The Physical Consequence to Knowing, A Speculative Report

The research I partake in is a matter of continual returning to the following question: What is the difference between theoretical knowledge / intellectual understanding and bodily knowledge / practical experience, i.e. what is [or else: what is it not yet, but ought to be understood as] the physical consequence to knowing? And why is it generally assumed, at least in predominantly heteronormative, white communities––such are artistic communities concerned with the notions of experimental dance and choreography I inhabit––that “to know” is “enough?” [e.g. A possible consequence to such an ethic is that it affords its subscribers to publicly adhere to one ideology whilst practicing another…]

I define thinking not as an alternative to physical action, but as a synonym for physical action; and vice versa. In that thinking is not defined as opposite to physical experience, so art and activism – e.g. my professional endeavours––have to become an integral part of my private life. [Exploring the professional notion via practice of collectivity becomes synonym to exploring the private notion via practice of polyamory, etc.]

Once thinking via bodily integration gains access to the physical realm, it becomes evident that it is the body that––in its capacity to create conditions for both an internal monologue and public action––stands between that which is imagined or private, and that which is shared or public. Here I ask the following question: Under which conditions and via the bodily capacity can the public claim access to one person’s internal monologue, one person’s world of imagination; and vice versa?

I am looking to (1) build the case for a definition of thinking that argues thinking not as an alternative to physical action, but as a synonym forphysical action; (2) outline a possible critique of the institution-driven practice of disembodiment (as seen in the West, starting with the Enlightement and Descartes’ mind-body split); (3) and argue the latter as one of the possible sources of the general public’s eventual alienation from critical practice, philosophy, and non-linear or abstract art. This is to be done in story-telling, and dancing.

My interest lies in articulating the practice of study (Moten, Harney) as a quintessentially physical practice and asking in which way would the institution need to reorganise (structurally speaking) were it to organise around the experience of study, instead of study as framed by the pace of the academic year? (for example)

By arguing the body as the site upon which the socio-political experiment takes place, this paper is to argue for, in the words of Angela Davis, “[the kind of] capacious feminism that allows us to work at the heart of contradiction.”

presented at

  • Mapping Dance and Dance Teaching: Past(s), Present and Future(s); London, UK; September, 2021

  • Performance Philosophy conference; Amsterdam, N;, March, 2019

  • IMAGINE QUEER conference; Newcastle, UK; October 2018