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Record Type: Review   ID: 809

Returning Words to Flesh: Feminism, Psychoanalysis, and the Resurrection of the Body

Goldenberg, Naomi R.

 Goldenberg, who is a Canadian professor of the psychology of religion, wrote this book to share those areas of Western scholarly discourse that she considers most enlivening in terms of restoring to us our sense of our bodies. Her concept of "body" is a broad one, as it includes not only sensations but emotions, memories, the sense of connection to other living beings, and the feeling of the presence of other humans. She feels that in our day the Descartian split has reached a dangerous point in which we rely much more on what technology can do for us as opposed to contact with other humans, and our cultural theories stress transcendence rather than immanence (or inscendence), and people are increasingly viewed mechanistically. She praises psychoanalysis, because it shows how all language is "body language" such that our words are "profoundly linked to our physical and emotional experience as well as to our history with other people" (p. 3). Feminist thinking has taught her how, in contemporary culture, "women symbolize the body" (p. 3). She sees this not as woman's curse but men's deficiency, for they lack women's "greater awareness of physical and social contingency," which gives "many women a depth and wisdom lacking in men." The book consists of an introductory essay on the cultural context in which theory is embedded, followed by three parts. The first two are basically deconstructions of Western culture, but in the last one she explores what she thinks is "the beginning of an answer: the encouraging of sustained conversations and more public concern with memories of personal and collective history" (p. 2). This resonates with the aim of this website, which is to encourage the living memories of our exceptional experiences, allowing them to live in our present and grow into our future. As we have pointed out, all EHEs are profound body experiences, whatever else they may be. The same ways in which Goldenberg hopes to resurrect the body may also be relevant to the return and resurrection of long denied EHEs, enabling them to become a living part of our lives. These thoughtful essays, written from the author's blood and bones, on the growing edge of herself, also are at the forefront of Western culture. They deserve a wide audience.
Publisher Information:Boston: Beacon Press, 1990. 257p. Bibl: 241-247; Chap. bibl: 217-239; Index: 249-255
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