Nature

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With the expulsion of man from nature and the creation of a surrogate “natural space” in the form of cities, halls, stadiums, shopping malls – physical movement loses the uniqueness and steadiness that it can have solely within a natural environment, and becomes a phenomenal form of the ruling relations. Libertarian play inclines towards a genuine natural space. Instead of creating special spaces for physical exercise, the way it used to be in antiquity (stadium, hippodrome, gymnasium, palaestra) which are assigned the status of cult sites where, through physical agonic activities, men tend to achieve a harmony with the cosmic order and to elicit divine erotic enchantment – nature itself should become a cult site where the life-creating cult would be worshiped through life-creating activism that enhances the natural through development of man’s playing being. Genuine naturalness, in a word, authentic motion, is possible exclusively in nature, which for man represents not only a physical, but also a historical, esthetical, living, and visionary space – which means that nature is the sole space in which man can experience the wholeness of his own natural, human, and historical existence. Nature “enters” man by means of motion. When man steps into the water and starts swimming, this experience not only sets the basis for other physical activities, but it also influences the development of his senses and opens new spiritual spaces – which becomes the basis for the development of the creative imagination; his perception of the possible is being completed through his ability to move; he actively realizes a contact with nature and atones with his own natural being. Richness of the inner life-creating impulses can be experienced and refined in the space where life thrives in innumerable and astonishing forms. Senses react to the swinging of branches, the quivering of leaves, to the richness of sounds, scents, colours… When he finds himself in a glade full of flowers or by a mountain stream, man finds out that he is fascinated. A spontaneous, authentic human reaction: fascination – reason accepts with surprise and unease. Man does not disappear within the richness of natural forms and motions, the way it happens to the animal; instead, he becomes a human being. His rapport with nature occurs through personal experience that becomes a creative and motivating inspiration contributing to the further enrichment of his personality. Man’s need for free physical activism should be also comprehended as a need to go beyond the environment in which he, as a man, is encumbered. In that sense man perceives a “return to nature” as existence within a space that is neither given nor defined with artificial boundaries, but in which he can, over and over again, create new horizons by means of his own physical and spiritual activity. For man, natural space is at the same time spiritual space; physical motion is at the same time spiritual motion. When human sight perceives mountaintops protruding through the mist, this represents a symbolic “fusion” with the world that exists “beyond”, and that becomes an imaginary space of desired humanness – the vision of which is an inspiration for the creation of the new world, and not for escape from the existing one. At the same time, a sip of fresh mountain water develops man’s longing for a life in which he would exist at one with nature and, thus, with his own natural being. Nature as life-creating life, the thriving of life in an extreme variety of forms and the unity of all forms of life – induces man to create life. Hilarity, fascination, exaltedness – these are all erotic reactions stimulated by a stay in nature. When man’s senses are better developed he can experience nature more intensively, absorb its scents, sounds, colours, motions, merge with nature more completely and more intensively and be nourished by its power. Being in unity with nature means being in unity with one’s own primary life-creating powers. Replenishing the power of nature represents an inspiration for creative activism, not for the adaptation of man to the established (life) rhythm. Living nature “never repeats, but renews”. However, it does not represent a mere surrender to the rhythm of life which then acquires an abstract, mystical aspect: man is the creator of his own world. Only when fear of nature (through mastering its rules) is eliminated and the esthetic sense (playing being) developed, does man attain a chance to experience the richness of natural forms as creative, libertarian inspiration. In authentic play man comprehends and experiences himself as the utmost form of life-creating natural being.

With animals adaptive-existential activity dominates. In the course of the struggle for survival, a qualitative jump occurred in the development of living creatures, in the form of man: with the development of instincts, senses, physical mobility, and of the intellect, the development of creative powers took place – which became the basis for the “detachment” of man from nature and for setting up an active (change-aspiring) relationship with nature. While creating a civilization man has not developed his own playing nature “inherited from animals”, but has developed his own specific playing being which continuously “breaks through” the limits imposed on him, in the form of an established “play”, by the ruling order. There is no continuity of animal play in the play of man. A similarity of behaviour between some animal species and man does exist – based on which Huizinga made the wrong conclusions. Through playing, man does not confirm his animal nature, but his human nature – becomes man (unique personality), while the animal through “playing” becomes an animal (a member of the species). Engendering (one’s own) freedom is the essence of man’s play, unlike animal play where natural exigency is being reproduced. Creation of play as a symbolic form, which as such represents the highest point of humanness, provides human play with a special aspect. Apart from this, unlike animal play, human play tends towards creation of new worlds, which means that it has a visionary disposition. There is no “tenseness” between animal and civilization, upon which philosophy of play insists; this “tenseness” exists between man’s libertarian and creative nature and the repressive (destructive) capitalist civilization.

