Further Consideration Of F.M. Alexander

Alexander Technique teacher Ed Bouchard wrote in 1997 this second foreword to the second volume of Jeroen Staring’s book, The First 43 Years of the Life of F. Matthias Alexander:

…Staring supports his point of view. He examined hundreds of primary documents, voice manuals, medical lectures, tracts, articles, reviews. Bit by bit, with the deliberation of a forensic anthropologist, he pieces together a new history of Alexander’s work. Staring concludes that Alexander did not develop the Technique by the painstaking self study told in The Use of the Self. Instead, Alexander derived its elements from voice pedagogy and turn of century physical therapy. By portraying himself as its sole originator (and as its personal embodiment), Staring argues, Alexander mystified the work, taking it beyond the scope of science. And, he says, Alexander promoted motor habit self-education with bogus evolutionary premises that are explicit in Alexander’s language but difficult for a modern reader to discern.

This deconstruction undermines the myth but not the core truth in Alexander’s self-rehabilitation story — the merits of diligent motor habit self study. Staring acknowledges “the value of the practice.” But he says the theory has “no value at all” because eugenics and racism permeate Alexander’s philosophy. Without understanding evolutionary theory, Staring says, we cannot readily differentiate wisdom from nonsense in Alexander’s writing. Staring finds little wisdom.

Staring uncovers medical and performing art sources, unknown until now, from which it appears Alexander developed his work. If this is true, Alexander’s synthesis is no less an accomplishment, its benefits no less valid. Learning of its development liberates motor habit self-education from the grip of the lone genius creation myth.

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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