F.M. Alexander said: “Be careful of the printed matter: you may not read it as it is written down.” Patrick J. Macdonald opens his lecture “On Giving Directions, Doing and Non-Doing”, in old Chinese saying: “The way that can be told – is not the real way, the name that can be spoken – is not the real name”.
The way human creatures communicate with each other is, mainly, if not always, by means of words – spoken or written. Our brain thinks in words – we speak in our brain, in our thinking. This is what I call the “Filter of the intellect”, which bounds us to time, measure, and end; it does not enable us to be aware of the Timeless-Endless-Measure-less; it is the stumbling-block for the application of the Conscious Control – this state of acute awareness on a general basis, choiceless awareness, total awareness – which brings about a “Blitz-Feedback” activity in our brain, and provides the ground for our intelligence to blossom, and for better relations and harmony with what IS (or call this “is” what ever you like – words, names again !).
Our mental state in any given moment, and our habitual mental attitude (with which F.M. Alexander deals a lot in his two first books, in relation to his “work”, and in general) dictate our reactions to stimuli in general, and are registered and mirrored in our “physical entity” – the body – as there is no separation between mind and body. Therefore the undoing of the physical “armour” – by means of the “Directions”, through the hands of the teacher, who produces in himself, actively, the continuous process, which produces the improved conditions for the use of the self (all via the Conscious Control) – brings to the surface in the brain, the mental factors that caused the formation of the above “armour”. This activity cracks the mental “armour”, and may bring about shakes, tremble, jerks, spasms, uncontrolled vocal sounds, tears, and other phenomena, that disappear, if the Way is followed, if the Process is an endless one, if the comprehension and application of the Conscious Control are continuously active and experienced in the brain; this is the conscious control that F.M. Alexander describes as “man’s supreme inheritance”, and chose it as the title of his first book. This conscious control, without which the F.M. Alexander Technique is not what it was meant to be, is out of bound for those who pretend to be teachers of the F.M. Alexander Technique; so what they really perform, is sheer physical exercises, or some kind of physiotherapy, nourished by the habitual End-gaining approach, which anyhow dominates our habitual reactions to stimuli, and dominates our life in general. This approach is not “inhibited” among those, who teach what they con-sider as the F.M. Alexander Technique. They practically ignore the Conscious Control (see all what was written in relation to the F.M. Alexander Technique !); at the most they relate to it as an intellectual episode… Does the real, original F.M. Alexander Technique, as a whole – “All together” – still exist, still breathe ???
What causes me to react to Moishe’s words ? May be it is his statement about me and a phenomenon which may happen while I apply the Principles, practically, on other people, and give them the practical experience of the Process through my hands, while actively applying the “Directions” in myself. This phenomenon is not expected, not anticipated, not wished and does not happen to all of my pupils. When it comes I watch it, observe it – while continuing to direct – and don’t ask the person to “inhibit” it; because stopping it by will is not “inhibition” – it is resumption of the habitual blocks !
May be my ingrained habitual unduly excited fear reflexes, uncontrolled emotions and fixed prejudices triggered my reaction. These above three, which F.M. Alexander deals with in his book “Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual” (Second part, chapter six) are untouched, practically, by all those who pretend to teach the F.M. Alexander Technique. They are afraid to face their own emotional reactions and their consequences; they are afraid to look at them, to observe them; to be their own observer-observed at the same time. They push them deeper into the “cellar of the un-known” – they don’t recognize, don’t deal with them in practice, they ignore them and so “they don’t exist”. The Alexander Technique ? Just DO it right and you are all right ! Who needs the Conscious Control ? It is only a bother! Who has to inhibit – neutralize the wrong (primarily in the brain, not in the muscles) ? Why to challenge the faulty, unreliable, untrustworthy sensory appreciation, to inhibit the habitual reaction to stimuli in general, and not in movement only ? Just learn to “put your hands on”, to murmur:
to bend the knees, to take your elbows out, to free your wrists, and while murmuring:
to swing the arms and – hoplah ! the pupil moves in space like an angel… All the talks about our competitive society, stress, fears and all the rest, are on the intellectual level and you don’t challenge these factors of our misuse of the self in practice. All of you are scared of watching yourselves in the “inner mirror”. All of you are frightened of your own shadow – the depth of the subconsciousness. This is reality as it really is, and not the one you draw – which is an illusive one. Our civilization and culture and relations between human beings, created this reality, nourish it and are nourished by it…
Moishe Magidov in his lecture says: “I know someone who claims that the Alexander Technique is to shake, tremble, kneeling on one’s knees and jumping backwards and forwards!”. I know that he relates it to me, and I know the source and reliability of the information from which he drew his conclusion and the remark he made, and I know why he made his remark.
