Monday, July 8, 2013

Exhibit Inspirations: Kinesynesthesia (II)

I have been tragically neglectful of this blog, which seems to be the refrain haunting the beginning of every one of my rare posts these days. This is because I am actually working at a museum, a job so intellectually rich and all-encompassing that I have been essentially distracted from daydreaming about imaginary exhibits by actually learning how museums work. The nuts and bolts of development, membership, exhibit-making, grants cycles, visitor experience, outreach, ADA requirements...all incredibly useful things for a museum-minded gal like me, but they haven't left much space for reverie.

Until recently. I've been so busy that I've had very little time for dance, which is terrible and tragic and generally doubleplusungood. And it's started getting to me. My body has its own set of interests and desires, which don't always mesh exactly with my intellect's ideas of what I'm supposed to be doing right now. If I go too long without dancing, I get restless. Physically, spiritually, emotionally. I can't sit still. I feel subtly wrong all over. I don't even like food as much, which is really saying something, because I always like food. And by dancing I don't mean dancing around my living room (I do plenty of that) -- I mean dedicating myself seriously to a practice that asks me to think with my body. Donna Mejia introduced me to the idea that the body is an intelligent life companion a long time ago, and I've been grateful to her ever since, because it's just true: the body has its own intelligence, its own ways of knowing and perceiving, its own nuanced understanding of and interaction with the world, and I spend a lot of time forgetting that because I am a very thinky person who likes words like "reification" and reads Roland Barthes for fun. But when I pay attention to my body like it's actually an intelligent being, an ally who can tell me things my rational mind can't see or grasp, I'm always, always glad I did.

Sure, it's a cliched image. But Da Vinci created this image
based on Vitruvius's ideas about the human body as
the source of proportion in Classical architecture -
an example of  the kinds of knowing that belong to
 the body, if you ask me.
I think of joy as being very much in the realm of things the body understands better than the mind. For example, I'm listening to Mozart's Requiem as I write this, and I don't understand how this progression of sound waves buzzing out my tinny little speakers could possibly move me so much. It's just sounds. But I have ALL THE FEELINGS listening to them. Why? What's going on, as the signs at the museum say? My mind's grasp comes second to my body's in matters of music. That's what music does -- it moves us. We use the language of the body to describe it for a reason. The mind can understand music rationally, can contruct it and deconstruct it intellectually, and that's a noble and beautiful thing -- but it happens after the first thing, which is that we feel that movement. And I am tempted to say that it's also precisely that movement, harnessed and refined, that is really at the roots of what we call dance.
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