In attempting to address what is effectively a communal experience of trauma following the regressive violence of the forty-fifth United States presidency, communal slow walking offers us a way to be out of step with the temporality of that national trauma, but out of step together. We aim to be out of step with the forms of national belonging that are being asserted as the norm, and in so doing, to create a separate ideological and temporal and communal norm. The practice of being out of step with one another while still being together offers a sense of safety for such conceptual and corporeal explorations. Placing one’s self out of step, whether through pace or gait, can potentially open up the imagination of temporal and spatial relations distinct from the daily norm. That is, rather than feeling rocked off balance by the regime's unstable and destabilizing actions, concentrating on the body's sensations enables us to experience being (un-)balanced from a different perspective. While primarily located in the body, in attending to how one’s body moves through different environments, the meditative practice opens up an awareness of that environment's specificities. The slowness of being out of step together is a public and group effort of supporting one another in shifting the relation between one’s self and one’s sense of belonging to the world.
Speed and its vertiginous aftershocks imposed itself on me in the regime's hasty drafting and issuing of the January 27, 2017 "Muslim ban" executive order. On our way to a protest1 February 4, 2017, two of my friends and I were walking down College Avenue in Tallahassee, Florida and from a small counter-demonstration held on the lawn of the Kappa Alpha Order Fraternity,2 a few young men sang in barbershop quartet-style harmony at us: "this train has no brakes.3 " The brake-less train of governance in the United States in 2017 and 2018 is in some ways an evident reality: Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents destroy people's lives every day. Along with the concrete and immediate evidence of the regime's efficiency, the brake-less train also functions as a metaphor that is meant to instill a sense of the futility of any resistance. The metaphor convinces because the blitzkrieg of legislative and administrative actions requires us to match its administrative, legislative, and enforcement actions with an equally vociferous protest on all fronts at the same time, a herculean effort that mentally and physically wrings us out. The helplessness in the face of an unstoppable train also evokes the sensation of being physically off balance. Moreover, the current regime proudly celebrates speed in fulfilling the promise of unchecked white supremacy.4 On a brake-less train, the song insists, there is no endpoint, there is no moment for pause, and there is no way to slow down the ever-increasing momentum of political action.
But having had it sung at me, I heard along with that celebration an almost over-insistent instruction that I acknowledge this regime and its agenda as unstoppable. The clamor that demands my obeisance betrays an insecurity that perhaps there are ways to slow down the train. Since then, I have been obsessed with litigating, protesting, obstructing—all the actions that could be the gritty and abrasive textures on the train tracks, getting in the way of the smooth and immediate implementation of a violent agenda. But although slow walking was initially part of that group of actions, what I learned through its doing was not necessarily how to oppose the regime more efficiently, but how to unlock myself from that dynamic that demanded my energy and fixated my attention on the government and its actions. That is, in a somewhat different valence from Nick Salvato's interpretation of Paul Virilio on speed, where Salvato reads Virilio as suggesting that embracing slowness would be a way to "develop an oppositional politics,5 " the aim of slow walking here is not the promotion of slowness as such, nor is it with oppositional politics in mind. It aims to re-center one’s attention away from that which one opposes with a reset that begins through any kind of noticing in the body. Because slowness evades what the regime intends in its upending of political norms and psychological destabilization through speed, slow walking resets the body's rhythms by providing a moment to set aside the frenzied pace of action set by the brakeless train.
