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Gorz’s concept of hygiene 

A great introduction to this concept I was previously unfamiliar with, from David Frayne’s Refusal of Work, pg 149:

As Bruce described his self-care habits, I was reminded of Gorz’s definition of ‘hygiene’, which for Gorz means something much more than the mundane rituals of preening and cleanliness. For Gorz, hygiene consists in a more rigorous attempt on the part of individuals to understand their bodily needs and improve their well-being. Hygiene is likened to an ‘art of living’, and refers to the ‘comprehensive set of rules that people observe by themselves to maintain or recover their health’ (Gorz, 1980: 151, his emphasis). In Bruce’s case, self-care meant a number of things, from stretching and exercising, to prioritising nutrition, and taking some time each day to rest and contemplate. To somebody else, self-care could entail a completely different set of practices. Self-care does not necessarily mean developing a strict, medically sanctioned well-being regime, but might also recognise the importance of unstructured time to relax, live in the moment, see friends, be irresponsible, and even do things commonly considered to be unhealthy. The important thing is that each person is free to decide autonomously which habits, practices, situations and environments allow him or her to flourish –a process of self-discovery which requires a degree of freedom from pressing economic demands.

I tried to explore this with my PhD, using Nick Crossley’s idea of Reflexive Body Techniques. My interest was in combining what’s likely a familiar concept of projects of self-transformation with a less familiar concern for projects of self-reproduction: those groupings of everyday activities which we habitually undertake because of a concern to preserve ourselves in a particular state or to meet a particular standard. I like the concept of ‘hygiene’ because it potentially incorporates both within a shared frame of reference.

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