Sunday, 24 January 2010

La Ronde

Drawing, painting – and some theoretical links?

Susie Mallett's Conductor blog has just published an interesting account of teaching drawing and painting – that's the act of drawing and painting (including when an artist is disabled).

Her account reflects years of teaching drawing and painting, but was prompted in this form by recent publication if an article by conductor Julia Horváth from the Pető Institute, of which it offers a mild critique.

Susie's posting may be of intrinsic practical interest for those who 'do' drawing and painting. At a theoretical level, however, I was immediately struck by how her understanding accords with L. S. Vygotskii's psychology of art.

LS was not of course writing about graphic but about dramatic art, specifically about Shakespeare's Hamlet, which he approached on the basis of the essential nature of performance. Susie is concerned with the essential nature of the process of graphic creativity. Common, it struck me, is that both of these understandings are praxis-based. In Conductive Education's own jargon, they are operative.

This is where, at the theoretical level her approach differs from Julia's, the one materialist, the other idealist.

Theoretical links?

There is plenty to read in English about Vygotskii's psychology of art. Like most English-language stuff on Vygotskii (usually 'Vygotsky with a y'), however, this tends to be what used to be called 'bourgeois science'. For an introduction, why not go for the horse's mouth, to be found in part anyway on the Marxists website.

From my mention of Vygotskii and 'performance', it is but a short step to Lois Holzman's Vygotskian therapeutic theatre in New York.

And thence another step (more a vertiginous leap!) across to Jakob Moreno.

And from Moreno – I leave you to make your own next steps, to close the circle.


Holzman, L.

Mallett, S.

Horvath, J.

Moreno, J.

Sutton, A.

Vygotskii, L. S.

La ronde

The linear story of a venereal infection that provides the plot structure for La Ronde is a simple and seductive one, often applied by those who seek to explain the history of Conductive Education (and of much else). The history of ideas, however, is much more complex than can be 'traced' in this manner, as ever, the social cannot be understood through a biological model. Like in La Ronde, however it makes for a simple story with widespread appeal. Don't you believe it!

By the way, in writing this posting I noticed something that I do not think is generally remarked upon. See the specific plot structure outlined in the Wikipedia article referred to above. This story is a pantoum:

*  I do not know what afflicts this URL, but it refuses to incorporate the necesary closing bracket in the live link. A pity, because the whole sense of this passage depends upon it! You have three ways round this problem:
  • click in the link anyway and you will go to a Wikipedia page on which you may click again on La Ronde (the play).
  • Cut and paste the URL as given above into the box at the top of your screen, and press Enter.
  • Go to Google and search for "LA RONDE - TOURNENT MES PERSONNAGES"
I need a technician!

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