Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ignatius of Loyola directs mimetic and histrionic kittens to play religiously on stage: copy-catechism

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From The Idea of a Theater by  Fergusson
The Histrionic Sensibility: The Mimetic Perception of Action

The trained ear perceives and discriminates sounds; the histrionic sensibility(which may also be trained) perceives and discriminates actions.Neither form of perception can be defined apart from experience but only indicated in various forms of its use...

Kittens in their play seem to be using something like our histrionic sensibility. They
directly perceive each other’s actions: stalking an imagined quarry; the bluff and formal
defiance which precedes a fight; flight in terror; the sudden indifference that ends the
play. Their perception of each other’s actions is itself mimetic, a sympathetic response of
the whole psyche, and may be expressed more or less completely and immediately in
bodily changes, postures, and movements.  The soul of the cat is the form of its body; but to some degree the soul is actual in different ways in different moments, depending upon what the cat believes, or make-believes the situation to be...When kittens perceive and imitate the actions of grown cats, the histrionic sensibility is being used for educational, moral (or by analogy) religious purposes: to explore the potentialities of the cat nature and the dimensions of the world in which the cat finds itself...

The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola  would seem to be far removed from the play of kittens; yet their purpose is to reveal, through the techniques of make-believe, the potentialities of human nature and the realities of the human situation, as Loyola understood them.   When he explains to the devout how to make present to their feelings and imaginations as well as their reason, scenes from the life of Christ, he  sketches a technique like that which the Moscow Art Theater used to train actors. His immediate purpose is similar: to reveal a scene significant on many levels, and a mode of action capable of evoking a mimetic response of the whole being pp 236-238, The Idea of a Theater, Fergusson

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