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Educação e Pesquisa

versión impresa ISSN 1517-9702

Educ. Pesqui. vol.40 no.1 São Paulo enero/mar. 2014  Epub 15-Oct-2013 

Expressions of the sensible: readings in a pedagogical key


Expresiones de lo sensible: lecturas en clave pedagógica



Luz Elena Gallo

Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia. Contact:




This article results from a hermeneutic study about the education of the body with the object of analyzing the conditions of sensibility under a pedagogical perspective seen as a part of the study of Physical Education. In such investigation we think about the sensible in respect to education from a philosophical, pedagogical, and experiential approach; the study of the sensible is thereby grounded in the philosophical thinking of Friedrich Nietzsche and Gilles Deleuze, and the pedagogical reflection on education is based on the ideas of Jorge Larrosa and Fernando Bárcena. The theoretical documental analysis carried out here is not aimed at reproducing concepts or ideas, but at analyzing those situations in which sensibility gives rise to other forms of thinking about education, since the concern with the conditions of sensibility also includes the need to see the close relationship that the body has with Education. Thus, some physical practices are explained in this text under a pedagogical perspective in order to show the influences exerted upon the body. Following the symbolic dimension of the body, physical practices are, above all, physical symbologies; they are ways of speaking about the body that guide us in thinking about an education of the sensible. This experiential approach to dancing, playing and walking allows us to deal with the analysis of education and of the body on the basis of experiences which are, perhaps, divested of their educative meaning; this manner of looking into the pedagogical is a possibility to think about an education of the sensible based on the body.

Keywords: Education of the sensible — Physical Education — Learning through experience — Aesthetic physical practices.


Este artículo surge de un estudio hermenéutico sobre la educación del cuerpo cuyo objeto es analizar las condiciones de sensibilidad en clave pedagógica como ámbito de estudio de la Educación Corporal. En esta investigación se piensa lo sensible en relación con la educación a partir de una ruta filosófica, pedagógica y experiencial, por ello, el estudio de lo sensible se enmarca en el pensamiento filosófico de Federico Nietzsche y Gilles Deleuze, y la educación en la reflexión pedagógica de Jorge Larrosa y Fernando Bárcena. Con el análisis teórico documental que se realiza no se trata de reproducir conceptos ni ideas, sino de analizar aquellas situaciones en que la sensibilidad despliega otras maneras de pensar la educación porque la preocupación por las condiciones de sensibilidad pasa también por la necesidad de ver la estrecha relación que guarda el cuerpo y la Educación. Así, en este texto se exponen algunas prácticas corporales en clave pedagógica para hacer ver las potencias que se ejercen sobre el cuerpo. De conformidad con la dimensión simbólica del cuerpo, las prácticas corporales son, ante todo, simbologías corporales, son modos de decir del cuerpo que nos orientan para pensar una educación de lo sensible. Esta ruta experiencial del danzar, jugar y caminar permite abordar el análisis de la educación y del cuerpo desde experiencias que, quizás, están desposeídas de significado educativo, este modo de preocuparnos por lo pedagógico es una posibilidad para pensar una educación de lo sensible desde el cuerpo.

Palabras clave: Educación de lo sensible — Educación Corporal — Aprendizaje a través de la experiencia — Prácticas corporales estéticas.



A look into the sensible in relation to education

We learn nothing from those who say: 'Do as I do'.
Our only teachers are those who tell us to 'do with
me', and are able to emit signs to be developed in
heterogeneity rather than propose gestures for us to

Gilles Deleuze


In the first place, the sensible as an aesthetic concept has to do with what happens to the/our body, with this power to affect and be affected. To occupy ourselves with the things that happen (to us) means to give importance to the circumstances of the things: Why? In what cases? Where? When? How? In which cases is physical practice in expression of the sensible? Perhaps, it happens when we think that learning has also to do with what body can do. If the body is composed of zones of intensity, of forces, of relations that give life to it, it is capable of actualizing its potentials. When Spinoza tells us that we do not know what a body can do, he is prompting us to think the body with respect to education because, perhaps, we have not been taught to experience with what the body can do, and to think in terms of power implies thinking in bodily terms.