Man’s body represents his immediate nature, his elementary and natural existence, and the basic possibility for his achieving a unity with nature, his “un-organic body” (Marx). A distinction should be made between civilizing and cultivating the body; between disciplining and humanizing the body; between the repressive and the libertarian pedagogy… In sport the body is civilized “by means of discipline”; libertarian physical culture endeavours to humanize the body by means of cultivation: free physical development requires free development of the personality. In sport, the body is moulded, which means it is systematically mutilated in order to achieve the imposed prototype that incarnates the principle upon which the ruling order is based. Sport and physical exercise do not just nurture the body – they nurture man. A relationship to the body is in effect a relationship of man to other people, to the world and his own self as a man. Man as a universally creative being “corresponds” to a creative body. Instead of acquiring skills for performing certain motions (exercises), attaining abilities to create motions, the meaning of such a body and of such abilities as enable the articulation of a creative (playing) personality of man – this represents one of the most significant challenges for libertarian play. In playing, the dynamics of biological rhythm obtain a human, and consequently, cultural, that is, libertarian (visionary) dimension. The rhythm of motion becomes a spontaneous expression of man’s creative pulse and, as such, a non-replicable indicator of humanness, and its “sign mark”. In lieu of the ideal of strength, speed, rigor (which are oriented towards the creation of a liege/performer nature and conscious that should eventually bring about the turning of man into “lethal flesh” and a vehicle for destruction of life) the challenge should shift towards mobility, softness, coordination, self-control, intention, spirituality, tremulousness, motion towards man and nature, harmonious development of the entire body – which corresponds to man’s universal creative potentials and to his human (individual) complexity. Creative mobility is a basic aspect of a healthy body. It requires surpassing of the artistic motion as a way of producing artistic forms and sensual effects (object, colour, sound…), and affirmation of the genuine playing motion that represents a creation of humanness in an immediate form. Physical movement becomes an expression of man’s playing nature, which means that its essence consists of man’s motion towards another. Man’s relationship with his own body, as an immediate nature, is possible exclusively by means of another human being.

Development of a universal creative body and of lavishness of motion is the basic condition for development of mind, man’s libertarian and creative personality – which is one of the key objectives of the libertarian play. This represents an essential difference between physical culture and sport, which requires an ever earlier specialization that disfigures not only the body, but also the mind. Rousseau was one of those who perceived the existence of the conditioning linkage between the development of sense-based mobility skills and the intellect. From there derives one of his most significant pedagogical instructions: “Exercise incessantly his body; endeavour to make your scholar strong and healthy, so that he can be clever and intelligent; let him work and act, let him run and shout, in a word, let him be constantly in motion. Let him primarily be man per strength and he will shortly be man per intellect.” (1) In his developmental psychology Piaget has indicated the fact that sense-based mobility represents the first stage of the development of the intellect: based on concrete action-related operations the body attains knowledge that represents the foundation of the whole of cognitive development. From there derives a conclusion that stereotypical models of motion limit the development of intellect. Imposing a defined model of behaviour at the same time represents the infliction of a defined model of thinking (which means stereotyping and maiming the mind), but also of interpersonal relations, the concept of the world and man’s position towards the world. This is most clearly expressed in Coubertin’s “utilitarian pedagogy” which represents a modern Procrustean bed. It should not be forgotten that “physical education”, which dominated in the 20th century, was generated in the greyness of the military gymnasiums and was, thus, limited to mere physical drill. Libertarian play represents an integral part of the overall culture of man as a universal freedom-creating being. There is no cultivated body without a cultural man – there is no free movement without a free man. The intention of libertarian play is not to limit and deform man’s instinctive actions through aggressive exercise, nor to create valves for their release in the form of violent and destructive behaviour, but to help those actions attain their refined expression while respecting man’s individual personality. It is, therefore, not a matter of developing a model of (physical) motion that should be imposed on man, but of encouraging the creation of motions that would enable each individual to express his own specific and non-repeatable personality.

Creation and imitation should be distinguished. Like many other “naturalists”, Hebert rejected the emancipating heritage of the physical culture and reduced body movement to behaviour imitation of the Brazilian Indians. Instead of humanizing the body and the body’s movement through the cultural (emancipating) heritage of modern society, “naturalizing” the body and its movement occurs through re-introduction of “primitive” movements which represent spontaneous expressions of its original naturalness, and are not limited by any imposed stereotypes that destroy man’s vitality – as happens with the aristocratic and Christian physical cultures. What we have here goes for copying the movements of the Indians, who are reduced to being “savages”, taken out of their original historical environment (living conditions, hunting, war, religion, customs…) and are, thus, deprived of their cultural contents, and reduced to technical movements that are assigned the dimension of “naturalness”. Man cannot attain his own naturalness by imitating the movements of animals or those of the natural environment, but by means of culture, in a word, by means of a creative activity in which man’s concrete historical (social) movement towards another man dominates. Instead of “melting into nature”, where man loses individuality, development of humanness, which corresponds with creative discontent, should be the goal. Instead of immerging in the existing world, a new one should be created.

