- By Erri De Luca
In 328 BCE, Alexander the Great added the gesture of genuflection to his court ceremonies, following the practice of his vanquished enemy, Persia. It was an act of humility already practiced in Babylonia—diminishing one’s stature to a greater degree than a simple bow.
The practice is common to many religions and extends to private use, by a suitor in proposing marriage.
The human body is expressly political. To participate in a demonstration is already to declare your role as a single drop, part of a dense liquid channeled into a current. In the bleachers at sporting events, the crowd stands up and sits down, intentionally conveying the image of a human wave. The body has public eloquence that everyone can understand.
The knee is the human organism’s...