Reviewinghistory of art, it is seen that human body has been always depicted for severalaims and in several media. However, the point that whether the concept of humanbody has been also widely considered, and whether it has captured enoughattention becomes an important question in history of art. Bodily awareness andmaybe the concept of body despite its richness have attracted relatively littleattention in the field of art compared to massive use of human body in media. As it has been frequently mentioned inliterature, human being usually aims to use body, but forgets to reflect uponit, and body is always immediately present to the subject (Merleau-Ponty, 1945;O’Shaughnessy, 1980).
Is not this a peculiar feature of human body? Personally,I always have a huge number of questions about body and bodily awareness. Thisessay studies bodily awareness and a form of performance art in which the bodyis the center of act, Butoh Dance, in order to find some overlappingphilosophical and artistic information about the bodily awareness and also thefunction of bodily awareness.Wehave body made up a variety of components and sensations.
We feel our body inmysterious ways. We are aware of our body and the world by the body. I see the world by opening my eyes while Ifeel the motion of my eyelid. I can feel that my legsare crossed and that my arm is raising while I am looking at surrounding world. I feel tired and thirsty.
Ifeel cold. I feel my teeth begin to chatter. My back itches. The way we relateto our body, including the way we perceive it, control it and affectively reactto what happens to it, is unlike the way we relate to other objects. All weexperience is this constant blurry fuzzy “feeling of the same old body alwaysthere” (James, 1890, p. 242).Hijikata Tatsumi, the founder of Buoth dance, distinguishedBrain and body such that he believed that Brain is not totally a part of thebody.
Hijikata’s statement finds an echo in recent work in cognitive science.According to the cognitive scientists George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, contraryto the Carte-sian view, “the mind is inherently embodied, reason is shapedby the body, and since most thought is unconscious, the mind cannot be knownsimply by self-reflection” (1999:5). (MIT) “Thebody is not one more among external objects” (MP, 1945, 92) . In addition, From Merleau-Ponty’s point ofview, there is a difference between the objective body made of muscles, bonesand nerves and the body that we experience in pre-reflective awareness known asthe lived body. To be more specific, the lived body is not an object that canbe perceived from various perspectives. As representing the body necessarilyinvolves adopting an objective stance on the lived body, it cannot be evenrepresented. The objectified body could then no longer anchor the way weperceive the world (bodily awareness, 2015, p10). And also from Hijikata’s opinion a body eludingmeaning annihilating language is the body in Butoh.
“What is my work? Yes, it’smy self” and “I’ve nothing to show you but my own body”(para.2). According toHijikata’s sentences it seems that for Hijikata the central part of butoh isthe body not the concepts that can be applied to it. Toshow that for Hijikata, in his search, it never was the danced vessel forartistic catharsis but the body in dance and the danced body that is genuinelyhuman and beyond expression – the primal body. Butoh dance, founded at the end of the 1950s by Hijikata Tatsumi(1928-1986, born Yoneyama kunio) is one of the most influential forces incontemporary performance scene. As Okamura (n.
d.) holds that “the body inperformance Butoh rejects being the medium to represent the sign” and body inbutoh butoht-ai “is a body essentially liberated from being a tool”(para.9).
T.Kasai (2000) hold that “one of the key words for understanding isthe butoh body butoht-ai in Japanese, meaning a physical and mentalattitude so as to integrate the dichotomize elements such as consciousness vs.unconsciousness, and subject vs. object” (p.
353).Hijikata once wrote, “Since the body itself perishes, it has a form. Butohhas another dimension” (1998:295). Ourbody is quite distinct from anything in the world for us. We can be effective ????? ???? andaffected ????? ???? in our interactionwith the world merely by our body.
In fact, there is a duality of interactionas a result of which specifies our body as a specific thing. What makes ourbody so special may be that unlike other physical objects, not only do weperceive it through external senses, but we have also an internal access to itthrough bodily sensations. To be more specific, there is a duality of access toour body known as the touchant-touché phenomenon. When wetouch our knee with our hand, we have a tactile experience of our knee from theoutside (touché), but we have also a tactile experience of our knee fromthe inside (touchant), and the same is true of the hand (bodilyawareness, 2015, p3). But when wefeel our knee is touched by another one, we only have a tactile experience ofour knee from outside (touché) and as Arthur Danto claims what thetouched person and the touching person perceive is a mystery ?? ???? ????? .
It seems that our perception of touchant-touché phenomenonmake us aware of our body, bodily awareness. Tactile sensation is the mostpowerful sensation which bridges between our body and the external world.Although there is another sensation that cannot be easily neglected, vision,classically one draws a contrast between bodily awareness and visual awareness.And also, as Arthur Danto claims vision and perception are two differentsensations. He presents an example that one can see the motion of a feather onmy foot but never can feel the tactile sensation made by feather merely byvision sensation while it was foundthat perceiving another individual acting partially activates the same regionsin the brain as when one is acting (Rizzolatti et al.
