A Circle of Reflecting Metaphors

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“The mind is a metaphor of the world of objects which is itself but an endless circle of mutually reflecting metaphors”.
(Pierre Bourdieu, French sociologist, 1930 – 2002)

This is inside the little akhara (gymnasia) which is lost in the fields near Sakalhida, a village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
It was early in the morning before sunrise in winter and there was no bright light inside.
Those pelhwans (Indian wrestlers) are practiscing their daily traning which is an integral and important part of everyday life.
Wrestling is more than a sport, it is a vocation, a way of life.
One chooses to become a wrestler.

“My focus is not on moves and countermoves, holds, takedowns, or the other skills a wrestler must master.
I am interested in the ideals and values associated with wrestling as a more or less bounded system of meaning.
Although much of what wrestlers do is to practice techniques and moves, they regard this aspect of their art as specialized and somewhat esoteric.
In contrast to the unproblematic issue of skill and technique, the wrestler is eminently concerned with such complex questions as the relationship between moral and physical strength, abstinence and celibacy.
As such, wrestlers are concerned with wrestling as a way of life that defines the boundaries of their everyday actions.
For a wrestler, wrestling and all it entails is an ideology, a partial and incomplete but nevertheless holistic ordering of the world.
At the locus of this ideology is the identity of the wrestler—what it means, among other things, to be strong, skillful, celibate, devoted, dutiful, honest, and humble”.
(“The Wrestler’s Body: Identity and Ideology in North India” by Joseph S. Alter)

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