I love the idea that through movement we come into direct contact with our most human values, with the essentials that must be felt to be known, to be remembered. I've been thinking a lot recently about accessing memories through movement, and then about knowledge as memory, and so I'm seeing this video today through that lens.
the life and (movement) times of a lefty....
When writing, the side of my left hand will be painted in the metallic lead of a pencil, or smudgy ink from a pen by day’s end. This makes me strangely proud.
I tend to think good stuff is on the left and bad stuff is on the right, even though consciously, explicitly, everything in language and culture is telling me the exact opposite.
My Grandad used to tell me left-handers benefit from their unexpected left hook…maybe I should take up fighting…
If I played the guitar, it would be like Elizabeth Cotten . Born in 1895, she was a completely self-taught guitarist. She was left-handed, but played a right-handed guitar that wasn’t even re-strung to be played lefty. She simply turned it upside-down, which meant she played the bass strings with her fingers and the melody with her thumb.
I have trouble opening/locking locks, organising files “back to front”, tying ties, using rulers, working out wind-up toys, writing cheques out, undoing wine corks anti-clockwise, using knives, veg peelers and scissors that were made for your right hand,
I have momentary problems being greeted with a handshake or a kiss on the cheek, hugging, crossing others path on the pavement, being helped to put on a jacket, receiving change…unless the other person is a lefty too.
When I interlock my fingers, my left thumb always sits proudly ontop, I nearly always put belts on ‘upside down’, I'd cup my left ear to tell you I couldn’t hear what you are saying, I start with my left hand to count, I hold my phone to my left ear and would look through a telescope with my left eye and feel much more comfortable seated to the left of someone. If I played the guitar I'd do so like flick through magazines from back to front, line dance on the wrong foot, prefer to start my vinyasa’s on the left and visualise things the opposite way around (it seems to me).
But, perhaps to make sure I fit in, I favor the right side of the bed, when i clap, my right hand is on-top, I scroll with the mouse, brush my teeth and my hair with my right hand, my right eye does all the winking at strangers and if i have an itch to scratch on my back my right hand will be first to the rescue.
My body is less than total in its devotion to my favored side, but I still think my skeleton would give it away. I like to think someone could discover this about me from the writings in my tissues.
"She assured me, “You can’t teach yoga. All we can do as teachers is share our maps.” Yoga might mean knowing what’s happening in your body and then finding an external geometry that rhymes. How can you do that with a stranger standing at the front of the room offering a succession of poses? How can I become my own authority if I keep leaning on experts?"
-- Mike Hoolboom (in conversation with Matthew Remski)
Up and Down are Relative
Here is an 'Upside-Down' world map and 'The Peters Projection' (an equal area projection of the world) and a 'Red Hair Map of Europe', just because I wish I had Auburn locks. At first glance nothing what-so-ever to do with the world of human movement and my art practice musings that is the main reason for this blog, but consider this....
The earth is round. The challenge of any world map is to represent a round earth on a flat surface. There are literally thousands of map projections. Each has certain strengths and corresponding weaknesses. Choosing among them is an exercise in values clarification: you have to decide what's important to you. That is generally determined by the way you intend to use the map.
The implications of any projection are enormous. Images we see shape our perceptions of the world. It's enriching to see a variety of points-of-view. Like the 'Upside-Down' map, whoever said that North must be "up"? We are literally on a moving ball in space and, as Katy Bowman wrote on her facebook page a while back (it has stuck with me), "UP and DOWN are relative and the maps we've come to memorize have shaped our brain to one particular perspective. This "south is up" map is just a reminder that what we've come to understand as right and wrong often depends on how you've set up the problem."
This was of looking at the world can be used with the small universe that is your own body too. Maps/diets/exercise routines/fitness fads/ancient movement practices/meditations techniques are based on a variety of assumptions, most of which are subliminal and below our threshold of consciousness. We can all benefit from challenging implicit assumptions and deciding for ourselves what 'maps of the world' are valid and useful for us.
The moral of the story? keep researching, try different things, gain different perspectives, challenge what you think to be 'true', include lots of variation and KEEP MOVING.
about reasons to be a mover by Steve Paxton.
"I think that one of the reasons I got involved in dance
is to finish my movement development.
Because I have a hunger to find,
and to finish,
and to explore,
to do essentially what babies do when they begin to move.
A hunger to find out more of what movement is or can be.
I think it provides a service to keep the search alive
in a culture,
which has engineered an environment which requires physical and sensorial suppression to exist in.
Most of the people who study dance aren’t ambitious to be dancers, in fact.
Or aren’t serious about that ambition.
I think they’re trying to complete physicality
that gets messed up by sitting for 12 years in school, or longer.
