the poetics of orthobionomy

a 'book' of beginnings 

some of the wall of the Medina of Marrakech. Photo by R. Valasek

Coming up:

Society of Ortho-Bionomy International sponsored study group

The Body Schema: Ortho-Bionomy from the Inside


Taking a phenomenological view of Ortho-Bionomy we will hold focus as much as possible on your own experience as a practitioner. The body schema is your body's own subjective experience of itself. The body schema works in two moods: the indicative and the subjunctive. That is to say, it describes how the body is arranged in relation to its immediate surround (indicative mood) as well as how it might like to be (subjunctive). The subjunctive is the as-if body. Before the flesh-body moves through space, it is preceded by the as-if body.


The body schema plays a key role in responding to trauma. 

Itcho Hanabusa, Blind monks examining an elephant, 1888

    The Blind Man And The Elephant

It was six men of Indostan, to learning much inclined,
who went to see the elephant (Though all of them were blind),
that each by observation, might satisfy his mind.

The first approached the elephant, and, happening to fall,
against his broad and sturdy side, at once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the elephant, is nothing but a wall!"

The second feeling of the tusk, cried: "Ho! what have we here,
so very round and smooth and sharp? To me tis mighty clear,
this wonder of an elephant, is very like a spear!"

The third approached the animal, and, happening to take,
the squirming trunk within his hands, "I see," quoth he,
the elephant is very like a snake!"

The fourth reached out his eager hand, and felt about the knee:
"What most this wondrous beast is like, is mighty plain," quoth he;
"Tis clear enough the elephant is very like a tree."

The fifth, who chanced to touch the ear, Said; "E'en the blindest man
can tell what this resembles most; Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an elephant, is very like a fan!"

The sixth no sooner had begun, about the beast to grope,
than, seizing on the swinging tail, that fell within his scope,
"I see," quothe he, "the elephant is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan, disputed loud and long,
each in his own opinion, exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!

So, oft in theologic wars, the disputants, I ween,
tread on in utter ignorance, of what each other mean,
and prate about the elephant, not one of them has seen!
                                          John Godfrey Saxe (1816 –– 1867)

What's New is Here and in Process

Gonzo Ortho-Bionomy

A&P of the Extending Body

Watch it as it Grows (click here to go there)


A Brief Pictorial Review of Where I've Been

(and why I've not been here)

Karen outside The Sphere



I have neglected this webbiness for several months. After Atlanta much was going on to keep me from it. Most of the distraction was travel. First stop Las Vegas to see The Sphere, the Postcard from Earth show. The Sphere is a paean to Technology. The script for the Aronofsky film must have been produced during the writers' strike: embarrassingly bad. It's all for the spectacle. 





The main purpose of the Vegas stop was to take the trip in stages, and build up our travel muscles. Use the spectacle of Las Vegas as motivation for walking.



On to Virginia to spend Christmas with our son, Cooper. The National Portrait Gallery was at the top of our DC agenda. Most happy to see the portrait of Queen Liliuokalani, which we normally see in her Iolani Palace home.





The courtyard itself was worth the trip to this Smithsonian museum. It is an architectural marvel.




Christmas on 'the farm' (near Culpepper VA) was white, but not with snow. On January 3 we all boarded a Royal Air Maroc flight from DC to Casablanca. From there took the train to Marrakech.

The bride is carried in on a palanquin





For a wedding feast on New Year's Eve.





Back to VA for a couple days then the final leg of the trip, Tacoma WA to spend Karen's birthday with her old friend. Unfortunately Karen came down with a nasty URI our last day in Morocco. No Hockey games, no going out. We bundled up, watched old movies, played games, sipped whiskey, and talked.


Home now for a few weeks, well recovered, even rejuvenated, and inspired. Inspired in part by a David Hockney exhibit at the Honolulu Museum of Art.


Collage br David Hockney. From the show Perspectve Should Be Reversed, at HOMA




It seems a long time since Atlanta in September, from which much will be developed,


Bust of President Jimmy Carter at the Carter Center





. . . and a long time too, since Albuquerque and the SOBI Instructor Retreat and Annual Conference, from which much may develop.

