23 May 2006

Ok, I promised Kevin R. Hollo that I'd write something about my "early experiences in the acquisition of any sort of dance knowledge." And I will write you, Kevin, separately, but since this is connected to my thinking on gestural memory, I thought I'd try and start here.

I have no memory of the first time I danced, or moved in a way that might be considered dancing. I don't even remember my first ballet class. Oh, wait, I'm lying. I don't remember ballet, but I remember taking some kind of creative movement class in the upstairs of a fabulous old building on Main Street, in Sedgwick, Maine--one right on the Benjamin river. One part of a dance involved cradling our arms and making a movement that was like rocking a baby to sleep. Maybe I was six, or seven? I don't think there was any music--we sang or chanted some kind of a poem/song that went with our movements.

I probably remember the "rocking the baby" movement because it's one I would have already known in some form.

I don't think the class lasted more than a few weeks one summer. Our teacher was a slightly plump, "earthy" looking woman in her 30s or 40s--though who knows how old she was, really. She was older than me and seemed motherly. My own mother was in her early 30s at the time, so this woman could have been the same age as my mom.

What I loved most about the class was the dance space. Every town on the Blue Hill peninsula has an old town hall, usually with a large meeting/dance hall and a stage. The room we danced in was like that. Maybe it was an old town hall. Old wood floors: slippery, dusty, full of splinters (but good for turns), light and ocean air coming in through the windows. Exposed beams in the ceiling.

I just remembered this now. Before I was going to talk about music. I have very very early memories of singing and being sung to. Mom singing lullabys or asking me to sing, Dad singing and playing guitar. One day I may coax my father to either write his songs down, or do a low tech recording. There are a few recordings of me when I'm five or so singing--sometimes I'm singing a song I actually learned, but often I'm just making stuff up, or telling a story about what I did last week, etc. As I got a bit older, singing was something I'd do while walking, a way of processing information.

As a dancer, my musical phrasing and use of space is certainly what I'm best at. I'm not flexible, and wasn't even when I was younger. So, my early knowledge of dance then, would be based in two things--sound and space. The whole idea that dancing can be social, something you do with another person, came much later.

Of course, I danced with my Dad while standing on his feet--this has to be a common little girl experience.

22 May 2006

This is a cheap poem about being a man in the woods. Suddenly, I experience a very deep epiphany. Or else, this is a poem about being a woman in the woods, alone, thinking about men. Or else I'm feeling my innate, womanly connection to nature, especially the earth and the moon. This poem is terrible. It is a tired poem. In Carlsbad, everyone says "namaste" to the teacher after class. In Washington, DC, only a few people mumble it, very privately. Actually, there are people in Washington, DC who say "namaste," but I didn't practice with them. A woman in Whole Foods once greeted me by saying "namaste!" I was smelling tomatoes at the time, and looked at her with a dazed expression. She pointed to my yoga bag. I smiled and nodded my head stupidly. I don't feel blessed by my womanly connection to nature, nor by my manly ephiphanies in the woods. I don't believe in "blessed," but I believe in other things. There are probably people in Carlsbad who do not say "namaste after class." No one has said it to me on the street though on the whole people are eager to greet and engage in small talk. It's important, I suppose, to accept that some thing are true and real. I don't want to be true and real, but I belive in other things that might be. The sunset is beautiful, obviously. I imagine watching myself eat a fish taco in my large sunglasses, the wind blowing my hair into the salsa, the blue of the water and the blue of the sky looking clear and fake.

17 May 2006

More thoughts on memory, body, etc. Jessica asked about:

"Is that true? What about investigations into Alzheimers? Or--the loss of normal memory? Also into how one learns--that's research into memory."

There's certainly been work done on different ways of learning.... It might have to do with the way the research is classified--"gestural" or "bodily" are terms most frequently used with PTSD. Surprise.

And her idea that:

"memory is arche-writing. arche-writing is violent. violence is traumatic. thus all memory is traumatic."

Yes. Violence and pain play an important role in subject formation (I'm more up on my psychoanalytic theory than Derrida). Actually, I find it helpful to go back to Freud when thinking about actual bodies and how they might connect to language and subjects. He talks a lot about how physical pain helps us become aware, literaly, of where our bodies begin and end.


This is kind of gross, but I remember once asking my mother if it would hurt if I peeled off a piece of dry skin and then bit it. I wasn't sure if I would still be able to feel the skin when it was detatched from my body.

14 May 2006

Guilt and identification are not the
same thing. Either way, I’m not
going to shoot you. Excuse me,
I have something to take care
of. Thinking about this makes me
hunch my shoulders up above
my ears. We were white people
at a party. It wouldn’t be funny
without context. There was
common ground, but we don’t
know any of the same people and
you kept making paranoid statements
about your relationship to
my profession. “It was all beautifully vague, “
I later told my friend. It’s spring,
and there’re a lot of dead animals on the road.

11 May 2006

I've been editing editing editing. And working on some fiction-prose stuff. And making picures. So not so many poems, unless the fiction-prose things are poems. Or the pictures are.

Lots of discussions with friends and with Mark about bodies and space. It's not a new topic but new to me. Gestural Memory, kinetic memory--most of what I can find to read on these subjects is focused on how bodies react to trauma. Psychophysiology. Slighly more new-agey--"cellular memory."

But what about memory based in not necessarily traumatic movement? I mean beyond the fact that sitting in chairs at the computer gives us bad posture. Or that repeated eka pada paschimotanasanas will help your...hips (?)

05 May 2006

Take, for an example, the feeling of being abandoned - not that of the adult, who feels lonely and therefore takes tablets or drugs, goes to the movies, visits friends, or telephones "unnecessarily", in order to bridge the gap somehow. The relief of being abandoned! In dreams, being abandoned can have several connotations that derive from psychological or physical experience. It may be painful now and it will surely take a while to get over the hurt of being abandoned, but fear not, the pain will ebb and you will be strong once again. The dying fear being abandoned by their loved ones as much or more as they fear pain and death.

“I have a fear of being abandoned,” I said matter-of-factly.

Because rabbits don't like to be cuddled and get frightened when restrained, children often lose interest and hence, the rabbit ends up being abandoned.
I'm going to



I'm not going.