Ethnography must re-define itself as that practice of representation which illuminates the power of large-scale, imagined life possibilities over specific life trajectories. This is "thickness" with a difference, and the difference lies in a new alertness to the fact that ordinary lives today are increasingly powered not by the givenness of things but by the possibilites that the media (either directly or indirectly) suggest are available.
-- Appadurai, 1991, p. 200
By suppressing some bodily functions, regulating others, and focusing activity on the use of representations (reading, writing, mathematics), schooling at a place like Thurber was supposed to produce a tight link between a specific kind of body--the adult, male, European American body (and remember, I speak of a "body" not only as physical form, but as all its attendant techniques and dispositions)--and specific activities, such as the manipulation of written or printed representations, which come to be defined as "intellectual." As we saw in the preceding chapter, embodied meanings did not disappear; age, gender, race, and physical threat remained potent resources for meaning-making. But school-sanctioned uses of representations were squeezed into a classical, rationalized body, one that would be silent, still, self-contained, or, when group work was required, would stay in one place, keep its voice down, take turns in talking.
This segregation of bodily experience from what counts as official, rewarded, institutional experience depends on a kind of "magic," as Lefebvre ( 1991) called it, a "spiriting-away...of the body," a shift from "the space of the body to the body-in-space" (pp. 201, 202). Thinking and knowing in this decorporealized space are defined as ways of looking from a distance upon the world rendered as a representation in books, paper, film, or television--the view from the skyscraper described in the previous chapter. In Mitchell's ( 1988) terms, we come to regard the world as an "exhibition":