Hello, and welcome to my first musing; a blog that I hope will become a fun adventure in wordplay, multiple perspectives, and as ever, an adventure in dance. I hope to share my curiosities and perspectives on the poetics and metaphors of movement-centered knowledge, because as I see it, we need new perspectives and our sensory-selves are primed for such a task. Sharing this blog keeps me accountable and creative, two traits I greatly value. I hope you enjoy, and most importantly, I hope you feel moved in some way.
Why do metaphors matter?
Beneath what we might otherwise consider to be the realm of the poetic, lies a deeper understanding of metaphor. The poetic, as I’ve come to experience it, is the wisest realm I know; it reveals distillations of thought, or rather, “aims for an economy of truth,” as Ta-nehisi Coates describes in Between the World and Me (2015). Metaphors do not posture as sameness, but rather, as likeness. They invite our senses to participate, they invite our whole sensory-selves to say “ah yes, this resonates,” or “how familiar!” Metaphors invite us to feel and actively participate in our knowing. They are the finely crafted tools with which we might build upon, nuance and translate sensory knowledge into other realms of experience: relational, spiritual, political, and ethical. Metaphors matter because how we frame our experience affects our perception. And how we perceive experience affects our actions. Metaphors matter, significantly so.
Metaphor 1: Music is like architecture
The first time I consciously felt within the architecture of music was listening to a Jimi Hendrix song booming from the 70ft ceiling music hall called Sky Church, in Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture, designed by Frank Gehry. I recall how the space felt cavernous, like a womb of sound, and I remember feeling a spatial sense of being within music.
I called upon this experience a few days ago when talking with students about musicality. We spoke about how the song ‘Sing Sing Sing’ has its own particular architecture: percussive angles, art Deco tiled floors, high ceilings with sparkling chandeliers, red silk curtains, a champagne fountain,… I encouraged the students to conjure up their own musical room to inhabit and dance within. Another evocative song for me is Donald Byrd’s ‘Slow Drag.’ This song always makes me think of a low ceilinged bar, dimly lit, with a solitary man slouched at a table for one. He’s drinking whiskey and smoking. The concept of time behaves differently in the ‘Slow Drag’ room compared to the ‘Sing Sing Sing’ room: the man’s cigarette smoke slowly and sinuously winds its way up to the low ceiling, the whiskey slowly swirls in the glass, his gestures have a lull of weighted thought. These are the some of the rooms I dance in. Some glisten and echo with percussive joy, while others reek with day old hopes and peeling paint.
Listening to music and being within music are two varying perspectives. They each emplace experience accordingly. Take a look at the room you find yourself in while reading this. What is the quality of the floor? What is the quality of the light? Are there sharp corners, curved lines, is the room spacious, insular, warm, cool? Notice how you feel within this space and how you engage with it. When you move about the space, how does the space respond? What music does it sing?
The following images reflect some of the architectural songs I love. Clockwise from top left: the clock room at the Musée D’Orsay, Chagall’s ceiling at the Paris Opera House, The Pantheon in Rome, and a ballroom in the Musée D’Orsay. Though they have similar qualities, they are not the same; they each evoke their own particular song. Each a womb of music.
I would like to conclude this first post by thanking Rod Murray at Blue Label Designs for helping me with the logo and online setup; Amanda Donato for her feedback and insightful conversations; and you, dear reader, for visiting this page. I appreciate your curiosity.
For further reading, check out the classic text Metaphors We Live By (1980 ), by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson.
Wishing you a moving week,