Saturday, January 26, 2008

Experiment - Attention

"It’s not an accident that I have this power. Nor is it that you’re in a situation like this. If you’d been more aware, you wouldn’t have thrown down that cigarette. Indeed, you wouldn’t have if I were a blustering profane General of the conventional variety."
"When there are little surges of resistance, it merely calls for more power to be directed downward."
-The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer

Attention is absolutely essential to group work.
The highest achievable state of wakefulness must be maintained by each group member as an individual. When a group begins to actually do something, the individual and collective threshold for awareness becomes readily apparent.
The tendency in a group can easily be to turn the sum of ones attention outward on the other members of the group. This is a fatal error.
First attention must be placed on self, then it must be multiplied before being divided so that one is still attentive to self and now additionally attentive to the movement of the other members of the group.
This is coordination, being able to pat your head and rub your stomach. It is both a physical and a more than physical ability. It involves awareness and control, being able to perceive what is really happening and being able to modify, adjust, or maintain an effort accordingly.
The same quality of attention employed by a ballet troupe executing a piece of choreography must be applied to the doings of a work group. If one dancer places the whole of their attention on another dancer that is missing steps, the first dancer, now absorbed in the conduct of the second, is bound to loose track of their own steps. They become like a chain of falling dominoes. Each troupe member must maintain their own center of balance and be "on" enough to accommodate and compensate for the missteps of others.
That is, each individual must be super humanely alert, actively attentive, and assume responsibility for the self as well as for the whole. Everyone must be the Captain willing to go down with the ship, otherwise it is a crew composed of rats.
Members must, must, work on self. They must be able to center the attention on self and control the self, overriding the mechanical inclinations to become angry or resentful of those that commit missteps and likewise those that commit missteps must not become bitter and jealous of those who are "on".
Manifesting these mechanical reactions takes away from the awakened state of the individual as well as the group as a whole Being, ultimately destroying the dance. It is very difficult to recover from a badly collapsed piece of choreography. It can be done, but it requires even more effort than was necessary to do it properly in the first place.
In addition it is much easier to recover the choreography if one dancer is out of step, but the others are able to maintain. For this reason it is imperative to remember that the foundation of group work is built upon self work.

For this experiment you will require a work partner. Stand facing each other with a metronome set to 60bpm and a timer set to sound after 6 minutes.
For the purpose of this experiment, three beats will count as a measure of time.
Each beat that you hear from the metronome represents one beat within a measure that will consist of three beats.
On the first beat you will each bring your own two hand together and clap in front of your heart. On the second beat you will clap together with one hand each by bringing your opposing hands together so that your arm crosses in front of your body.
This means that person A is reaching across their body with their right hand in order to meet the left hand of person B.
On the third beat, person A will now clap the right hand of person B with their left hand. This is the same motion executed on the second beat now done with the other hand.
While clapping this rhythm you will begin to chant the following mantra together:

"Nothing ever has happened. Nothing ever will happen."

Below you will find a chart detailing how the words should adhere to the rhythm.
In the left column you see the syllables with the beat number upon which they should be pronounced. The dashes indicate that the syllable from the preceding beat shall be extended through the next beat.
Therefore on the first clap you begin with "No", carry the sound through the second clap and pronounce "thing" on the third clap and so on.

1 No-
2 -
3 thing
1 E
2 ver
3 has
1 hap
2 -
3 -
1 pened
2 -
3 -
1 No-
2 -
3 thing
1 Ev
2 er
3 will
1 hap
2 -
3 -
1 pen
2 -
3 -

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