Get Messed Up: Intentionality, Butoh and Freedom in Plasma
Keywords:phenomenology, non-human studies, performativity and theatricality, embodied knowledge
Nature relative to subjectivity is an under theorized area of performance philosophy, one that we ignore at our peril. There is such a thing as nature. It encompasses all that humans are not, and suffuses all that we are and do. It is not merely a social or cultural construction, as we consider in this essay. In order to speak more definitively of nature and the body, we employ the phenomenology of Paul Ricoeur and reach back to the lifeworld (lebenswelt) philosophy of Edmund Husserl. Some read Husserl as an essentialist, but there are other readings, such as the one developed here. One of Ricoeur’s major works, Freedom and Nature: the Voluntary and the Involuntary, concerns motives and values at the organic level, studying how habits inform individual habitus and become embodied as nature in flux. Accordingly, this essay explores subjectivity, intentionality and nature in performance using examples from butoh relative to metamorphosis, a ubiquitous process in the rhythms and multi-tiered rhizomes of nature. Through Sartre and Ricoeur, the text also considers lived values of freedom relative to intention. In this light, readers are invited to explore their own porousness and evaporations via Freedom in Plasma, a butoh to do at the end of the essay.
AFP News Agency. 2015. ‘For Afghan women, driving a car brings both fear and freedom.’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIbZwLd_Uzw . Accessed January 28, 2017.
Alaimo, Stacy, and Susan Hekman. 2008. Material Feminisms. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Beauvoir, Simone. (1948) 1994. The Ethics of Ambiguity. Translated by Bernard Frecthman. New York: Carol Publishing.
Bellerose, Christine. 2018. “Being Ma: Moonlight Peeping through the Doorway.” In Back to the Dance Itself: Phenomenologies of the Body in Performance. Edited by Sondra Fraleigh, 161–80. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. https://doi.org/10.5406/j.ctv80cb20.16
Bingham, Rober. “Improvising Meaning in the Age of Humans.” In Back to the Dance Itself: Phenomenologies of the Body in Performance. Edited by Sondra Fraleigh, 38–56. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. https://doi.org/10.5406/j.ctv80cb20.9
Casey, Edward S. 2003. “Taking a Glance at the Environment.” In Eco-phenomenology: Back to the Earth Itself. Edited by Charles S. Brown and Ted Toadvine, 187–210. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Cull, Laura. 2013. Theatres of Immanence: Deleuze and the Ethics of Performance. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137291912
Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Emspak, Jesse. 2016. “States of Matter: Plasma.” Live Science, 5 May. https://www.livescience.com/54652-plasma.html
Feldenkrais, Moshe. 1985. The Potent Self: A study of Spontaneity and Compulsion. Berkeley: Frog Books.
Fraleigh, Sondra. 1987. Dance and the Lived Body. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.
Fraleigh, Sondra. 1999. Dancing into Darkness: Butoh, Zen, and Japan. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt5hjp8s
Fraleigh, Sondra. 2004. Dancing Identity: Metaphysics in Motion. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt5hjq68
Fraleigh, Sondra. 2010. BUTOH: Metamorphic Dance and Global Alchemy. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Fraleigh, Sondra. 2015. Moving Consciously: Somatic Transformations through Dance, Yoga, and Touch. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. https://doi.org/10.5406/illinois/9780252039409.001.0001
Fraleigh, Sondra. 2016. “Butoh Translations and the Suffering of Nature.” Performance Research 21 (4): 61–71. https://doi.org/10.1080/13528165.2016.1192869
Fraleigh, Sondra. 2018. “sounding earth.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Es2xZIR7aFQ. Accessed on July 15, 2018.
Fraleigh, Sondra, ed. 2018. Back to the Dance Itself: Phenomenologies of the Body in Performance. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. https://doi.org/10.5406/j.ctv80cb20
Fraleigh, Sondra, and Tamah Nakamura. (2006) 2017. Hijikata Tatsumi and Ohno Kazuo. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203701836
Fraleigh, Sondra, and Robert Bingham, eds. 2018. Performing Ecologies in a World in Crisis. Special issue of Choreographic Practices 9 (1).
Günzel, Stephan. 2014. “Deleuze and Phenomenology.” Metodo. International Studies in Phenomenology and Philosophy 2 (2): 31–45. https://doi.org/10.19079/metodo.2.2.31
Heidegger, Martin. 1971. Poetry, Language, Thought. Translated by Albert Hofstadter. New York: Harper and Row.
Hijikata, Tatsumi. (1961) 2000. “To Prison.” In “Hijikata Tatsumi: The Words of Butoh.” Translated by Jacqueline S. Ruyak and Kurihara Nanako. Edited by Kurihara Nanako. TDR: The Drama Review 44 (1): 56–59.
Husserl, Edmund. (1900) 1970. Logical Investigations. Volume 2. Translated by J. N. Findlay. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Husserl, Edmund. (1952) 1989. Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy. Book 2. Translated by R. Rojcewicz and A. Schuwer. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-009-2233-4
Husserl, Edmund.1995. Appendices. In Eugen Fink and Edmund Husserl, Sixth Cartesian Meditation: The Idea of a Transcendental Theory of Method, 63–198. Translated by Ronald Bruzina. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Husserl, Edmund. (1925) 2005. Phantasy, Image Consciousness, and Memory. Translated by John B. Brough. Dordrecht: Springer.
Levinas, Emmanuel. 1974. Otherwise than Being. Translated by A. Lingis. Dordrecht: Nijhoff.
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. (1945) 2002. Phenomenology of Perception. Translated by Colin Smith. London: Routledge Classics. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203994610
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. 1968. The Visible and the Invisible. Translated by Alphonso Lingis. Chicago: Northwestern University Press.
McIntyre, Ronald, and David W. Smith. 1989. “Theory of Intentionality.” In Husserl’s Phenomenology: A Textbook. Edited by J. N. Mohanty and William R. McKenna, 147–79. Washington, DC: Center for Advanced Research in Phenomenology and University Press of America.
Midgelow, Vida. 2018. "Improvisation as Paradigm for Phenomenology." In Back to the Dance Itself: Phenomenologies of the Body in Performance. Edited by Sondra Fraleigh, 59–77. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. https://doi.org/10.5406/j.ctv80cb20.10
Ricoeur, Paul. (1966) 2007. Freedom and Nature: The Voluntary and the Involuntary. Translated by Erazim V. Kohak. Chicago: Northwestern University Press.
Ricoeur, Paul. 1992. Oneself as Another. Translated by Kathleen Blamey. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Sartre, Jean-Paul. 1947. Existentialism. Translated by Bernard Frechtman. New York: Philosophical Library.
Sartre, Jean-Paul. 1965. Being and Nothingness. 3rd ed. Translated by Hazel Barnes. New York: Citadel.
Taylor, Paul. 1961. Normative Discourse. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Taylor, Paul. 1986. Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Varela, Francisco, Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch. 1991. The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Varela, Francisco. 1996. “Neurophenomenology: A Methodological Remedy for the Hard Problems.” Journal of Consciousness Studies 3 (4): 330–49.
How to Cite
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal, provided it is for non-commercial uses; and that lets others excerpt, translate, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).