The Model Student

In each case following a course of Alexander lessons there has been a marked physical improvement, which was usually reflected vocally and dramatically. It was a revelation to discover that tricks of behavior could be eliminated in a comparatively short space of time once the student learned to control his tensional balance from the head-neck region…. In all cases students since re-education are easier to teach, and can take and carry out stage directions with greater ease. The students seem to become aware of themselves in a new way. Each student reacted in a different characteristic way. For example, those who had been over-anxious to please authority discovered that they could be themselves with impunity, ceasing to be such model students, but becoming better performers… In our opinion, this approach is the best means we have yet encountered for solving the artist’s problem of communication and should form the basis of his training
W. Barlow, More Talk of Alexander
Conclusions drawn by teaching staff at the Royal Collage of Music after the Alexander technique was introduced in the 1950’s


Of No Debate Or Rivalry


The picture which emerges from such comparisons is that originally Greek medicine, like that of its neighbors, was transmitted within the boundaries of family ties or oath -bound allegiances……. The literary revolution represented by Greek science was the ability to write one’s own opinion under one’s own name, often mentioning rivals by name and attacking their theories.

Could split the two systems of learning one a form of cultural learning (non- authoritative) and one based on a more individual learning strategy (authoritative).

Non-authoritative learning has a role to play in the development of craft skills. I can’t make an authoritative statement about the Alexander technique my understanding here is non-authoritative (based on experience). Constraint here is one of time. In a working environment the question to be answered as quickly  as possible is does it work rather than why does it work?

Non-authoritative learning helps with the issue of time and stress, cultural knowledge is transmitted by observation, in a situation where it has to work at an individual level, failure here is rather plain to see.




Of no debate or rivalry

Craft Skills   

First let us examine how medical texts were composed and transmitted………

………. In fact, it is somewhat surprising to note that the Hippocratic Oath was not designed to establish an ethical basis for the medical profession, but was rather originally intended as an oath for non-family apprentice-physicians to swear allegiance to  the profession, something not required of the Ascepiad family itself. Only non-family members were required to swear the Oath, since family members were considered bound by heritage……..

……. The picture which emerges from such comparisons is that originally Greek medicine, like that of its neighbors, was transmitted within the boundaries of family ties or oath -bound allegiances. What is disturbing to most historians of Greek medicine, however, is the anonymity of so many of the treatises in the Corpus Hippocraticum, with much discussion among classicists regarding authorship. For most of ancient Near Eastern literature, however, anonymity is the norm…………….. The literary revolution represented by Greek science was the ability to write one’s own opinion under one’s own name, often mentioning rivals by name and attacking their theories.


H.F.J. Horstmanshoff & M. Stol (ed.) Magic and Rationality In Ancient Near Eastern and Graeco- Roman Medicine



Conversation with Marjory Barlow

I know nothing about the Alexander technique in terms of words only as a series of exercises I learned between the age of eighteen  and twenty. Its an adapted form I know intended for practical use and application in a craft. The only important thing here is that it works. The form I know is altered for use on the stage, observation here viewed as highly dependent on movement.

You learn to move in a particular way from observation, you learn to observe by maintaining a particular form of movement and posture.

Note (Fourness)

The Drama of Ethology

I found an interesting (for me) way to explore Aristotle’s relationship with modernity. Nikolaas Tinbergen, a Dutch biologists who was highly influential in the development of behavioral sciences.

Tinbergen developed a series of four questions which he saw as the basis for understanding animal behavior.

Tinbergens ‘Four Why’s are currently considered as a standard framework in the behavioral sciences. It has been repeatedly pointed out that this concept is derived from Aristotle’s Four Causes, although no extensive investigation has been performed so far. Here we compare these two concepts and show that, in general, they parallel very well. The main difference is that Aristotelian theory is static and does not include evolution. In summary, Aristotle’s general and Tinbergen’s more specific framework for the study of natural phenomena are still viable heuristic concepts.

Tinbergen interests me as he described his methods as based on ‘wondering’ and ‘observation,’ I understand these concepts in a very dramatic way, observation = movement and posture.

If I want to observe I need to move in a particular way, in my case that is a hybrid from of movement technique developed from Laban and Alexander. With Tinbergen the distance between a training in art and science become somewhat reduced.

In 1973 Tinbergen, Konrad Lorenz and Karl von Frisch were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology for research in patterns of individual and social behavior. He devoted a large part of the speech to Alexander technique (from a very medical perspective).


V. Hladky & J. Havlicek, Was Tinbergen An Aristotelian? Comparison of Tinbergen’s Four Whys and Aristotle’s Four Causes.


Feeling In The Mouth



Old name for dyslexia was word blindness and internally I am largely blind to words, If I need to focus on them I can hear them but generally I hold them in memory as a pattern of movement and sensation.

Presumably that’s in part a habit from later learning, like remembering the  way movement has to be plotted alongside speech in a script and the calculations involved in projecting sound. Remembering here is like a ghost of the muscle movement. Not recalling a line of text but the sensation of it, the manner of its making.

But generally I can’t see words and depend instead of having a sense of what they are.

To my mind rhetoric and sensation have a very distinct relationship with each other.


sensing is not like learning, but contemplation

I resolved my past present issue with reading Aristotle, which is for the moment to ignore modern philosophy on the subject and to start instead with Thomas Aquinas’s commentaries on ‘memory and recollection’ and  ‘on sense and what is sensed’

Removes modernity from the subject, I can deal with that later when things become more familiar.

I don’t want to lose sight of modernity, use a distinct way in, see if I can create a bridge between the medieval material I look at and the early modern.

To further that goal my book buying budget now stands at zero.

H. P. J. Horstmanshoff, A. M. Luyendijk-Elshout, and F. G. Schlesinger, eds., trans., and commentary. The Four Seasons of Human Life: Four Anonymous Engravings from the Trent Collection. Rotterdam: Erasmus Publishing; Durham, N.C.: Trent Collection, Duke University

Unusual collection of four anatomical prints of the late 16th century. Style is like a modern children’s pop up book the images contain a series of superimposed flaps that can be opened to reveal further detail and contain captions and short texts covering a wide range of perspectives on the natural world.

Knowledge is medical but covers a lot of ground from astrology to botany and anatomy.

A rhetorical experiment, if I use the images here to as a central location and reference for all other subjects, how will that alter the inflection of thought?

Have to deal with some concepts I know nothing about, like the fourness of the world (medieval and early modern numerology), four humors,  four seasons, four cardinal points etc.

An experiment to see how the images change things, alter thought and rearrange the material I work with.

It forces me to look at some aspects of the wild man in later medevial British tradition I am largly unfamiliar with.


Thomas Aquinas, Commentaries on Aristotle “On Sense and What is Sensed” and “On Memory and Recollection”