PCT and AT

[Jim Dundon 05.21.07.1043edt]

Bill,

I am going to take several points from "PCT, Parkinson and Alexander technique" and deal with them in separate posts so that things do not become too cumbersome.

You quoted from Alexander's book the following passage:

"No matter whether the activity is�

one which calls for the use of the limbs in
general movement and locomotion, or for the use
of the hands in employing tools and instruments, or

one through which the processes of conceiving,
reasoning, and understanding are set in motion,
and through which the results of these processes
are ex�pressed in speaking or writing, as in
education, religion, politics, science, etc.,

the part played by the organism in these two
fields of psycho-physical activity is common to both"

At first reading this sound impressive, but on
second reading it says nothing.

On my first reading of this I would not be impressed and only after reading more of what he has to say would I be able to develop an understanding that I would be reasonably satisfied with. After that I would decide whether or not I was impressed.

You evidently have a requirement that everyone define words for you before you venture an opinion of what they are saying. [In a separate post I am going to talk about that.] I am willing to put a little more effort into deciphering what has been said. Part of this difference between us is due to your success and your success is also due to a very disciplined field. I can understand that you have no need for the kind of thinking and writing that Alexander engages in. And that it probably scares you. It probably feels unethical, causes you pain. In that sense I can see that it is not useful to you and in that sense as well, from your point of view, it is worthless. It does not fit into your goals. It is not allowed by some of the reference signals in your higher level systems. You want him to do more work for you and I can appreciate that.

I am coming from a different place, much less trained and much more willing to commit time to understanding Alexander especially in light of its influence in my life and that of tens of thousands of other people. If I were asked by a freind for some direction in getting help in having a more meaningful life, even having more control, I would direct someone to the Alexander technique rather than to something that will show him "why change is impossible" B.P..

In one of his books Alexander likens human behavior to "electromechanical machinery which fulfills purposes we have assigned them". Without using your exact words Alexander is saying that we are "purposeful living control systems".

The "constant" to which Alexander refers is the influence on our health of what he calls "manner of use of primary control" which I will go into a little more below.

The words "primary control" appear repeatedly in his book "Universal Constant". He does not put them in the order "control is primary", but sufficient reading of his material will reveal that it amounts to the same thing. Especially in light of the fact that he compares human behavior to purposefull electromechanical control systems

He speaks repeatedly of "bad manner or good manner of use of" and "bad or good employment of, primary control.. So control is primary, i.e. the common ingredient in all behavior. Whether it is employing tools, [lower hierarchical levels] or reasoning, conceiving etc.[higher hierarchical levels, control will be present. "The part [controlling] played by the organism will be present".

If there is any truth in PCT, Bill, you have proven Alexander correct!!!

The constant of which he speaks is the constant influence on our health of the predominant nature of our use i.e. Bad meaning fearful, spiteful, defensive, offensive, shameful, anxiety ridden, or good meaning ease full, loving, giving, confident etc..

Generally I can tell you that I have been given more latitude, more space, more time, [that is how I thought you might be interested because you mention a place in the hierarchy where you think time and space "Reside"] in a kinesthetic way than I had before Alexander. I will not go into more detail because that is not the purpose of this post or this website If anybody wants more information I will be happy to share it if they want to e-mail me privately.

Best

Jim D

.

Hi Jim,

I would be happy to continue this discussion of Alexander's work and how
it may apply in context here.

I must say that I was initially astonished to see the Alexander Technique
being dismissed out of hand here, since it seems quite congruent with
PCT. But it occurs to me that since I have sympathies in both domains it
may be that I'm the only common factor, and that I have not yet thought it
out carefully enough. Let me see.

Alexander's fundamental ideas can be summarized as: humans are creatures
of habit. We tend to deal with stimuli according to habitual patterns of
behavior. Many of our habitual patterns are quite effective and unharmful
and can be safely ignored. When an habitual pattern is doing us harm, we
ordinarily can never notice it since habit draws our attention away from
itself. We are blind to our habitual patterns of behavior; they are the
water we human fish are swimming in. (Here's the most important part.)
Our habits regarding our use of ourselves are particularly harmful, and we
have a great deal of difficultly in even acknowledging them, never mind
changing them. Our verbal patterns tend to reinforce this. So long as we
are using the same words to describe experiences, they in effect become
the same thing even though they may be quite different. So to break
through this all-encompassing encasement of habit, and get to "raw"
experience, we have to use new words, interfere with our habitual
responses, stop and examine them, and devise new patterns that more
closely fit the real situation.

Whew!

His books tend to be hard to read partly because his attitude toward
language was informed by this deep suspicion of using the same old words
to get the same old perceptions.

In this sense his work is very similar to Korzybski's.