Essentially, urban civilization has cut off from movement and sensorial development which would occur in a natural environment.
I mean the sense of smell is leaving.
The sense of sight is rigidly controlled by readings,
by words everywhere in the city.
In fact there are many kinds of of control or implicit visual message
about how to interact with the city.
Here there is more neon than nuance.
Food is advertised rather than hunted for.
Entertainment becomes divorced from ingenuity.
I’m not complaining because it is about 15,000 years too late to change direction.
I have found the cities very interesting places,
but when I return to the country I am struck by the difference in what is required by the senses.
It is appalling how we disuse the body.
Dance remind us about that.
Dance explores some of the physical possibilities.
Dance refocuses our focusing mind on very basic existence,
and time, space, gravity, open up to creativity.
This seems to me a reminder of nature, of our natures,
and as such it provides a service to us in our physical doldrums.
It is a wakeup call to deadened urbanites,
a stimulus, to work-habituated bodies,
a promise to developing children …
Even those country folk who cope with their natural environment
use their bodiies more and more often
fall into a routine and mold their bodies into tools
from which creativity has departed
dance will remind them of their feet, their spines, their reach
I think its good for us"
'Whenever I feel disappointed, disillusioned or uncertain the best remedy throughout my life has always been to do something active. This morning I woke up feeling all of those things so I went for a run. Then @carmenzsf and I dipped out of our normal @mahfia_tv office hours and went skating and talked about how crazy this is. Then I had a conversation with Molly the inspiring founder of @theunsungheroines book and I was reminded that at the core, we as humans, male and female, are designed to overcome and persevere when faced with challenge and uncertainty. When presented with a situation we've never been in before, or trying something that we've never tried before, even one that we can barely wrap our head around, our body and brain is designed to figure it out and overcome. The way that happens is through compassion (love and support), communication, confidence and literally moving your body. So to all my game changers out there, find your compassion for all humans (whether they are like minded with you or not), be generous in your speaking and actions, muster up your confidence and GO OUT AND SHRED. You will feel better and the world will keep turning and great things will happen. I don't know everything but this is what I do know. ❤️'
This is the only film of the artist Josef Albers teaching in the classroom. Albers aimed to lead students to a more sophisticated use of their vision, believing that the fundamental building block of art education was to learn to see more acutely. I love the the invitation he gives to his students in this video to use their bodies in that seeing.
Copyright John Cohen / The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, 2013
Submitted by Anon, 23, Female.
part 4 - me and others
With whom do you talk to most about movement? my dance teacher and others that I dance with, I'm not a professional, but I've been going to class once a week for a couple of years.
What is the most trans-formative conversation you have ever had with someone about movement? I don't know about the single most trans-formative conversation, but there are things my dance teacher says that stick with me and change the way I view everyday objects. I find myself relating the movement of 'things' to the movement of my own body. I feel like I'm building a tool box of inspiration for ways to move by looking at everyday things. I like that. I'll list some, they are funny out of context:
'move your arm back like you are winding up one of those elastic band airplanes and then let it go through space!'
'when you come back up move like your are a bottle opener, as arms come down head goes up'
'as you dance see what you can see in the room, make it a point to look. see see see.'
'you are a clock going anti-clock wise'
'as you move your spine forward in space imagine someone is pulling you tail bone back to earth'
'like you are bending forward over a railing, leave that space'
I am shy. I also have a big ego. Practically speaking, that means everyone is looking at me, and it makes me uncomfortable. Actually, "big ego" has a negative connotation. I'll say "healthy ego." Which, sadly, for women, still has a negative connotation. We aren't supposed to have an ego. It's unseemly. It's arrogant. It's not ladylike. Serena Williams was called cocky when she said she wanted to be the best in the world. Well, what the hell is she training so relentlessly for, to be the 37th best in the world? (No disrespect to the 37th best in the world.) A poster of Serena in mid–epic scream should be required on every little girl's bedroom wall so they can be reminded daily how beautiful it is to be a badass....
Click HERE to read on and find out how Sports gave Director Gina Prince-Bythewood swagger...
(image and quote form Lenny Letters)
Photographs of spaces, places and things worn by repetitive human movement.
It's so easy to grasp what's happening here with the objects, surfaces and places being shaped by repetitive human movement. But perhaps less obvious to most is the strain of your own body right now under the invisible repetitive immobilizing casts of our own sedentary, movement-outsourcing culture. For example, the same way we 'always' sit or the same way we 'always' get out of bed or the same way we 'always' take the stairs....
Let these images of our shared environment remind you of the repetitive forces shaping your your body through the daily movement choices you make and see if you can prompt a different way of doing things, whenever you remember.