Somatic Experiment Day 2: SWOMA

In the investigation of the physical components of thought, SEEDS 2008, #2 in a series of somatic nature walks

Martha Eddy, somaticist and Joe Kopera, geologist

Participants: Jane, Judy, Simon, Olive, Melinda, Lailye, Margit, and I think a few others…

Joe brought big, beautiful, colorful geological maps of our area with topographical information overlaying mineral distributions.

Martha Eddy joined us from the EcoMoves for Kids project. She talked us through feeling layers of the body, and had us move from them. We started in the studio and I soon found myself attracted to the gravel path where I rolled in the much appreciated sunshine and wind after the thoroughly wet weather of the last several days. We all ended outside in contact of some kind and then played with a shift in group body weight.

Note: even with the somatic warm up it is easy for us to drop into an information grabbing state. I think that is OK in this set up, but it is interesting to note how much the norm it is and how static it can make us.

Geologists swerve off the path looking for correlations in the landscape to the story they are developing about the land they are reading as they walk. Beware. Joe talked about the macro-, medi-, and micro- landscapes that geologists are interested in. He is not so much into looking at rock content, aka what is this rock made of, but reading the landscape to understand the story of how the rocks came to be as they are. Our area is made up of metamorphic rock, rock that is cooked and transformed under lots of pressure. I think the other types are glacial deposits (dirt/rock hills) and sedimentary rocks. Anyway, metamorphic rocks transform under the huge pressures of the weight on them changing their compositions. They show layers of the different compositions, pulled out like taffy that appears like the grain of wood. Those grains are still pulling and spreading on the time scale of rocks, but to us rocks just seem like they are hard and unchanging. The grain of rocks and how they break speaks to the larger shape of our landscape, ledge outcroppings and dips match up with other outcroppings that broke along the grain or at odd angles suggesting further geologic puzzles. I could almost feel them still moving if I wrapped my brain around it long enough.

Afternoon Swomatic Experiment:

Margit and Utam joined me for my afternoon research. I had a desire to interview and dance with rocks. Margit had trouble relating to any old rock and suggested a swim out to her favorite rock in Plainfield Pond. She hooked Utam into playing a bit of much needed hooky from the Opening to the Unknown workshop with Chris Aiken and Andrew Harwood (don’t tell). We weren’t to speak once we entered the water until we were back ashore. Unless we were drowning. Due to the swim part Margit dubbed our research “swomatic.” I swam in between Margit and Utam, wondering if Utam was OK because we forgot to check upon arrival if it seemed too far for her to swim. It was a bit of a daunting swim. The pond was so full from all the rain that only the black fin of the rock back was visible. The rock has a whale like character. There was a stiff breeze with chop, which made the swim seem extra long and the rock change shape on the horizon. I really couldn’t see the rock without my glasses so I just followed the bobbing Margit, taking several backstroke breaks to check on Utam. Arriving at the rock it was amazing how it radiated warmth from the sun, which was in and out of the scudding clouds. The wind made whistling blizzard like noises adding to the feeling of cold and ruffled the water, coloring it pewter.

Back onshore, Utam reported the sensation that she was still in the water and everything else was moving. I forget what now, but Margit reported a rock epiphany. I seemed to have a mundane experience. But I was convinced it was a somatic experience (well, duh) and that the effect was cumulating. Out by the rock I was into mapping the underwater edges of the giant mostly submerged rock. After Margit talked a bit about her rock experience I remembered working with Prapto out by the stream, holding a leaf and a rock to feel the light, flowing quality of the leaf in contrast to the stillness of rock. I could get into holding that giant rock in the pond as my still point. I did report feeling that I was clunking out of the water onto another bigger version of that rock out there, onto its bedrock cousin.

After on the beach divinations from Gregory Bateson we decided to return and figure out a performative research project for dinner. I liked the idea of invisible dances, but wasn’t sure what the connection to rock was. Margit thought it made sense. Or maybe she trusted that sense would come. Anyway, we went with it. I connected with the idea of the big rock as a kind of anchor/reference/still point. We thought of the water as MA/bardo, transitional space between our world and the world of rock.

Margit suggested starting right away to get into it so we were in it by dinner. There was more divination.

Some living room dances. There was a spontaneous stillness, move, stillness dance that emerged in the midst of a conversation with others. Margit dropped into rock while I was sitting next to her on the couch and I could feel it. Utam experimented with pixelation. I told them about Mary Overlie’s unexpected dance, quick dance, and dissolving into the pedestrian background dance as Invisible Dance types. Then I remembered the unseen solo dance as a variation on the invisible dance as well.

Question: could the invisible dance be aerobic?

Invisible Dance Collage by Melle Dragon, SEEDS 2008

Later I moved to the dining area. I did some repetitive dances in the kitchen, repeating a particular pathway. Did anyone notice? It seemed not. I ended by running fast down the rock path by the house around the front porch and to the dwell site. I went into a tent and did a solo unseen dance. I made a bird call in honor of Jennifer Monson. Terre came in for her camera equipment and I kind of hid by the door, but she saw me. Visited by a Goddess worshipper! I felt blessed.


Rocks are invisible. They are doing an invisible dance. Pulling like taffy, twisting and folding under our feet. Making quartz sausages. We just don’t see it. They are too big to be seen.

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