The most immediate form of nature-humanizing is body-humanizing. Outdoing the capitalist world, dominated by the dehumanization and denaturalization (robotization) of man, requires humanization of man’s natural being (which at the same time represents his own naturalizing), in a word, liberation of the body (nature) from the destructive ruling order, and asserting the humanized original natural motion aimed at man within which the libertarian creative essence of man is being expressed. “Immerging in nature” is an illusory opposite to “technical civilization”. What occurs here, in fact, represents man’s immerging in the existing world at a “lower” level of civilization – the way it happens with physical culture of the Far East where man as an emancipated personality, which, as such, in his position towards the world, tends to create a new world in his own human (libertarian and creative) image – does not exist. “Naturalism” is an off course in a struggle against the “technical world”. The humanization of natural motion and not naturalizing of the technical motion is what we are talking about here. “The liberating transformation of nature” (Marcuse) requires artistic motion, and therefore a developed artistic being. Playing a violin does not merely require attained flexibility of the fingers, hand and arm (technique of motion), but also a development of an artistic (creative) being. In that sense flexibility of the human body requires a creative body: development of the esthetic feeling represents the basis for development of sense-based motion. It is a matter of a natural motion humanized by means of the emancipating heritage that forms man’s cultural and, thus, his playing being, and which manifests itself in a relation towards repressive (destructive) behavioural forms imposed by “technical civilization”. Play becomes the utmost form of man’s “embracing” the world and his most immediate relationship towards his own natural being, and also towards nature in general. Man does not “return” to his natural being by means of play as a specific sphere, but through transforming of his entire life into a humanized natural life: “humanization of nature” is achieved through totalizing the world by means of man’s playing being.

Regarding the relation between play, on one hand, and science and technique, on the other, we are not advocating the establishment of parallel spheres, but bestowing on science and technique an artistic nature which would enable them to become the means of humanization of nature and of man’s natural being. Rousseau’s “return to nature” deals with the notion of a “noble savage” in whose behaviour the principle homo homini homo est dominates, and, consequently, so does the motion of man towards another man. Voltaire ridicules Rousseau and fails to notice that his “noble savage” has a metaphorical quality and represents a critique of the distorted aristocratic world deprived of naturalness and humanness. In the same way Rousseau and the philanthropists formed their “alliance” with nature in the struggle against the ancien régime, contemporary man should form an “alliance” with nature against capitalism – only now the struggle is not merely for freedom, but for survival.

In order to be able to humanize man’s natural being by means of libertarian (life-creating) play, man’s original natural motion should be identified and respected. Libertarian play tends to enable such a passage from natural towards creative motion as will not cause negative impact on the development of a personality and becomes a source of frustration. This does not mean that man should return to the water, but that he should have a notion of his own original natural motion, of the psychological and physical consequences deriving from forced adapting of his system to concrete living conditions (standing upright, walking on two legs…), and he should know what he must aspire in order to be as close as possible to his own natural being. It is complete nonsense to assert that man was in “unity with nature” a long time ago. In pre-historical times man was merely a part of the nature. In order to merge with nature man had to become a man, which means a self-conscious being capable of having a relation towards nature and, based on this relation, to merge with it.

