Thursday, October 22, 2009

body language

Body Language

            After I had read a book of William Gass’ I was not at all surprised at his face: red, bloated, a glint of the child-molester’s perversity in his eyes, a tad saggy. Exactly. I suppose I get this from my job: when I take orders through drive thru at Starbucks, and meet the angels and harpies who order my drinks, I am trained to know what they look like, by the mere manner of their ordering.

            Derrida is handsome and sometimes charming, but too clever for his own good. Lacan is nervous looking and just an all around creep. Nietzsche looks strong and yet lonely in all his pictures. Rand is of course ugly and blinking way too much—such a troubled woman. Voltaire is exactly what you would expect: note the wry smile. Emerson is dignified and sublime: I could kiss him.

            The movement is half the beauty. No man is captured in a photo. How he looks when he talks says as much as his words.

            Body language is very complex...and with just a shiver of the eyeball, a dilation of the pupil...we siren-call others into our lives.

            Language began with action. Animals of all sorts communicate among their speech through body language. In so-called “primitive man,” language was only gesture and tone. Gesture is an incomplete action that suggests the full action, tone evolves from the sound of the breath during a given exertion.

            Our refined language has not surpassed or dropped gesture and tone; indeed, when you read a man’s writing, you ought to imagine at least in at least one of your registers of imagination the bodily gestures and tones of voice implicit in the text – this is the real “reading between the lines.”

            Ancient communities (“tribes”) to exist had to transmit their culture, and they used the same methods we use: music and dance. “Pure” music is an anticoncept, since it abstracts the meaning beyond meaningfulness: there is no music without dance. Music and dance are two parts of one thing. These concepts work best when universalizes. All a man’s movements are a dance, only some or more eloquent and noteworthy as “Dance” than others. All words are music of tones, only some seem more cold and logical, others more emotive (as if “cold and logical” were not in fact positive excessive feelings. As if “coldness” did not imply a submerged hotness to hold it in place!)

            Language itself is the greatest technological achievement of man, one we all participate within, one we all use from childhood to death. And again, all language is tone and gesture, music and dance. An idea has a thousand external forms for one internal form: perhaps one external form epitomizes it best. Once you discover this, you will realize that all people, even common people, can teach us interesting ideas, if not by their philosophy, then in the ideas lodged in their lives.

            We listen with our muscles, we think with our guts. Concepts are made out of feelings – even the most abstract of ideas are not only in the nerves of our brain, but in all our nerves, in our whole body. Philosophy is embodied. Ideals are in the muscles. We might rightly reduce all language to a gridwork of arrows and equal signs: causality and identity, but this gridwork lies in the skin and nerve tissue. The mannerisms and motifs that coalesce into a writers style are the grid which the daily experience of his life, the same sort of daily experience we all hold, fall into, and bend like light in a lens.

            Thus all art holds an informal message, the mud and guts message. The artistic framework in only a method of transmission.

            All music is dance music, whether it seems so or not. All art works intend to work us into art as well. The literal meaning of a gospel is thin, the figurative meaning thick. The tone of music infects. Listen to a frantic man and you will become first frantic, and then angry with him in order to push away the infection.

            “Trust only the ideas you thought while walking” is sound advice. Yet even sitting alone, when we think of an act, those same nerves are stimulated. All emotions come from motions, or the imagination of them. Stories of others only seem like stories of others. They are about us filling each of the roles. The story is the closest thing we have to gaining a direct experience through the ears. They are shaped like our personal memories are shaped.

            Rhythm stimulates the muscle imagination. Moods and emotions are literally “nerve” music, of which external, formal, artistic human “music” is a representation. Music is pure tone, tone is grunt of effort, grunt is emotion.

            Abstract concepts derive from concrete matters, and when they have matured, they flow back into concrete matters. Above heaven is another earth.

            Therefore, strapping a child to a desk – usually with the chains of propriety, which the child comes to fear and respect one way or the other – makes no sense. I wish to reintroduce child labor. From the age of six onwards, all human beings should be made to work out their lessons by producing things. The true “government influenced economy,” would be only in job placement, in finding a way for all people to contribute as much as they could. We would expect little from a six your old, but at least something, and the elderly man too must work – perhaps a pittance, perhaps a couple hours a week, but always something. We ought to work fewer hours a week, but all of us should work for all our lives. 40 hours a week is oppression. 20 sounds more likely.

            And jobs ought to be shaped to educate us, so the six year old learns more than he would in our current system, by gaining lessons that always have a practical outlet, all the way up. The tribes know about dance and music, but we lose our roots, we fall farther and farther from our needs, and fulfill ourselves through complicated symbols rather than the direct fuck. This is good, we are more intelligent, more subtle. Yet we must not lose our center. We must find our self-centers.


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