Meaningful Bodies: Standing as Metaphor


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Meaningful Bodies: Standing as Metaphor
12572 IS 350R.002 TR 11:30-12:45
X-list with HUM 320R.002 CRN# 22775

We call ourselves wise (homo sapiens) and argue that our language differentiates us from other species of animals. But even more substantially, we define ourselves by our ancestors' revolutionary achievement of a standing posture (homo erectus). We became human, in one sense, because we stood up. In another sense, we are who we are because of what that physical act has been made to stand for, primarily through words that share the *sta root. Consider the implications of the following sentence, constructed largely of such words: As creatures of language, we constantly, insistently, even obstinately establish superstitions and understandings related to the constitutive circumstances of our existence by systematic reference to our substantial station and stature as standing beings, as static and ecstatic beings whose destiny is to submit to entropy by allowing things to stagnate or to resist entropy by causing them to stand.
As these words graphically illustrate, metaphors of standing determine our conceptions of time and space; they shape our understanding of existence and ecstasy; they are the tools and the subject of philosophy and painting, poetry and fiction, sculpture and law, history and psychology, anthropology and linguistics, archaeology and teleology. Wherever, in short, humans have paid attention to our status as human beings, we have done so through embodied metaphors, including many from the standing family.
The IS Topics Course on "Meaningful Bodies: Standing as Metaphor" will be a series of discussions about variations on this theme by sculptors, painters, poets, novelists, and philosophers.