Horace Miner Reaction Paper
The "Body Ritual Among the Nacirema," by Horace Miner, takes an anthropological view on an unnamed culture. Upon reading, it becomes quite clear that Miner is speaking of the United States, but writes to create the illusion that the American culture is unique and widely unexplored. Even the word "Nacirema" is a hint towards the actual subject of the paper; If spelled backwards "Nacirema" spells the word, American. Miner does this to convey a message that American culture is not as well understood as many would think and that the vast majority of our cultural nuances and rituals would be perceived as odd or peculiar to foreign onlookers. Miner discusses the cultures need for privacy, the fight against aging, and the medical industry.
Miner went on to discuss some of the hygienic rituals that Americans perform every day . Instead of describing the everyday rituals in ways that sounded accustom to Americans, Miner made use of a more "primitive language". The reason Miner wrote the essay in this manner was to allow the Americans to read it, and make them believe that this was in fact referring to a foreign culture. Miner did well in accomplishing that very goal through his use of vocabulary and witty analogies.
The author makes use of countless comparisons to primitive native culture to explain the obsession with health, hygiene, and anti-aging. Miner refers to dentists as holy mouth men and bathrooms as shrines for odd ritual practices. His language is clearly satirical and creates the notion of the "Nacirema" as vain and self obsessed. Also, they seem to be a masochistic society built around willingly subjecting themselves to pain and torture. The “Nacirema” knowingly allow “medicine men” and “holy-mouth-men” to perform debilitating painful procedures to prevent the unavoidable decay of their mouths and bodies. Miner makes subtle comedic reference to the classic stereotype of doctors having atrocious handwriting when he writes,...