Get Messed Up: Intentionality, Butoh and Freedom in Plasma

Sondra Fraleigh


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.


phenomenology; non-human studies; performativity and theatricality; embodied knowledge

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