Author: johnshlee


Those who have forgotten historical consciousness lost their home
I dream of home
Home is where my feet land
Home is situated in movement
The movement yearns for land
The same movement originates from land
Home is the land I share with my beloved ones

A book is a complete form

Unlike web services, books are meant for one thing and do the one thing well. Throughout thousands of years to this day, books are the best medium to transfer knowledge. Unlike an article, a book is a complete form, an object in and of itself, to which authors feel obliged to adhere from cover to cover and present their insight. In other words, knowledge, not mere information. Unlike an article, for a book demands substantial time from readers, the author cannot be neutral and objective about the content of the book, for that would be of no interest to readers. An author must declare their own opinion and stance on certain matters – subjectivity.

fugitive poetics of a moving body

What language is apt for the volatile experience and fugitive poetics of a moving body?

…dance is very good at taking advantage of vague… But vague is not always a verbal short-coming.

The logical resources equal to emergence must be limber enough to juggle the ontogenetic indeterminacy that precedes and accompanies a thing’s coming to be what it doesn’t. Vague concepts, and concepts of vagueness, have a crucial, and often enjoyable, role to play. […] Generating a paradox and then using it as if it were a well-formed logical operator is a good way to put vagueness in play. Strangely, if this procedure is followed with a good dose of conviction and just enough technique, presto!, the paradox actually becomes a well-formed logical operator. Thought and language bend to it like light in the vicinity of a superdense heavenly body.

…the idea of what we are doing takes a back seat to the facts of what we are doing. Rather than modeling the concept outside of dance and then executing it, the dance is the concept and the model.

Without metaphors, thought doesn’t travel very far. […] “how about all language is arbitrary.” […] Language is the original open source code.

…catching the momentum of whatever had sparked my interest, without having to finish entire books. […] …not to mistake political theory for an instruction manual for art making. Productive misunderstanding means to use what is said or written, not necessarily to fully grasp the intended meaning.

open questions which indicate direction, informational questions which build contextual understanding, leading questions which point to a blind spot or necessity, and closed questions which delimit, place, and define. Mapp emphasized the questions themselves, including the ability to change the questions according to new information, as the conditional force behind research.

Holding a question and doing to find out what the doing does, to the doer, to the watcher, and to the idea itself, is a way in which dance can be research without ever having to come to a conclusion, or “research outcome,” as in scientific methodologies.

…attention is the medium of performance. […] …perhaps the only difference between habits and knowledge is attention.

Choice cannot reinvent, it can only select from within the givens. Choice can be evolutionary, but never revolutionary. […] When we consider that the doing does the doer, the image of a free subject today is perhaps presented in one who decides what they do, as they are deciding what shapes them. This implies freedom of choice as attached to privilege, as in the privilege to choose your practices. Not all bodies not all workers, not all people in the world have such a privilege. The choices of what patterns one inhabits are determined and informed by geography, mobility, ability, access, class, status, gender, race, age, and all other distributions of inequality that structure social identities. Which is to say that the movement of thought for the movement researcher is not automatically an emancipatory movement. It is always contained by and in negotiation with a set of larger patterns. […] …

the free subject is not necessarily one who decides what they do, but rather perhaps one who decides how they do it, as in, how they position themselves in relation to the doing. […] Shifting the attention from movement as displacement on a predetermined grid to movement as transformation within, and consequently possible transformation of the grid itself due to what such transformation manifests in the world, is where even the smallest possibilities for change do appear.

In order to recognize a pattern… time is a crucial aspect in movement research. …movement is done slower in order to study it, … movement research usually requires doing something for long enough to… how it feels and how it makes one feel, makes one see, hear or think.

The whole iceberg below the tip of what can be revealed by our own movement research is the unknowable, unobservable dance that escapes being named, the doing that does us without our grasping, and so we continue to rely on the subtler intuitions and stranger sensibilities, effing the ineffable indefinitely, observing as closely as we can to decipher how dance thinks through us, and shouting back over our shoulders from time to time at the symbolic ordering of our language to catch up.

Effing the Ineffable, Eleanor Bauer

I find most of this writing agreeable, except for a couple parts. Though she sounds like her position is more grounded on phenomenology than and speculative realism or object-oriented ontology, I’m not sure what her stance is on “subject.” She seems to be somewhere between phenomenology and speculative realism. Perhaps process ontology? Another thing is that her statement about choice being evolutionary, but not revolutionary seems to rely much on Bergson’s theory of Elan Vital. The fact that she doesn’t consider the “public” character of revolution and privileges evolution and change from within, though she’s being critical about neoliberalism’s apolitical character, seems to reflect second wave feminist “personal is political” without being able to suggest a concrete alternative. This can entirely override the theory on Other.

Between speech and presentation

Musicality is almost synonymous to “hitting the beat”.
It refers to the idea of being in sync with the environment.
In the world, there are such things as rhythm, pace, cycle and kontrapunkt.
“Hitting the beat” can be also translated to “catching the moment.”
“Catching the moment” refers to the idea of being spontaneous and yet on point.
Then musicality can be reworded as spontaneously being on point.
But being spontaneously on point is a kind of loosely repeated and rehearsed action.

