What is embodiment?
The following is an after thought to our wrap up discussion at the end of today's session with Margie.
The post is related to my comment in session that "embodiment" is really as complicated as any other notion, and there are many ways to experience it and ways to talk about it. It also relates to my comment that in the academy we focus a lot on representations...third person descriptions of phenomena, And the representation is central to scholarly research. E.g., what are the facts (empirical description).? How do you account for the facts --how do you represent the objects of study in a theor of the objects?
The below comment also voices my insight from today's session that embodiment is about specific and particular bodies. We had been talking in session about Margie's contribution as our teacher, and what people noted about her. Jane said she noted Margie's voice. Maggie talked about some things and one I recall was Margie's nurturance, her "Mom"-ness. With that as background, I wrote this email when I returned to my office to sit and finish a document...
margie MOVES (and talks, and thinks and dresses...(etc.?)) differently than we do.
she's not like the models we see and maybe tried to measure up to in academia.
She *does being Margie* not just in a different way, but out of a different model of doing one's self.
how we move is a public display of our self
we change the body and we can change our and others' perception of who we are.
margie is also a consistent model of the kind of body-mind she is displaying...representing...to us.
but it's definitely a margie body-mind.
that degree of specificity and uniqueness matters. Margie is not an every-woman body mind.
There is no body-mind in the abstract! There's no generic body-mind.
without a model...a map...her representation to us through her body (and voice), we couldn't do this..or not in the same way. Something would be compromised.
it's not enough to work from a book, or a movie to become more embodied.
Rather, to learn to be more embodied requires a real body, face-to-face with us.
this is not a distance learning course, neither is parenting...
my point - to be embodied we need a teacher, and we need to see, and at times feel her body, (where the bones are), hear the teacher's voice, see the humanness of her body, (some of your hairs are falling on your sweater, margie...,) etc..
Embodiment is physical.
Eliminate the physical models, props, teachers, human element, and it's not going to be (as) effective.
Human societies have always been face-to-face... until now.
I don't want to get into the issue of virtual bodies, avatars, virtual life, etc., in this post, but I want to say that the element of being face-to-face is a an obvious dimension to being embodied and experiencing embodiment. It may not be necessary...but it is an element of our learning process.
Perhaps as scholars and artists, because our work often takes us into a room alone, the loss of the presence of another body may lead us to feel less embodied...or at least embodied in a different way, maybe less intensely embodied...
What if wisdom of the body was staring us in the face? (Not all wisdom, just some). Because a lot of it for us adults has to be excavated. In these sessions we are excavating, diving down. Is embodioment a practice one has to do on a daily basis to maintain?
To paraphrase Justine Cassell, "Why do we have a body and what do we want to do with it?"
why do we have to ask this question?