Thinking Through

Passing through, through yourself, through the others,
through the room, passing through, through, through all the time,
crossing through all the time, through, through,
until you become invisible.
David Zambrano


Photo by Raquel Fonfría, EXIN workshop in Ponderosa in 2014.

[Original en español.]

Cioran said there is no worse poet than the person who only reads poetry. Little good is done to dance by the person who only engages with the body through the prism of a single word, even if it is a word that has come from the other side of the world. If you only go to butoh workshop you understand little of what butoh could mean. One must be guided by wisdom, not etiquette. The debt that Butosofia has to the work of David Zambrano is immense. In his work, the dissolution of the individual in an emergent space includes jumping, slipping and unfolding from the velocity of reflections. It involves sweat, the gaze of presence, running, pausing, seeing, physical and mental exhaustion, and above all, the ability to go beyond difficulty, burns, blisters, blood, and other uncategorizable pains. To go through everything and to go in spite of everything – isn’t this the leitmotiv of being born, to go through at all costs, mixing death and life? For Zambrano, and no one who knows him will doubt it, dance is a way of life. Dance is a vision and a philosophy – a way to think and a way to live.

Thinking creates the space where we live and dance. The core of thought is the dis-position of place, the opening of space. No place can contain thinking. The thought does not happen anywhere: thought is the space taking place. Thinking passes through. Thinking exposes. To think of the in-between, to think of gaps, of margins, of difference, of hiatus, etc., as does contemporary academic philosophy, does not create the revolution it pretends to, because it loses the essential function of thought which is to create space. To think of… isn’t to think in the noblest sense. To think through, passing through created space, crossing through old ideas: that is the virtue of a thought that can only be conceived in movement.

To think something is also a superficial understanding, as it is a form of alienation by thought. To think of something is to consume it, to analyze it, to crumble it, to dismantle it, to destroy it. An idea, wrote George Bataille, is a thought that hasn’t been thoroughly thought through. To think through something is to accompany mental contents all the way to the abyss, it is to cut through signification, breaking down its walls. Thinking brings us to the edge of meaning – to nothingness, to something without reason, to a creative madness. Truly thinking generates a newborn mind, a mind totally involved in the medium it imagines, like a fish dreaming up the ocean, submerged in the experience without preconceived or distorted ideas, approaching a nascent space, a newborn space that always unfolds relationships, a collective birth where inside and outside are made simultaneously.

When Zambrano is sharing Flying Low and Passing Through, practices that he has developed through three decades and that dissolve into one another at a certain horizon, one doesn’t know if we are in a dance class or a participatory performance. What exactly does David Zambrano teach? The music is turned all the way up, the bodies are warm, smiling, sweating, rising and falling as fast as they can, spiraling, running from one side of the room to another other incessantly, dancing. Are they really practicing each phrase, each step, each walk and each spiral? They do only superficially. The essential proposal is to go through. Highly trained and physically enviable bodies that don’t understand this basic component receive a resounding No! from the barbed artist-genius. They execute the work without passing through it nor through them. They don’t permeate it, puncture it, or come out the other side of it. Other bodies, not as gifted for conventional dance, receive approval in spite of an unmistakable clumsiness. Dancers cry out at the injustice! Why him yes and me no?! Egos and passing through never went along very well together… And, with practice, you develop the eyes and vision to be able to see through. You understand that what Zambrano really teaches is a way to think. He doesn’t teach ideas, or doctrines, or what to think. Thinking, as Zambrano understands it, can only be transmitted through movement because movement is where living ideas evolve. The moving body can never be a hypocrite for who knows how to see. In dance you can’t say one thing and do another. The moving body, for someone who can see through, is always naked: by seeing how you move, one can understand how deep down you think (in the body, in the subconscious) and not how you would like to think. Zambrano teaches how to think through, how to pass through the world and how to let life pass through us.


Translation: Michael Fleit (original)

David Zambrano’s web and art center:

Intensive extensive workshops of passing through and flying low:

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Una respuesta a Thinking Through

  1. blancadakini dijo:

    Precioso texto e interesantes apreciaciones, dan ganas realmente de conocer a Zambrano, ahora bien no creo que el espacio se pueda crear, al igual que el silencio, surge cuando cesa el ruido, quizás su más alta función sea Ver. Saludos y gracias!

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