To think the body in education implies to redefine it in view of the powers and forces that influence it. Thus, what constitutes the being of the sensible is the difference of intensity and the difference is what really matters, what involves and what "moves the soul, "perplexes" it – in other words, forces it to pose a problem" (DELEUZE, 2009, p. 216). The intensity will be determined by the unequal, the disparity, the multiple, the diverse. If the sensible has to do with the intensities, how can we make the differential sensibilities matter in a corporal practice?

Now, we are placing here the sensible next to education. In what cases can we say that there is a knowledge in the education of the sensible? To account for it, we need to bring along an idea of education, one that places us at the locus of the happening. A happening in the educative context is an eruption, it happens when something prompts us to think, it is something that breaks away from the continuity of time; we can say that a happening creates experience in us when it creates something in us and does not leave us intact, thus education is experience of learning the new (BÁRCENA, 2002; FARINA, 2005; BÁRCENA, LARROSA, MÈLICH, 2006; LARROSA, 2006; GALLO, 2011; GALLO, 2012).

The knowledge of the sensible puts us in a plane that is distinct from theories whose knowledge is founded in laws, in measurement; the proof, the abstraction of oneself, the objectivity, the distinction, the clarity, the norm and being guided by an imperative of the reason constrict intuition, imagination and the body. We can say that an education of the sensible places itself in the locus of the heterogeneous, of the plurality, it accepts the incertitude, the diversity and it is a form of production – poiesis, act of creation –, the latter being a mode of knowing. Today we know that there is a new modality of educative experience that tries to emphasize the body, and that in its sensible variations rescues the imagination, the contemplation, the attention, the feeling, the perception, the awe; and also the principles of introspection, subtlety, inexactness, finesse and variability.

We know that Education separates the sensible from the thought, that it gives more relevance to the intellective than to the sensible, that it privileges the intellectual and moral aspects in detriment of corporality, that there is a discord between sensibility and thinking. Does Education concern itself with what the body can do?, for example, with what the body expresses as potency and with seeing what is not visible, listening to what is not audible, touching what is undisturbed, and with the taste of the words?

Even though we see, listen, touch and taste too many things, we need perhaps to learn to see what we see in order to aim carefully; is aiming to accept what we see such as we see it without modifications? Or are we faced here with the need for an ethics of the aiming? (BÁRCENA, 2004). Someone who is willing to learn becomes an apprentice of aiming, and unbidden spectator, yearning for light, a reader eroticized by knowing, someone interested in the things. Perhaps, we need to learn to listen to what we hear in order to listen attentively and delicately.

The voice, this sensible face of the language, that which makes language more than just intelligible, more than just on the side of meaning, that makes it more than just an efficient and transparent instrument of communication, that makes it more than just a mechanical voice with nothing inside that says things (…) the voice would then be something like the flavor and the resonance of the language (LARROSA, 2008, p. 2)

A friend told me long ago that a university class is a place where some words, or some ideas, pass from the wrinkled papers of the teacher to the brand-new papers of the students, without having passed through the heart, or through the head, or through the body, or through the soul of neither the teacher nor the students. I would not say that this is vomiting. But that it seems to me that in such a place one cannot learn by ear because no one speaks and no one listens. (p. 3)

All learning has to do with an encounter, learning takes place between two, one learns to listen carefully, one learns to look carefully, indeed true learning does not arise from what one already knows, but from what one is about to know, it is probably a matter of attention. If the teacher does not propose models because she is not interested in shaping the other, her possibility lies in emitting signs, signs that stimulate thinking and feeling. If we are faced here with an idea of learning as a relation, learning has also to do with tact, with making contact. Tact is a term related to that which is intact. What can be taught with educative tact? Perhaps, touching in a sensible and aesthetic sense, a manner of proceeding that notes certain textures, going through the affection, the proximity, the approximation, the receptivity. "The experience of touching the other - as all tactile experience - is always an experience of oneself" (BÁRCENA; MÈLICH, 2000, p. 181).

Certainly, having a taste for something

[...] supposes not just a strict relation of mere affect or musicality with the words; it has much more to do with affection, with commotion, with perplexity, with awe. (SKLIAR, 2011, p. 9)

When we teach with taste the words we enjoy stand out, and we create resonances with the words because they touch and connect us with life and they produce vitality in us. We suggest for an education of the sensible that we follow what exists in the words instead of what the words are.

