Reaction paper #1
“Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” (#8)
Steven W. Schiller
August 31, 2009

My reaction to what I just read: “Body Rituals Among the Nacirema” by Horace Miner is that a good part of the body purification rituals performed by the Nacirema people involve severe pain and discomfort. Moreover, some may even take their desire to rid themselves of the repulsion which they hold for their own bodies to such extreme lengths as enduring personal mutilation. To have the “holy-mouth-men”, not once, but twice a year perform an “exorcism of the evils of the moth” by gouging out sections of their mouth using “a variety of augers, awl, probes, and prods” is unnerving, to say the least!
As I read about these people, I couldn’t help but to feel sorry for them. They would relinquish their worldly possessions to people in the “medical field” who were there to help make them beautiful, but simply left them in anguish and took payment for their work, only to return in the future and do it again. Thankfully, the Nacirema only speak with the “listener”, and are not subjected to any unnecessary poking or prodding as he performs his “counter-magic” during the exorcism of the devils lodged in peoples heads.
In addition, it was obvious to me that the Nacirema emphasize their own personal appearance above everything else. No where was it mentioned how their children were schooled or the types of nutrition they undertook.
Finally, it is apparent that the Nacirema do not pussyfoot around when it comes to their well-being. Although their rituals may be considered strange and sadistic by some, they have obviously adapted to their peculiar way of personal care and hygiene and will persevere for years to come.