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This is the main topical discussion space for the lab. We will use it to establish a dialogical space on ideas, comments, provocations, theoretical questions, inspirations, etc. It is used as a continuous thread during the whole lab and after. It can host photos, video and text.
I am interested in hearing this group's associations with the phrase "Arriving in Presence", which is the theme for week 1
It feels like Shikantaza, and a constant process of arriving.
On one hand, the phrase "arriving in presence" reminds me of what Nancy calls "body time" in the Emerging Underscore video, that moment when the mover allows her/himself the time to really come into the body and and devote her/his full attention to it and the space. While I'm fully aware of how important that time/feeling is, I couldn't help but think that "arriving in presence" sounds almost like a sort of performative on/off switch (though I realize that not all preparations are negative!). One of the things I love about improvisation is the fact that I feel I can engage with movement at any moment, bringing my body into any space, not unprepared, but being fully prepared at all times...as in our bodies are already a complete full package constantly dancing an improvisation in the everyday, whether we realize it or not. So, I was wondering instead of arriving, about the after-effects, the rest of the day, the times when we haven't decided to move in any particular space or studio, but rather while holding our fork at lunch time, climbing out of bed, etc. Do you feel present in those moments? Is there a moment of falling out of presence for you? I find that these simple moments I mentioned above are some of the most inspiring in my own improvisational practice.
I'll focus on presence and leave arriving to others.
The word "presence" is loaded with value judgement, and is imprecise by virtue of having two conflicting definitions. In the more value-laden definition, "presence" is at odds with the normal cerebral and disembodied internet experience.
On the one hand, I am always present, right? On the other hand, "presence" is understood as a value judgement and has the meaning that being present is equal, at the very least, to being in a state of receptivity and awareness. Possibly there are secondary associations of: calmness; special awareness of the body's state; having an accurate view of reality; experiencing the present rather than the past or future; etc.
Therefore, to give a concrete example, I am present in the first sense when using Facebook (which I will use as a touchstone experience), but not present in the second sense because the manufactured experience is not associated with a special awareness of the body's state and one's personal experience is unusually hermetically sealed against the actual mental presence (there's that word again!) of others.
This is not me saying that the lack of presence in the second sense is a bad thing; that's the value judgement, which I don't have to accept. Sometimes it's interesting to examine the mind in a vacuum, as it were, or other forms of "non-presence", though the argument has been made by many people that this is unhealthy in excess. Clearly the norms of this group, important for cohesion, involve embracing the value judgement, though oxymoronically the group can't embody (pun intended?) the value judgement!
Anyway, this turned out to be quite the rant! I guess I'm frustrated by my experience of not being able to get my bearings in this group, with the meetings and tasks. It feels unpresent in the second sense, even compared to Facebook, and I judge myself for not being present. Part of that is that I have only met Rachel in person, and I think the memory of an in-person interaction is important in connection.
I'm interested in how these connections could be formed over the internet. How could neuroscience and theory be applied to design/engineering (I'm an designer/engineer); how could it be measured for effectiveness, etc.
I believe I am still going through the process of understanding what it truly means, particularly in this context.
My normal understanding of it is within the physical realm. As a CI practitioner arriving with my presence is related to a physical space, getting ready for dancing, acknowledging the physical arrival. This is the first association. But while I am getting stimulated to think about it, I suddenly remember the "energetic arrival" component, borrowing the term from the Underscore. How could I forget about it?
This question is allowing me to understand how much Arriving in Presence is part of daily life and how I've never really thought about it in these terms. Arriving in Presence: it's slowly becoming clearer. It's an arrival with myself to what is that I am doing, whether it's writing an email, engaging in a meeting in person, communicating with the other side of the globe via skype or more simply via mobile phone with someone that lives in the same city or country. It's about telescoping into myself, getting ready to then telescope out and establish the connection with the outer, in this case the meta academy lab.
This insight is just the first step to Arrive to the Lab, before my Presence fully embraces the experience. I am still getting my head around to understand what is that I am doing, how much do I negotiate the use of technology to tune in, how do I take in all the different and great stimuli that are on offer. How do I negotiate my understanding of technology and what can be done. How much i do and i don't know about technology. And realising that it's all ok, we are here to learn and explore.
