F. M. Alexander

The teachings of F.M. Alexander have had more influence on my life than those of any other teacher (aside from Dennis Prager).

Reading the book F. Matthias Alexander: The Man and His Work by Lulie Westfeldt, I was struck by some similarities between Lulie and the Dennis Prager fan (I include myself in this group).

F.M.’s teachings changed Lulie’s life for the good. She gathered her savings and became a part of his first teacher-training group, which began in London in February 1931.

She writes:

We were all starry-eyed… We admired FM uncritically and wholeheartedly, and he basked in our admiration. We were indeed a mutual admiration society with everyone admiring himself and everyone else and FM most of all…

At this time all of us felt that ‘der Tag’ — the day when Alexander’s work would be universally recognized, appreciated, and used — was just around the corner. To our inexperienced eyes there were sound grounds for this. A number of very promising opportunities seemed on the verge of coming to a head, and there were people of fine quality impressed by the work and anxious to promote it…

Still another opportunity that seemed most promising was the interest of an American foundation in the work. FM had been talking about this for some time. He said the foundation wished to donate money to further the work, in what way we did not know. He said it was a great opportunity and that he might have to go to the United States to see the people there and work out plans. He spoke vaguely about it, and his vagueness increased, but we did not recognize this as a danger signal, for we did not at this time know that FM had a way of killing an opportunity, although in the beginning he apparently accepted it and rejoiced in it. His rejoicing had every indication of being genuine… When a promising opportunity came, he would suggest that we all drink sherry together in honor of the occasion, but shortly after that a veil — an ever-thickening veil — would be dropped over the whole affair, and it would be practically impossible to find out what actually happened, except we would finally know that in some way the opportunity no longer existed. (Pg. 50, 51)

His attitude towards us was very much like that of an uncle, but an uncle with no responsibility. As long as we caused him no trouble and did not cross him in any way, he liked to have us about. He liked us as an audience and as an inner circle which would always give him admiration and support. But when it came to a showdown, it was not likely that we would have any say whatsoever.

…[H]e was a genius, going his own way with strength, impervious to the opinions of others, thinking in a different way from most men, having different values as to what was important, attending to different things…

We began to suspect that we were to be on our own. We would have to hold ourselves responsible for learning his work as best we could.
(Pg. 63)

I’ve never heard Dennis mention FM Alexander.

While they are both great men, I see enormous differences between Prager and Alexander. Alexander’s interests, for instance, were narrow, while Prager’s are wide.

FM didn’t have friends, he only had followers. Dennis has friends.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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