Other People (as Death and Liberation)

It's Saturday evening; the sun will set in over an hour. This is my favorite time of day. I don't care much for afternoons; they sprawl, a nebulous temporal mass of duty and sun. Everyone is working or running errands; on weekends, I don't know what they do — hike, I suppose, or shop. Me, I stay home, the blinds closed. This is a great luxury of working from home. The San Francisco sun irritates me; its sharp, severe angularity is like jagged glass in my eyes. Robert Bechtle, the San Francisco artist, paints this so well.

There's this beautiful moment when the intensity of the light gives, the world relaxing its clenched sphincter and, just like that, I perk up. I feel a surge of energy. Don Juan tells Carlos to be careful at sunset; it's a powerful time and, if you're not careful, things can go awry. I know exactly what he means. I like to respect this cosmic shift by toasting it with a cocktail. I never day drink; it's unseemly (not in the social sense but in the cosmic sense, in the energetic sense). And I rarely night drink. I enjoy my cocktails as a way to respect dusk, to temper that surge just so (mind you, I don't want to overdo it; that would be disrespectful to all involved — the sun, the day, the earth, me).

So here I sit before my screen as music gently fills the room — Lemon Jelly, at the moment — with a glass of tequila at the ready, neat, in one of my hand blown tequila glasses. This is a perfect moment. Few things, if any, afford me such sheer, unqualified contentment. As I was dropping my son off earlier at a friend's birthday party, I awaited this exact moment with tingling anticipation. When another parent asked what the evening held for me — he was staying to socialize with other parents — I couldn't contain myself: Oh, I'm gonna go home and write. "Are you writing something in particular?" he asked, "or is it top secret?" I was briefly thrown by the question. What was I going to write? What do I write in general? Should it be top secret? What kind of writing would that be? But all I said was: Oh, whatever pops in my head.

I find the social exhausting. It takes some energy for me to figure out the rules of the occasion and then much more energy to adhere to these rules. It's not that I can't read the social; I can size up a room quickly and well (so I believe, at least). I don't experience social anxiety; I am comfortable talking (no duh, Coffeen! If only you were less comfortable talking thinks anyone who's ever spent time with me).

The source of exhaustion is manifold. I don't know the things people talk about; I don't read newspapers. When I hear people talking or see posts on the Facebook, I think: Jeez, I don't even know how to enter these conversations — about the president, sexual harassment, guns. I may have opinions. But in order to express them, I'd have to ask for time to establish, then clarify, my presuppositions. This, alas, is a) absurd; b) supremely difficult; and c) absolutely exhausting. I don't know how people talk to each other.

I don't offer any of this as a judgment or condemnation of people and their conversations. I am not suggesting that I am so different, so special, that I have to remain outside the social — a martyr, paying the price of loneliness for my idiosyncrasies. I am saying, however, that aren't we all so different? Don't we all have strange world views that rarely, if ever, sync with public discourse? I don't know what people talk about; I don't know how they do it. It appears I am socially inept, after all.

Other than my inability to navigate conversations with any grace, I find that when I'm with other people, I expend too much energy. I lean too far forward, too eager to make a joke, too eager to make some insight I find interesting, some connection with the other person that may or may not be desired. When I'm in the social, I am rarely poised. I'm a dog who hears the words walk and treat and can't contain himself, all drool and paws. I get overexcited and try to please (which is ironic in that I usually have the opposite effect). I try to be affable.

Which is why I don't like people spending the night at my house, especially in my bed. I can't shut down; I can't stop trying to please. As a result, I can't sleep — which is more annoying for my company than it is for me. After an evening with other people, I am thoroughly spent.

It feels like I have a faulty mechanism, a valve that is either open too much or not enough. And so I spend a lot of time alone. For here in my refuge, I have everything I need, everything I want — peace most of all.

But these asocial tendencies have drawbacks. In an immediate and crass sense, it hinders my ability to enjoy the company of women on an ongoing basis. It turns out, after a few dates, she expects to spend the night. I can do my darndest to explain my way out of that but, alas, there is no way that ever — ever — plays well. Such is the social: one's movements have semiotic ramifications beyond one's control. I may not mean any insult when asking a woman to leave at 12:42 AM, post-coitus, but my act has significance beyond my intention, my control, my personal meaning.

Such is the nature of being in the world: we are never masters. We don't have a domain; we are in the mix. The things we do and say resonate beyond us, without us, having effects we may never have intended or predicted. Such is life: it is to participate in a social body  which has demands and logics that figure us despite our best intentions. To live in this world demands abandoning control.

