Pete’s Blog – Wed 11 May 2016

Photograph of Peter Ribeaux, Centre for the Alexander Technique
Another topic – when to lengthen and when to compress (see FM film footage for the latter)? Are there guidelines? The only one I know is the case of rotator cuff problems where it’s important the at the upper arm is snugly seated in the socket of the shoulder joint before attempting to move it. This seems to enable movement which would otherwise be impossible. It’s important that everything is nicely lined up though….. Rather like FM makes sure of with his hand on top of the head in the brief footage we have of him.

And yet another topic, which came up in our Training Course this morning. What is the relationship between a well functioning primary control (pc) and good use of the self? First of all, if as FM says in UCL the primary control is a mechanism consisting of the relationship of head, neck and back and their interrelations, then a well-functioning pc is part and parcel of good use of the self. Is it really as simple as that? However it’s not clear to me after very careful scrutiny whether (the) primary control is as Dennis says a noun or a gerund. Does it refer to a physiological mechanism or a means of controlling that mechanism? If the pc mechanism is disturbed in some way is that the same as saying that the use of the self is disturbed? Etc.

Then a student asked whether the pc was limited to the head, neck and back. “What about the hips?”, he asked. I have a particular take on this which is not completely orthodox, namely, that the pc is a substrate of deep musculature, importantly in the head, neck and back but not limited to these, supporting the entire body including the limbs. The hips would then not be excluded from the pc and the role of the pc in relation to the use of the self becomes much clearer. It would be nice to hear if this version of the pc is comprehensible to others, indeed if they agree with it.

Finally, where does consciousness come in?

Pete’s Blog – Tue 10 May 2016

Photograph of Peter Ribeaux, Centre for the Alexander Technique
It’s been a while….

The subject was getting psychophysical ideas across verbally as well as examining the thought processes necessary for improving one’s own use. Alexander recognised the difficulties with words notably in the preface to CCCI. Many people have attempted by means of alternative wordings to overcome these difficulties and in everyday teaching most teachers strive to find forms of words to achieve the right effect. The phrase “secondary directions” comes to mind. There are at least three versions of what this means. The first simply means the same as the primary directions but in different words – “neck back and up” instead of “head forward and up”. The second refers to subsidiary directions subsequent to the primary directions – “to allow the elbows to go away from the shoulders and the wrists away from the elbows”. The third refers to the giving of consent to a movement subsequent to the establishment of the primary directions. I am referring now to meanings in common usage in the Alexander world rather than anything precise stated by Alexander.

Why the interest in these directions? Simply because they describe the explorations possible for the individual. Which directions work? We cannot know in advance, just as Alexander did not know in advance that he needed to “let the neck be free to let the head go forward and up to let the back lengthen and widen etc” until he had verified this. Likewise each of us needs to check out which horse to back on our own behalf and to give the best instruction to our pupils.