jul 1996 09:38:07 +0900

Adrienne Dearmas writes,

> John McCreery is more fascinated with the individual variances of
>body modification, but I see a cross cultural, historical phenomenon which I
>think will prove insightful to human behavior.

I feel misread. I, too, see a cross-cultural, historical phenomenon, but
one which cannot be accounted for adequately without explaining the
distribution of variations in and across different populations at different
moments in history.
The explanation in question would combine a *grammatical* description that
defines a field of possibilities rich enough to include all available data
and *sociological* factors that explain why some of these possibilities are
realized more frequently in some populations than in others.

Since, moreover, we are dealing with human communication, the possibilities
in question would have to include serious and fraudulent, discrete and
flamboyant,ironical and deliberately crude or humorous usages. No
anthropological bias is more misleading than the assumption that people are
always stone serious, perfectly knowledgable, and calculating in a
rational, homo economicus, way about what they do.

John McCreery
3-206 Mitsusawa HT, 25-2 Miyagaya, Nishi-ku
Yokohama 220, JAPAN

"And the Lord said unto Cyrus, 'Shall the clay say to him who moldest it,
what makest thou? Let the potsherd of the earth speak to the potsherd of
the earth." --An anthropologist's credo