INKSHED 1999

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS:

LANGUAGE MEETS BODY LANGUAGE

Charlotte Hussey & Jean Mason

Because our time is so limited, and because it takes time to even begin to experience the sensation of "meditation through movement," there will be no verbal warm-up at the beginning of our workshop. We will start with a physical warm-up and simply carry on with the planned activities. Please read the following as a short introduction to our workshop, and come prepared to move and write. We plan to reserve about 10 minutes at the end for discussion.

In traditional "Western" culture, the image of the mirror has long signified reflection of the actual or "real." In post-modern thought, however, the mirror serves a more proactive function. Instead of confirming our view of reality and its replicability, it forces us to question the nature of the real. In so doing it undermines accepted oppositions that have long characterized our assumptions: here/there; outside/inside; visible/invisible; conscious/unconscious; rational/emotional; right-brain/left-brain; physical/intellectual. By combining movement with writing, we are seeking new ways to bridge these unnatural dichotemies and to foster understanding and creativity. Our workshop explores one possible approach, designed with inkshedders in mind.

Just as language "mirrors" a particular reality of being and knowing, so too physical movement can provide a looking glass in which to examine self and other. Musicians and painters often stand or sway about, using the body and the breath to make art. Although writing is naturally less physical, Hawthorne and Hemingway wrote standing up, while Coleridge and the Wordsworths incubated poems during their long rhythmical Lake District walks. Did these writers become physical in reaction to the fact that writing is one of our least physically engaging forms of self-expression? Today's writer is even more constrained, often sitting at a computer and employing only fingers, wrists, and a bit of forearm to create a text. Described as an embarrassing problem by post-Cartesian thinkers, the body has become a repressed, untouchable second-class citizen, possibly because of what it mirrors back to us about change and death (Stinson 1995, Smith 1993, Ostriker 1986). What, then, do we as writers lose by abjuring the body, and/or devaluing its potential to reflect our somatic perceptions?

In this workshop we will explore whether we can write more authentically if we reconnect with our bodies. Drawing on a variety of techniques, including Gabrielle Roth's "Meditation Through Movement" and Ira Progoff's "Journal Workshop" concepts, we will use simple movements, music, and sound-making as a complement to writing. Building on individual and collective energies, we will aim to move "through the looking glass" to a sphere of deeper understanding of self and others - a sphere perhaps more closely allied to the reality of dreams.

Participants should bring a spirit of openness, a notebook, and a writing implement, and wear comfortable clothing that will inspire them to "dance" with soft flat shoes or bare feet. In this dance there is no performance, and no critic. It is simply the moving body connecting to the rhythms that surround it - be they musical instruments, chanting, or the breath itself. The important thing is to let yourself experience the rhythms. We have found that casting the eyes downward and lowering the lids to a semi-closed position helps to focus attention on the inner experience. Give your self permission to be wholely in the moment


The body knows more than the intellect and when we allow physical impulses to be expressed through movement and then give voice to what arises, we give the body a medium for revealing its wisdom.

(Nina Wise)

Write your self. Your body must be heard.

(Helene Cixous)


THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS:

LANGUAGE MEETS BODY LANGUAGE

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