Plastir Number 20 – 09/2010


Rachel ZAHN is psychotherapist and researcher in cognitive sciences. She has completed an extensive theatre training at the Catholic University of Maryland (BA & MY Intercultural Communication) and is graduated from the American Center for the Alexander Technique (ACAT), from which she is a certified professor. During the 1970s, she studied proprioceptive training with M. Feldenkrais, C. Selver, and E. Summers. She became an assistant to J. Leibowitz at the Juilliard School of Music in New York and in 1973 before joining the ACAT, where she remained from 1972 to 1981. She received funding from the Ford Foundation to train actors in the Technique at Shakespeare & Company in Stratford, England. During this period, she worked with psychologists, producing a unique interdisciplinary approach to the psychophysical process of ‘high performance’ training for actors, musicians, athletes, and original thinkers. She is a trained Gestalt-Ericksonian-EMDR psychotherapist. Zahn was inspired by the anthropologist Margaret Mead to embark on two doctorates relating global thinking, intercultural communication, and the mind–body problem, with a prospect expressed “at the second person”. Her thesis was supervised by Michel Bitbol at the CREA, Polytechnic School . She will publish several papers on these subjects during the three last years, while taking part in congresses in Oxford (2004) Paris, Lugano in Switzerland and Pisa in Italy in 2008, from which this article was written. The subjects of the embodied cognition, enaction and the neurophenomenologic approach, very known as the main approach of Francisco Varela, that we have approach previously with the paper of Pénelaud in PLASTIR n°18, are indeed tackled by Rachel Zahn under the scope of the cognitive and psychophysical impact of new technologies on the contemporary man. That it is about the haptic one, of virtual reality or the direct neuronal interfaces questioning the man-computer relations, the author shows that cybernetics opens new ways to us. More deeply, she questions the statute of the second person on the basis of the experimental method of Varela aiming at validating the consciousness of the lived experiment by modelling the embodied cognition of the subject at several levels (“first, second and third person”). And with this intention, she chooses to study, not only ‘lambda’ subjects, but that of the specialists into psychophysics, “in particular in physical rehabilitation and/or good in proprioceptive performance”, more capable to actively take part in the phenomenologic experiment of laboratory installation, to show its critical phases and to bring to it an expertise in second person or to identify the subtle moments corporally registering it in the experiment in progress. This approach answers point by point to the Varelian enactive and embodied dynamics, finding to it a favourable expression with experts able to indicate to the patients how to reach a second time “the autopoietic knowledge at the time of the physical rehabilitation”. It is the psychophysical congruence method, usually used for the athletes or the high level musicians wishing to acquire new competences or to exceed themselves. In order to convince us, Rachel Zahn takes the example of the proprioceptive consciousness of the young children indicating an embodied cognition in young children, including the concepts of affects, of auto-coherence and of ‘auto-agencement’, as well as research on the ‘sixième sens’ or the proprioceptive confusion of the experiments of microgravity led by the NASA. She tackles then the delicate subject of the cognitive desembodiement taking as example the observable symptoms of dissociation during the development of the various stages of the consciousness of the self in the child supported by the great neuroplasticity of the immature brain. As many basic elements, which added to the essential taking into account of the observer in quantum physics and to the recent discoveries on the mirror neurons, make it possible to hope in the rehabilitation of the injured brains, the taking into account “of the body as an object to the third person, condition not-reasoning, non-depending but necessary to our existence”, of the mind-body like a non separate entity, and more generally in the consideration of the open systems. Third logical question approached by the author: the re-embodied cognition in the psychophysical activity of high efficiency including the physical rehabilitation and an active step of re-association of the mind and body. And the author to show us how the experts into psychophysics operate in order to re-embody the mind in the body of these patients, in particular while determining if it is the sympathetic or parasympathetic system which dominates on their premises, by developing specific enactive interfaces in their laboratories and integrating in their work the psychophysical methods like the technique of Alexander used in the majority of the universities for theatre and music. Being based on the work of the anthropologist Margaret Mead and his vision of societies where new technologies would be able to destabilize some cultures by creating more disembodiment or by stimulating psychophysical congruence, Rachel Zahn will conclude by appointing the expert expressed at the second person – that can be computational or human – as “essential catalyst” from embodied cognition. PLASTIR publishes here the first French translation of this innovative work, which will permit to non English fluent readers to discover it and to look further into the subject.


Claude BERNIOLLES  is graduated in law and compared law. He followed a training of non-registered student in Letters and Philosophy while attending in particular the seminars of Yves Bonnefoy and lately of Jacques Bouveresse at the Collège de France. His works as researcher and poet gave place to the publication in the poetic plan of Letter on poetry, two Conferences on Baudelaire as well as many poems and short texts in poetic reviews such as Vents and Marées, and in the philosophical plan, of two citations within the framework of the review the Art of of the understanding (n°18 & 19) as well as some Small critical investigations about Socrate, Roland Barthes and Wittgenstein. He delivers here a paper in two parts to us; the first locating by some ‘stratagem’ ” how something of coherent from the work of art can coincide” with the life of “this genius autodidact” who was Ludwig Wittgenstein; the second, approaching “the bumps of philosophy”, expression inherited the “Notebooks”. Concerning the close link between the philosophical thought of Wittgenstein and his intimate life, the author makes us penetrate in the work of art by the means of a meticulous description of certain outstanding features of his character like its “philosophizing”. Thus, the man, his Viennese culture, his position of precursor of logical empiricism, his approach of mathematical symbolism, his teaching of philosophy or his singular posture “of actor of itself”. More one penetrates in the universe of Wittgenstein, in the genesis of the Tractatus logico-philosophicus and of the Philosophical Investigations, more one discovers “his intellectual tension”, his passions of great architect or magician, his irony, his confessions, his quasi-poetic ‘dwelling’ when he taught in Cambridge. Claude Berniolles is inspired then by this assertion of Wittgenstein: “My method ….. does not consist in separating the hard one from slackness, but seeing the hardness of slackness” to decline the bumps of philosophy, namely what Granger, one of the best translators of the philosopher, interprets like “the binder which unites the first part of the proposal which concern the “nonsense” at the second part which concern the “bumps of the understanding”. And these bumps are naturally expressed through the meanders of the language such as perversity of the words, the grammatical imbroglios, tautologies or the nonsense which the philosopher must “exceed to see the world correctly”.