I began slow walking in February 2017 as a way of breaking what I experienced as an ever-intensifying speed of cycles of over-activity and paralysis shortly after the inauguration of the forty-fifth president of the United States. Actions such as race-based deportations and exclusions are not new to the United States, nor is the legislative dehumanization of ethnic minorities.6 What is startling about this regime is the absence of pretense in respecting any institutional norms, as well as the speed of its extreme destruction of institutions and communities that it does not support. But it is important to note that this speed and extreme action is also not uncommon or new; it is a feature typical of autocratic regimes consolidating their power.7 As such, it is a reflection of my historical, geographic, and individual privilege that I experience this political event as not only demoralizing, but physically destabilizing. Feminist columnist Lindy West's commentary on the distortion of the sensibility of time resonated with me strongly:
I could have sworn we had fallen through a tesseract into the airless crush of a two-dimensional void at least seven eternities ago, or what would have constituted seven eternities if such a place had a linear concept of time. Turns out, though, it has only been 25 days, we are still on earth, and every cell in my body has not been excruciatingly flattened into pure math. It just feels like it.8
The shock of a changing sense of time is experienced corporeally as West writes of the "flattening" of her body's cells, "crushed" as the body's matter gives way to what Lynn Hunt calls "the compression of time9 " with regard to being caught up in rapid social transformation. The disintegration of the body responds to a transformed environment: instead of the physical forces that organize movement on earth, West refers to the sensation of suspension in an outer-space-like environment of drift where falling can take place without the gravitational certainty of landing. Time's distortion functions as a kind of psychological torment precisely because it removes the feeling of landing and the moment of grounded respite that landing offers.
In response to hearing of our experience and my ensuing obsession with speed, particularly how it made me constantly off balance, my colleague and friend Ilana Goldman inspired us to do a slow walk. Recalling a dance she had choreographed titled "Dialogues,10 " she suggested that a public and collective slow walk at Florida State University could help us conjure a different pace and evocation of communal belonging. The first time Goldman and Hannah Schwadron introduced me to slow walking, a small group of us experimented with variations of togetherness and slow walking in circles around my living room: sometimes linking arms, hands around each other's waists, or our arms hanging at our sides—close but not touching. We were a mixed group of trained dancers and not, investigating an everyday bodily activity that does not require any movement training and that allows us each to proceed at our individual capacity in developing techniques that respond to the changing balance of each of our bodies. In this sense, it is a democratic practice in which participants can effectively find where their attention is focused based on their own negotiation of the temporality of slowness.
A negotiation that is both individualized and supported by the shared efforts of the people practicing with you at the same time, it is an action that, as Goldman commented, leaves no one behind precisely because there is no enforced standard for the communal investigation. This conjunction of individual and collective in slow walking finds a way of being together without unison lockstep. In Keeping Together in Time: Dance and Drill in Human History, William McNeill explores the kinesthetic undergirding of solidarity, recalling his own experiences on the drill field in the Army and finding commonalities in the experience of trance and other dance forms. Slow walking could be associated with what he identifies as muscular bonding, or the euphoric feeling that takes place in the body on the neural, hormonal, and physiological level when people "keep time together for prolonged periods of time.11 " However, the solidarity of soldiers he models, where community is drawn together by dissolving each "I" into the common goals of a "we," does not concord with the practice of slow walking. Instead of cementing an idea of forming community that requires homogeneous actions, by foregrounding the meditative practice as beginning in each individual's exploration of their movements, slow walking practices a mode of belonging in which we won't be in sync, but we will be together.12
If we are, as science fiction writer and philosopher China Miéville asserts, in a utopic moment for global fascism,13 what kinds of corporeal practices can protect us from falling into autocratic assent? The pace set by slow walking asks each participant to negotiate their body's balance while in the close company of others who are finding their own way towards that negotiation as well. In this way, it is a practice that defines belonging as the inclusive support for individual exploration within a shared activity. It is a public exploration and invitation to enact choreographic belonging which centers an attentive care for one's community and environment in a dialogue with one's self.
I. Sensing the Body's Balance in Time and Place
The upending of political norms keeps us off balance, changing our relationship to our surrounding environment on a corporeal level. I therefore propose concentrating on the body's proprioception, that is, the awareness of the body's position in space as a micro-resistance to the tempo of action set to keep us off balance and the flotation of how the speed of political extremism is felt. By elongating the experience of placing one’s feet on the ground, with each of the foot's twenty-six bones coming to a solid rest on the specific ground on which the community gathers or passes through, what slow walking responds to and attempts to repair is the social and psychological unmooring generated by the physicality of speed. The calmness produced by slow walking stems from a change in scale. The claims on one’s attention by the despair-inducing violence and by accusations that further focus on that violence is a distraction that takes place on a national level.14 Slow walking moves us away from that overwhelmingly large frame, even if only momentarily, by refocusing the center of our attention onto micro-movements.15 As our limb moves with an unfamiliar slowness, the demand to relearn how to maintain balance imposes a feeling of uncertainty. And yet, as Ann Mazzocca observed, "the assurance that the other foot is lifting and the other is going to come down ... you always know that the settling is there.16 " By reframing physical instability within a predictable pedestrian action and an awareness of the micro-gestures that compose it, we give ourselves the ground on which to center ourselves in relation to time's distorted sensations.