An Alexander Teacher uses her hands-on work to give the student new
experiences that the student cannot gain access to himself. Once the new
experiences take hold, new habits can be formed around them. In
particular, since (according to Alexander) we all walk around recoiling in
an habitual startle pattern, with stiff necks and arched backs, our only
way out of hurting ourselves is to learn how not to hold ourselves that
way.

There is a lot here that sounds like what I imagine Mr Powers might have
sounded like in the upstairs lounge of an imaginary off-campus pub
discussing his theories with (God help us) Lewis and Wittgenstein at
Oxford or someplace. Alexander is desperately looking for new ways in
which behavior can control perceptions. It is an absolutely natural fit
for his work.

Here I've written a bit more than I'd intended. I'm starting to know how
Alexander felt, perhaps.

Best.

--Kevin

Our habits regarding our use of
ourselves are particularly harmful, and we

have a great deal of difficultly in even acknowledging them, never mind

changing them. Our verbal patterns tend to reinforce this. So
long as we

are using the same words to describe experiences, they in effect become

the same thing even though they may be quite different. So to break

through this all-encompassing encasement of habit, and get to
“raw”

experience, we have to use new words, interfere with our habitual

responses, stop and examine them, and devise new patterns that more

closely fit the real situation.
[From Bill Powers (2007.05.24.0220 MDT)]

Kevin Cole (2007.05.24.0004 EDT)]

These would all be interesting statements if they were true. How do you
know they are true? What did Alexander to do persuade you to believe
them? What evidence did he offer for you to consider? What was the method
of reasoning by which he reached his conclusions? Can you reproduce it?
How does he determine that these statements are true of any individual he
meets?

There, in a nutshell, is the essence of my problems with Alexander. As I
said, I would not object to anything he actually does as a way of
demonstrating his technique: that speaks for itself. But so far I see no
reason to accept any of the statements in that paragraph as true. Can you
supply any reasons?

Best,

Bill P.

[Jim Dundon 05.24.07.1300edt]

[From Bill Powers (2007.05.24.0220 MDT)]

Kevin Cole (2007.05.24.0004 EDT)]

Our habits regarding our use of ourselves are particularly harmful, and we
have a great deal of difficultly in even acknowledging them, never mind
changing them. Our verbal patterns tend to reinforce this. So long as we
are using the same words to describe experiences, they in effect become
the same thing even though they may be quite different. So to break
through this all-encompassing encasement of habit, and get to "raw"
experience, we have to use new words, interfere with our habitual
responses, stop and examine them, and devise new patterns that more
closely fit the real situation.

Kevin,

Thanks for sharing your truth with us. Take all the space and time you need to recognize and allow whatever changes to the truth you find satisfying.

These would all be interesting statements if they were true. How do
you know they are true? What did Alexander to do persuade you to
believe them? What evidence did he offer for you to consider? What
was the method of reasoning by which he reached his conclusions? Can
you reproduce it? How does he determine that these statements are
true of any individual he meets?

There, in a nutshell, is the essence of my problems with Alexander.
As I said, I would not object to anything he actually does as a way
of demonstrating his technique: that speaks for itself. But so far I
see no reason to accept any of the statements in that paragraph as
true. Can you supply any reasons?

best ,

Jim D

[From Richard Kennaway (2007.05.25.0928 BST)]

[Jim Dundon 05.24.07.1300edt]
Kevin,

Thanks for sharing your truth with us. Take all the space and time you need to recognize and allow whatever changes to the truth you find satisfying.

Jim, if someone said to me what you said to Kevin, I'd think they were taking the piss. What on earth does it mean?

···

--
Richard Kennaway, jrk@cmp.uea.ac.uk, http://www.cmp.uea.ac.uk/~jrk/
School of Computing Sciences,
University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, U.K.

Mr Powers,

I don't "know" that anything he says is true. I was providing
exegesis for a body of work that I found extremely difficult to
read, and that took me a number of years to master. I stuck
with it for a very long time, because my initial reactions to the
texts were similar in a way to your own. But some people whom I
respect had great respect for Alexander and his work. These
included people I knew who were within 1 and 2 degrees of
separation from Alexander himself. They also include John
Dewey, Derek Freeman, and a number of other scientists and
clinicians who took Alexander's published work very seriously.
And among those who took his "hands-on" work seriously were
George Bernard Shaw, Aldous Huxley, Dewey (again), and a whole
host of musicians and other performing artists whose professional
lives were vastly improved through the application of his work.
Read Dewey's "Human Nature & Conduct" for a systematic and
carefully described examination of the effects of habit on will.
If memory serves me adequately there was a British chemist who
mentioned the influence of Alexander's work on his own in the
acceptance speech he gave for his Nobel prize.

