Rogueish

09/29/11

By the end of the nineteenth century, the Western bourgeoisie had definitely lost its gestures.

In 1886, Gilles de la Tourette, “ancien interne des Hôpitaux de Paris et de la Salpetriere,” published with Delahaye et Lecrosnicr the Études cliniques et physiologiques sur la marche [Clinical and physiological studies on thc gait]. It was the first time that one of the most common human gestures was analyzed with strictly scientific methods. Fifty-three years earlier, when the bourgeoisie’s good conscience was still intact, the plan of a general pathology of social life announced by Balzac had produced nothing more than the fifty rather disappointing pages of the Theorie de la demarche [Theory of bearing]. Nothing is more revealing of the distance (not only a temporal one) separating the two attempts than the description Gilles de la Tourette gives of a human step. Whereas Balzac saw only the expression of moral character, de la Tourette employed a gaze that is already a prophecy of what cinematography would later become.

― Agamben, “Notes on Gesture”

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