The Extended Mind—and Heart
Last weekend, I participated in the monthly intensive for my doctoral program. Zeerak Ahmed led a two-day workshop, “Critical Immaterial Art,” and she created the space and the assignments for each of us involved to produce art pieces outside our routine media. Most transcendently and expansively, it was in the sounding, listening, and hearing within our group—under her compassionate guidance and mediation—that we collectively experienced something far beyond our individual parts, something deeply enriching intellectually, artistically, socially, and emotionally. I emerged from the immersion in our cohort’s collaborative flow refreshed, inspired, and empowered to continue my individual work as well as to deepen my connections.
Annie Murphy Paul’s latest book, The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain, explains the phenomenon my cohort and I experienced last weekend; validates a number of theories I formulated in my iterative experiments as a parent and an educator; and advances my understanding of what feels so valuable to me in my current efforts and development as an artist who uses the body and movement as a core part of my praxis. Annie organizes her text into three parts—Thinking with Our Bodies; Thinking with Our Surroundings; Thinking with Our Relationships—and each part is divided into three chapters (Thinking with Sensations, Movement, and Gesture; Thinking with Natural Spaces, Built Spaces, and the Space of Ideas; Thinking with Experts, Peers, and Groups), followed by a conclusion, acknowledgments, extensive notes (the map to further discoveries!), and a detailed index. Thorough, clear, and compelling, The Extended Mind has already become an important guide to themes emerging in my own fictional and thesis writing.
In the end, though, what it comes down to is this, this joy: Zee created a context in which I was able to fall more in love with ideas, people, and life; Annie concludes her book with, “Acknowledging the reality of the extended mind might well lead us to embrace the extended heart.”