Schwadron describes the process of taking a single step in slow walking as turning one gesture into many individuated gestures with multiple stages:
When I first start to slow walk, I feel like I'm about to topple over and crash into people; but as the walk continues, I root each foot into the ground, heel-ball-toe, trying to find as much articulation at the bottom of my expansive foot and take pleasure in it. The image I was taught was of a beanstalk that winds up from my foot around my body as I stack my bones, my vertebrae over my foot, and find that stability.17
As Schwadron notes, slowing our tempo reveals that our normal pacing compensates for any bodily imbalance by staying in a state of propulsion and never truly landing anywhere. With an extremely slow gait, the body will fall out of balance without centered stability, thereby giving time to consider its proprioception. Vipassana Zen techniques suggest concentrating on the movement forward of each limb and naming the movement as one’s attention lands on the gesture.18 This awareness and naming of the movement relies on the corporeal sense of proprioception, which we can think of as a body's own self-awareness. By slowing down every movement, we can be aware of each minute element of the gesture such that it creates a feedback loop between sustained mental attention and conscious awareness of small movements: I can maintain my focus because the conscious awareness of small movements gives me something new within the same gesture to attend to, and in turn, this concentration allows me access to ever more precise identifications of the intricate way my body is moving in space.19
The scientific literature explaining the fundamental workings of proprioception underscores that this corporeal sense gauges how the body repositions itself within its external surroundings and internally communicates the sensations of movement throughout the body. Consisting of small movements and responding to small changes, proprioception is generated from the body's receptors. These include muscle spindles and Golgi tendon organs that produce a group of sensations from the "peripheral originating movement and position sensation.20 " The Golgi tendon organs are located within the tendons that attach muscles to the skeleton and conduct information toward and away from the central nervous system about where the body is in space through the combination of joint angle, muscle length, and muscle tension information in the muscle spindles, as well as the skin receptors. The muscle spindles are located in parallel throughout a muscle's fibers. Communicating to the brain how quickly or slowly a muscle is moving, muscle spindles are "specialized for sensation because they have sensory nerve fibers wound tightly around them like little springs.21 " This description is reminiscent of the metaphor that Schwadron shared of the beanstalk winding around one’s leg as a way of visualizing balance while slowing up one’s steps. Because they offer the information necessary for judging force, velocity and timing, and weight, the proprioceptors respond to commands to move from the central nervous system and communicate how the body's location in its environment changes after the muscle contraction has begun.22
Meditating on proprioception combines framing of the extended moment within the slow walk with noticing of the capabilities of the body's specificity. In the practice of slow walking, the consistent discipline of taking a step grants us a newly-discovered complexity in that gesture. What feels like a single gesture of taking a step at an everyday or rushed pace, when slowed down, becomes many individuated gestures. For Schwadron, these are concentrated in, at minimum, three separate gestures for the foot. The focus on present temporality in our body's new instabilities and shapes in slow walking together asks us to also notice what is usually below the surface of our awareness; and the surprise of discovery in each of these noticings in the arch of the spine,27 in the bend of a leg, or in the roll of a foot becomes its own tiny world. I experience the deep dive into this distinct spatial concentration as unmooring me from clock-time as well. After a slow-walk, colleagues and friends often say, "That was twenty-five minutes? It didn't feel that long." Through this activity, time is, as Salvato articulates it, made differently: By "arresting" time with the creation of a world in each step, "time [is] making itself felt as expansive, extensive, even stretched: in a word: slowed.23 " When we attend to our body's micro-movements, we arrest the feeling of being spun out of control by the vertiginousness of someone else's pace, resetting our psychological and physical balance by placing our attention inward.
