Thinking like a Dance

“I would only believe in a God that understood how to dance” Nietzsche wrote into the mouth of Zarathustra, after he was searching for the culprits who had murdered God. A dead God is a God who no longer breathes, who no longer speaks, who no longer dances. Whos existence can only be guessed at through the traces he left while alive: little prints on pieces of paper.

Most of the world’s religions pray to the God of the dead. Their priests, rabbis and imams are basically necrologists. Their bibles are books of the dead: memories of dead poets and dead prophets. And too many of them are prepared to kill in the name of their lord. Especially those for whom God is alive. History has been riddled with the pyres and crucifixes built for our prophets. Maybe these should be considered the true rites of their religion: honest to their true God… the rest is mere ceremony.

But anyway, I digress. This sermon was not the point of this post. I wanted to write a little something about this very interesting little essay on the collaborative work between philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy and choreographer Mathilde Monner which sheds and interesting light on the relationship between thought and dance, thought and language, and the role of gesture that goes beyond the mere meaning of the words, and goes into the nature of thought itself. Which reminded me both of Nietzsche’s God and the famous lines from John 1:1 “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

The reason I felt the need to introduce this topic with a little subversive sermon is because there seems to be a kind of necrophilia in thinking that extends way beyond religion, into many schools of philosophy and science, which in my opinion should be thoroughly and radically rejected. And this little piece on the dance of thought was the spark that released a bout of inspiration that has been building up this past week having had long conversations with my muse about all the ways in which I can get stuck in my head sometimes.

All too often thought is thought of as a kind of mirror, reflecting the things outside into representations within. The quest then becomes to clean the mirror, make the representations fit reality as cleanly as possible. The idea is that truth at some point can be claimed. That there is a state of knowledge that adequately captures reality. As if truth is something: that it is a thing… rather than a way of doing, a way of being. The responsiveness of mind can get lost in this game of mirrors. Just like us, we can get trapped in between the dead letters that are whizzing through our screens and through our minds.

The greatest sacrilege in the history of humanity has been the degrading of the Word to writing. Though I appreciate the gift of writing, and while I abuse it myself often and lovingly, the idea that writing can represent the Word, that it even has the ability to be true, is maybe the most profound trick that the proverbial Satan has pulled on us. The Word became flesh, not dead letters. This has brought about a profound alienation to our mind. A schism between gesture and meaning, which has the power to kill the dance that is at the heart of mind.

Inspired by the reading of Chris Watkin’s When I Think I Dance