If we ask what there is in the word body, the concept is enlarged, reinforced or disarticulated according to the lines or layers of variations that it coordinates, ramifies and orders, the concept orders or connects with other aspects that compose it. What there is in the word is what lies in between, what lies in the middle of it, between it and something else, or in the space in between, therefore the word body acquires motion, speed, variation and direction. Now, if we ask what is the word body, the concept crystallizes, it becomes determined in its identity, in its essence and it is immobilized, and we speak generally of empty concepts.

My friend, concerning the words. I do not know of any words that can lose us: what is a word that it can destroy a feeling? I do not confer to it such power. For me or words are miniscule. And the immensity of my words is but a pale shadow of the immensity of my feelings. (TSVIETÁIEVA, 2008, p. 219)

Some expressions of the sensible in a pedagogical key imply learning to see, listen, touch, taste, think, feel, imagine, create, desire. These expressions are variations of the sensible which, when extended from the body, put us in contact with a variety of possibilities.

Learning, as Deleuze puts it in Difference and Repetition, does not happen in the reproduction of the same, but as the encounter with the other, with the other's. One does not learn a bodily practice by imitating, by doing the same, but by taking risks in new gestures, expressions, orientations, positions. One does not learn through imitating a motor action already made, whose representation one has recorded with the purpose of making an exact imitation or copy of that motion. Perhaps, one learns by following the gesture of what one has been doing, or what the body can do in the same instant that motion is made. Learning from a bodily practice requires decision, paying attention to the relevant, allowing the re-creation, attending to a kind of poetics of creativity, according to which the planes are not given, but where new planes of meaning are created; this only acquires meaning with certain idea of Education that forgoes the pretension of control, of technique, of modeling, and lets itself be guided by the interest of the relation of the subject with the world, with certain invitation to the care of the self, to keep ourselves identical because if we think ourselves as a fixed and immutable identity we cannot say that thanks to education we fracture ourselves, we break ourselves, we lose the rigidity of the I and make ourselves in different manners because one that learns has a history, a biography in which he or she does not remain fixed, then we can invite the other to learn and it is here that the educative tact has a subtle influence on the other.

Learning making oneself sensible to the signs of the body puts in play the concepts, the perceptions, the affections, the sensations. Concepts as "new forms of thinking", perceptions as "new forms of seeing and hearing", and the affections as "new forms of experimenting" (DELEUZE, 1996, p.260). Here we meet a new form of stimulating a sensible happening, a body is affected by what happens to it, when that which it goes through shatters it, destabilizes it, creates knots, foci in it, and affects its sensible points. That which we go through produces effects upon the way we see and understand ourselves, it produces effects upon ourselves, and then we can create new ways of being, new forms of thinking, of seeing, of listening, and new forms of experimenting. For example, through a bodily practice we can dislodge, destabilize the body, new forms of reference are put in motion and the forms of the experience the body goes through are changed.

The value of learning resides in the happening of an experience, in the fact of being a happening, something that does not confirm to us what we are ready knew. Therefore, learning is not accumulation, and the learning of a new bodily practice cannot be subsumed to a mere repetition, or to the confirmation of the same. The experience is not had, it is made, it happens to our body, in a bodily practice the learning relies on an experience that is situated in the body itself, in this expressive and revealing power of the action.

We referred to learning as something that happens to us as human beings and as something that, at least in part, we can change. Learning is a happening, a singular experience. Bárcena and Mèlich (2000, p.162) tell us that

[…] there is no learning without experience. There is no genuine learning if we fail to submit ourselves to the rigor of the happening of an experience which, to a large extent, escapes our control. Each educative, potentially pedagogic, situation contains a plot that, when deciphered, allows us to make its educative meaning erupt.

Now, there is a risk in learning, in a bodily practice, that nothing happens to us, that nothing changes.

According to Deleuze, the body keeps its organs but they are disorganized by the forces that run through them, thereby interrupting the process of the disposition of the organs as organism. "The body is more alive the more it is affected by the forces that disorganize it as organism" (BEAULIEU, 2012, p. 48). Why should we let the body be disorganized by these forces? Because they liberate the body from its organic functions, they put it in a situation of expression, they make it sensible to these forces, they make it experience a state of strangeness, they destabilize it. For this reason Deleuze admires the characters in Beckett's works, obsessed in exhausting the possibilities associated to bodily attitudes; his admiration for Kafka and the nomenclature of the postures of his head that he proposes in his work: inclined or raised, a head that exceeds its limits. Deleuze, in The Time-Image, resumes his study of the body through the filmmakers of the body, explaining that movies have the power to show the effect of the vital forces upon the body. What does it matter? To put in images the possibilities of the body, to show the forces that impel the body to exceed its capabilities, the adoption of postures, the change in gestures, the action of one body upon another, the creative act, the composition of the bodies with sound and visual effects. In short,