Proprioception coordinates the body's complex workings not only within the body as a self-standing organism but also in dynamic relation to the body's material and psychological environment. Crucial to the experiment of redefining belonging away from the exclusive and nationalist sensibility encouraged by the current regime, proprioceptive awareness can be visualized as a connection to one’s surroundings in the broadest sense.24 That is, self-narration of how each individuated corporeal movement relates to the next can rearticulate the relation between oneself and one’s surrounding community and contexts25 as well as how one’s intention to carry a micro-gesture through to its completion will transform that communal relation. Adanna Jones identifies the repetitive transfers of weight as a way of "occupying and taking up time and space on purpose.26 " The purposefulness that Jones articulates is a concrete gestural one that begins with the inventiveness of her own movement through space, a high leg kick and then a very slow drop for her leg, a creativity that is tied to purposefulness in its artistic and political manifestation. We can therefore consider the concepts that undergird each sensation with a corporeal assurance of completion despite the precariousness of imbalance, and attend to the many different parts of the body that participate in the sensation of carrying through that intention to place our feet on new conceptual ground.
II. Slow Walking in Public Places
Meditative slow walking has no predictive outcome or expected political result. Given the ever greater precision of the body's workings in its minutiae that consciousness of the walking movement creates, that focus can organize all thought during the slow walk—as the directives of Vipassana Zen indicate it should. But also, because it particularly activates and relies on the body's proprioceptive senses, the form of attention that begins from an awareness of one’s own body's movements does not remain within a closed system but extends to that which is external to those movements. In slow walking as a weekly practice, I have found my perspective on the relationship between the internal and the external tilting such that, just as I take each step with full and intentional articulation, I also pay attention to the environment that surrounds me in its socio-political dimensions. Sometimes, that absorption of the landscape for me means concentrating on the feel of clover and grass of the Landis Green brushing gently around my bare toes and recognizing the space as Florida State University, an institution whose first plot of land was a former plantation gifted by the slaver Francis Eppes. Or if I concentrate on the shift of weight as originating in my hips' heavy sway, attending to my pelvic bowl identifies the environment that surrounds me as a global space where women's reproductive rights are never a given. And, as I first discovered while slow walking in the dusty, windy sidewalk near a cement factory in Brooklyn, when I needed to roll my weight to my outer feet so that I could make it through the increasingly painful resistance of concrete, that ground surface reminded me that our built environment is rarely compatible with long pauses. Inhospitable to lingering, or hanging out while on foot, it is meant to keep you in motion from place to place.
The attentiveness generated in the slow walk calls us to "fram[e] the moment as it slips by, dance improvisation in particular says: Notice! Notice! Wake up to the arch of the spine,27 " as per Ellen Webb writing on how she incorporates Zen meditation techniques into her experiences of contact improvisation. I also attend to how the arch of my spine is arching in response to the specificity of the ground I walk on. In this regard, my experience of slow walking concords with May Joseph who has theorized how slow walking functions within her company, Harmattan Theater, as a "sustainable response to the impending crisis" of climate change.28 Founded on her knowledge of Vipassana and other east and Southeast Asian practices, their use of slow walking is aimed at forming a new relationship with landscapes that have been neglected. She compares the slow walk to "Eadweard Muybridge's freeze frame, stop motion process, where the participants/performers immerse themselves in each movement, engage with every phase of the gait, absorbing landscape through the walk.29 " As Joseph conceives of and practices it, the slow pace is meant to give the time to "unlearn" what is already assumed about the landscape and attend to it differently.