Daniel DANETIS  is professor emeritus at the department of Plastic arts of the university Paris VIII. We presented in PLASTIR n°19 the large range of his activities in the field of plastic creation and its practical application. The author indeed acts through thorough interdisciplinary lesson on the plastic process, but also in the field of the artistic mediation, the development of the inheritance and the creation of public works outstanding on the national or international plan. The second part of this work is interested in dynamics of the psycho-emotional mechanisms, the conflict or symbiotic links setting up between the mind of discovery, the critical spirit and the creative mind strictly speaking. And the author to put to us in such conditions at the beginning of the text: the ideal creator, with a Valerian direction, should join together three essential behaviours: “one occupied releasing the expression with its source, the second, attentive as the engineer with the multiple fields with which it is necessary to compose, the third, being played of the entire constraints engaged to cross dream and reality”. And to reach this immersed part, it would be necessary to resort to a true underwater exploration of our psychic system and our creative tendencies. Daniel Danétis will play with this watery metaphor throughout the paper, showing all the facets of the conceptual activities whatever they raise of linear or convergent logic (Piaget, Rieben, Guilford) or to the non-linear or divergent one (Piaget, Guliford). This divergence implies an ideational fluidity according to Guilford and a ‘release-catch’ which it is necessary to cultivate in order to try to find balance between “ ‘ordinary’ “madness and ‘ordinative’ reason which constitute the plates of our creative balance”. This fluidity of the mind, says the author, allows the decompartmentalization of our thought in order to cultivate our conceptual plasticity. It makes also possible to cultivate the oblique thought, or the ‘aside’ as many poets such as Michaux tested so much. Thus, the associative originality given as example under the aegis of Koestler, Laborit or Moles allows only the construction of news `reliances’ within the meaning of Morin which can defy logic per se. “More the need for ideational production takes importance and more the critical need for production is requested” said for this purpose Daniel Danétis, before presenting to us the pyramid of the creators formalized by the classification of Taylor presenting five levels of creativity (expressive or primary, productive, inventive, innovating including the abstraction and emergent) or creative behaviours “from the astute handyman until the super genius”. And the author to show these various levels by experiments carried out with his students before presenting to us the three strategies of shift between expression and evaluation starting from the classification of Taylor. This classification shows “the principal dimensions of the creative personality on the sensorimotor, psychoaffective, and logico-perceptive levels” which question the nature and the evolution of the cognitive processes concerned during the act of creation. Thus, in addition to the technology matters or the purely fundamental one raised by research of the plastician Danétis who applied the American work of the end of the XXe century putting forward ideational fluidity, conceptual plasticity and the associative originality to plastic arts, “the interest of this description on the reading levels of pictorial work is due initially to the work of transposition in the artistic field of cognitive conduits resulting from the scientific discipline which makes it possible to highlight certain behaviours that one has tendency to draw aside a priori from the artistic sensitivity”. One can only agree, the more so as these proposals were the object of theoretical validations as plastic al experiments – illustrated by the cube like three-dimensional structure of the model of intellect – showing clearly the need for a “certain plasticity of behaviour to articulate the multiple creative strategies related to the setting in tension of these factors, in particular, relating to the nonverbal demonstrations of the creative processes and their implications in the contemporary artistic steps”.


Mariana THIERIOT LOISEL is a philosopher in education at Unicamp Brazil and post doctor at the faculty of philosophy of the Laval University in Canada. We publish in this issue of the continuation of its translations and original interpretations of the “yogas sûtra” of Patanjali in Sanskrit initiated in the preceding issue of PLASTIR. Its grid of reading remains centred on the female condition in the East, its practice of yoga like spiritual exercise and the lessons of Patanjali. This paper begins with the sûtra IX which says “the imaginary one is a form of verbal knowledge… Which is not based on reality”. And the author to show that “the meditation makes possible to listen this imaginary, vikhalpah, and to put it in perspective by giving to it a direction. To put in perspective a thought sinks while giving it to its context: the imaginary one”. Imaginary whose importance was recorded by Durand, Castoriadis or Lacan in the construction of reality, knowledge and the personality. Imaginary carried by our reports (sutra XI) which “does not steal the memories”, our return to us even in the sleep – at the base of the experiment of inexistence (sutra X) – or the meditation in order to try to meet the subtle being which constitutes us, to come very close to vacuum – in Nirodah yoga – which it is better to reach without going until the “burn out” or to the exhaustion of the body and the spirit. As much to respect the ancestral practices, the harmonic and ritual dimension of yoga (sutra XIV) advises us Mariana Thieriot if one wants to approach with a certain jubilation this spiritual voyage, if it is not the illumination…

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