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On Belief Systems and Learning
A debate from the Alextech e-mail discussion group on the validity
of the premises of the Alexander Technique
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— Continuing dialogues...
1. Joseph Boland — AT, etc. — June 14/01
From: Joseph Boland firstname.lastname@example.org
To: "David Gorman" email@example.com
Subject: AT, etc......
Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2001 20:43:59 -0700
If the enclosed would be of use to you, please use it.
Mariposa, California / USA
Alexander started with a simple idea, to wit, the way we use ourselves has functional consequences
and that misuse does not have to be a permanent condition. The procedure he developed, what we call
the Alexander Technique, was his attempt to provide a practical procedure for restoring innate good
use to the human organism.
Did Alexander see the "Technique" as a fait accompli, a finished product, or a final draft?
I don’t think so, but it has been the dominant tendency of successive generations of teachers,
students, and disciples to treat it as such and to pass it along with all the inherent flaws intact
and labeled DO NOT TAMPER.
What Gorman is doing is in my view a welcome public challenge to the "keepers" of the
Alexander Technique to resume a line of inquiry and experimentation that Alexander started and took,
not to a point of completion, but just as far as he could in the time he had. If that means
substantive rethinking of the Technique, then so be it; our priority should be to help people improve
the way they use themselves by the most effective means possible, not to perpetuate a static process
in the name of dogmatic purity. Having said that I can’t say I was impressed with or encouraged by
the manner in which Gorman’s views were received on the alextech forum.
In my view Gorman is on the right track in dismissing the traditional fixation on an anatomy-specific
"Primary Control" and the attendant ritual involving "directions". This has always
been the weak link in the Technique and I believe there is evidence suggesting that even Alexander was
coming to recognize as much, but like a bad habit it has persisted.
The Technique acknowledges the unification of mind and body but then proceeds to assume that misuse
is essentially "physical" and that one can effect primary change by "being more
aware" of use and mentally "directing" the body to do something else.
The disconnect is that if misuse is present and mind and body are unified then it is reasonable to
suspect that one does not know how "to be aware" or to "think" and that in fact
this is not an insignificant part of the problem, maybe even the cause.
It has been my working premise for a number of years that if there is such a thing as a "primary
control", it is the way we perceive and interpret (or don’t) reality in the broadest sense of
that word. This is not an original concept anymore than is "non-doing", both of which have
been at the core of meditative practice for centuries and as a student of meditation I’ve found
meditative practice and literature invaluable aids for developing a practical understanding of both
concepts and, by extension, the Alexander Technique.
Misuse as defined in the Technique is a manifestation/symptom of perception and like Gorman I’ve
found that the restoration of innate use follows the restoration of innate perception. I would even go
as far as to say that it is the suspension of habitual "intellectual" perception that
produces the pleasant kinesthetic byproduct that we associate with an Alexander lesson, not a
preoccupation with directions, directing, and anatomy.
This is the END...
or maybe not... see below
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