on 'asocial interplay'
© 2003-2013 by Antero Alli
Towards an Archeology of the Soul
The physical body embodies the so-called Subconscious mind. From another vantage, there may be no such thing as a "Subconscious" -- only deeper and deeper degrees of consciousness. The physical body pulsates with vital resources of energy, information, and images embedded in a complexity of constantly interacting biological systems, glands, and organs that keep us alive. All this internal activity occurs autonomously in the body's subconscious depths and usually, independent of our conscious awareness and control.
I sometimes refer to paratheatre as an archeology of the soul, where certain inner and outer actions are applied to detect, access, and excavate the body's invisible forces to animate movement, sound, gesture, action, and asocial interaction with others. This excavation process requires certain preliminary conditions, such as relaxing the social personal and the personal will to control towards the cultivation of deep internal receptivity. In this paratheatre medium, these conditions are met through No-Form practice, a meditation discipline borrowed from Zazen.
A Personal Vow of Self-accountability
Relaxing the social persona starts with realizing a temporary non-responsibility to others. Though social needs are important, when unmet they can inhibit creativity by the unconscious projection of our needs for approval, belonging, status, courtship, friendship, community, etc. This is why participation in ParaTheatrical ReSearch Labs requires a vital social life outside of the workspace. Though this paratheatre work occurs in groups, much of the training process is nonverbal and solitary in nature with minimal interaction with others. Asocial group interplay eventually does occur but only after the basic training of paratheatre forms and techniques has been integrated -- a process that usually involves the completion of two full Basics Labs (or 14 three-hour paratheatre sessions!).
An asocial climate supports individual integrity and autonomy above the satisfaction of consensus social agendas and needs. This process begins with a personal vow to oneself to be responsible for your own safety and problem-solving processes when facing challenges, difficulty, perceived threat, frustrations and boredom. Becoming accountable for your own process eliminates compulsion for external authority or parental figures to watch over you or make you feel safe. This internal vow of self-accountability simply means you agree to do your best at making yourself safe and solving your own problems as they come up. Doing so supports and challenges your individual integrity and autonomy while opening up the playing fields of self-discovery and heightened creativity. While working together in an asocial climate, a unique group unity can eventually emerge as a result of each individual's heightened commitment to their own internal sources as a basis for interacting with others.
The overall aim of asocial interplay is to discover bridge-building processes linking internal and external realities, vertical and horizontal sources, towards a unique kind of interaction with others. Asocial interplay is not the same as theatrical or dance improvisation, in the common use of this term. Asocial interplay does not depend on external cues or the energy of others to spark or sustain interaction. Asocial interplay unfolds unforced from within each individual until you are ready to interact from that foundation. As one's commitment to internal sources increases and matures, a natural blossoming outward tends to occur for sharing this internal presence with others. Presence here refers to a palpable felt emanation, a transmission resulting from any strong commitment to the internal landscape of sources of energy innate to the body/psyche.
An asocial climate can be amplified by whatever action that increases spatial awareness. This active process starts by directing your attention off of yourself and onto the space around, below, and above you, while physically moving through that space. By keeping your attention on the space itself -- rather than on yourself or the things and people in the space -- you are free to discover your relationship with the space itself as a value. When an entire group follows this directive, a fluid group unity can unfold as a kind of swarming action of self-governing bodies with nobody colliding with anyone else. Ongoing practice of spatial awareness can dramatically increase mutual trust between participants by the respect shown for each other's personal space. In such a climate of mutual respect, we are more likely to discover authentic responses born from a more open and vulnerable state of being, free of the compulsions for seeking external acceptance or approval and other inhibiting social habits.
Social vs. Asocial Intent
Social intentions create social rituals; asocial intentions, asocial rituals. Both social and asocial intentions can mingle to produce various hybrids of group dynamics; part social, part asocial. Social and asocial intentions can also be isolated for the purpose of exploring their separate and distinct functions, values, and expressions.
Successful social rituals fulfill personal and social needs for security, status, courtship, emotional support, intellectual discourse and a community sense of belonging. Fulfilling these needs serves a socialization process that can develop and mature the social personality. Pursued as an end in itself, however, social rituals eventually condition individual consciousness to conform to the consensus morals, ideas, dogmas, and status symbols innate to whatever group or tribe they are identiftying with. Socially-defined rituals can also inhibit more authentic, creative and spontaneous responses by the constraints of socially-accepted considerations, consensus-sanctioned standards and expectations.
Asocial rituals express group dynamics that bypass socialization processes in lieu of realizing asocial agendas. Certain monasteries, sanghas, nunneries, and magickal orders offer classic examples of asocial settings, rituals, and lifestyles. Taoism represents a good example of an asocial religion where "the Tao" of natural cycles is exalted above social affairs. The eight-fold path of Buddhism represents a sophisticated social religion where the individual is placed in service to the community.
The social rituals and moral systems incorporated by many religious traditions are generally not meant as pathways to mystical experience. These moral infrastructures are designed to maintain the social order of daily life. This often includes the provisions of hospices and refuge for victims of tragedy, "acts of God", traumas, death of family members, evictions, marriages, births and so forth. In this way, the social rituals and moral infrastructures of many religions help to re-integrate the displaced person back into community life. Saved by he individual identifies as a member of a tribe, religion, community, or nation.
AFTERWORD: Reflecting on these dual ritual intents asocial and social can help determine which approach to ritual design might be suitable and even possible for any given group -- despite what that group wants, fantasizes about, or expects to achieve. Some groups are simply more inclined towards social rituals, while others are more inclined to asocial rituals.
Wikipedia definition of "Asociality"
THIS PAGE UPDATED: 1/3/2013
Other Writings on Paratheatre by Antero Alli
Ritual Actions: Advanced Paratheatre Work
State of Emergence: A Paratheatre Manifesto