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  • Tom

Poetry through Motion

Apparently, if you restrict the movement of your hands you'll find it harder to find the right words because gesticulation aids cognition. (Mr. Blobby being an exception here of course)

Aristotle famously walked while teaching in his peripatetic school to aid talking and thinking, I'd like to think he also gesticulated wildly as such a profound thinker...

I mention this because I’m continuing my reading of Iain McGilchrist’s The Matter With Things and in the chapter on Movement and Flow he says:

"our knowledge of anything is embedded in movement since, as (Johann Gottlieb) Fichte too had seen, consciousness is not a fact, or a thing - but an act. It is not just that it is a flowing movement, as (William) James saw: it is that movement unites me with the world. Motion is intrinsic to the betweenness, and the directedness, of consciousness itself so Consciousness is always consciousness of something, reaching out and going to meet something beyond the self, not. self-enclosed Cartesian theatrical display, but a reverberative process, already aimed towards the real, living world - out of which it also comes."

Whooof, that one probably takes a couple of read-throughs. Still, it is rich with ideas about how movement not only aids our cognition, as Aristotle found with his peripatetic school, but that consciousness is movement and movement is consciousness. "Movement unites me with the world." "Reaching out and going to meet something beyond the self..."

Interestingly, understanding is often related to movement. "Do you see where I'm coming from" "Did you catch my drift." "I think I missed the point, maybe you're going too fast for me" "Can you run that past me again"

Here’s another fascinating part that McGilchrist picks up from Henri Bergson:

“We say that movement is composed of points, but it comprises, in addition, the obscure and mysterious passage from one position to the next. As if the obscurity was not due entirely to the fact that we have supposed immobility to be clearer than mobility and rest anterior to movement!"

McGilchrist is using this to highlight our desire to pin everything down and immobilise it so that it can be analysed when so many things in the world need to be experienced as an interconnected whole.

Bergson also says :

“How could the moving object be at a point of its trajectory passage? It passes through, or in other terms, it could be there. It would be there if it stopped; but if it should stop there, it would no longer be the same movement we are dealing with…”

Get that for a bit of paradox! You can’t experience movement as a series of points but only as its fluid motion. I believe this is what is meant by the phrase "Motion is intrinsic to betweenness."

There is something about being at an interface with the world that requires a dynamic, fluid and moving disposition to be conscious of it. That's where Poetry comes in...

Now, forgive me for forever taking these fascinating insights and making it all about us at Overhear but we are really resonating with this! Overhear’s aim is to Move People. We want listeners to find our recordings and experience them as a fluid interconnected extension of that space. To continue that movement physically and mentally, letting the words guide listeners in that location and take them to places they never knew could open up before them.

Our pins may be static representations of location on a digital map of zeros and ones, but we hope they signify portals to fluid places of movement, interconnectedness and vitality!

Check out our previous posts inspired by The Matter With Things, this one is on Turbulent Flow and this one by Kibriya on running workshops with patients recovering from strokes.

Also we've been featured on Outdoor Arts UK's blog check that out here.

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