Monday, 25 June 2012

motör skills or kontrapunkt

With renewed respect and interest for Alan Turing and the long time status of rock legends that Albert Einstein, Werner von Braun and Werner Herzog have enjoyed, I thought it was a terrible omission to have just learned of another scientist and physicist whom ought to enjoy a similar following and be an industry icon: Moshé Pinchas Feldenkrais, a trained physicist, martial artist and Eastern philosopher besides his adventures and experience prompted him to develop the eponymous method to promote health and well-being by heightening the individual’s awareness through motion and movement, a discipline like yoga except that Feldenkrais’ exercises had no specific target and mostly dealt with repetitive, everyday movement, like one’s posture and gait, since laziness and bad habits compounded with inefficiency could led to chronic mental and physiological states. Such occupational therapy is being taken up by many medical professionals as an effective and viable supplement to traditional methods, and in Sweden is considered a treatment (both mentally and physically) of first-resort.

A lot of what makes us ill, I think, becomes manifest through the mind and body second guessing each other—most things need to be repeated ten-thousand times over to become an expert at it, and even though we’re mostly just aspiring specialists, it’s not helpful to try to undo or correct such programming and alignment with a perfunctory reading of a patient’s medical history and an uncommitted handful of pills. An elegant suggestion and meditation are worthy enough on their own but I have to wonder also about this individual’s career and why it did not elevate him to guru and rock-star status, too. A pupil (and later a teacher as a judo master) of the Curie family, he fled the Nazi occupation of Paris with jar of radioactive heavy-water tucked under his coat and fled to England to develop sonar for the Admiralty’s fleet of submarines. It was while bunking on board a submarine for an extended period, Feldenkrais, nursing an old sports injury aggravated by the cramp conditions, formulated his technique and rehabilitated himself. After the war, he continued his pioneering work in electrical engineering and teaching his method. I suppose the message lies in getting to know oneself better (which is structured but not exactly regimented and certainly not irrevocable as intellectual property) rather than in celebrity, even among a sea of contending and complimentary practices.