Dancing is like speech. When one speaks, it asks of a response from the listener.
Speech predicates a dialogue, unless it’s a presentation.
Presentation is something more prepared with less spontaneity.
Can you bring dialogue into presentation?
When one dances in a cypher, one exchanges the “energy,” roughly speaking, with others.
There can be an exchange of more direct syntactic responses, but not always, and that’s fine.
Dancing in a cypher is always somewhere between a speech and presentation.


looks stupid

works smart

lands walks

leaps wonders

catches gravity

weighs ground

absorbs shock

pumps blood

erects horizon

supports uncertainty

tracks history

carries world

covers plains

bridges gorges

ascends summits

descends trenches

explores space

stamps moon


keeps time

stomps jazz

dances breaks

pivots joy

kicks muck

crosses borders

remembers movement

foot thinks, there foot

The Big Toe

“The big toe is the most human part of the human body, in the sense that no other element of
this body is as differentiated from the corresponding element of the anthropoid ape
(chimpanzee, gorilla, orangutan, or gibbon). This is due to the fact that the ape is tree
dwelling, whereas man moves on the earth without clinging to branches, having himself
become a tree, in other words raising himself straight up in the air like a tree, and all the more
beautiful for the correctness of his erection. In addition, the function of the human foot
consists in giving a firm foundation to the erection of which man is so proud (the big toe,
ceasing to grasp branches, is applied to the ground on the same plane as the other toes).

But whatever the role played in the erection by his foot, man, who has a light head, in other
words a head raised to the heavens and heavenly things, sees it as spit, on the pretext that he
has this foot in the mud.

Although within the body blood flows in equal quantities from high to low and from low to
high, there is a bias in favor of that which elevates itself, and human life is erroneously seen
as an elevation. The division of the universe into subterranean hell and perfectly pure heaven
is an indelible conception, mud and darkness being the principles of evil as light and celestial
space are the principles of good: with their feet in mud but their heads more or less in light,
men obstinately imagine a tide that will permanently elevate them, never to return, into pure
space. Human life entails, in fact, the rage of seeing oneself as a back and forth movement
from refuse to the ideal, and from the ideal to refuse — a rage that is easily directed against an
organ as base as the foot.”

one can imagine that a toe, always more or less damaged and humiliating, is psychologically analogous to the brutal fall of a man — in other words, to death.

The Big Toe, Georges Bataille

center of philosophy

In fact, the meditating Ego can never suppress its inherence in an individual subject who knows all things from a particular perspective. Reflection can never make it the case that I cease to perceive the sun on a hazy day as hovering two hundred paces away, that I cease to see the sun “rise” and “set,” or that I cease to think with the cultural instruments that were provided by my upbringing, my previous efforts, and my history. Thus, I never actually bring together or simultaneously awaken all of the originary thoughts that contribute to my perception or to my present conviction. Critical philosophy ultimately attaches no importance to this resistance of passivity, as if it were not necessary to become the transcendental subject in order to have the right to affirm it. It thus implies that the philosopher’s thought is not subjugated to any situations. Beginning from the spectacle of the world, which is the spectacle of a nature open to a plurality of thinking subjects, critical philosophy seeks the condition that makes this unique world offered to many empirical myselves possible, and it finds this in a transcendental I in which they all participate without thereby dividing it, because it is not a Being but rather a Unity or a Value… Thus an absolute Unity will no longer be asserted, which is even less doubtful now that it does not need to be realized in Being. The center of philosophy is no longer an autonomous transcendental subjectivity, situated everywhere and nowhere, but is rather found in the perpetual beginning of reflection at that point when an individual life begins to reflect upon itself. Reflection is only truly reflection if it does not carry itself outside of itself, if it knows itself as reflection-upon-an-unreflected, and consequently as a change in the structure of our existence.

Phenomenology of Perception, The Phenomenal Field – Maurice Merleau-Ponty


“Form” is not privileged in our perception because it achieves a certain state of equilibrium, resolves a problem of maximization, or makes a world possible (in the Kantian sense), but rather because form is the very appearance of the world, not its condition of possibility.

Phenomenology of Perception, The Phenomenal Field – Maurice Merleau-Ponty

lived world beneath the objective world

More generally, the idea of a universe of thought or a universe of values in which all thinking lives would be brought together and reconciled is thrown into question. Nature is not in itself geometrical, it only appears so to a careful observer who limits himself to the macroscopic givens. Human society is not a community of reasonable minds, it can only be understood as such in privileged countries where vital and economic equilibrium has been established locally and for a certain length of time. The experience of chaos, on the speculative plane as much as on the other, leads us to see rationalism from an historical perspective that it claimed on principle to escape, to seek a philosophy that could render intelligible the springing forth of reason in a world that it did not create, and to prepare the living infrastructure without which reason and freedom are emptied or break down. We will no longer say that perception is a nascent science, bur rather that classical science is a perception that has forgotten its origins and believes itself to be complete. The fundamental philosophical act would thus be to return to the lived world beneath the objective world (since in this lived world we will be able to understand the law as much as the limits of the objective world); it would be to give back to the thing its concrete physiognomy, to the organisms their proper manner of dealing with the world, and to subjectivity its historical inherence; it would be to rediscover phenomena (the layer of living experience through which other people and things are first given to us, the system “Self-Others-things” in its nascent state); it would be to awaken perception and to thwart the ruse by which perception allowed itself to be forgotten as a fact and as perception to the benefit of the object that it delivers to us and of the rational tradition that it establishes.

Phenomenology of Perception, The Phenomenal Field – Maurice Merleau-Ponty