Abstract

Abstract:

This reflective essay emanates from Zen Buddhism and phenomenology in theory and spirit, integrating the somatic theory of Nagatomo Shigenori with its basis in Dōgen Zen. It invites readers to explore an eco-somatic approach to butoh, a metamorphic and now global form of dance that evolved in Japan in the shadow of ecological and social crisis after World War II. In its descent toward emptiness and acceptance of weakness, butoh is not a progressive dance form. Akin to Buddhism, it admits suffering. Like Buddhism and phenomenology, butoh attempts to clear the mind, particularly through examples discussed in this essay. Buddhism tends toward "no mind" or the unperturbed mind of meditation; phenomenology attempts to clear away habitual predispositions of mind, while the unhurried mind of butoh transforms in evanescence. One of the first female butohists, Nakajima Natsu, teaches presence as a practice: how to "become nothing," to disappear and reappear in butoh, as I explain further. This essay stems from my involvement in butoh as a student, performer, and scholar since 1985, from my university teaching of dance and somatics, and from my investigations of phenomenology and Buddhism in philosophy. It is not a critical essay, but like phenomenology is descriptive, performative, and concerned with first-person "lived experience," including how qualities of experience appear and transform in consciousness. The methods of phenomenology are connective and heuristic, aiming more toward discovery than claims about objective reality.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2109
Print ISSN
0742-5457
Pages
pp. 464-489
Launched on MUSE
2020-10-13
Open Access
No
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