What he said above is a defamation based on rumour, ignorance, unduly excited fear reflexes, uncontrolled emotions and fixed prejudices. He saw a video cassette, from a copy which was made without my permission, a specific phenomenon, which I wanted to document and study, and from my previous class; he drew conslusions – the product of his own mental attitude. Moishe Magidov is what Wilhelm Reich calls: the Little Man – a typical one; and in this respect matches very well to the human quality, and the requirements and the constitution of the STAT. He feels at home in his morass; he is one soloist (head of school !) in a cheap, ridiculous opera, with pompous, pretentuous decoration, made of jute (the STAT)… This is your shelter, Moishe ! This is your armour ! This is your refuge ! Not the real Alexander Technique, the Way, the Process !
The Little Man hates to expose himself to creative criticism – it is too dangerous for the existence of his ego. The only criticism he accepts is, that he is O.K., that he is right. To stop the wrong ? It is too painful, it is a bother. Don’t touch him, he is only a “good child” of the social frame of our civilization – obeys orders, doesn’t ask confusing questions; he kisses the feet and licks the bottom of the authorities; he demands the same obedience when he gains some degree of power. He is not a reformer, nor a renewer; he is a confor-mist. For him it is easier and safer to be a chicken among many other chickens, than to be a sole eagle. The Little Man is happy with gossip, not with deep brain activity.
And the Little Men founded the STAT against F.M. Alexander’s will! W.H.M. Carrington said, that he – F.M. Alexander – was a “non-joiner”, and he didn’t believe in societies, and that he wouldn’t like the STAT. And W.H.M.C. – goes on and says that F.M. Alexander would have tolerated it of course; he did tolerate many things, reluctantly (from “Man’s Future as an Individual” – Centenary Memorial Lecture, 8.7.1969). You understand – the Little Man decided that his Master, who was totally misunderstood by the above Little Man, would reluctantly tolerate a society that is a roof and a shelter for those Little Men who are busy in perverting the F.M. Alexander Technique, and squashing it into their “mental corset”. As a result, his “work” suffers now, and practically it doesn’t exist in its original form, as a way. Yes, Little Man – wherever you are you do your best to kill the truth, to pervert the IS, to see the Whole through the key hole, to masturbate… You don’t take responsibility for yourself, for your reactions to stimuli; you lack the authority within yourself, on yourself, for yourself. You, Little Man, need Gurus, religious leaders, societies, chairmen, presidents, parties, and “all the rest”. You can’t stand alone. You need an outer authority – all your life – to tell you what to do, what is right and what is wrong, to guide your blind brain.
Moishe refers to the late Peter Scott as Macdonald’s assistant. This is how Macdonald saw Peter Scott. I know from Peter Scott, that he detested this “title”, as much as he did not agree with the title that was given by Macdonald to visitors who came to be worked on by the students in the class: “Body-Bodies”. Peter Scott was the colleague and not the assistant of Macdonald. Right, Macdonald was the senior one, that is all. Now, the prac-tical message the students absorbed from the experience they got from their teachers, and how they apply this message, is the obituary of the F.M. Alexander Technique in its funeral – which is, the F.M. Alexander Technique as it is practiced nowadays.
