The fear of being Understood

“As soon as someone says to me that they understood my performance, I become instantly discouraged.” —Kazuo Ohno

This quote to me exemplifies what is wrong with most dance. Once it, the dance, the art is understood, the artist fears that it is destroyed. Why does understanding something destroy it? I remember once hearing a friend say that she didn’t want to know too much. How can we ever know too much? The more we learn the more we learn how much we do not know. The more we learn about astronomy, the more we learn that there is an almost number of stars, nebula, planets out there to investigate. The more words we learn, the more questions we can formulate.

Ohno’s quote makes me thing of the post I wrote recently about formulaic vs. poetic. It also reminds me of a quote I heard once but can’t find anywhere about philosophers. Something like the greatest fear philosophers have is that they will be understood.

I think people fear being understood because they themselves are actually hiding behind a mask, a curtain. Like the Wizard of Oz. Yes, they can do what they do and do it well. But they want a bigger more grandiose image of themselves for people to see so that others will be impressed and so that they do not have to explain themselves, because that can be arduous and (cynically) they really can not articulate what they are doing/thinking/feeling. The next time you hear someone say that something was good or bad ask him or her to articulate why. Dollars to donuts, s/he will not be able to do so.

Why should we laboriously articulate our thoughts, when we can just express them emotionally (wrapped and bundled in signs, signifiers, etc) in a shorthand that leaves room for interpretation? If expressed clearly, we might find out clearly, that there isn’t as much there as we would like there to be.

The imagination after all is more powerful, than…