Paradox Praxis

“our bodies and minds are not two and not one…
our bodies and minds are both two and one.”

—Suzuki Roshi

polarity → dipole  → binary → opposites → contradiction → paradox

Paradoxes help me hold, leverage, surf, and transcend polarities. When a process (a dance, a body) can include both “sides” of a polarity at once as a paradox, the dialogue between differentiation and wholeness makes the magic sauce for integration.

The key to each “side” often exists in the other.

They are paths to each other.

Attempting to live in both at the same time is generative.

Sometimes they combine to create something new, maybe even a third (or 4th or 5th or…) thing.

Each has its own definition and any set can exist along a continuum, one clarifying the other.

If neither is repressed, denied, or undervalued, then norms cannot become fixed enough to dominate. 

There are some things one can only achieve
by a deliberate leap in the opposite direction.

-Franz Kafka

Working with seemingly irreconcilable ideas feels more essential than ever. By working with both “sides” of any given polarity, we can embody instability, make space for questions, include more perspectives, and better understand each other AND the “others” that we create through ethnocentric, us-them divisions.

“Difference must be not merely tolerated,
but seen as a fund of necessary polarities
between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic.”  

—Audre Lorde

A true “both/and” mindset includes both “both/and” and “either/or”. Context determines which side of the coin to privilege at any given moment. More often, I choose that which is underrepresented or less known, but I never ignore its counterpart(s). Attending to both ends of any spectrum exposes biases, explodes the number of choices available throughout the creative process (of dancemaking, conflict, living), and allows for many different kinds of relationships to exist between seemingly contradictory ideas. This paradox praxis enlivens my dancemaking, teaching, and personal development.

“Each of you is perfect the way you are …
and you can use a little improvement.” 

―Shunryu Suzuki

“The test of a first-rate intelligence
is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time
and still retain the ability to function.”

—F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself;
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”

—Walt Whitman