Quite a few people imagine that removing a person’s habitual ways of moving amount to the experience of losing the ego. A.T. lessons often result in a feeling of “do-less-ness.” Some people think of that as an experience of egolessness. So somehow they get the idea that Alexander Technique is all about minimizing the ego.
It’s an interesting idea, the possibility of operating without an ego. I’m curious to explore what value does it have to present and communicate without ego attachments? Being able to differentiate between “so and so’s idea” and an idea that has lost any designation as coming from someone can be an exercise in an “objective” sort of intellectual disassociation. As time has gone by, I have come to suspect its usefulness. Used to see its value, but now I don’t imagine it’s particularly useful to think of ideas as standing on their own, although it’s interesting to imagine that this is possible as a curious intellectual entertainment. There is even a word for it: memes. I’m open to it being useful in some way to me. Which means, I’m open to having it mean something more to me personally. But let me tell you how I came to change my mind about this.
For me now, it’s important that someone experienced an idea directly, observed it, thought about it. Because of looking for my motive underneath my desire to remove my habitual mannerisms of talking, I have uncovered my own hope that at least some of us might go somewhere new beyond repeating the same mistakes of human nature is definitely part of what drives me to communicate.
Some of us have held up the value of egolessness being suspended from our David Bohm style Dialogue experience as well as our experiences with Alexander Technique. I’m curious; why is this disassociation of an idea from who it came from is considered valuable?
The way people in the Dialogue I was a part of would express this agreement of the value of idea over ego was to try to talk about ideas without claiming ownership. They might attribute the idea to some author, etc. as if they were not related to the idea personally.
Why they wanted to bring the idea to the group was seldom mentioned, because that would reveal a sort of “ego” or attachment to the outcome of the conversation…which was supposed to also be suspended, according to their interpretation of Dialogue ideas of suspension. So we had this Dialogue for a long time which was every sort of name dropping. Or people would use a little shorthand for mentioning one idea after another by mentioning one author after another as a way to dump out the ideas, as everything went by fast and furiously. It wasn’t very satisfying, because our conversations didn’t go anywhere new. It seemed people were merely holding up one idea, without saying anything much it, and holding it up to another idea. Sometimes they would say how they were different or similar, but if you didn’t know the two ideas that were being compared, it was hard to follow the conversation.
Then we talked about this experience, and eventually agreed we wanted to make the group conversation less of a name-dropping event. So now each person who wanted to mention someone else’s idea would most usefully offered an outline of what the related idea was for those who had not read the book by that particular author. In a way, it was sort of like providing the bibliography during the conversation. So that made us quite practiced at short book reviews, dragging out the dictionary, etc. We learned some history and some author’s ideas who went to the trouble of writing a book, but still – that wasn’t so interesting because it didn’t go anywhere new because the authors were not present to tell us their fore-thinking ideas. It was an information dumping experience that could be sort of interesting, if you preferred learning about the topic in a scolarly way. But that’s all it was.
Finally what we came to was we decided to to just drop the quoting, the book reviewing and dare to claim the idea as ours – where ever it came from. Then from that point, talking about where our values came from became very interesting.
Then we didn’t have to go to some length to separate the “idea” from the person who is forming it. We began to learn from each other why any particular idea was valuable to a particular person and also, why a person who was present would be bringing it to the attention of others now in the group.
We even got to the point where we learned some of the core experiences from where these values sprang. That’s when we began to really appreciate some of the Conative (motive-style) thinking strategies of each of the participants in the Dialogue that were often quite different from our own. The effect of all this was gradually, we completely stopped questioning the validity of whatever someone said, along with many of us stopping the urge to convince, explain or defend ourselves when questioned by the group en masse. This was pretty amazing to see, as it evolved.
Someone said that they began to imagine how each of us was a sort of archetype. So whenever anybody said something, it became as if the person was representing “me and all those people who think the way I do who have shared in common some of the experiences I have had.” From a conversation about birth order and the psychological points of view it created for people, this even led me to actively search for people who had some of my own rare unique experiences as a child in common with those as I had as the youngest sibling by eight to ten years – and the results were fascinating for me personally.
Yes, leaving out personal pronouns is part of makes what an author says sound authoritative, scholarly and encyclopedic. So no matter what other motive you have for leaving out personal pronouns, authority is the cultural impression you’ll be cultivating by writing or speaking like that. We observed that putting pronouns of “I” into your speaking and writing style reveals personal meaning and motive. Using the “you” pronoun can make people feel that you are ordering them around.
So, now that I’ve said that, related to the effect of the personal pronouns, names, attributes to a person, etc. I’m going to ask a question. What I’ve just written frames this question in a certain way from the fact that it follows sequentially. If I ask, “why do you write so often about a particular idea? Where did the value of that particular idea come from in your past experiences? What does that intent to write without personal pronouns mean for you personally?” What I also want to know is, why do you think I’m asking these personal questions?
I’m not asking this string of questions in any punative way, or with any emotional intent attached to them. Although I realize asking a string of questions implies anger in some cultures, I can say that am intensely interested to read your answers. It’s pretty easy to flip the motive for suspicion or connection, by not knowing why someone is asking such a string of personal questions like what I just asked.
We ask many questions during Dialogue and while learning Alexander Technique. We might observe that the person we’re asking “favors” using personal pronouns whenever he answers a question, or we might have watched the new habit of someone who is trying to respond differently by using Alexander’s ideas. Our reason for questioning is not to attack. Certainly, that sort of a “personal” question can come from a positional attack with a motive of dissection or discrediting, or from a position of genuine curiosity and interest in who the person is and how they put the world together into thinking the way they do.
With email, it’s difficult to tell the difference because there is no body language to add to meaning along with the question. So that is why I believe that stating motive is helpful in writing, because it frames the intent of why the question is being asked and what the asker is going to do with the information before it is disclosed.