[dance-tech] Action, Reaction, and Phenomenon

  • From: "Johannes Birringer" <Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 3 Nov 2008 19:24:12 -0000

Sent: Sun 11/2/2008 16:30
From:  on behalf of C.Kappenberg@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 A correction, I mean:
Richard Shusterman,‘Body Consciousness, A Philosophy of Mindfulness and 
Cambridge University Press 2008

in response to the posts by Jeanette and Sabine I would like to suggest a book 
by Richard Schusterman, entitled 'Body Consciousness, A Philosophy of 
Mindfulness and Somaesthetics', Cambridge University Press 2008. It is very 
considered and thorough debate on previous philosophical theories on 
embodiment, including a chapter on Merleau-Ponty, which I find most poignant.

Merleau-Ponty deserves his place in the history of philosophy as he gave 
attention to the embodied self that lies beyond consciousness. However, I have 
always felt uneasy with some aspects of his thought, such as the rejection of a 
conscious exploration of the physical in favor of a universal pre-reflective 
consciousness. I applaud his advocation of a spontaneity, but I do not support 
this sense of the magical and pure, which he associates with it. I don't 
believe are we ever a 'blank page', and nor is our engagement with the world 
ever not affected by previous embodied experience and knowledge. Merleau-Ponty 
however suggests a return to a world, which precedes knowledge, a world, which 
is universal and given. I think this is a problematic, if not romantic notion 
of how we are in the world and how the world is in us.

It seems that Merleau-Ponty had a restricted and almost negative notion of 
consciousness; his consciousness is mainly an Ego that is caught in a limiting 
sort of rationality, coupled with a personal physical shyness and fear of 
corporeal exposure. With a background as Feldenkreis practitioner as well as 
Philosophy Schusterman argues for a differentiation of different levels of 
consciousness and a conscious observation of the body, thereby also hoping to 
extend the realm of philosophical enquiry into these more diffuse states of 

I hope this may indicate a necessity to further unpack what we mean with 
'experience' and 'perception', and that the relation of the visual to the 
physical is always multilayered, conscious as well as unconscious, immediate as 
well as mediated. I would also suggest that something 'seen' is not necessarily 
only seen with the eye, but can/ is also always experienced with the body. This 
in turn does not mean that one is therefore dis-embodied. I would argue we need 
to let go of many of the either/or constructs that permeate these debates. If 
anything, the body-mind is paradoxical, infinitely complex and a system of 
parallel universes.


Claudia Kappenberg
Senior Lecturer
Performance and Visual Art
School of Arts and Communication
Faculty of Arts and Architecture
University of Brighton
Grand Parade
Brighton BN2 0JY

Tel: 0044 1273 643020

From: Media Arts and Dance on behalf of Jeannette Ginslov
Sent: Sun 11/2/2008 10:50

hi all,

I would like to share some of my thoughts and ideas from Alva Noë's 'Action
in Perception' (2004) and Steve Dixon's 'Digital Performance' (2007) that
seem to relate to these postings (also see [dance-tech] postings).
I agree with Yvon Bonenfant that we need to find a
language of the body, experiential, not purely of the eye/mind and bring it
back into the foreground as "its anatomical materiality is rarely described
since this is far less important than the psychological, political, and
cultural inscriptions and reconstitutions enforced upon it." (Dixon). A
language that includes the neuroscientific, a "language of touch and
hearing" in conjunction with a cartesian/ocularist discourse interests me as
this could possibly start this re-invention.

Up until now Dixon states that academic discourse by its very nature
utilises a logical cartesian approach in its descriptions of the virtual
body and disembodiment. It assumes to describe the experience of the body
that the perceiving experience when becoming 'other' or transformed or
disembodied. Dixon reminds us that the virtual body seen by the receiver's
eye may be a transformative body but the actual body of the sender/viewer is
not transformed and s/he is not disembodied and metamorphosed. "Bodies
embody consciousness; to talk of disembodied consciousness  is a
contradiction in terms". (Dixon) The image seen is just that - "seen". It is
this relationship that reinforces the mind/body split/duality we are all
working so hard to dismantle.

There is a need to reinforce the body's discourse but could/should include
an ocularist perspective (?), as Noë argues that "perception and perceptual
consciousness depend on capacities for action and thought....touch not
vision, should be our model for perception (as) it is not a process in the
brain, but a kind of skillful activity of the body as a whole. We enact our
perceptual experience." We interact with the world and have "sensations that
we understand". (Noë)

Time permitting, I would love to share with a group, the experiential, the
"sensation-emotion-action-reaction" and Yvon Bonenfant's idea of " the
language of
touch and hearing...the very fingertips and nerve endings to do the
'talking', the skin surfaces to do the listening, and still understand
this as a form of rigour. I am particularly interested in


----- Original Message -----
From: "Johannes Birringer" <Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2008 6:44 PM
Subject: Re: Action, Reaction, and Phenomenon

hello all:

not sure whether this review (below) was forwarded by Simon for us to
discuss, but i now have had time to read it, and am very grateful to find
out about this exhibition and the way (the writer says) it introduces or
stages participatory experiences of embodiment,  action/reaction patterns,
sensorial experience of ourselves/the space or environment, etc .

Embodiment, here applied to the interactional setting of the show, is a
category of phemenological assumption now used so frequently and
relentlessly that one must tell oneself that one ought to know what it is,
and i am not always sure.  Same goes for affect(s).

i wonder whether others felt like commenting on what is written here, and
how you read it or sense it ?

Johannes Birringer
Dap Lab


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