It is with the idea of learning new relationships to our shared landscapes and to feeling the intensity of my own body in the full awareness of sharing the space with other persons that I offered a workshop on slow walking as part of Field Studies, a four-day performance laboratory convened and realized by Schwadron in Brooklyn's Chez Bushwick dance studio.30 In the laboratory's showings, I invited audience members and participants to slow walk together, explicitly linking the practice with a political impetus rather than concentrating on the internal and micro-scale awareness. And while each person walking slowly will always choose how to direct their intention and how to place their attention, my program notes encouraged us to frame the slow walk with the visualization of refusing the state's baseline energy:
Slow walking is a meditative practice with political uses. As kleptocratic regimes institute new relationships to time by imposing a frenetic pace of destruction, slow walking in public practices enduring resistance without necessarily stating a goal for its action. This counter activity recalibrates the sense of pacing in our own bodies and creates relationships between one another and our local environments that are not mediated through the state.31
For five minutes at Chez Bushwick in Brooklyn, to the uneven sounds of the street below, the creaks of the smoothly worn wood planks, and one another's breathing, each of us negotiates our steps to slow them down. At first, I am really concerned with whether it's going too slowly, whether people are going to think it dumb and wasteful; but very shortly, the need to focus on my balance drives every other thought from the forefront of my mind until I have set forth a new steady rhythm, anchored in exaggeratedly high knees and followed by the weight of my torso then sinking down into my hips. I can peripherally see other participants developing their own approaches to slowing themselves down, and their repeated gestures alongside mine produces a calmness for me that becomes my world. That calmness is the certainty that I am accompanied in a similar project by people who are making their own corporeal discoveries in their own way. So when I see some of them stop at the edge of the wall and turn, having finished their walk, I feel no rush to catch up, and when I turn at the wall, finished with mine, and see others walking yet, I feel no regret in having walked too quickly or concern with them holding everyone up. Such judgments around time and efficiency are not germane. Instead, throughout the walk and for some time that follows it, I experience the calmness of the meditation as simultaneously internal, inclusive, and expansive. It is only a few minutes but, unmeasured and unrushed, the expansive and collective quality of the calm makes time, in Salvato's use of the phrase, and with it, replaces vertigo with the sensation of solid ground.
Being one among a group is a central element of slow walking in its political valence. I tested this out on a summer Friday evening, when I gave myself a challenge to solo slow walk in public, as public and symbolic a place I could think of, and an exercise that only a non-native New Yorker would conceive of: three hours on the Brooklyn Bridge. At no moment was I able to turn my attention inward as I had practiced. Instead, my concentration was focused on the awkwardness I felt at putting myself in the way of families with strollers, groups of friends taking selfies, and disgruntled pedestrians and bikers using the bridge as an actual path for getting from place to place. The practice of being in the way had been, of course, entirely the point of the exercise when I thought of it: First, in a broader sense of putting myself in the way of autocracy's speed, and second, in testing the discipline of my muscle memory of slow pace as an internal metronome and compass to guide my pace and direction against an external pressure of extreme distraction. So I did as I had practiced for months: I named the repeated gesture of my legs with the same litany. But the duration of the exercise brought new adjustments and experiments to the gesture: I fidgeted with—and instructed myself to stop fidgeting with—a small shoulder bag I had thought light when I had packed it, but that pressed against my soft jersey cotton shirt such that even that material began to chafe on the skin of my left shoulder and armpit; and as my knees and feet bones began to ache with still an hour left, I changed my gait from a slow but continuous roll to taking a quick, very short step and then pausing, limiting the time spent in suspension between steps. The specificity of the location also changed my path as I chose to walk on the furthest edge of the bridge, winding my body through the giant steel cables, resting against them, curving around them, more at ease with that opposition than navigating the flow of human traffic.
If the experience of making a public spectacle of myself was deeply uncomfortable and lonely, it discomfited the people with whom I shared the space as well. Particularly when I started creeping into photo ops, I could only gaze off into the middle distance to avoid the glare of the people who wanted me to jump out of their scenic backdrop, evincing a serenity I did not feel. Linking the practice of carrying through an intention with the discipline of completing a gesture of political participation, I began to think of my exercise in public solo slow walk as a sustained rehearsal for withstanding the embarrassment and fear possible in any kind of direct action. But because I was calling attention without any evident cause or explanation, the oddity of my being at a different pace from everyone else was not apparently read as a meditative practice linked up with a tradition of public protest. Instead, at least one person interpreted my slowness as illness. An older blonde woman whose accent sounded Australian twice put herself in my path, squooshed her body down, and bent her head forward slightly so that her eyes were level with mine and asked me anxiously if I were all right. Did the slowness of my gait at that point of the walk about an hour in, when my standing leg was trembling as I held my other foot above the wood slat, look like a physical emergency or a chronic motor function condition that required assistance? Alone and moving haltingly, my slow walking's temporality here may have crossed over with crip time, the definition of which as articulated by Alison Kader overlaps with Salvato's sense of making time: "Crip time is flex time not just expanded but exploded; it requires reimagining our notions of what can and should happen in time, [...] a challenge to normative and normalizing expectations of pace and scheduling.32 " Or did my non-normative walk worry this passerby that I was in psychological distress and that her intervention was needed so that I did not eventually harm myself and maybe even others? On reflection, I am thankful that my small female body did not cause her so much alarm as to involve anyone else, whereas if my body presented differently, her interpretation might have sparked more violent forms of inquiry.