Deleuze renews emphatically the link with Spinoza: that a body is capable of making itself into a perpetual and intensive becoming that can surprise itself. (BEAULIEU, 2012, p. 56)

What the body is capable of as potency cannot be determined; the power has to be understood as this force that pushes us towards something, as this desire that is determined by affections. From this perspective, the designer corresponds to a capacity of being affected in multiple ways with a view to enhance the working power of the body. Spinoza tells us that the body can be affected in many ways through which its working power increases or diminishes.

Now, we intend to recover the forces that affect the body through some bodily practices. A bodily practice constitutes an intensive variation of the body with respect itself. What experiences is the body; it is the body that becomes fully expressive and sentient. A bodily practice is a form of the sensible related to the sensation, because it is a modality of the experience: at the same time born from the sensation and something that occurs through the sensation.


Forms of expression of the sensible

As forms of expression of the sensible there are bodily practices that we can understand as the actions or forces that act upon the body, for example, when we dance, play or walk there are visible forces of pressure, dilation, contraction, stretching, of calm, anguish, pleasure, etc. What body are we talking about? Of an intense, intensive body that has levels and thresholds of variation, there where the body escapes itself but, in so doing, discovers the materiality that composes it, in a few words, when the music raises its sound system and its multipurpose organ, the ear, it targets anything but the material reality of the body.

It is certain that the music runs deeply through our body and places an ear in hours, in our lungs, etc. But it drags precisely our body, and the bodies, towards another element. (DELEUZE, 2009, p. 60)

Richard Sennett (2009) in his The craftsman presents two arguments: firstly, that all abilities, including the most abstract, begin as bodily practices; and secondly, that technical understanding is developed through the power of the imagination. The first argument is centered on the knowledge obtained by the hand through touch and motion. The argument about imagination starts with the exploration of the language that tries to guide and orient the bodily skill. This language reaches its maximum functionality when it shows in an imaginative way how to do something.

We could say that the bodily practices correspond to a bodily performance1, power of creation, flow of relations that exposes us to processes of (trans)formation. The performance is characteristic of artistic bodily practices such as theatre, dance and music. Antonin Artaud, in the first half of the 20th century, emphasized the performative features of theatre, and required of it that it should be a performance of rituals that aimed at an emotional and sensory attack on spectators and actors. In the musical field, John Cage reduced the importance of directors and composers to a minimum

[...] leaving the composition merely to those that put it on stage and leaving to the spectators the task of understanding the (lack of) unity among the pieces. (MACKELDEY, 2010, p.101)

If we take on the challenge of overcoming the domination of the technical in a bodily practice, we can say that they are expressions of the sensible, and even more, they mean to bring closer an educative knowledge and a poetic knowledge. Through a bodily practice we can create novelties in education; the poetic dimension is a symbolic world that can allow us to produce new meanings and open up new forms of saying something to education. We know that contemporary education feels great fear towards all language that is not cognitive; knowledges that emerge from the body seem to go against the intellective and for that reason they are classified as less important. Pedagogy has left aside the poetic languages: the body, the literature, the poetry and, paradoxically, the artistic-bodily forms of expression are the ones that show how things can be different, that bet on difference, on utopias, that break away from periodic forms; it is possible to say again to education that the expressions of the sensible need to occupy their place.

Let us see some examples; there are bodily practices in which one repeats a gesture, others have variations of speed, there are also abrupt gestures that lack grace because each one of them would be enough for themselves, there are others that are gentle and have grace because of their fluidity and ease. There are somatic practices that bring together methods oriented towards the learning of the awareness of the body from personal experience; there are motions whose dance reveals, repeats, rethinks and reinvent forms, we even say that when someone develops an ability that which is repeated changes content.

Sennett (2009, p. 54) tells us that:

Skill development depends on how repetition is organized. This is why in music, as in sports, the length of a practice session must be carefully judged: the number of times one repeats a piece can be no more than the individual's attention span at a given stage. As skill expands, the capacity to sustain repetition increases. In music this is the so-called Isaac Stern rule, the great violinist declaring that the better your technique, the longer you can rehearse without becoming bored. There are ''Eureka!'' moments that turn the lock in a practice that has jammed, but they are embedded in routine.

