DESCARTES, RUMI, ETHNOGRAPHY, AND PAUL STOLLER

Seeking to avoid the epistemological and political pitfalls of Cartesianism, a growing number of scholars have used the notion of the body–and embodiment–to criticize both Eurocentric and phallocentric predispositions in scholarly thought.  As a result the sensuous body has recently emerged as a new site of analysis…(xiii)  

Much of this recent writing is outstanding.  Two salient features of the new embodied discourse, however, weaken its overall scholarly impact.  First, even the most insightful writers consdier the body as a text that can be read and analyzed.  This analytical tack strips the body of its smells, tastes, textures and pains–its sensuousness.  Second, recent writing on the body tends to be articulated in a curiously disembodied language…(xiv)…

And so sensuous scholarship is ultimately a mixing of head and heart.  It is an opening of one’s being to the world–a welcoming.  Such embodied hospitality is the secret of the great scholars, painters, poets, and filmmakers whose images and words resensualize us.  (xviii).  

[Stoller’s prologue ends with verses from Rumi that begin with the stanza:  

“Why stay so long where your words are scattered

and doing no good?  I’ve sent a letter a day

for a hundred days.  Either you don’t read the mail

or you’ve forgotten how to leave.

Let the letter read you.  Come back.

STOLLER, PAUL (1997)  “PROLOGUE: The Scholar’s Body” in SENSUOUS SCHOLARSHIP.  Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.