I have also spent many hours studying Proust's novel, � la
recherche du temps perdu. This model of experience, including
the blinding power of habit, is at the core of Proust's thought.
His novel is by no means an exercise in clinical observation, but
there are many roads to the truth.

I'm puzzled by the tone of your response, as well as that of Mr
Dundon, who suggested that I be humored. You said "How do you
know they are true? What did Alexander to do persuade you to
believe them?" That kind of taunting response makes you sound
like a rush limbaugh true believer who thinks he knows the hidden
truth behind the conspiracy about global warming.

Alexander's notion of how easily and inevitably we can be lulled
into misperception calls into question how reliably we can count
on perception to provide the feedback for a closed loop control
system. It would be like analyzing the performance of a home
heating system and not knowing there was a baggie full of ice
cubes taped to the thermostat.

Perhaps it is too fundamental a problem to be dealt with in a
venue like this.

In any case I'm too old and too proud to accept that kind of
treatment. Somehow I got past the bouncer; but I regret having
blundered into your party.

Pardon me while I go and inhibit the worst of my response. :wink:

--KC

[Jim Dundon 05.26.07.1100edt]

[From Richard Kennaway (2007.05.25.0928 BST)]

[Jim Dundon 05.24.07.1300edt]

Kevin,

Thanks for sharing your truth with us. Take all the space and time you need to recognize and allow whatever changes to the truth you find satisfying.

Jim, if someone said to me what you said to Kevin, I'd think they were taking the piss. What on earth does it mean?

Richard,

When I read Kevins post I was touched by what I believed were openness and honesty about his thoughts as well as the sense of effort and risk which I also believed were revealed in his "whew"

Granted, I did not prove those things, and I could be wrong. I also believe that Bill and others on this site might not approve of that approach. They would probably say that I should test for a controlled variable, Rick would say that is the only way to know, but Bill has also said that we may never know for sure what is being controlled, so whats's the point in testing? A social activity?

Since I can't hear voice inflection and nuance in an email I have no way of knowing Bill's emotional content when he replied to Kevin, and according to bill I couldn't be sure of anything any way so why bother to care?

But I did care. I feel more sure of Kevin's honesty than anyone else's. I proceeded on that assumption.

I assumed, unscientifically of course, that Bill's words were said with a bit of condemnation. That is not fair to Bill. I realize that. People act on what they believe at the moment.

So since Bill's thrust was all about knowing the truth and proving something, I focused on bringing attention to a kind of truth, personal truth. I allow that in my world. a truth that can change. Bill himself has used the phrase "some things are true for only a minute". so he admits that there are temporary truths" So why be so demanding of Kevin or Alexander.

Add to this mix the fact that since Kevin and I are somewhat experienced with AT I also assumed that the AT emphasis on taking all of the space one needs is something he is familiar with. This is something many people report experiencing with AT. Add to that the dependant relationship of time to space it can produce a sense of more time. I hoped this might help Kevin to avoid the pressure that I believed Bill was putting to him. I would like to point out that my experience with posture in AT is an experience which is related to my sense of time and space. It is an experience I verbalized, not my teacher. It might have something to do with the startle reaction and residule muscle tension. I have achieved more control and more satisfaction, more change of temporary truth, with AT than I have with PCT.

My final thought "whatever you find satisfying" was an attempt to bring Kevin's attention back to what he finds satisfying and away from what Bill finds satisfying. An attempt to give him more control.

Everything I did was based on my belief that Bill's voice inflection was harsh and critical, not inviting and encouraging. I admit that I am the source of that component..

HOWEVER!! And this is very important. {I hope nobody asks me how I know}

I have been helped by the Alexander technique to resume singing. I worked on it with my AT teachers. During the AT lessons I was constantly asked things like how does the part of my body that was touched feel compared to the other part, when I responded the practitioner repeated what I said with gentleness Whenever I responded the practioner repeated what I said in an interested confirming manner. My aquaintance with my kineasthetic values increased. My general ability to accept change and to trust changes in the temporary truth was improved.

Following my AT lesson I sought out and found a good voice teacher. A proffessional operatic singer and teacher.

His method is identical to an AT teacher's. He is constantly asking me to describe my experiences using any and every word I can.
When I do he repeats it and says yes or okay.

I am more than happy with my progress. I am ecstatic. I have invested in a complete professional recording studio so that I can hear and judge and enjoy all these changes to the temporary truth.

How much progress would I have made if my AT teachers and my voice teacher required that I prove the truth of everything I said.

I enjoy the changes to the truth avery day.

Bill asks how Alexander knew the claims he made.

I am inclined to believe Bill has done it for him.