Part of slow walking in public is the element of how non-participants will interpret it, an experience that rarely crosses over into that of the participants. On the occasions we slow walked on Landis Green in the center of FSU's campus, a site that often has tables for various causes set up, student groups practicing juggling, or pick-up Frisbee games, sometimes a few students would wait until we finished to ask excitedly about what we had been doing. But most frequently, they might redirect their path to avoid us without a curious glance, or at most pause and briefly consider before continuing onwards, and if in groups, commenting or wondering what this exactly was. Given the comments I would sometimes overhear, the most common interpretation was that, precisely because there was no overtly political explanation given, our slow walk must be some a kind of art or performance event.33 Marching is a long-used way to draw media attention to a social problem by getting in the way of the smooth workings of daily life. If slow walking has an outward political valence, it is in briefly hinting at how any aspect of social and political life, from the value of speed onward, might be different from the norm. While it can be on occasion very moving to see (primarily depending on the environment in which it is taking place), there is often almost nothing to see in slow walking, nothing spectacular about it that would draw sustained attention to it, and as a byproduct, to its cause. The politics of slow walking are therefore not in its viewing, but in its doing.
Because its glacial pace defies a specific directionality or type of change, slow walking does not speak the language of political campaigning, petition-signing, or other channels designated for citizens to engage elected officials and state institutions. It specifically disengages from their temporal cycle. In this regard, the refusal to tie an action to a legislative demand might be closest to the function of Occupy movement, which likewise grounded its political and social transformation in a daily remaking of the world for its participants. As Stephanie Vella writes in conversation with Maurya Wickstrom about their experiences in Zuccotti Park from September-November, 2011:
There would be no integration into the electoral process, no legislative act that would prove a victory. Rather, the act of being there— whether it was reading a social media feed or forming a human chain around our library, arguing with strangers about whether or not Marxism still could offer us anything, or figuring out, with a few hundred other people, how we were going to do laundry—seemed to be enough at the moment to pull an emergency brake on the self-producing manifesto of neoliberalism, and offer something else: a manifesting of the present.34
Occupy in Zuccotti Park did not generate its energy from an oppositional participation in electoral politics, an opposition that would confirm that system's totalizing capacity to organize social structures. But in dedicating itself to creating another form of belonging from a different set of parameters, it did become the grit in smooth neoliberal production, pulling the brakes on another destructive train in another political moment.
Dialogue, direct action, and experimenting with alternatives to neoliberal capital exchanges in living together to create a specific experience of belonging are all cited in Vella's recollection. Slow walking likewise aims to radically decenter the political norms that loudly insist that they determine the only bases for constructing our experiences of belonging to the social sphere and to one another. In making time with others and with the specific environment in which you slow walk, you create the opportunity to make your relationship with them anew. Because it focuses on speed, balance, and how both are experienced in the body, slow walking has offered me the occasion to feel my way around and through confrontation, developing modes and attitudes that do not attempt to match the force of my opposition. But because slow walking objectively does nothing in terms of a direct action in protecting those individuals and populations who are targeted for brutalization by white supremacist institutions and persons, I do worry that stepping out of the speed of ramping-up institutional and individual violence can translate into a habit of stepping aside and making way for cruelty. My hope is that, to the contrary, the practice of slow walking is one of many ways of being in the way: In doing it, I create a reserve of calmness in my body and a certainty that I can always recalibrate my internal pace and my sense of what should be the norms that govern my existence. That is, the current U.S. regime does not define justice even as it controls the judiciary, nor does it delimit my imagination of how we can experience and offer one another a sense of belonging—and when I have finished slow walking together with others, I know this to be true in my own flesh.