Moishe doesn’t want to remember who was the “engine”, the “motor” in the time when the few teachers then, in Israel, worked so much with each other. He forgot where the meetings took place every Tuesday, and who came quite frequently on the weekends to Haifa to work with him and Zeev Tadmor. Moishe doesn’t want to remember, who helped him by giving him pupils and a corner to work (as well as to Zeev) in Tel-Aviv, as they hardly had pupils in Haifa. It is painful for him to be reminded who helped him in London, who supported and encouraged him in hard moments, who guided and helped him in his first steps in London. Moishe pushed his memories into a hidden “safe” and threw its key to an unreachable depth. He doesen’t want to remember, that he followed, in 1947, “someone” to join an elite unite of the underground. He doesn’t want to remember how he followed “someone” in 1948, to the Thirteenth Battalion; how he followed “someone” in 1962 to the Alexander Technique. But after all these he couldn’t follow the drive of “some-one” in the practical application of the Way, of the Process. He failed to “take off”. He failed to learn with “someone”; he failed to go together with “someone”; and “someone”, in spite of his enthusiasm, his drive and devotion, his real friendship, failed to pull Moishe out of the morass. “Someone” was naive, and thought that it is possible to change a chicken into an eagle.
What does Moishe mean by saying that he doesn’t try to enrich the Alexander Tech-nique? Is it by not adding other disciplines to it (for example: Alexander & Feldenkrais – see advertisment in STATNEWS, September 1992, page 15, bottom left; or Gurdjef – which Shmuel Nelken and Adam Nott practice; or what the Carrington “branch” add to what they pretend is the F.M. Alexander Technique, etc.) ? Don’t you see that in this con-nection, to enrich is to follow the Way, to apply the Process – as a whole ! – which F.M. Alexander discovered while investigating, exploring and =experimenting means-whereby for getting rid of his hoarseness and loss of his voice, while reciting ? This followed his investigation, and exploration, of the cause of the wrong, and his discoveries in this connection. Investigation and exploration are in the nature of the F.M. Alexander Way and Process; and it is guided by the Conscious Control (not by the intellect !), by being always aware not to lose the Whole, not to ignore the Whole, not to overlook it. We have to have a practical conception, a creative conception of the F.M. Alexander Technique as a whole; and within this whole there is a constant process of investigation and exploration, which brings discoveries – along the Way ! This is the enrichment of the F.M. Alexander Technique – always “eaglize”, grow, spread.
Moishe declares that he is not a renewer, nor a reformer. In any case, the Little Man is very careful not to be a renewer or a reformer. And as the “renewers” and “reformers” of Carrington “branch” are Little Men, (as well as the American “branch” – mainly the “offspings” of Marj Barstow and Frank Pierce Jones) who don’t dare to “inhibit” their habitual frame of mind, their mental attitude is of chickens and not of the eagle, so accordingly is their narrow horizon, their “discoveries”, and their renovations of the F.M. Alexander Technique, and “all the rest”. The outcome of their activity, is the end of the activity of the real F.M. Alexander Technique.