                  Man’s playing skills are the basic expressive option of his playing being, and richness of expressive possibilities represents the basic precondition of the esthetic (libertarian). It is grounded in the cultural heritage of mankind and represents the utmost form of the refined body motion. In libertarian play skill does not present itself as independent from man, from the (objective) social sphere, but as a form of specific (individual) human expression. Skill and the way of playing do not derive from play as a separate social sphere that possesses its own mechanics of development and its own rules, but from a spontaneous, creative relationship between men, where one man is another man’s inspiration for play. In this context the playing skills developed in sport (giving up the ball, dribbling, etc.) can be productive. Genuine playing skills require annulment of the technical sphere as an intermediary in fulfilment of man’s playing potential, in the context of annulment of institutional (repressive) intermediation between men. The range of creative spirituality, opulence of sensuality and of interpersonal relations based upon solidarity and tolerance – which means the fullness of man’s playing being – this represents the basis of the playing skills and playing manner. Instead of “motion control technique”, body, glance and vocal conversation should be introduced… The acquiring of skills through (body) motion control requires development of human powers, of a rich and unique individuality, and, thus, the fulfilment of individual predilections, and not the pushing (destroying) of humanness into the background and adapting man to the “model citizen” pattern. Genuine human motion is aimed at the whole lot that impedes man’s overcoming the existing world, that restricts, moulds, and degrades him… Development of playing skills becomes an expression of the development of man’s universal creative (playing) powers. This represents the basis for the development of the creative physical activism that attains its expression in physical mobility. Healthiness, spirituality, harmony of motion – all are comprised in physical mobility as a supreme spontaneous play of nerves, muscles, tendons, joints, heart, lungs… Genuine physical motion requires a genuine engagement of the organism. This does not merely mean “the exerting of a large number of muscles”, but a harmonious activity of the entire system, from whence derives the “softness” of motion which determines physical “elegance”. The ideal of harmonious physical development corresponds to man’s creative universality. Man’s prolific creative life should become the basis for the development of his playing skills. No free and contented personality can exist if man does not liberate his body and his motion from destructive capitalist civilization. The supremacy of libertarian and creative (playing) motion should be established, and this motion turned towards man and the living world (nature) that has no intermediary but represents man’s genuine necessity for other men. Development of playing skills is being manifested as openness towards the future, as creation of novum, and not as “improvement” of the playing model that represents a ritual expression of submissiveness to the ruling order, within which man is being reduced to a mechanical doll. The most important task of libertarian play is to enable physical motion, through the development of man’s artistic being, to become the playing motion by means of which man will attain “unity” with himself as an undivided creative being, and society will become a playing community. Schiller’s position “education by means of art is education for art” is one of the most significant postulates of the libertarian play, for education by means of libertarian play is education for the free society. Regarding the universal grammar of motion (skills), it provides possibilities for establishing of a comprehensive approach to body exercise, however, at the same time it enables creation of an artificial body language which is more of a technical (strictly defined motions, repetition, “objectivity” of the form being developed as an area alienated from man, space defined in advance…) than of a cultural nature. Instead of assigning a defined model of body and motion, which is, in essence, of a repressive nature, a spontaneous motion which is an expression of man’s playing being should be strived for: richness of motion is conditioned by richness of the playing personality and by development of interpersonal relations.

Human motion cannot be perceived merely from a technical or organic (purely medical) aspect. Not solely the body, but also man as a historical and social being plays a part in the motion. The relation of man towards another man, the world, nature, the future… is comprised in it. Giving up the ball is not an action of throwing an object from one position to another that has an “objective” form and technical character, but is a humanized (by means of cultural heritage) motion of one man towards another man and, as such, represents establishing human community in an immediate form. This is what constitutes its concrete historical (social) nature and endows it with a “soul”. Play is not an immediate relation of man to himself, but requires the existence of a playing community of emancipated, creative personalities where the motion of man towards another man dominates, and where homo homini mirrors humanness. Therefore, development of interpersonal relations represents a conditio sine qua non of play. The playing disposition is a potential human disposition that can be actualized exclusively within a community of free and creative personalities. Play is a result but, at the same time, also a supreme spontaneous form of man’s self-creation and a supreme mode for generating society as a community of free people. The spontaneity of play requires an emancipated personality. If this is lacking, the effort to express uniqueness leads towards extremism, narcissism, aggression, destruction… Richness of personality is a basic precondition for opulence of interpersonal relations and vice versa. Each new friendship opens up a new human space inside man, develops his sense of humanness, in the same way a developed esthetic sense provides opportunity for distinction in music or painting, experiencing and creation of an abundance of tones, forms and colours. It is essential to develop a communal spirit while developing, and not destroying, individuality. The immediate goal of libertarian play is not to produce records, improve playing techniques, develop the play as a normative sphere and create a healthy body, but to create a healthy society within which creative personalities will be developed.

Man’s need for another man is the basic quality of his life-creating being. Therefore, man’s motion towards another man, as a humanized motion of a live being towards another live being, represents the essential motion of man as a specific natural being, and as such represents the basis of life-creation. Eros, as a synthesized life-creating energy, is the most important source of man’s motion towards another man, based upon which life as a playing act can be developed. Love play between man and woman is the supreme form of play where the unrestricted playing being is expressed, in other words: “production” of humanness in the most immediate form. It represents the supreme form of humanization of man’s natural being. Life-creativeness represents the essence of erotic union with the nature and basis of erotic play. Without it, enjoyment in the erotic relationship is compensational, which means of an adaptive nature. Already in antiquity, in the homosexual (paedophilic) relationship, sterilization of man’s (society’s) life-creating ability occurred, by means of partition of the erotic from the naturally reproductive (fertile). In the homosexual relationship Eros loses its life-creative disposition and turns into an anti-existential principle. Narcissistic, homosexual and lesbian Eros represent a clash with man’s natural life-creativeness and, therefore, with the likelihood of the erotic as a humanized natural relationship. The option of love play as the life-creating play between genders is being abolished, and the life-creating sexual relation is being reduced to technical fertilization of women – to technical production of children.

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