The legacy of F. Matthias Alexander, the developer of the Alexander Technique, has come under a good deal of new scrutiny in recent years as we learn more about his early life. (See Part 1 and Part 2 of this series for more about this.)
How much was he influenced by Francois Delsarte? How long after he started to work on his voice problem did he begin teaching his method? Why and when did he start using his hands in teaching, and how much importance did he attach to that aspect of his work? These sorts of questions are being hotly debated, particularly in the major Alexander Technique Facebook groups.
With all that going on, I thought this would be a great time to take a look back at a bit of Alexander’s history that has been largely overlooked. And, mercifully, one that should appeal to everyone and help bring us back together again.
As you can see from the photo to the left, Alexander was using a smart phone well over 60 years ago, long before most of us had heard of the internet or even cell phones! And he was more than just an early adapter, or even a beta-tester, but a pioneer in the field of information technology.
In the photo he is shown taking advantage of the Wi-Fi network he created at 18 Landsdowne Road – the first one in England!
It’s taken some time to collect all the accounts from students and teachers who were there, and reports differ about what he was actually doing with his phone when the photo was taken. I suspect we will never know for sure what he was up to.
Some say he was using his new network for the very first time and was merely texting “Hello! S’up?” to his assistant, Irene Tasker. A bit like Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, on the first phone call ever made, to another room in his lab, who famously said to his assistant on March 10, 1876, “Mr Watson – come here – I want to see you”
Others insist he was firing off a tweet storm about Inhibition – is it, or is it not, a movement? There’s also a report he was deleting Nigerian email scams. And another that he was about to take a selfie.
One Australian eye witness is certain Alexander was placing his morning horse racing bets.
There is debate too as to whether he was using an iPhone or Android device. Most believe it was an Android and that this is the origin of the terms “Alexandroid” or “Droid”, which are sometimes used to describe Alexander students and teachers who move stiffly in an attempt to avoid slumping at any cost.
Notice his ease and poise and compare it to what we now see around us everyday – people who seem sucked into their screens and sometimes totally unaware of the buildings, or people, or cars they’re about to collide with.
F. Matthias Alexander is truly an inspiration for us all.
* My wife is dubious about the smartphone theory – she thinks FM is examining the chip on his new credit card.
Child with smartphone photo credit: Copyright: mariis / 123RF Stock Photo