Rather than join the fray, my instinct is to withdraw completely. But this is a losing proposition. I have a son; an ex-wife; I need to make money with other people. And I enjoy many aspects of romantic entanglement — sex, physical intimacy in general, existential intimacy. And love: I love to love. Who doesn't?

Which is related to another drawback. Being alone, I am free to indulge many of my worst traits.  What makes them my worst? They leave me less healthy, or better, less vital ("health" is too medical for me; I may have technically poor health but still be vital. "Vital" is a better mode of assessment). Rather than find resounding cosmic peace, I find local, domestic peace. Sure, no one is bothering me at the moment. But I still see the world as a place of bother — and hence don't experience a peace that permeates, that streams through me. All I experience is a little respite from my personal madness.

Other people, then, afford me an opportunity to find that peace. Yes, I can meditate when no one is around and feel the resonant flow of all things. But that flow bypasses the social all together. At these moments, I move from myself to the infinite without any regards to others. But this involves deploying special blinders, keeping my eyes focused on the sky and not the sounds of the social.

Kierkegaard posits a religious state of being that enjoys an immediate relationship with the infinite. No need for marriage, for religion, for social institutions: we can have a direct relationship with the infinite without going through any of those things. But there are two aspects of this religious state. There is the one who takes leave of the social, becomes an ascetic, and devotes her entire life to God. But there's another one, the knight of faith, who doesn't need to renounce the social because she has such profound faith. This knight steps into the infinite and back to the finite with each step she takes. This is Abraham who bypasses the social when he ascends Mt. Moriah to slay his only son and then returns to his wife and community as if nothing happened!

What blows Kierkegaard away, and what incites me so, is precisely this ability: to have a direct relationship with the infinite and with the finite. For Kierkegaard, this is the lesson of Jesus, he who is both man and god at once. So are we all both human and divine, finite and infinite, mortal and immortal.

The thing is, the social can be so trying. The ego, in particular, is such a nasty beast. I become afraid she'll leave me, become disgusted by me, lose interest in me, become annoyed by me. And this, in turn, makes me ill at ease — which, of course, makes me disgusting, annoying, boring. The only way to live in the social without such dis-ease is to let all that happens happen without attachment, with a perpetual so it goes. Just as I watch the clouds come and go, I try to learn to let love come and go.

Then again, there is a great temptation — and a great joy — in experiencing the undulations of human all-too-human being. To be in the throws of passion, to feel great hurt, great loss, great lust. How do I do both of these things — be detached and utterly human? Did Osho ever get really pissed off? Have an anxiety attack? Do or say something stupid in order to win another's heart, touch, lips?

Without other people, I don't know any of these answers. I don't know how to be in the fullness of this life. And so rather than see other people as my disintegration, I try to see them as a meditative practice. How can I be here talking to you, talking to her, being with her, and still be absolutely at peace? How do I stand in the social with poise, without leaning too far forward or too far back? How can I be with all of this world, not just with the clouds and sky, not just with ideas and books, but with the flesh of this world — with its caresses, stumbles, pains, stinks, and pleasures?

So, yes, I can meditate alone. I can find a peace alone. But this is the move of the ascetic, of the nay-sayer who finds this world too much to bear and so retreats from life, staying home alone with the blinds drawn. I want to be that knight of faith, the one who is absolutely at peace whether he's alone or with others, who walks with equanimity among clouds and people alike.


Repetition, Again

Found this great image from a blog post entitled, "Slow Reading Deleuze's DR." This is the opening line: "It took me nine or ten months to make it (slowly) through the introduction to Gilles Deleuze's Difference and Repetition. Will it take me a year or two to finish the first proper chapter? We'll see."
I love this. Read more here >

I remember when I first read Gilles Deleuze's Difference and Repetition. It was one of the more intellectually humbling experiences of my life: I couldn't understand a word. I was in a small grad seminar lead by my great teacher and mentor, Felipe Gutterriez. There were about 10 of us including my excellent friend, the poet qua sophist, Lohren Green. We both fancied ourselves pretty smart guys, like we could understand anything — an erroneous feeling, clearly; a delusion, for sure; hubris, indubitably. We couldn't make heads or tails of this damn book.

