spreading throughout nearly all the areas of town I frequent. There’s a modernist spirit to construction that I believe acts on our sentiments silently so that we tolerate its obstacles and interferences: Construction = a sign of Progress, advancement, improvement = a flashing, recycling of capital, “Everything is Fine!” “We are building a strong future!” Or, as a sign in Chinatown reads, “[insert company name] Working Together to Improve Real Estate Values.” What are these values? Who gets to “work” on them? Where do they come from? What do they say? Who participates?
The physical signs that move into an area undergoing construction communicate obvious messages – Yield to workers, Caution men at work, Slow during construction…Less noticeable is the message whispered by the orange plastic fences that redefine the shape of pathways… Fences are blockades creating Insider/Outsider relations. They are Body Movers, Orchestral Conductors directing the rhythms and movements of the body in everyday foot-travel. The body becomes challenged to renegotiate its habitual movements in the space, especially if the path is one you take everyday to work, home, etc., a path nearly etched into the code of the body’s software 0101move01left0101now0101shifttotheright0101slight1010ly0000001
We are used to being channeled by other forces: roads, sidewalks, lines painted on the insides and outsides…all of these structures act on us in a quiet, persuasive way, waving us on with a breathless “go this way.” With so much of life engaging our brains, not our bodies, the physical aspects of moving literally through life are relegated to the background, white noise to our clear objectives in life. Less and less do our professions – wherein the bulk of our time and energies are spent – employ the body in a way that reminds us of its mortality, and amazing ability to feel pain and then repair itself. A slap in the face reminder of this was given to my body in the jolt experienced as I flew over my bike handlebars a few weeks ago. Since then, my jaw has mostly healed, and I have just a strip of scar tissue on my chin. Death and disease still remain processes we don’t deal with very well (speaking from my own experience). We change our topography, our “Real Estate Values,” more than we deal with the difficult, uncomfortable stuff. And there are so many ways to insulate us from feeling anything at all…[Quick short list]…drugs (prescription and illegal), alcohol, gambling, QVC, food, Give Us This Day Our Daily Starbucks…
More then ever there is a need to communicate the body’s experience, to reconnect without a “Do It At Home” yoga videotape. If we can abandon the language of movement that has become dominant and normalized in the everyday, the body’s voice can emerge to express its physical experience of life, and hopefully quiet the chatter of the brain that thinks it knows everything.