The phrase "Arriving in Presence" is allowing me to accept this as a process, and that it takes time to get there.
It is also allowing me to acknowledge and incorporate an element that is quite present in my life: the use of technology to mitigate geographical distance, that equates to interesting time zone challenges. This reflects the constant question that I have been posing to myself for the past ten years, since I have moved to AEST time zone, aka Australia.
How can I exist between Italy (my country of origin) and Australia (the country I live in)? How do I negotiate being within the two different realities? At times I feel that I am leaving parallel lives. So far I haven't found an answer. I've mainly encountered the necessity of disconnecting from the reality I don't live in, in order to be fully present with the one that I inhabit physically.
The lab has already started offering me tools to understand a bit better of what I have been doing subconsciously over the years, being a Third (or Fourth) Culture Kid:
Sorry if I went a little bit on a tangent, but it is quite relevant for me and I believe that it might apply to some other participants.
" It's an arrival with myself to what is that I am doing" well said! A question is however how easy is this in the digital space, when usually you chat while reading, eating, and answering phones! :-) How easy it is to "arrive in presence" when there is too much "noise"? Maybe an answer would be "who says that you cannot arrive in presence in many spaces simultaneously? this is what digital brings!"
I associate the phase "Arriving in Presence" with the Buddhist idea of being in the here and now. At the same time, it makes me think of Alva Nöe's "perception in action". On a daily basis, "Arriving in Presence" could mean finding the necessary space on my body before engaging on an improvisation exercise, or being centered on my fulcrums as I touch other dancers.
Arriving in presence to me means attuning my inner sense-abilities to the environmental context. This means a sharpening of my kinesthetic 'agency' - an action/movement of enhancing kinesthetic and perceptual awareness, but 'of what'? This is key to me. There is no presence without relationship - to self, persons, context, world. Thus, it represents, as Alva Noe notes in his book, Varieties of Presence, a fragile achievement. It is subject to changing moment by moment through the bodymind's openness to multiple dynamics. Arriving as improvisation suggests transition and transfiguration, from pedestrian awareness (generalized and unfocused) to the attractors of the movement moment afforded by the improvisational context. As the saying goes, 'prepare for nothing; be prepared for everything' - hopefully for me, my curiosity, liveliness and prospective sense of pleasure outweighs my anxiety that is lodged in my sense of potential disconnection. I am loving this globalogue!!
Sweet! I love these iterations of personal states of present state. Shoot, I thought it was going to someone's house with gifts.... Get it? Arriving with presents? Ok-- Really Glenna and Caterina, you've said it so well, I have nothing more to offer. I love the image of holding my fork until I'm really there.
I have a sense of arriving in presence as a shift in physicality and attentiveness, similar to much of what you are all articulating. It somehow, though, separates the mind or soul from the body in a way that makes me question how embodiment becomes whole - is there a split between the mind/soul and body if I can be present with my body but not fully arrive in presence until I bring my full attention to it - as I step into Nancy's "body time"? If I must come into my body what am I doing when I am not in my body?
Caterina, I also find your articulation of presence in relation to straddling realities across continents compelling. While I do not straddle countries I do negotiate time zones, and this idea of arriving in presence calls into question where we are at any given human moment, inside and outside of regulated realities.
I got a good laugh out of your comment! thanks! I will show up at your house anytime, presence in hand
Arriving in Presence for me is about being here, now, without any hesitation, any second thoughts. It's about being ready to connect and relate with the environment, and also about leaving behind distractions and thoughts. If I have to chose the opposite of "Arriving in Presence" I would say the thought of "What I am doing here?", of the feeling of "not belonging here" to this room, to this group, to this space to this whatever it is, and the anxiety that in near future I have to be somewhere else. When I move and I catch myself thinking about next step, next movement then the feeling of "arriving in presence" goes away. Arriving in presence means awareness (which has nothing to do with thinking!!!), consciousness, readiness, and being open, first of all to yourself. Its a matter of accepting how I feel today, what my body needs, what the environment and other need and deciding that I will work with what is here, now, not what I think or wish, or expect to be there. It makes the difference between looking and seeing, hearing and listening, touching and feeling.