, 1995; Decety et al.,1997). Nowthis question arise that is bodily awareness a kind of perceptual awareness? Inother words, am I aware of my body in the same way as I am aware of the sea infront of me? One difference is that Isee and hear the sea, but I am aware of my body from the inside thanks to thebody senses, which go beyond the classic five senses.
Yet, if those body sensesbehave like sensory systems that lead to perceptual experiences, then thereseems to be difference between my awareness of the sea and my awareness of mybody. Another way for bodily awareness to be perceptual would be if it resultednot only from information conveyed by body senses, but also from informationconveyed by more classic sensory modalities, including vision andaudition(bodily awareness, 2015,p13).Itcan be concluded that our awareness of the world differs from our awareness ofour body. Then, it can be a beginning to define a peripersonal andextrapersonal spaces. There is the bodily self and then there is the rest ofthe world. Between the self and the external space, there is a neutral zone surroundingthe body, not merely related to the body and also not merely related to theextrapersonal space. It is known as peripersonalspace.
Therefore, there is a fundamental difference between our perception ofour body and our perception of other objects and even more the rest of theworld because of the nature of the body.Inconclusion, bodily awareness is the awareness of oneself qua subject.One can therefore self-ascribe bodily properties as well as mental propertiesto the self without self-identification. Hence the object of such judgments,the self, is not a Cartesian ego, but a bodily subject of both mental andphysical properties (Bodily Awareness, 2015, p23). Thefunction of bodily awarenessStressingthe importance of the body for the mind actually constitutes one of the mainclaims of the recent approach of Embodied cognition (see the entry EmbodiedCognition) (Clark, 1997). The body is said to affect not only perception,emotion, and action, but also higher mental processes. Gallagher (2005, 247)concludes: “nothing about human experience remains untouched by humanembodiment”.
In this part, there is an overlapping idea between bodilyawareness and butoh dance. To be more specific, it seems that butoh is a kindof practical dimension of bodily awareness. First we need to know aboutperceptual awareness and its function.
Merleau-Pontyemphasizes how the lived body anchors the awareness of the world. Similarly,O’Shaughnessy (1980) argues that bodily awareness is a major determinant ofperceptual awareness by spatially structuring it. When I see that the book ison my left on the table, my visual experience of the book is spatiallyorganized by my body in two distinct ways. First, the book is directly locatedrelative to the location of my body. Second, even the location of the bookrelative to the table is determined by my body. It is only from my perspectivethat the book is on the table. From the spider’s perspective on the ceiling,the book is under the table. Bodily space thus orients external space byoffering spatial axes such as up and down, left and right, front and back.
Theinfluence of bodily awareness on perception has been said to go beyondanchoring reference frames. According to some, bodily awareness affects notonly how we perceive the location of objects, but also their other properties,including affordances or what Campbell (1994) calls causally indexicalproperties. Causally indexical properties like the weight of an object haveimmediate implications for our actions. As such, they depend on the state ofour body that will carry on the actions. For instance, some results indicatethat the effortful experience of wearing a heavy backpack makes slopes looksteeper and distances seem longer (Proffitt et al., 2003).
The authorsconcluded that what we feel determines what we perceive. However, these resultsare controversial (Durgin et al., 2009). (Bodily Awareness, p23).Hijikata’s decision to work on theJapanese body can be seen as incidental: in his search for the butoh body,Hijikata had to remove external influences from his work, and the body he dealtwith, his body, was Japanese.
He dealt with his own body as the material forhis dance (article). Hijikata’s sentence”I come from Tohoku, but there is a Tohoku in everybody. There is a Tohoku inEngland” (as cited in Holborn, 1997, p.9)seems to be a metaphor. By accepting that the lived body anchors the awarenessof the world, knowing the nature of lived body as an origin of perception whichleads to know the world is a meaning that Hijikata’s statement includes. Hestudied Japanese body because he was from Japan, Tohoku, but there is a Tohokuin England.
More than the nature of the Japanese body, it seems thatwhat Hijikatatried to unveil was the nature of all bodies.It is possible to argue that Hijikata’s butoh wasincidentally Japanese rather than inherently, thathis unveiling of the Japanese body was a step in the unveilingof the human body. The focus on theweakened body in his later work seems to validate the hypothesis (article).Hijikata’s definition of butoh, “Butoh is a corpse standingdesperately upright” (as cited in Fraleigh,2010, p.