The Little Men of Carrington “branch”, and the American “branch”, never had the chance of experiencing the “Directions”, as their teachers can’t produce these “Directions” in them-selves, for themselves, in their daily life; therefore they are not capable, they are not competent, to convey the “Directions” to others; they were badly and wrongly instructed and guided. By the way – this fact applies to all schools and branches, including the schools of Macdonald and Scott, who could direct, but they didn’t have the inspiration and the drive to revise the way of training teachers – while not neglecting the basic principles of the F.M. Alexander Technique as a whole. I am afraid the source of the holocaust in the F.M. Alexander Technique is F.M. himself; it seems that he was a bad pedagogue, not aware of the people around him, and naive in his belief that he can train teachers in the way he practically did it. This is the reason why there is no practical common denominator between the different “branches” of the “F.M. Alexander Technique”. This is why Walter Hadrian Marshal Sponge, could tell me, while his greasy smile was smeared on his face: “I do it my way, you do it your way”; and in no time to add: “I disagree with the way Mac-donald teaches the Technique”. But there is no my way, nor your way, nor anybody’s way (or “someones” way); the Way and Process don’t belong to anybody – including F.M. Alexander himself ! His merit is that he discovered it in the course of investigation and exploration of the cause and reason of the trouble with his voice, and managed to develop practical “means-whereby” for applying it in himself, for himself and – to produce it in others through his hands, as long as the people he handled managed to adapt a similar mental attitude as he had, actively consenting to accept his “Directions”, while applying the Conscious Control, and getting rid of the “filter” of the intellect. F.M. Alexander failed to convey the “message” – as a whole – to those he trained as teachers, and so he cultivated the ground for all the “renewers” and the “reformers”, who lack the practical basis of the Technique. Those who were trained as teachers, have to justify their existence as qualified teachers of the F.M. Alexander Technique, and the money they wasted on their studies; so they developed their own “Alexander Technique” based on theoretical con-ception – the by-product of their mental attitude and their intellectual understanding of the subject; all guided by their habitual subconscious guidance and control. Those who are impotent in directing, speak and write a lot about the Technique (see all the publications recommended by the STAT and its satellites; it is sheer masturbation).
But as the real F.M. Alexander Technique is an endless way, an everlasting process, and as results within the Process are only milestones along the Way – the Way which leads into the fathomless Unknown – the followers, in practice, of the real Technique, may face phenomena, which don’t exist in the “published lexicon” of the Chickeneese language. “Don’t expect the chickens to see what the eagles can see”.
And those “teachers” who find that Alexander’s discovery is not enough for them, simply didn’t get the message. One of them is – indeed Walti Jellyfish. I have a photograph of him teaching the right table-work on a skeleton… Poor skeleton – can’t complain…
And dear Moishe quotes his friend and colleague Shmuel Nelken, from his excellent (?) article in the Alexander Journal No. 10, of December 1989, this Shmuel Nelken that when he visited Macdonald’s class, after being training teachers for some good years, Macdonald didn’t allow students to work on him, and him to work on the students, because of his heaviness.
So the above Shmuel writes that one day the teacher perhaps notices that his work has become less interesting. Boredom is experienced. He is driven to make his work more interesting, to add more (!) exercises (!) – physical or mental (?). He might introduce aspects of other disciplines, therapies, and philosophies, and “all the rest”. In no time the language (the Holy Language, holy terms !) changes in words and in content and very little remains of the original Alexander’s discovery. And he continues his personal exposure, his personal confession, his ego trip – the ego of a “humble” (but “great”) man, ego of an “honest” human being – by saying that the teacher may continue to meet colleagues who each of them “puts on the table” his own version of the Technique (“You do it your way, I do it my way”) and politely listen (through, indeed, the filter of his own fixed idea about the Technique) to the others. Sometimes an idea (not a practical experience) might please him and he feels he has learned something; and he adds another possible conclusion, which seems to be the logical one: that what he described above, may be, is another nail in the coffin of Alexander (Technique, indeed) in the name of progress, openmindedness and modernisation. This is an excellent confession of a “humble” hypocrite Little Man, des-cribing his own way, which mirrors the prevailing way of his colleagues assembled under the doubtful roof of STAT, and its satellites. The above personal confession describes correctly the typical “teacher” of the F.M. Alexander Technique nowadays, who doesn’t have the active creative-practical conception of the F.M. Alexander Technique as a whole – as the real F.M. Alexander Technique can exist only as a whole. The F.M. Alexander Technique can’t exist in parts, in fractions, in bits; either or: all together – or nothing.
And the Great Humble Little Man shares with us his “wisdom” and says that one is rewarded by taking the hard and risky way. By this the work tends to become increasingly interesting. No need to add to its beauty by the addition of foreign elements. It is a matter of life – a constant struggle and frustration from time to time, but full of life.
