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October 19, 2017

For art to appear, we have to disappear. What exactly does it mean for us to appear? Do we have to physically appear? Does our mental consciousness have to be present? The thing that separates us humans from objects such as a violin is obviously our physical stature but also our mind and consciousness. A violin does not overthink, a violin simply exists and performs when called upon. If a note is missed the violin does not get frustrated it continues to be a violin ready to play the next note. Our consciousness and focus to details is obviously one of our best traits of being human, but too much focus or attention on an activity or object can fold in upon itself. When a violinist becomes very confident in their work and art they seem to “disappear” and become one with the violin. They loose their sense of own consciousness and in a way share a consciousness with the violin and become one. The bow is just an extension of themselves working in sync with their other part, the violin. In this time of pure in true playing you can see the violinist performing with what Nachmanovitch calls “effortless effort”. There is no arguments between focus and consciousness, time is no longer a factor, and the surrounding environment seems to disappear. The violinist and the violin seem to create their own matrix. This can help be described by the Affordance Theory. The organism brings efficacies and the environment brings objectivities. This creates an emergent property between these two objects that work to create a more in true relationship and between the two. The violinist in their confidence and becoming one with the violin can be seen like the jinba ittai. Where the rider would say the arrow found its way to the target, the violin created its own sound through its changes affordances. 

Now this violinist who seems to be expert and one with the violin knows how to play very well, but he must also unknow how to play. He must not be so attached to the violin that he can not find new styles or ways of playing. He must keep renewed innocence or a beginner’s mind to keep his free play alive. This beginner’s mind is the person transcending themselves on the behalf of themselves. In every performance he must go in looking for what they expect to find he must not create a mold that suffocates the possibility of changing and self adaption. This is what you can see as flexibility and being able to adapt to changing affordances. Problems arise when someone is so attached to their knowing that they do not allow people to act outside of their model. Relationships for an example, if a couple believes they know everything about each other there is no room for new information or free play between the two. This unknowing in the relationship can help from a new and more in-true relationship between the two. 


Nachmanovitch explains that one the best ways to empty ourselves is tuning an instrument. You rid outside distractions and noises to get this one tune out of a string. He goes on to talk about how the crowd of the performer who tuned their instrument will become in the same state once they start playing. One of the greatest feelings is hearing a new song for the first time and being completely wrapped in the lyrics and the rhythm of the song. Music is one of the greatest forms of communication that allows us to tell stories that many people face everyday and allow us to connect with each other. A good performer can sing their songs and let you feel every emotion that they had when they wrote the song. This can be seen in Ziggy Albert’s live performance of his song “Runaway”. A song about a troubling relationship issue that many people deal with so we are able to connect through this song. The beauty of this song is that its about a sad situation but the upbeat and lyrics behind it give the listener a comforting and happy outlook with the situation. In the video you can see people on each others shoulders screaming the lyrics with Ziggy. People dancing with one another as they smile and enjoy the rhythm of the song. Between Ziggy and his fans, they all seem to lose sense of self and appear to look like children at play. No one is looking around wondering about anything else in the world. They are present in that moment loving the performance. Just like the experience of sama, which is dancing yourself into ecstasy. Everyone in the crowd not only seems to physically disappear in the crowd, their mental consciousness disappears as well. Their true child self is brought out and their soul gets to feel the connection, passion, and love of this song. Just like in Rumi’s poem these people are giving themselves up to broken into pieces and rid all other world passions or stressors. Their self imperfections are no longer an issue they forget themselves. They enjoy the moment of pure ecstasy and enjoy the love and comfort that every human strives to enjoy and feel everyday. 

This is a paper written by a student in a class called self and beyond self (a senior seminar offered at Virginia Tech) that gives you a unique perspective on consciousness and being present in the moment. *C1


Jinba ittai is a Japanese four-character compound describing unity of horse and rider which is pertinent to Yabusame, Japanese mounted archery. The term was used in the development of the Mazda MX-5 to describe a driver's connection with the car. *C2



1) Nachmanovitch, Stephen. Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art. Tarcher/Putnam, 2010.


2) “Jinba Ittai.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Sept. 2017,


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