1. Protesting against the ban and advocating for Florida State University to declare itself a sanctuary university for immigrants, organized in part by the Students for a Democratic Society in Tallahassee organized by Students for a Democratic Society which marched from Florida State University's Integration Statue to Westcott Fountain for a rally and then to the old State Capitol building. back to text
2. See the Tallahassee Democrat for a story of how this counter-protest included the active taunting and threatening of a Muslim family walking past them. Byron Dobson, "FSU, national offices of Kappa Alpha fraternity investigating claims of harassment," Tallahassee Democrat, February 6, 2017, http://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/2017/02/06/fsu-national-offices-kappa-alpha-fraternity-investigating-claims-harrassment/97558944/ back to text
3. This chant is taken from the tagline of the Reddit subforum supporting the forty-fifth president of the United States. back to text
4. This insistence was redoubled in our brief and garbled conversational exchange, right after when I stammered dumbly that most trains have brakes for good reason, and voices shouted at our quickly retreating figures "well this one doesn't" and "build that wall." I will note that while none of these students could have known that I am the daughter of a Peruvian immigrant and identify as Latinx, my facial features are generally read as not white in Northern Florida. back to text
5. Nick Salvato, Obstruction (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016), 101. back to text
6. The Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles and the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. feature exhibits on the initial caricatures and discourses that led to massive human rights catastrophes and genocide, while the sustained work towards African-American liberation that courses through the activism of Black Panthers, the prison abolition movement, and Black Lives Matter demonstrates that the fight for full citizenship is a continuous one in U.S. political life. Or as Philip Agnew phrased it as part of a panel on "Activism in the Age of Trump" at the Activism in the Academy Conference organized by the Black Faculty and Student Network at Florida State University, "In the south, we've lived under Donald Trump already" (February 10, 2018). back to text
7. In a tweet-thread on the way that fascism runs, Twitter user @pookleblinky scaled up to modern media the timeline of Hitler's consolidation of power in Germany to remind us of the unexpected speed of shifting institutional norms: "Fascism moves, let us say, 5 times faster than you expect. You don't have4 months, you have 24 days before that last exam question." "You have 3 weeks to loudly, visibly, and angrily prevent each obedience test from setting the standard of normalcy the next one violates." (@pookleblinky, November 14, 2016). back to text
8. Lindy West, "The first 25 days of Trump have been a zoetrope of galloping despair," The Guardian, February 14, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/14/first-25-days-trump-despair-united-states back to text
9. Lynn Hunt, "Presidential Address: The World We Have Gained: The Future of the French Revolution," American Historical Review (December 2003): 5. In this article, Hunt who is a historian of the French Revolution, cites political commentator Jeanne-Marie Roland's letter: "we are living through ten years in twenty-four hours," (5) as an example of the sensation of revolutionary time, where time was no longer dependable, and "seeming to both stand still and speed up," was experienced as "out-of-joint" (5). back to text
10. This work was inspired by a slow walk her composition class with Jurg Koch had performed in public on Red Square at the University of Washington campus. back to text
11. William McNeill, Keeping Together in Time: Dance and Drill in Human History (Cambridge: Harvard University Press), vii, 3. back to text
12. My thanks go to Dasha Chapman for highlighting this phrase from my introductory remarks. back to text
13. China Miéville, "The Limits of Utopia," Salvage, http://salvage.zone/in-print/the-limits-of-utopia/ back to text
14. Headlines of think pieces such as "While you were distracted by his tweets, over 2,000 new bills have been introduced to Congress since Trump took office," Al-Jazeera FaceBook Video, March 15, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera/videos/10155321830593690/ or David Graham, "Trump's Quietly Growing List of Political Victories," The Atlantic, January 18, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/01/what-trump-has-accomplished/550760/, imply this incapacity to focus on any one branch of government's work at once, or to pay adequate attention to all the political shifts taking place and therefore act against them appropriately. back to text
