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Oddly Enough, Shakira

Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll was born on February 2, 1977 in Barranquilla, Colombia. The name Shakira is Arabic (شاكِرة, šākirah), meaning “grateful.”

She enjoyed singing for schoolmates and teachers, but in second grade was rejected for the school choir because her vibrato was too strong. The music teacher told her that she sounded “like a goat”…

One day, her father took her to a local park to see orphans who lived there. The images stayed with her and she said to herself “one day I’m going to help these kids when I become a famous artist.”

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Shakira is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and is one of their global representatives. “Shakira, like all our Goodwill Ambassadors, was chosen based on her compassion, her involvement in global issues, her deep commitment to helping children, and her appeal to young people around the world.” 

– wikipedia

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I must admit that Shakira does sound like a goat sometimes. And I don’t like her music all that much, except Hips Don’t Lie which is essentially drugs for the ears, like most other catchy music. (Ugh, give me more.) But she sounds absolutely lovely. I mean, as a person. Not her music.. I mean, I don’t know if… well, I guess it’s a matter of personal taste.

I’ve been watching people dance because I myself am so terrible at dancing, just the most awful, ridiculous dancing you’ve never seen, hopefully. And then I read this study about people claiming to have photographic memory. There’s no such thing. What happens is that the eyes take in information, and the brain fits that information into preexisting context – loading data into a preinstalled program, if you like. (I shall maybe have more to say about computers as metaphors for humans, later.) The specific people they chose for that study were chess masters. They were flashed photos of chess games in progress, and they could recall the pieces’ positions completely accurately afterwards. However, when the pieces were placed on the board in random positions that weren’t possible in games, the chess masters’ recall basically shut off. Because there was no context. There was no program to process the data.

(It wasn’t mentioned there, but also people who can recall text instantaneously, are working off the program of language, which everyone has, it’s just that their program is quicker, I guess. If you flashed these same people a literal photograph, of, say, a room cluttered with objects, I’m sure they wouldn’t be able to recall all the items – although I could be wrong? I don’t know.)

Anyway, I realized that I don’t have a preinstalled program for dancing? If you think about it, dancing is one of the most intricate interactions of mind and body and emotion. I think that’s why it moves people so much. I don’t believe it has as much to do with wanting to fuck the dancer as most people think. If the dancing is skilled and expressive enough, it’s as intimate and revealing as any poem or song or story.

(I’ve been told I’m good at writing, but I don’t think anyone will ever pay me to write things like this. I don’t even know what I’m writing about.)

although… I guess Hips Don’t Lie isn’t an example of that. But! I appreciated so much her control over her body. Not control like suppression, which is what we’re all used to doing with our bodies, I think (preventing ourselves from punching stupid people, preventing ourselves from having sex with sexy people, preventing ourselves from eating entire cakes) but control like… guiding. Like, I am feeling this, I am thinking this, and then the body shows it, exactly as she meant it. That’s wonderful. And what I was getting from that, the feeling and the thought, was: I am happy. Everything is secondary, maybe she does want to fuck, that’s what the song is about anyways, but she wants to fuck because she’s happy.

I’m taking dancing for PE this coming term and I’m very nervous. I dropped it the last time. I was dancing the swing, or maybe it was the waltz, with this doughy bespectacled guy and then I just said, “Fuck this shit,” and walked out and never went back. Because my parents are rich, I almost never have to face any serious consequences for my actions, so that turned out okay. But I still do have to take it again.

Let me turn real quick to the condition of schizophrenia. Dr. Alexander Lowen’s central theory, or whatever you call it (statement? hypothesis?) is that mental health is a continuum, with complete mental health on one end and schizophrenia on the other. And that everyone is somewhere along the continuum. And that what pushes a person closer to one end or the other is the unity between mind and body. That a person who is not in touch with their body is not in touch with himself or herself. I have never read or heard of any other mental health professional who expresses any concern with the body other than the usual eat / sleep / meds, take care of your body as if it were a machine, that sort of thing… but if we were to consider the schizophrenic as the most mentally unhealthy of all, then that holds up exactly. The schizophrenic lives inside his or her mind only, not in the body. Seeing and hearing all these things no one else does. Unable to see things right in front of them. They can even tickle themselves, because their bodies can’t identify the motions as self-initiated.

Because everything is about me, let’s talk about how that applies to me. I’ve lived – and still live – most of my life inside my mind. I’m a writer, after all. It’s what I do. And not a writer about life. I don’t go out and experience things then write about them. Things happen to me and then I experience them later when I write about them. As a kid I read all the time, didn’t really join games outside and things like that. Could that be the reason why I don’t have the program for dance? But anyway, the dance program is like just one of a suite of programs, all dedicated to e/motion. That would include sex. Which is maybe the only one in my suite that works well. (I have a sport but I’ve gotten decent at it only through a lot of time and repetition.) Sex is the only time I can have things in my brain other than word-thoughts. Even when I play music, whatever’s in there is still words, letters – lyrics, or chords. When I look at art. When I watch movies. When I watch dance. All the time, words words words. I can’t just feel. I think I don’t really like this. Only sex makes it turn off. And, well, touching.. maybe touching in general… I had a best friend in high school, whenever we saw each other we would hug each other for minutes at a time, just stand in the hall or wherever we happened to meet and just hug. Hug, not hold or caress or whatever. I wasn’t in love with her then. She definitely wasn’t in love with me. That made it stop. When I had a boyfriend I kind of liked him better sometimes when he wasn’t speaking. Then he would lay his head on the table and I’d run my fingers through his hair and he’d say how nice it felt. I have a dog who cries if I don’t let her sleep in my bed. That also helps me not think. When I’m out with someone I want to touch, I like to sit close to them. Instead of across the table from them. That helps too. My friend said it was dumb. Whatever, her nails are so long, she’d rip me to ribbons if she ever touched me.

It didn’t stop, though, when I was with ____ , because, what’s next, I could fall? I’m walking closer and closer to the edge and I’m somehow supposed to not worry about falling? Back to safety.

Did you want a beginning, middle and end? I did, too, but I don’t think I’m gonna be able to do that tonight.

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