The paradoxes of [re]presenting freedom and practice.



“Intuition is the joy of difference” G.Deluze

In trying to describe intuition within the creative process of making art, I evoke Bergson’s philosophical methods. The word intuition in Bergson’s work does not implies or understood as an impulse and a vague feeling or emotion, it is a productive force. A kind of experience that is unique an allows to ‘entering into’ the thing. A sort of ‘entering into ourselves’, a sort of sympathy with the other, putting yourself into someone elses shoes. This is what Bergson constitute as ‘absolute knowledge’. In performance practice this is relevant as we enter into the practice itself. There is a constant negotiation of in and out of knowledge or practice… to be continued….


“Auch wenn mein Körper versklav ist, so ist mein Geist doch frei” Sophocles.

“Even when my body slaved me, in my mind I am free” Sophocles.

The question of freedom has puzzled thinkers for a long time. From Plato to Jean Paul Sartre and many other contemporaries. Even now the question is pressing as we enter into an age of Artificial Intelligence and the knowing about the brain open up many interesting questions about freedom. What is freedom? Does freedom exist? can we talk about free will in the same way we talk about freedom?

From a performance perspective, one can say that freedom is a decisive moment of executing an action. A sort of quick mental process in which a performer makes a decision, a moment in which one has all the choices of movement available, yet one has to choose which one movement one will perform. Is there total freedom in a movement? It sounds as it is predetermined and at same level it is. The movement is caused by something, there is not such as think as effect and not cause. Now there of course event that are caused by some invisible causes, invisible to the eye.

If we look at brain activity, the thought of freedom that belongs to the body changes. Lets imagine you decide to lift your finger, then two parts of your brain light up: the motor cortex which is believed to send signals to your limb to execute the action. Yet this is not all, another area of the brain is believed to light up in order to generate that movement and that is the prefrontal cortex, that prepares you to move your finger. So first we have the initial area that prepares you to move your finger then there is the other  area the motor cortex that execute the motor program that makes you to  move the finger.  Now this is all fine but what happens when you have a person who has some disabilities of some kind like a hysterical patient who is hysterical paralysed. This is the anecdote that Vilayanur  Ramachandra tell  which is based on an experiment done by Chris Frith and Frackowiak and Peter Halligan and John Marshall and others. The experiment explained that again the pre-motor area is light up, which is what happened to the normal patient, but something else light up in addition, which are the anterior singular and the ventromedial frontal lobes,  which are  part of the frontal lobe, and these areas were responsible to inhibit him to move his finger.

Now how does this relate to freedom or freewill. From the above example and intuitively, one can say that even if one makes the choice of executing an action/movement there are other mechanisms that can prevent that choice from happening. And even if the patient is normal there is still a more crucial  mechanism that can alter the movement, that is due to a delay, which is inevitable as the neural processing instruct the finger to move. Thus not only inevitable mal functions can alter movement but also the transfer of information from one to another cause that freedom or freewill to be slaved. Slaved in the sense of having intangible mechanisms interfering with the pure action of freedom of movement.

Causation in philosophy is the agency or efficacy that connects one event (cause)  to another (event) where one is responsible for the other. So in this sense there is no freedom. But of course this would make no sense to us, because one is in the believe that one can control one action. There is a beautiful passage in the opening chapter V of Art & Ilusion book by E.H Gombrich and it goes like this:

Though their particular are those

That each particular artist knows,

Unique events that once took place

Within a unique time and space,

In the news field they occupy

The unique serves to typify,

Becomes, though still particular,

An algebraic formula,

An abstract model of events

Derived from dead experiements,

An each life must itself decide

To what and how it be applied.

W.H. Auden, “The New Year Letter, 1940.



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