The thing I kept coming back to, the thing that nagged at me, was: Why repetition? How did Deleuze come upon this word, this idea, this operation? As an avid reader of Kierkegaard, I felt the same about his book entitled, yes, Repetition. What the heck was he talking about? Why repetition? I could grasp why Kierkegaard had a book on irony, on dread, on love, on the stages on life's way. But why repetition?

Deleuze's book opens like this: "Repetition is not generality." Huh? What? From the get go, I was stymied. Who thought it was generality? To whom is he talking? The book continues: "Repetition and generality must be distinguished in several ways. Every formula which implies their confusion is regrettable..." Oy vey: I was completely disoriented. He's using imperatives and declarations, referring to existing formula, as if we've already been talking, as if the conversation has already begun — only it feels like I missed the part where we began.

How'd I get here? Why am I here? The sensation is uncanny: I am being spoken to in this familiar way and yet I have no idea what's happening. This leaves me in a very strange position. I cannot have mastery of this subject, of this playing field; there is no balcony from which to gain view of the land, no preface which frames the discussion and orients me, as reader, about what I'm reading. To read the book — in fact, to read any Deleuze book — is to join a conversation that's already in progress.

Such is the logic and operation of repetition. It refuses any origin or destination; it inaugurates a trajectory, or trajectories, of becoming — not becoming anything, just becoming.

After that initial experience with Deleuze's difficult book, after what would be years of confusion and self-doubt, repetition became an integral part of my way of going. I can no longer think without the concept of repetition. It took me up and remade me, reconfigured me, redistributed me until I was not quite me but rather was me again, me anew, me reborn: repetition forged a repetition of me.

So when I find myself talking about some of my favorite philosophers, favorite ideas, repetition inevitably comes up. And, just as inevitably, my interlocutor is as befuddled as I was in that seminar 22 years ago. Only the person to whom I'm talking isn't a grad student so, well, her confusion is amplified: What the heck are you talking about?

Confusion might be the wrong word in that it suggests some orientation that has been temporarily dismantled when, in fact, there never was any orientation. The word repetition comes to her, comes to any layman, like an alien. What is this? Why is this? How is this? It's so different, so utterly alien, that it becomes silly, a piece of conceptual trash, easy to turn away from. As a grad student studying 20th century French philosophy, it was my job to understand this book. For anyone else, the drive is, well, less driven. And so I find myself in the position of trying to explain repetition — a pleasurable, if difficult, proposition.

I've tried before (almost exactly 7 years ego. Egad!). I used this fantastic David Shrigley cartoon:

Here I go again, repeating my explanation of repetition.

I think the best way to explain repetition is through identity — the identity of anything but I'll focus on identity of me (yes yes, such is my narcissism).

There I am. Who am I? What defines my identity? Is there a true self? If so, which self would this be — the baby screaming for milk? The confused toddler poking a pile of dog shit with a stick? The father confused and anxious looking at his newborn child? The hippie at a Dead show lost in Dionysian revelry? What ties all these different selves together? Is it one thing?

Without the concept — or, to be pedantic, the operation — of repetition, we might say: Yes, there is a deep self, a true self, that stays the same from birth to death. Everything else is an expression that is closer to or farther from that true self.

But then we're in an odd position of saying that sometimes we're not ourselves — which is odd for how can you not be yourself when you are always yourself? Which means we can skirt certain accountability: That guy who screamed at you wasn't me! And that we're constantly judging ourselves: This ecstatic dancing feels great....but I'm not sure it's really me.

The concept of a true self, then, creates a relationship to the self that can be uncomfortable if not downright unsavory. For instance, extend it to a true American, a true man, a true wife and we begin to see the violence inherent to such a notion of the true self: it becomes a set standard by which we judge deviations.

But it's absurd to say I have no self at all. Surely, I have some continuity. I have this scar in my finger from when I cut myself at camp when I was seven. I have all these memories, these allergies, this relationships to the world: I like chicken salad but not with raisins; that's how I drive to Davis, California and, once on the freeway, how I change lanes; this is how I tie shoes, brush teeth, cook ramen. Which is to say, there is no absolutely new me at every moment; I bring everything that's ever happened to me with me. (Kierkegaard writes: "Repetition and recollection are the same movement, except in opposite directions, for what is recollected has been, is repeated backward." Think about that one for a while!)

And yet I have some freedom from those memories, from that continuity. I am not predetermined. I may have loved shrimp tempura but now it wields apocalyptic intestinal mayhem. So which is the true me?

Different me's. What ties them all together? Is there a master term? Or do they have internal relationships that vary?

