Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The soothing qualities of repetitive hand motions.

I have been reading an essay by Charles J. Doane in Sail Magazine called:

The Purity of Motion
Might there be something divine in the way a sailboat moves?

And I ask, might there also be something divine in the working of trained, skilled hands, that would be felt as a distinct loss or longing in the lives of those who have not been awakened to it? My students seem to enter that state when they are given a fresh sheet of sandpaper. The following is from Doane's essay:
For more empirical support I can point to the burgeoning science of neurotheology. Its major premise is that the human impulse to practice religion—most specifically, the urge to enjoy mystical unitary states of oneness with the larger cosmos—-is rooted in the basic biology of the human brain. A key stimulant to achieving such states, according to some experts, is repetitive physical rhythms that block neural flow to certain important orientation areas of the brain and so dislodge egoistic notions of self. This explains, so the theory goes, the emphasis on ecstatic rhythmic dances found in various primitive religions and more subtle forms of rhythmic prayer and chanting found in more-sophisticated religions. It also explains commonplace soothing and/or ecstatic rhythmic experiences, such as the rocking of babies and the cheering of rabid fans at major sports events.

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