Pity Poor Posture…So Terribly Misunderstood

A British army recruiting poster from the 1930s showing a Sergeant Major’s “good posture”.  You can see why Posture is so upset.

I recently tried to do an interview with Posture for the Alexander Technique podcast, but he’d moved so far from civilization – and good internet connections – that the audio quality was terrible.  But he has an important point he wants to make, so I’ve transcribed part of our conversation here:

Me: It’s good to get a chance to talk to you Posture.  I am curious why you’ve moved to what you describe as an “undisclosed and very remote” location?

Posture: Thanks for asking. I moved far away from civilization because I felt I was undergoing so much misuse. What was once my greatest joy had become a living nightmare.

Me: How so Posture?

Posture: Well I used to love being both a noun and a verb.  That opened up so many opportunities for me to hang out with all my word buddies.  And I thought I was performing a useful service for humans.

Me: Well you’re still a noun and verb…

Posture: Stop right there!  A noun for sure but my use as a verb has almost entirely disappeared.  It now pretty much always has a negative connotation.  Nobody likes someone who’s “posturing” – that’s what politicians do – and who likes them these days?

Me: OK, I can see that, but what about your noun function?  That seems to be going well for you.  I’m always seeing and hearing advice on how to improve posture.

Posture: That’s just what I’m trying to tell you!  When people hear my name today, they immediately think I’m a position and try to get themselves into the right one. Then they talk about their “poor posture” and that they just can’t seem to hold it…they just go on and on and make themselves stiff.  And, worse for me, they’re never happy talking about me, or demonstrating what they think I am.

Me: So what should they be thinking when they hear your name?

Posture: They should be thinking that I’m a process, not a place.  And an enjoyable process at that! If you’re alive and breathing – which by the way is movement – there will never be a right position to hold. You just can’t hold a movement. Trying to do that doesn’t make sense, and it almost always makes things worse.

Me: So you’re saying your always misunderstood?

John Dewey being taught by F. Matthias Alexander

Posture: Not always, thank goodness, but most of the time.  People in your field, the Alexander Technique, get it and some others do too.  By the way, one famous student of your work, John Dewey, totally got it.  But he’s been dead for half a century.  I miss him terribly… (Posture takes a break to compose himself here.) People like Dewey made me feel understood, cared for even.  For awhile after there was still Marjorie Barstow, but then she died, and well…

You know, when I’m feeling really down, I think of something she once said: Life is really moving from one position to another. We never stop and say, “This is right–this is my posture, this is the way I ought to be”. If we do that, we’re stiff trying to hold that posture. It isn’t natural for our bodies to be held in positions.

Just thinking about that helps me remember my glory days.

Me: Well let’s hope that we can restore your verb-ism, if I can use that phrase, to it’s proper role.  Thank you so much sharing your thoughts.

Marjorie Barstow, 1899 – 1995

Posture: Thank you for listening.  You’ve no idea how lonely it is for me here. Nobody knows who I am. There doesn’t even seem to be a word for me here – everyone just is good posture.

Me: Hang in there Posture – we’re going to work to bring you back here where you’re sorely needed!

***

After our interview, I asked Posture if he could recommend some material that would help visitors to my blog better understand his concerns.  He thought for awhile and finally said he thought this interview would be helpful:

Posture has promised to read your responses to this blog – so please, please send him a message.  He’s really not doing well. I had to cut out, at his request, some of the saddest moments of our interview.

 


Comments

Pity Poor Posture…So Terribly Misunderstood — 4 Comments

  1. Posture, you must face this pain at every turn! Yesterday, my husband asked me if Jack Webb of Dragnet fame was using Alexander Technique, while watching a movie. . .though he immediately reconsidered that perhaps this was not the case, seeing how rigid Webb is holding himself. So there is hope that people can learn that posture is dynamic.

    • Posture says: Thank you Ms Almon. I was feeling very low today and then I read your message and I’m somewhat revived.

      And you’re right – I AM dynamic although I have to say I’m not feeling all that dynamic most days. But I’m a little more now thanks to your post!

  2. Fantastic Robert! Great point, and a creative way of making it.
    I’m also hearing the term ‘poser’ a lot. Another negative connotation, used in hip hop, as in ‘he’s a poser’.
    It’s also the antitheses of the Alexander Technique.

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