Is there a master term that sits above all these version of me, an Ideal Daniel? What does he look like? What foods does he like? What does he think and feel? And who decided which Daniel is the Ideal Daniel? How did they decide? When did they decide? And if there is no Ideal Daniel, no arbiter of who I really am, what ties all these different versions of me together?

Then again, do they need to be tied together? Well, legally, the state sure wants there to be some continuity. And my friends appreciate it. My name kind of ties them all together. Then again, I changed my name when I was 16 — I was born Daniel Schlosser so most of these pictures are pictures of him. "Daniel" is consistent but lots of people are tied together with that name so, in the above montage, there'd be other Daniels (but let me ask you: How many Daniels are in the above pictures? One? Six? Four? How do you decide?).

So no true self and no absolute different self moment to moment: so what and where are the threads that stitch this identity together? What links these selves, these different moments and modes, together. If, like all things, I am a creature in flux, what keeps me from dissipating into the ether as so many specks of dust?

From the young cute me to the bar mitzvah me to Jewfro me to the pudgy bald me to the skinny serious me: the connections are internal to those different me's in that they don't make a detour through an Ideal Me. Rather, the movement happens between the different me's. The terms of the links change— sometimes it's voice or look; other times, it's phrasing or attitude. You tell me. In any case, they don't all connect through an Ideal Me; they connect in different ways at different times to create a me that is both the same and different. They are all repetitions of me!

But doesn't repetition mean the same thing over and over, the same self over and over?

Fortunately, I changed over time. All things change over time. For instance, now I have no hair.

Well, no. That is one of Deleuze's deft moves: if it were the same me, I'd be the same so there'd be no reason to invoke repetition: there would just be one me. Repetition is temporal and hence forges difference in its very operation — a bigger nose, curly hair, no hair, a different posture.

From Jewfro to bald: we are creatures of and in flux. How, then, do we remain ourselves?

Parenthood is such an explicit act of repetition. Here is me and me again in the form of my son. The repetition marks continuity as much as it marks discontinuity.  What links my son to me? A glimmer of skin tone, a curl of hair, an out turned foot, a smile, a sense of humor: what ties us together is not as much an external link as an internal one. That is repetition.

Breeding — or, rather, all parenting as repetition need not be only a passing of DNA — is a clear form of repetition.
There's me and not me.

When I taught writing, an assignment I'd give is to have the students write something in the style of an author we'd just read, say, Nietzsche. But what would count as writing something in that style? Talking about the same kinds of things? What about discussing totally opposed things but in the same rhythm and tone?  

My point is this: to repeat something is not to hold yourself accountable to an external law but to continue one trajectory or another. So perhaps a student writes about the beauty of Christian faith — but using Nietzsche's adamant reversals. Those would be one mode of repeating Nietzsche. But there are others. You could write an expository essay, something Nietzsche never did, fleshing out Nietzsche's conception of the will to power — a repetition of another sort. One takes up his form but not his content; the other takes up his content but not his form. Both are repetitions.

A thing is run through with many other things. My self is a momentary nexus of trajectories — needy lover, momma's boy, aggressive intellectual, stoner sage, big nose, skinny body, sometimes a big belly. A repetition of me could follow one or a combination of many of these trajectories in order to continue that style: in order to repeat me.

Repetition, then, is a way to conceive of identity in all of its multiplicity. It lets us think identity without an anchor, without a truth: identity as relentless becoming. Repetition is an operation, a doing that takes up a mode of going and moves it, moves with it, moves as it. It doesn't adhere to an external law; it moves from the inside out.

(Just staying on the outside would be copying; to copy something is do that thing but not do it anew, not move it anywhere, not introduce difference. Copying is opposed to repetition. For instance, there are times I say something and I feel like my brother; I'm not copying him — I sometimes do that if I'm telling a story and impersonating him. No, I'm talking about a certain mannerism or phrasing in which I become him, I live him from my inside out: I repeat him.)

Thinking repetition introduces a certain vertigo. It is the disorientation I experienced when I first read Deleuze's book, coming into a conversation that's already happening. In repetition, there is no linear movement, no progressive path from an origin point to death. Repetition moves forwards and backwards (and sideways and every which way). Remember: there is no origin, no absolute beginning point, no fixed point to hold onto. And there's no destination, no "on my way" there. With no anchor, we are in constant free fall. Or, rather, we are in outer space as there is no clear up and down.
We happen in the middle. I am already a repetition of my parents, my brother (hear us talk and you'll know immediately what I mean), of the concept of man, father, Jew, nudge. I am constantly taking up different pieces of the world and repeating them as me. The repetition that is me is my repetition of the world. My birth happens in the middle of a conversation; my life extends this conversation this way and that.