Paul Valéry, great admirer of la Argentinita2, to the point of dedicating to her his "Philosophie de la danse"3, shows us that the body in motion can generate a power of change because something can happen.

To be in motion means to be outside things, outside the habitual marks where things are distributed with greater or lesser stability in space. (DIDI-HUBERMAN, 2008, p. 28)

In what sense can we say that a bodily practice can generate an educative experience? In the sense that something happens (to us), touches (us), happens (to us) in terms of intensity and resonance, and it constitutes a happening to the extent that it generates meaning because we gave a value to the things that happen (to us) or to what we feel when we swing, dance, walk, swim, play. Based on the idea of education as experience, we can say that it is an experienced feeling, a thought in commotion. A bodily practice that leaves aside the geometry of the body in motion is capable of inverting or changing the direction of the gesture, to avoid contacts, to leave a motor scheme, or said in a different way, it is capable of creating a new aesthetics, of turning the motion into an intensity of the experience, and intensity even in the repetition.

The attitudes, gestures and motions of the human body are ridiculous to the exact extent that this body makes us think of a simple mechanics or, even worse, in a mechanics subject to breakage or to unforeseen disturbances, which elicits broken, non-fluid gestures, visible difficulties, rhythmic irregularities, unpredictable motions. It elicits the image of the body defeating the soul, even of a person giving us the impression of a thing. (DIDI-HUBERMAN, 2008, p. 95-96)

Through a bodily practice we can know about the experience and, thereby, about the body. If the human being produces himself, this means that from the forms of expression of the body visible forms of the experience of the person are made that transport him to a different level of reflection and sensibility. We can say that the variations in speed of the body are received in order to open the perception of a bodily experience. With that we propose a pedagogical idea of formation that emphasizes that this person is made in her body. Thus, the bodily practices as forms of expression of the sensible are converted into spaces for experimentation, and that gesture captured in the dance puts in relation the perception, the body and the knowledge.

The dancer does not have the hearing in the ears. Her muscles hear the feeling of the world through melodies that make her articulations contract and distend in gestures. Her whole body is ready to detach itself from the melody to articulate itself in rhythms that speak other language. (DE SANTIAGO, 2004, p. 517)

Nietzsche (2009, p. 314) tells us in The Second Dance-Song:

At my dance-frantic foot, dost thou cast a glance, a laughing, questioning, melting, thrown glance:

Twice only movedst thou thy rattle with thy little hands – then did my feet swing with dance-fury.

My heels reared aloft, my toes they hearkened, – thee they would know: hath not the dancer his ear in his toe!

When we establish a relation between the bodily practices and the sensible we want to move towards an aesthetic configuration of existence: why does Zarathustra dance? In the first place, to protect himself from the spirit of heaviness and, in the second place, because he wants to teach how one becomes light; dancing transforms and metamorphoses the dancer, making heaviness be converted in lightness. Wagner, for example, is a musician that cannot dance, we can only swim; there are places where people dance little because they are possessed of the spirit of heaviness.

Now the essence of nature is to express itself symbolically; a new world of symbols is necessary, the entire symbolism of the body, not just the symbolism of the mouth, of the face, and of the words, but the full gestures of the dance, all the limbs moving to the rhythm. (NIETZSCHE, 1998, p. 70)

In order to explain the dancing, we put Paul Valéry before the dancer, not as a dancer himself but as a spectator that observes and gathers impressions and intuitions, to then express them through language and make them known to us. But this time he does not shape it in language as a poem, but, used to the philosophical thinking, he writes an essay. And thus he reduces the distance between his feet and his head to make the dance fulfill the very characteristics of the essay, since for Valéry dance is life itself.

Before Mme Argentina captivates you and whirls you away into the sphere of lucid, passionate life created by her art: before she demonstrates to you what a folk art, born of an ardent and sensitive race, can become when the intelligence takes hold of it, penetrates it, and transforms it into a sovereign means of expression and invention, you will have to resign yourselves to listening to a few observations on the art of the dance by a man who is no dancer.

