"What Was the Human For?"

Movement and Spiritual Philosophy

Extended Online Multi-class Seminar, with Zhenevere Sophia Dao

2 Upcoming Classes:


Online with Zhenevere Sophia Dao

5 Weeks on Wednesday Evenings, beginning July 6th

6pm—7:15pm MST USA

$80 for the entire class/$20 per class otherwise

From Wednesday, July 6th—Wednesday, August 3rd

I’ve always wanted to teach a class that combined the study of poetry (the deep reading of poetry) with Mythosomatic movement/forms. In the late nineties, through the Taos branch of the University of New Mexico, I taught a class on the sacred (and, concurrently, the so-called “profane”) in poetry. Perhaps once a year I still hear from some one of those students, reminding me of the memorable effect of that gathering. (There are a few students still studying with me, who were in that class). More recently, I taught a more generalized course on poetry. But, very strangely, I’ve never taught a class that combined explicitly poetry and movement, as its subject. 


This coming July, I will be teaching a class called: MYTHOSOMATIC MOVEMENT and SPIRITUAL POETRY. “Spiritual” poetry can mean many things to many people. I’ll be imagining that word to mean whatever forms of desire commit to profundity. For it is the commitment to profundity that feels so taxed by the culture of distraction that characterizes our times. In fact, one could consider that poetry represents the polar opposite of distraction. Social media has inarguably tremendous and manifold benefits. But one of the reasons I’ve never been on social media is that, as a poet, I have not wanted to impinge upon the mysterious occasions for poems, poems which arrive, at least for this poet, on a different and slower pulsation than the baiting of cursory attention.


Much as we will practice Mythosomatic forms with a heightened sensitivity and concentration—a distillation of life force—so, too, will we read together a gathering of poems that I will collect from older times to the present, that satisfy that aforementioned criteria of “a form of desire that commits to profundity.”


For the first 30 minutes of the class, we will move. Our forms will be simpler than the recent introductions of the newer, more theatrical Mythosomatic forms. The point will be to cultivate a superabundant somatic sensitivity that will draw us closer to the state of poetry itself—and then we’ll read and discuss the poem(s).



Online with Zhenevere Sophia Dao

5 Weeks on Saturday mornings, beginning July 9th

9am—10:15am MST USA

$80 for the entire class/$20 per class otherwise

From Saturday, July 9th—Saturday, August 6th



We left off the last Saturday morning class on the brink of the discussion of the “Negative Capabilities” of Post-Daoism. The term “Negative Capability” comes from the English Romantic poet, John Keats. He meant by the term (to simplify), a general existential disposition toward life of surrender and presence—perhaps the most Buddhist attitude imaginable of any Western poet. My use of the phrase is rather different. I am essentially interested in the religiosity of passion, in the broadest sense of the term, by which I mean powerful engagement in the meaningful. I am interested in the way in which the human heart, and human emotion, seems to represent our most honest approach to nature. I’m fascinated and bewildered by the way human consciousness in history has developed for the most part the faculties of reason and logic, and underdeveloped the education of the soul, whose voice is emotion. Even in our own time, I’m amazed that unflappable equanimity is often upheld as the highest spiritual development, and sensitivity and emotion, when they threaten productivity, are seen not as divine insights and privileges, but as a liability to continuity. Further, it seems to me, in fact, that the reason for our actual lack of continuity—for we are now clear about our own unsustainably—is that we do not feel enough what it actually is to be human. 


In this class, we’ll go step-by-step through all of the stages and styles of Post-Daoist Negative Capability. I want to explore the way emotion teaches us how we belong, and helps others to whom we show feeling see how they, too, belong. And I want to explore very carefully the distinction between emotions that bind us to meaning, and emotions that recklessly (and often selfishly) destroy meaning and continuity. Indeed, I want with this class to push deeply into my most recent writings on the subject of emotion, namely the notion that so-called “destructive emotions” may not essentially be emotions at all, but reactions to the absence of emotion. 


Though this class extends and deepens the material on the Post-Daoist Yin and Yang that we discussed in the last iteration of the seminar, one needs no prerequisite for this course.

We'll begin this class with perhaps 15 minutes of simple Mythosomatic Movement, in order to draw the numinous nearer to the senses. Then we'll have lecture and discussion.