So why repetition? Why talk about it? Because it lets us think identity without a true identity. It lets us be. (Or lets us become.) It lets all the weird me's still be me! It lets us think a more generous way of being in the world, a way to exist without tethering ourselves to truth — while not disintegrating, either. It is a beautiful figure that inaugurates, allows, and facilitates more beautiful thought. And more beautiful, if disorienting, ways of going.


Posture, Or the Calculus of Standing With the World

My ridiculous posture reveals — betrays — my stance towards the world. For such is posture: it is an ethics, a world view.

A certain man, when younger, is uncomfortable in his skin. He's angry — at his parents for what he considers their cruelty, his teachers for their demanding incompetence, at the whole freakin' world for everything from the drinking age to the insane distribution of federal tax monies (it's rare to be able to use the plural of money; I seize every opportunity). It's as if there's a conspiracy that runs from his DNA, which gave him this absurd nose and even more absurd body, all the way through the federal government which forces him to register for the draft so he can pay for his education, a state sanctioned extortion. So when he walks around, he walks with a furrowed brow, a craning neck, slumped shoulders, and a will to whine — a posture of cowering poised to lash out.

Decades later, he sees the world a bit differently. There's incompetence, sure, and plenty of violence in and out of households. The government's distribution of monies hasn't changed one iota from Nixon to Trump. It may be a conspiracy, he now believes, but it's a conspiracy of dunces. And so rather than a furrowed brow and slumped shoulders, he now walks with greater ease. Sure, his shoulders are not a dancer's. But they are not slumped in rejection; they're slouched with world weary sloth.

A world view is a posture and a posture, a world view.  To exist in the world is to stand towards other things — people, cars and phones, traffic, towards work and romance, men and women and kids, towards trees, bees, birds, and dogs, towards death. I flinch when a mosquito buzzes my ear; I lean in when talking to this person in this mood, lean back when talking to this other person in this other mood. At a Pixies show, I stand like this; at a Lil Uzi Vert show, I might stand like that. And in all circumstances, I am navigating and negotiating this body of mine — this skinny, perpetually hunched, and decaying bag of blood and organs.

Which is to say, posture marks this complex intersection of the material and conceptual worlds, a juncture of our body, the bodies of those around us, the ideas we have in our head, and what we believe it means to be a person in the world. Posture is not fixed in place. Nor is it totally fluid. We are always shifting how we stand based on any number of factors — perhaps an infinite number of factors — from the crick in a knee to the fact that in 1945 we completely destroyed a city with one bomb. (Look at art, read books, listen to music pre- and post-bomb; there is a conspicuous difference, a new limit term to reckon which creates different ways of standing in the world. Would Burroughs' cut ups be possible before the bomb?).

There is such an obvious correlation between mood and physical stance. When I feel shitty, I feel shit upon. And so I duck my head, scowl, respond with a too-ready nay. You can see it by the way I walk or enter a room — a little reticent, a little tense, ready to strike. Other times, when feeling content and calm, I walk with sense of the magnanimous, enter the social with a hearty openness. I literally and metaphorically hold myself differently.

Posture is a stance that comes from that impossible calculus of body, breeding, one's conception of the world, and one's place in said world. Surely, a 19 year old African-American man and I have different postures in different neighborhoods as our bodies mean different things depending on the context. The gazes and economies in which we participate shape how we hold ourselves. Women know this well: a certain posture at a certain time can be the difference between life and death (and any number of other exchanges from the awkward and uncomfortable to the romantic and erotic).

Our very way of holding ourselves, of comporting ourselves, is inflected by those around us — say, a big dog or a hunky guy — as well as by our perception of what's around us but not visible. We believe the world is such-and-such a place based on information that's not present, namely, the "news" and things you've been taught in school and at home. Posture is an ethical stance, a way of standing towards others. 

Sometimes, the correlation between posture and circumstance is obvious: it's raining so I bend my neck and duck my head. Most of the time, the correlation is nebulous: I think this neighborhood is "unsafe" because I heard a story about it once when I was a kid — so when I walk there, I am heads down but alert (because that's my conception of being "safe"). Or I think the world is vicious and cruel due to reading a certain paper-qua-snuff film every morning and so I carry myself with knowing anger everywhere I g (see the Facebook feeds of all-too-familiar piety and angst).