[From Bill Powers (2007.05.24.0220 MDT)]

Kevin Cole (2007.05.24.0004 EDT)]

Our habits regarding our use of ourselves are particularly harmful, >>and mind changing them. Our verbal patterns tend to reinforce this. >>So
long as we are using the same words to describe experiences, they >>in effect become the same thing even though they may be quite >>different. So to break through this all-encompassing encasement of >>habit, and get to "raw" experience, we have to use new words, >>interfere with our habitual responses, stop and examine them, and >>devise new patterns that more closely fit the real situation

These would all be interesting statements if they were true. How do >you know they are true? What did Alexander to do persuade you to >believe them? What evidence did he offer for you to consider? What >was the method of reasoning by which he reached his conclusions? >Can you reproduce it? How does he determine that these statements >are true of any individual he meets?

Maybe you have done it for him Bill!!

best

Jim D

[Jim Dundon 05.27.07.0900edt]

Kevin Cole (2007.05.24.0004 EDT)]

Our habits regarding our use of ourselves are particularly harmful and we have a great deal of difficulty in even acknowledging them, never mind changing them. Our verbal patterns tend to reinforce this so long as we are using the same words to describe experiences, they in effect become the same thing even though they may be quite different. So to break through this all and compensate the case of habit and get to raw experience, we have to use new words, interfere with our habitual responses, stop and examine them, and devise new patterns that more closely fit the real situation

[From Bill Powers (2007.05.24.0220 MDT)]

These would all be interesting statements if they were true. How do you know they are true? What did Alexander do to persuade you to believe them? What evidence did he offer for you to consider? What was the method of reasoning by which he reached his conclusions? Can you reproduce it? How does he determine that these statements are true of any individual he meets?

···

_____________________________________________
Kevin, I would like to comment on what you said.

First, I would like to say that I make it a goal to accept whatever is said by someone as being the truth for that person. I call that respect, not humor. What the person says may also be the truth for me although I seriously doubt that there will ever be even two people who totally agree on definitions for very long. If you are married you know what I mean. If you visit my website at www.cisenaproject.com you may get a glimpse of where I come from with respect to words.

Definition must be agreed on by all involved to achieve a hard science. That is why Bill insists on agreement with definition. CSG is all about maintaining definition, something he says cannot be done. He has faith in definition. And his faith is justified. Faith in definition makes proof possible. But he doesn't call it faith in proof. He calls it proof. Probably an order from some higher system that prevents him from using the word faith. He even has faith that his denial of faith is necessary. Bill acts on what he believes to be true, as we all do. What is a belief if not a faith. Every level in Bill's model has faith in the signals it sends to lower levels.

When he asks "how does someone know something is true" he forgets or has never fully understood that he has proven how someone knows something is true. They know it is true, as he has said, by controlling for that perception, using words. Just as he controls for the perception of PCT as truth. He presents it as an eternal, self supporting truth just as all scientists and religionists do. In doing so he must define and agree with himself and subsequently with others on a languaging. PCT is languaged into existance. That does not mean it is not true. Truths are always by agreement with oneself and sometimes with others. In my not so humble opinion PCT does not exist. nor do the things it refers to exist without the words that humans create and use.

Our habits regarding our use of ourselves are particularly harmful and >we have a great deal of difficulty in even acknowledging them, never >mind changing them.

To say they "are" harmfull may be a truth because we incorporate that concept and make it true. A better truth ,I think, would be, "may be harmfull" This gives us more options Bill himself has made comments about how difficult and sometimes impossible it is to change. So he can certainly understand if he is willing. This is where I think that AT is particularly effective through its use of hands-on talking, especially table work.

Our verbal patterns tend to reinforce this so long as we are using the >same words to describe experiences,

To me this is only true if we make it true. This might be a principals level thing. My personal experience is that I have more fun letting the meanings change. Let the reorganzing system do its job.

>they in effect become the same thing even though they may be quite >different.

I need for you to do more work on this in order to catch a glimpse of what you are saying.

So to break through this all-encompassing encasement of habit and >get to raw experience, we have to use new words,

Only if you say so. Or it may be true sometimes. I do not make that requirement of myself. See my website. Most of the time for me I use the old words with modified meanings. I don't try to make the words work that hard. The contents [meanings] of words change. I let the words change. I trust my body to give me current meaning.

There is a tribe of aboriginies somewhere which has a name for a newborn which means "that old new thing". Words are like that newborn. They are almost always "old new things". Hard sciencing works against that tendency. Bills reorganizing system is forbidden to change the meanings/purposes of certain words. I don't know how it communicates or influences the various levels.

interfere with our habitual responses,

sometimes

stop and examine them,

sometimes

and devise new patterns that more closely fit the real situation

sometimes devise, sometimes let.

How do we know when?
Maybe we get signals that we can trust. Like kinaesthetic signals. I like listening to my body.

respectfully

Jim D