Year 7, n.25 (May – August 2017) Discomfort

Year 7, n.25 (May – August 2017)

curated by Giulia Crisci

But where the danger is, also grows the saving power.



A body no longer in a state of rest.
If the resultant of the applied forces to the body is not null, its centre of gravity is shifted out of the support base, so that it loses its equilibrium.
Then, it becomes necessary to look for a new posture, which takes into account the intensity of the applied external force.
Once the threshold of the comfort zone has been overpassed, the equilibrium that stitches together automatisms and ordinary movements, keeping us standing during the execution of a gesture, is undermined.
Breaking the habitual causes the body itself to prompt the physiological mechanism of “supercompensation”, that is the activation of equal and opposite reactions aimed at bringing the system back to its state of dynamic equilibrium, called homeostasis (from Greek òmoios, “similar” and stasis “position”), which is the basis of all its activities.
Thus, also the mind goes continuously and instinctively back to comfortable and sometimes common places, which knows.
We live, inhabit, exist going along with our habits, namely the cultural models we have internalized. This is what Marcel Mauss – in his essay dedicated to the Techniques of the Body1 – defines as Habitus, “the different ways in which people ‘inhabit’ their bodies, so that they ‘get familiar’ with them2. Those ways are intended as a combination of body usages, derived from social dispositions, education standards and cultural traditions. Even the apparently most natural action, as walking, is actually acquired and strongly conditioned.
A discomfortable thought is the precondition for every honest act of research. It tends to shift the habitual; exiting the
comfort-zone it creates a short-circuit in the ordinary; problematizing the rule it can break the disciplined schemes.
This discouraging movement goes against the “
Invisible power of alienating domestication, which attains a degree of extraordinary efficiency”: where the “bureaucratizing of the mind, a state of refined estrangement”, a sort of “conformity of the individual, of compromise”3 takes place.
discomfort, as staying out of comfort, is a continuous fight to try to make the world habitable and its circumstances beneficial, in a constant construction, which is never peaceful and which generates the desire of new conditions, since it is not satisfied with the existent.
The sense of discomfort stems from the inconvenience or the maladjustment to the environment or to a situation, for moral reasons or for the lack of what is needed, thus causing an uncomfortable mental posture.
Discomfort can mean living in many places without fully belonging or inhabiting anyone.



1 Mauss M., Les techniques du corps, in Journal de psychologie, sec. edition in Sociologie et anthropologie, 1935; Italian transl. Le tecniche del corpo, in Teoria generale della magia e altri saggi, Einaudi, Torino 1965.
2 Scheper-Hughes N., Il sapere incorporato: pensare con il corpo attraverso un’antropologia medica critica, in Borofsky R. L’antropologia culturale oggi, Meltemi, Roma 2000, p. 284.
3 Freire P., Pedagogia da autonomia: saberes necessários à prática educativa, Paz e Terra (coleção Leitura), São Paulo, 1996; Italian transl. Pedagogia dell’autonomia. Saperi necessari per la pratica educativa, EGA, Torino, 2004, pp. 88-9.