Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Know What You Are Doing So That You Can Do What You Want

feldenkraisresourcesformusicians |   This description is marvelous because it captures the effect of integration through listening.61 Trough listening, something happens that Ephram does not ‘know’.
He is given a taste of the pre-symbolic Real for a moment. He does not speak, but instead acknowledges this internal, placeless ‘fnding’ (between visible activity) with chirruping laughter; this giddy delight and uncertainty refect the trauma of the Real and the way in which the senses are unifed in this domain. Nancy attempts to come to grips with the way in which laughter mediates the senses.

He states that, Laughter bursts at the multiple limits of the senses and of language, uncertain of the sense to which it is ofered […] Laughter is the joy of the senses, and of sense, at their limit. In this joy, the senses touch each other and touch language, the tongue in the mouth.62

Ephram’s laughter is like a cloudburst. Feldenkrais touches something deeper than just Ephram’s sensorium through touch and listening, and Ephram responds with laughter: he touches Ephram’s uniqueness.63 Feldenkrais states: ‘You know what that laughter is worth? Tat is Eureka!’ Later, when Ephram laughs again, he observes: ‘You see that laughter is priceless; you can’t buy it for all the money that you have in the world.’ Feldenkrais tacitly acknowledges that in this release, Ephram as a listening being has also withdrawn from him.64 Nancy might say that essential to listening is a ‘withdrawal and turning inward’.65 Laughter provides evidence of an essential independence that signals and derives from integration.66

Trough Ephram’s laughter, the external listeners assembled are exposed to a moment when Ephram is on a fulcrum of listening. It is not just that in Nancy’s terms he has become present to (him)self, but that he registers the trauma of the Real; Ephram’s laughter registers the possibility of change in his self-image. In Nancy’s terms this is the ‘reference’ (renvoi) of sound, ‘from a sign to a thing’.69

But what is this ‘thing’? Te making of ‘sense’ within Ephram’s sensorium is the jouissance of precisely that which does not make sense to him, a new self-image which cannot be immediately rationalized or assimilated.70 So when Nancy states that ‘a self is nothing other than a form or function of referral, a self is made of a relationship to self, or of a presence to self’, this can be considered only part of the story.71

One of the functions of FI is to bring the subject into an encounter with what is unknown, moving from the self that is known, founded in gravity and their own body image in the world, to a new image of the self.72 Ephram’s laughter bubbles up; it escapes what is presented to the world as a disabled boy. It is the resonance of an encounter with another self. His listening is an ongoing process of (re-)formation in the irreducible, intimate and non-linear temporal paradigm of ‘making the impossible possible’, as Feldenkrais has stated,73 and it is precisely this which is inscribed in the Lacanian Real.74

His outburst of laughter creates a symbolic cut in the Real that through its diferentiation signals the Real: it is like the tip of an iceberg that appears above the water, but in doing so it also signifes that below the water (apart from the rest of the iceberg, which is already integrated with the symbolic register) is the ocean’s void.75 In Nancy’s terms, Ephram is a paradigm of a ‘subject of listening [that] is always still yet to come’.76 With regard to Feldenkrais’s ‘listening for his next breath’, Nancy’s question is germane here: ‘What does it mean for a being to be immersed entirely in listening, formed by listening or in listening, listening with all its being?’ – and one might add here: ‘listening to all his being’.77 In this spirit of enquiry we might listen with Feldenkrais and ask: ‘Is it indeed possible (or desirable) to listen to all of another person’s being?’

This is a crucial question, and one fundamental to FI, because listening for Feldenkrais is a sensing through his hands of where someone else is stuck; where, through habit or injury, for example, the mind/body entity is momentarily incapable of utilizing a deeper intelligence to improve a function or action. Helping a person to fnd this intelligence within themselves is one of the primary functions of instrumental lessons and indeed of the Feldenkrais Method. Listening, then, as is shown in  Feldenkrais’s work with Ephram, is an enactivist engagement with intelligence and awareness, not just with presence to the world or the self (pace Nancy).

Feldenkrais’s ideal of listening is intimately connected to overcoming ‘resistance’, a term borrowed from Freud. In their book The Language of Psychoanalysis, Jean Laplanche and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis defne this concept: ‘In psycho-analytic treatment the name “resistance” is given to everything in the words and actions of the analysis and that obstructs his gaining access to his un-conscious.’78 

Laplanche and Pontalis point out that while Freud first discovered that resistance was ‘an obstacle to the elucidation of the symptoms and to the progress of the treatment’, he realized that ‘resistance was itself a means of reaching the repressed and unveiling the secret of neurosis’ and that ‘the interpretation of resistance, along with that of the transference, constituted the specifc characteristics of his technique’ that was part and parcel of the possibility of a cure.79 Feldenkrais extends this in profound ways elaborated through the examples given in this study. 

Resistance is understood not merely as that which obstructs the change in the self-image; Feldenkrais ‘interprets’ this resistance as an active means of gaining access to Ephram’s motor cortex, rather than the psychoanalytic ‘un-conscious’.


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