Friday, April 29, 2011

Eleni Stecopoulos: on "Somatics"

For my last post at Harriet for the month, I gave Eleni Stecopoulos a questionnaire about "somatics," which she responded to most generously. So generously in fact that only her first response appears at Harriet. The others will hopefully be appearing at Wild Horses Of Fire soon.

It’s all psychosomatic. And somatopsychic. I don’t think you really escape your formation; you can only become aware of it and move towards some other understanding/practice that is remedial. I remember this New York Times article which opens with an anecdote about a medical conference on the ways those in “developing” countries somatize their depression in stomachaches, dizziness, and other mysterious physical symptoms: “Toward the end of the meeting, a doctor from India stood to speak. ‘Distinguished colleagues,’ he said, ‘have you ever considered the possibility that it is not that we in the third world somaticize depression, but rather that you in the developed world psychologize it?’” (“Mending of Hearts and Minds,” NYT 5/21/02). In the West the body is othered, but also in the sense of being displaced onto “the other,” whose labor disburdens or delivers the colonizer of his body. (And at the same time this other gets mystified as a healer who can resurrect the absent body. Think of Artaud among the Tarahumaras.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Arthur Echo Echo (@Harriet)

Here is a little write-up I did about my "incubation" session at the Movement, Somatics, and Writing symposium this past February, featuring somatic exercises by Petra Kuppers, Rob Halpern, and Bhanu Kapil:

What I wanted to do through the workshop were two things: prompt writing through a series of exercises which could enable participants to write through their distraction—distracted modes of perception, of focus, but also things one does involuntarily, when the body is indisposed with a specific set of tasks.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rob Halpern: on "Somatics" (@ Harriet)

For my last few posts at Harriet during National Poetry Month, I have asked a few different poets to respond to the term "somatics" with regards to their work. Here is Rob Halpern discussing the term.

Maybe the passively voiced question, “what is being done to bodies?”—together with our potential resistance to that—helps get at what you are referring to, Thom, as the “biopolitical” in my work? And I’m thinking here not only of incarcerated bodies, but our own bodies as well. What is being done to them? It’s a question that complements the question What is to be done? For me, to think this question requires a shift from an emphasis on an over-valued notion of agency toward a very different idea I call patiency, which has less to do with the body as the sovereign scene of its own actions, and rather with the body as scene of disabused sovereignty. Patiency refers to the suspension of our proprietary relations to our and others’ bodies and life processes, the recognition, and perhaps even the affirmation, of the corpus as open, disarmed, and vulnerable. I want to find in this figure of the patient not only passivity and submission, but the latent material—affective, erotic, and social—for movement just waiting to be aroused by uncoded sound and unanticipated touch. Maybe this is “somatics”?