For the past couple of weeks, I’ve wanted to give a big pointer to Carol Horton’s Think Body Electric, citing just one post, Yogis, Ascetic, and Fakirs: Fascinating historical images of India that I don’t pretend to understand, but I could mention any number of posts over the past year. In this particular entry, she runs through a number of photographs and drawings from India, and registers her own emotional reaction to these photos of “non-Western” practices. She has all the analytical skills of an academic, but never loses her personal (moral, ethical, whatever) compass. I was struck by the following comments:
In other words, all of the cultural referents that were hard-wired into me at an early age were Judeo-Christian. This is not good or bad; it just is. But it is significant.I can work to understand Hinduism, traditional yogic austerities, or whatever. But it’s not encoded into my cultural DNA.Even in today’s highly globalized, mulit-culti world, I still feel very conscious of being a Westerner.