So Great Humble Little Man – who mirrors all his colleagues – there is a surprise for you: The Way is neither hard, nor risky; the Way is neither easy, nor safe; the Way doesn’t offer you any reward – the reward all of you are looking for, is wishful result. This is a sheer end-gaining. Following the Way, and the application of the Process are possible only when a certain mental attitude is present. As long as the habitual mental attitude, which is nourished by the subconsciousness, is in command and not neutralized (inhibited), as long as unduly excited fear reflexes, uncontrolled emotions, and fixed prejudices play a role in our reaction to stimuli, there is no chance of being on the Way. No intellectual tricks, no clever intellectual maneuvers can replace the Conscious Control, without which we are outside the “game”.
So Moishe sees himself as a teacher – it is proved in his certificate, so he says; this is the undoubtful evidence that he is a teacher. As a teacher he knows; and first of all, he has to teach (as he states). What can he teach ? Indeed that what he knows – the knowledge he accumulated in his brain, which is dominated by his habitual subconscious guidance and control. His brain is conditioned in the way it was all his life; and such a brain can’t digest the meaning of an endless-timeless-measureless way, the meaning of a constant process. So he teaches people how to use themselves in a “better” way, in any daily activity. That’s what he knows. So for him the proper use is based on Alexander’s dis-covery, the essence of which is the “Primary Control”, which is the “proper” relationship between the head, neck and back.
The “Primary Control” (or as I call it, as well, “Basic Relationship”) – according to my conception, based on my experience, and my understanding of F.M. Alexander’s writings – is the relationship between the head and the whole spine, in which the neck is a key region. The Primary Control dictates the functioning of the mechanism of the body. The natural (therefore the right) relationship between the head and the spine is: The neck should be free, to allow the head to go forward and away in relation to the spine, and so the back can spread all over.
When the Primary Control is not interfered with – and the cause of the interference is our habitual subconscious guidance and control of the self, which is nourished by our unduly excited fear reflexes, uncontrolled emotions, and fixed prejudices, and vice-versa (this is a viscious circle) – the whole mechanism of the body functions properly; the flow of energies in the self is not hampered, is not blocked; there is no “braking and accelerating” at the same time. Then the activity – what ever it is – is performed through the muscles (by not interfering with the flow of energy through the muscles), and not with the muscles (by contractions). When the Primary Control is not interfered with, the body has within its physical components the natural space to grow, to spread endlessly, to “eaglize”.
Unless there is an organic defect, from birth, in our organism, the cause of the interference in the natural functioning of the Primary Control is our wrong brain activity: the lack of awareness of the Whole; relating to details as the Whole; and so the intellect becomes dominant; reality becomes rooted in illusions; the contact with Nature and its processes becomes perverted; End-gaining becomes our master – the ground of our life activities; the “armour” in our brain becomes thicker and thicker, and accordingly the “armour” in our body – more permanent contractions, more holdings, more blocks of energy’s flow, which effects the mind, the mental state and mental attitude. Again – a viscious circle.
So the Primary Control is interfered with – and this is the case in human beings, particularly among the most, so called civilized societies, the most industrial societies, where “time is money”. In the prevailing conditions in the civilized human being, the neck can’t be free, then the head can’t go forward and away in relation to the spine, and the back can’t spread. The natural functioning of the human organism is interfered with. The flow of energies is not free. The Primary Control is still there – the relationship between the head and the spine exists, but can’t function naturally; then the functioning of the entire body can’t match the natural one.
In order to restore the natural functioning of the Primary Control, we have to own the appropriate mental attitude, which enables us to be acquainted, practically and con-sciously, with the way and the process which F.M. Alexander discovered, while investi-gating and exploring means-whereby for getting rid of his hoarseness and loss of voice while reciting, and which he called “The F.M. Alexander Technique” – though it is not a technique in the sense we know in our civilization; it is not a method; it is not a system; it is a way, in which the constant application of a certain process – described by F.M. Alexander in the first chapter of “The Use of the Self” – is necessary in order to follow this way. This process is not in the range of the activities of those who pretend to teach the F.M. Alexander Technique ! They cheat – first of all, themselves!They stick to the illusive reality, which they were involved in since they were born. They pretend to be out of their life time long morass, while really sinking further and deeper into it.