Bands are a great way to think about posture. Every band performs — puts on, lives in, and enacts — a world view. Take the Sex Pistols and the Grateful Dead. These two postures, like all postures, exceed physicality. To stand towards the world in such a manner is to assume the world is such a place which demands that they stand this way.

I saw Poi Dog Pondering at the TLA in Philly in 1990. This is not irrelevant. 

What's so complex about all this is that there are so many ways of standing towards the world. Some people really go all in one way or another. Think of punks and Deadheads. They really double down on one posture! Me, I get the Sex Pistols' anger. I also dig the Dead's noodling, Poi Dog Pondering's fruity fun, My Bloody Valentine's morose ambience. I get The Smiths dramatic plaintive; Die Antwoord's playful obscenity; Jethro Tull's agricultural Renaissance prog rock. I get early Dylan; I get rock Dylan; I get Christian Dylan which makes many I know recoil. A posture, then, of postures.

Comedians, too. In fact, comedians might be better in that it's just one body with a distinct physical posture we get to focus on. Think of Chris Rock, his pacing, his delivery, the way he stops to smile that mischievous smile. Now think of Louis CK's slumped shtick. Then Steven Wrights surreal deadpan absurdity. Then Larry David's broad gesturing self-deprecation, George Carlin's slumped curmudgeon, Dave Chappelle's hunched laughing with you.

O, the ways we come to consider the world so as to hold ourselves this way or that! It's staggering! The very way I stand in the world, stand towards myself and others, is informed and inflected by how I imagine a world I don't see but have to believe exists.

For me, maturity means recognizing the factors that have informed, and continue to inform, my posture — and then adjusting accordingly. I thought the world was like this. But it's not! I thought this is what I was in the world. But it's not! I'm this other thing entirely! Which shifts how I stand. Wisdom means reckoning the way I hold myself in the world in every sense, physically and metaphysically. One might say that it's matter of aligning one's bodily stance with one's world view. Alignment, in this sense, is not as much a matter of spine, hips, and head but of ethics, gait, and world view.

What, then, of yoga? Yoga, we might believe, is all about posture, the asanas. In yoga, you mindfully — which is a funny word to use as many yogis I know speak of being free of the mind, but that's for another time — so, in yoga, you consciously try on different postures, even absurd postures, postures you'd never, ever find yourself in. Many no doubt do this because it helps their body, a kind of physical therapy — this pose for a bad hip, this other for a funky back.

But what interests me about yoga is that it doesn't address a body out of context. On the contrary, it is always a question of the body in the world — albeit a world with an infinite horizon. That is to say, whereas my understanding of Pilates is that it addresses the posture of the body free of any conception of the world, a body qua body — whatever that is — yoga is distinctly about one's posture as a living, breathing cosmic being. If Pilates imagines alignment beginning at the feet and ending at the head, yoga imagines alignment beginning at the earth and ending at the infinite cosmic horizon — and the body is just an inflection of that flowing line. Which is to say, yoga addresses one's posture towards the universe. Which, one believes, inflects posture towards other people. (Although this is not yoga's explicit concern and a point in which it seems more or less indifferent: for all the people practicing yoga in the world, there are still so many assholes. This is not the fault of yoga. I'm just pointing out that yoga is not interested in a social body but in a cosmic body.)

And so it has you try on all these different postures. Ok, so now pretend you're a corpse. Now, a baby. Now stand on your head. Then slowly go backwards until you're in some kind of bridge. All of this, mind you, not just to stretch the back, hips, or hamstrings but to see how you feel. Because how you stand in the world is how you stand in the world. How do you go when your foot is behind your head? How do you go, how does the world go, when you're supine?

Yoga, it seems to me, recontextualizes physical posture by having you address a different horizon. Rather than assuming your same old posture of you watching TV, working at the computer, talking to your lover, boss, mother, yoga has you assume all kinds of poses as you address the cosmos. Its primacy focus is not how you go in the social. Rather, it teaches you different postures of standing towards the universe which might have you stand in and towards the social differently.

This is all to say that we don't just stand in the world. We comport ourselves. Our posture is always already a movement, a mode of address, an ethics, a self-relation, a way to engage the world.

The Posture of Things

You're shopping for a chair. As you browse the aisles, you note the variety — from backless computer chairs to high bar stools to plush ...