Friday, July 31, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
New York Times douchebag Stanley Fish, in "Think Again" in the June 14 edition, reviewed Matthew Crawford's book Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work.
The application of Crawford's thinking to an established, systemic yoga practice is apparent. As Fish writes, "Crawford associates ... 'remote control' knowledge with liberalism, a way of thinking that has at its center the individual self unburdened 'by attachments to others and radically free,' a self whose chief commitment and obligation is to its own 'creativity.'Crawford prefers to the ethic of individual creativity and its 'rhetoric of freedom' the ethic of submission to facts 'that do not arise from the human will.' It is that submission, he says, that characterizes the work of craftsmen, artisans and musicians. 'One can’t be a musician without . . . subjecting one’s fingers to the discipline of frets or keys.'
Whereas craftsmanship 'means dwelling on a task for a long time and going deeply into it,' the 'preferred role model' of the radically free liberal self 'is the management consultant, who swoops in and out and whose very pride lies in his lack of particular expertise.'"
Here Crawford might as well be discussing the difference between buffet-style and systemic yoga practices, the former an extension of the self and beholden only to its practitioners' "creativity."
This in comparison to the latter, which has an established sequence of asanas, pranayamas and seated techniques that cannot "arise from the human will." One thinks here of Krishna's definition of yoga, in the Bhagavad Gita, as "skill in action," the residue of which — yoga — arises only after "dwelling on a task for a long time and going deeply into it."
Here we can also default to Pattabhi Jois' simpler, famous four-word dictum: "Practice, practice. Long time."
Then there's also the idea of "submission." It is a great paradox that freedom, liberation or moksha arises only after submitting to discipline. Richard Freeman uses the image of the ouroboros, the alchemical symbol of the snake swallowing its own tail. A practice like ashtanga yoga is, by its very nature, the limiting or closing off of potentiality, of choice, of freedom.
Yet it is only by rubbing against the edges of the practice — these poses, in this order, using these techniques — that both self and not-self can be transcended. Nowhere else is this made more apparent than in the application of one of the three tristhana, the fundamental techniques of the ashtanga vinyasa yoga practice: drishti. For, in order to see all points, one must fix one's gaze on a single point.