67),and his focus on the weakened body at the end of his career tend to show that the exploration of the Japanese body was just a step in hissearch for a butoh body devoid of anyof the conventions of society.In a conversation with Mishima, Hijikata recalled an experiencethat had a strong impact on him:In the meantime, I saw someone with cerebral palsy grasping for anobject in such a mannerthat his (her) hand was not aiming directly at the object, but rather, after afew trials,took a great detour and approached and finally managed to reach it from the opposite direction. I then realized that it was precisely thecourse of movement I had beenteaching my students. That was a huge encouragement to me (as cited in Miyoshi, 1988, p.200,personal translation). (article) Another exampleof the influence of bodily awareness concerns social perception, that is, theperception of cues in other people indicating their mental states like facialexpressions. Since Lipps (1900), it has been recurrently suggested that whenperceiving other people’s actions, we mentally simulate or re-enact theirbodily movements (Goldman, 2006; Gallese, 2001).
Itwas found that perceiving another individual acting partially activates thesame regions in the brain as when one is acting (Rizzolatti et al., 1995;Decety et al., 1997). Shared cortical networks have also been found forempathy. Brain imaging studies have shown overlapping brain activity whensubjects feel pain and when they observe another in pain (Singer et al., 2004),when they feel being touched and when they see another being touched (Keyserset al.
, 2004), when they inhale disgusting odorants and when they observedisgust-expressive faces (Wicker et al. 2003) (Bodily Awareness, p24, 25).What makesmotor and affective resonance special is that it goes beyond mere conceptualsharing. One does not share abstract knowledge about the observed action oremotion; one shares what might be called embodied knowledge or knowledge in abodily format (Goldman and Vignemont, 2009; Goldman, 2012; Vignemont, 2014c). Perhaps, one ofthe Hijikata’s work can be a suitable example of sharing knowledge in a bodilyformat.
This was in sharp contrast to his work up to that point, whichalways was changing. Shiki no tame no nijushichiban included kabuki-likeoutward movements, which Hijikata himself performed. There were Yufu (courageous woman)characters who bent their knees and backs deeply with their chins sticking out.This transitional phase preceded a new style of dance for Hakutobo, which wascharacterized by concentrated, contained movements for female performers.
Theincredible transformation of Ashikawa into a bowlegged midget-like figure andthe com-plete changes of her masklike facial expressions were striking andsurprised the audience. What Ashikawa showed was the result not only ofpractical work on the body, but of the words Hijikata bombarded her with asthey worked alone in the studio. His words were metaphors for his body.
He wastrying to convey his body to her through his words. Ashikawa responded to thisword/ body procedure enormously. Ashikawa even said that an exchange of bodiesoccurred (1990:164). (MIT)Itseems that Hijikata could share knowledge in a bodily formatnot only for audience but also for the dancer by using words .As, Hijikata’swords-her actions: a methodology that used words to create definite forms wasbeing established during this period (MIT), considering the words in should benoted. Hijikata trained his dancers and choreographed works using words.
Ultimately his dance was notated by words called butoh-fu (butoh notation). Atremendous number of words surround his dance. It should be noted that scientistsargue that language is physically based. In addition, in child developmentstudies it has been observed that children empathize with objects as if theywere human beings, projecting their own emotions onto them. The psychologistHeinz Werner called this “physiognomic perception.”8 A two-year-oldboy, seeing a cup lying on its side, said, “Poor tired cup!” An-othercalled a towel-hook “cruel.” Werner wrote, “During thephysiognomic period of childhood it is the very absence of polarity, and thehigh degree of fu-sion between person and thing, subject and object, that arecharacteristic” (Werner 1948 I96I:72).
Similarly, in his lecture”Kaze Daruma,” (Wind Daruma) published in this issue of TDR, Hijikatadescribes placing a kitchen dipper in a field to show it the world outside. Asclose as Hijikata’s ideas seem to those of cognitive scientists, linguists, andpsychologists, he was also very different from them because he was a poet,always attempting to capture amorphous life-life that resists being settled inany particular form. Hijikata tried to create his own universe with his ownlanguage. That was one of the reasons he kept changing his themes and styles:he wanted to avoid getting trapped in a static form and losing life. (MIT)”There is a moment when words are uttered from a body” (p.
66). According this Hijikata’sstatement it can be understood that the language is a part of our body whichleads to perception like the other part. Instead of liberating the body fromlanguage, Hijikata tied the body up with words, turning it into a materialobject, an object that is like a corpse. Paradoxically, by this method,Hijikata moved beyond words and presented something only a live body canexpress. That is the essence of Hijikata’s butoh. Hijikata saw human existenceas inextricably part of the body. But this body only comes alive when it ischased in to a corner by words and pain-that is, consciousness.
He rigorouslypracticed this point of view with his own body and life (MIT). sThrough words, Hijikata’s method makes dancers conscious of theirphysiological senses and teaches them to objectify their bodies. Dancers canthen “reconstruct” their bodies as material things in the world andeven as concepts.7 By practicing the exercises repeatedly, dancers learn tomanipulate their own bodies physiologically and psychologically.
As a result,butoh dancers can transform themselves into everything from a wet rug to a skyand can even embody the universe, theoretically speaking (Kurihara 1996).(MIT)