“No pain, no gain” is a rather strange saying, exhorting us actively to embrace what we ordinarily abhor and are desperate to avoid. It promotes the idea of good pain. This essay excavates the historical and metaphysical roots of this idea and situates the modern slogan in the context of a profound change in the experience of presence.
“No Pain, No Gain” and the History of Presence
Shigehisa Kuriyama is Reischauer Institute Professor of Cultural History at Harvard University. His book The Expressiveness of the Body and the Divergence of Greek and Chinese Medicine (1999) received the 2001 William H. Welch Medal of the American Association for the History of Medicine. His recent work includes studies on the history of distraction, the happiness of happenings, the transformation of money into a palpable humor, hiddenness in traditional Chinese medicine, and the web of connections binding ginseng, opium, tea, silver, and MSG.
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Shigehisa Kuriyama; “No Pain, No Gain” and the History of Presence. Representations 1 May 2019; 146 (1): 91–111. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2019.146.1.91
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