Are we ready for What's Next?

I want to hold small, intimate Residential Experiences in vibrant urban setting. Eight people maximum, including Karen and me. Minimum of 5 days (to count for SOBI as a residential). We want only for our expenses to be covered. Any money beyond our expenses will pass on to SOBI.

If there is a coordinator (and there really shoud be) their expenses and fees need to be included.


Most of the food part will be local restaurants. Whatever lodging is procurred must have a kitchen so eating in will always be an option.


This is inspired by how the Atlanta class turned out, with an Airbnb apartment at Atlantic Station.


Chicago is where we want to go next and we are open to proposals for other places as well. It's hard to say what the cost will be but you can see that with no fee for the Instructor it's probably less than half the cost you'd expect to pay.


We also want to visit the British Isles. This could be great fun in Edinburgh or Belfast. More expense in getting there. Plan your own wander and we all meet up somewhere for 5 days of orthobionomy.


Contact me if you are interested in being a part of a small group Residential.




And Here's a Grander Idea

I want an Anatomy and Physiology grounded on the nature of Life. An A&P of the Body in Relationship, a poetics of A&P. Centered perhaps on the Body Schema, the many ways, and Phases of the Body extending across the globe. How is Care a necessary virtue (and why it gets short shrift in the Virtue lit)?


We will begin with the simplest duality: inside / outside. It becomes clear that Life is the inside of the world and it must have a membrane. So Value is inserted: difference, preferences, selection: all toward the overriding and archaic value: being is better than not being. Becoming is better than unbecoming?


A Five-Day (minimum) Residential (SOBI credit for either Residential or A&P). A follow-on of previous Unphased Wonder Valley Residential.


Aiming for New England territory.


Ideas embodied in orthobionomy practices, praxis.


Three to Four Ortho-Bionomy Advanced Instructors.


Need at least a two-year lead-up; Instructors and coordinators need to be able to commit to regular virtual meetings, and at least one two-day in-person gathering, that is, a class. It could be a hybrid event?


I will set up a separate page to toss in ideas I have for content.


Who would be on your Unphased Dream Team of three or four Instructors? 



However, it may show up I will begin a new chapter. For now, I'll call it: 


"Anatomy and Physiology of the Body that Isn't"


"My wife and my mother-in-law" W.E. Hill. 1915

You can always come up with other ways of looking at things. That's what the Phases gives us, different ways to approach the Body, different portals, differnt perspectives.


(AKA Acknowledgments)

I have had to train myself to move gratitude up to the front. Perhaps I will explore in one of my three Introductions why I have struggled with gratitude. For now I will try some simple lists. The start of one list is simple: Karen Valasek, spouse, partner, co-parent, orthobionomer extraordinaire. I would for sure put Lynn Drummer on the list. Probably next after Karen though in Ortho-Bionomy she . . .

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Body Schema

Looking back at my list I wonder where this might go next. We won't know until we are there together doing it. But right now body schema is salient. I direct your here to see what's in the glassary on body schema. I hope to add more to this entry, or direct also to Motor Cognition (see References, Jennerod, Marc) but that's not yet written. 


Whatever names we use, whatever words, the curiosity at the core is this: How does a concept, a thought, move matter, achange the world. We want to hang our in that hinge. Playing in the "as-if." We will certainly play the childhood game of Simon Says but will be aiming for a different impact, a different take-away (not "You must pay close attention" as your teacher taught you).


As we play this game we will start to look at movement itself, a phenomenological examination of movement, the experience of movement. Heraclitus wrote that there is nothing but movement. Octavia Butler wrote that God is Movement. We will look at movement apophatically.


News flash! There is no Universe! It's been a multiverse all along.


The Extended Organism

If we were to define the body as the site of physiology then the appearance of the body radically changes. Many necessary physiological functions take place outside of what we normally define as the body. We can begin by looking at the microbiome. 


Orthobionomy clarifies the bond between self, other, and world

The Principle of Reciprocity: Care of the Other through Care of the Self


"Yes, there is beauty

There is love

There is joy.

All you who suffer from the world's

misery defend them."


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© Richard Valasek