15. See Heather Love's "Small Change: Realism, Immanence, and the Politics of the Micro," Modern Language Quarterly 77, no. 3 (September 2016): 441, for her discussion of Claudia Rankin's poetry and its microscale fine-grained description as " break[ing] open the category of ordinary trouble, suggesting that violence both permeates the social order and is visible frame by frame, second by second. Citizen shows that attention the micro-scale is not inherently conservative, that exactitude can be a political resource." back to text
16. Ann Mazzocca, comment during Field Studies workshop I, June 1, 2017. back to text
17. Dr. Hannah Schwadron is Assistant Professor in the School of Dance, Florida State University. Her experience in slow walking meditation results from her dancing with Yin Mei Critchell. Interview conducted on July 12, 2017. back to text
18. Pamela van der Riet, "Vipassana Meditation: One Woman's Narrative," Collegian 18 (2011): 38. back to text
19. Jonathan Cole, "Proprioception," in Oxford Companion to Consciousness, eds. Patrick Wilken, Axel Cleeremans, Tim Bayne (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 536, writes, "Though much of the information about movement is fed into the brain at a level below conscious awareness, our perception of movement can be demonstrated by experiments in which joints are moved passively and then, when our attention is focused, we can detect very small movements." back to text
20. Cole, 537. back to text
21. Elise Walker, "Proprioception: Your Sixth Sense," Helix: Connecting Science to You, October 27, 2014, http://helix.northwestern.edu/article/proprioception-your-sixth-sense. back to text
22. Simon Gandevia "Proprioception," in The Oxford Companion to the Body, eds. Colin Blakemore and Sheila Jennett, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001) back to text
23. Salvato, 96. back to text
24. For a historicization on how theories of proprioception have intersected with scientific development of the sense of kinesthesia, see Susan Leigh Foster's "Movement Contagion: The Kinesthetic Impact of Performance," in The Cambridge Companion to Performance Studies, ed. Tracy Davis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008). Foster summarizes John Gibson's The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems (1966) as: "Gibson argues that these sense organs contribute a continuous sense of one's orientation with respect to gravity and one's motion through space as well as a generalized sense of bodily disposition—where one is tense or relaxed, expanded or compressed, even the precise angle of each joint. Gibson further proposes that any act of perception depends on the detection of the just-noticeable difference between sensory input and bodily disposition" (50-51). back to text
25. Lion's Roar Staff, after Arinna Weisman and Jean Smith. "How to Do a Walking Meditation," Lion's Roar: Buddhist Wisdom for Our Time, accessed March 14, 2018, https://www.lionsroar.com/mindful-walking-how-to-do-walking-meditation/ back to text
26. Adanna Jones, comment during Field Studies workshop II, June 3, 2017. back to text
27. Ellen Webb, "For the Taste of an Apple Why I Practice Zen," in Taken By Surprise: A Dance Improvisation Reader, eds. Ann Cooper Albright and David Gere (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2003), 240. back to text
28. May Joseph, "Slow-Walk: Climate as Volatility and Expansive Political Practice," Dance Research Journal 48, no. 3 (December 2016): 90. back to text
29. Joseph, 91. In this comparison to stop motion, Joseph is thinking of the performers' experience. It might equally apply to what slow walking looks like to observers for whom all of the lively micro-movements are invisible and unavailable. back to text
30. For the past five years, Field Studies has been financially supported through Florida State University's AHPEG grant, which Schwadron won for scholar artists to develop work in an environment of supportive peer critique through the laboratory. The 2017 iteration included as its participants Adanna Jones, Ann Mazocca, André Zachary, Cyd Watson, Melissa Templeton, Rebecca Fitton, Stephen Fiehn, Trent Williams. back to text
31. Jeannine Murray-Román, "You Can't Go Wrong With Slow Walking," Program notes for Field Studies, Brooklyn: Chez Bushwick, June 4, 2017. back to text
32. Alison Kafer, Feminist, Queer, Crip (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013): 28. back to text
33. See Susan Leigh Foster, "Walking and Other Choreographic Tactics: Danced Inventions and of Theatricality and Performativity," SubStance 31, no. 2&3 (2002): 125-146, on the uses of walking in modern U.S. dance. back to text
34. Maura Wickstrom and Stephanie Vella, "Duration and Space: The New Manifesto of Occupy Wall Street," in Manifesto Now! Instructions for Performance, Philosophy, Politics, eds. Laura Cull and Will Daddario (Bristol: Intellect, 2013), 44. back to text
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Foster, Susan Leigh. "Walking and Other Choreographic Tactics: Danced Inventions and of Theatricality and Performativity." SubStance 31, no. 2&3 (2002): 125-146.
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