You will have to wait a little while for the moment of the miracle. But you are quite aware, I am sure, that I am no less impatient than you are to be carried away by it. (VÁLERY, 1998, p. 173)

The author tells us that dance is not limited to be an exercise, an entertainment, an ornamental art or a game of society; it is a serious thing, here the body experiences, translates itself to a space-time which is not exactly the same as that of practical life. On occasion, some of the motions seek a pleasure that reaches a kind of intoxication.

When we read about some of the bodily practices in a pedagogical key we want to reveal the powers that are exerted upon the body as a form of experimentation. Thanks to the fact that the body in motion allow us to make experiences, the bodily motions make it possible to make symbolic readings of the body, in which we come closer to the expressions of the sensible through some examples: dancing, playing and walking which, among others, are converted into the possibility to make resonance with the exercise of powers that the body has.


The art of dancing

I learned to walk; since then have I let myself run.
I learned to fly; since then I do not need pushing in
order to move from a spot.
Now am I light, now do I fly; now do I see myself
under myself. Now there danceth a God in me.
Thus spake Zarathustra...



Nietzsche made use of the artistic manifestation of dance, of music, of singing and poetry as aesthetic resources to express the Dionysian aesthetics as expressions of life itself. Although dance and the dancing require certain technical command, they also happen in a free manner, with different forms of expression of corporality; the movements and gestures in it form an expression much larger than the sum of its parts. Still if for some people this bodily practice is limited by postures and movements of the body, others seem to have their genius in their feet; what we want to emphasize is, however, the formative sense of the dance, its transformative value.

Dance this part of the Dionysian aesthetics and it is the body that is raised with dancing to a privileged place. The dance, sometimes, stimulates, frees the tensions of the real, opens passions, recreates the image of the men through the expression of his gestures and movements; it is a language in which the melody, the tone, the rhythm and harmony come together, transform heaviness in lightness, it is grounded in joy, springs from it,

[…] the beautiful appearance of his gestures, which reveal the profound. And, in the profound, the god Dionysus moves as a dancing god, an artist who manifests his strength and creative power, who is that of transgressing, of transcending and transforming. (DE SANTIAGO, 2004, p. 510)

When we say that the body is raised to a privileged place, we are saying that the man that dances experiences something that Plessner (1960) calls eccentric principle or being outside oneself4. The eccentricity allows men to experience, on the one hand, that he has a body and, on the other hand, that he is body. Being "outside oneself" does not mean to leave the world; the Dionysian man is this man in becoming who is capable of transporting himself and raising himself above himself: "Now am I light, now do I fly; now do I see myself under myself" (NIETZSCHE, 2009, p. 75).

At the primordial Dionysian state all rhythm continues to speak to our muscles, causing the body to move and, through repetition, to make the soul leave itself. It is to the rhythm that the verse that touches the heart of the man must obey. (DE SANTIAGO, 2004, p. 514)

For the Greeks, dance puts the soul in motion and the body is necessary to rediscover life; it is the dance that penetrates the body provoking a state of excitement; the dance gives back to the music its bodily dimension, the dance as poetic language gives rise to a bodily symbology; the dance is a form of experiencing the modes of speaking of the body. Someone who does not dance does not feel the regular rhythms of his body. However, we must remember that from the viewpoint of some traditions the soul looked down on the body, but now "The body is a big sagacity, a plurality with one sense, a war and a peace, a flock and a shepherd". (NIETZSCHE, 2009, p. 64); the body is plural, plurality of expressions that we see through the dance, since the dancer does not remain heavily in one place, but turns, moves, changes directions and rhythms, "dance on the feet of chance" (NIETZSCHE, 2009, p. 240). Nietzsche also expects that words should move as in a dance, that the concepts should dance, that they have movement, displacement and that they provoke new figures. Dionysus is the god that dances beneath the words, and that is why he will then put words and sentences to dance.

To talk about thought as diamonds implies assuming the provisional, the unexpected, the unstable and the risk; the dance represents a changeable equilibrium that is constantly created in the same bodily practice in its gestures, its figures, its rhythms, can we reach the thought by dancing? Let us recall Nietzsche in The Gay Science:

We do not belong to those who have ideas only among books, when stimulated by books. It is our habit to think outdoors — walking, leaping, climbing, dancing, preferably on lonely mountains or near the sea where even the trails become thoughtful. (2002a, p. 387)

The dance as bodily practice, read under a pedagogical key, sets our sight onto a movable scenery, with changing possibilities, with a multiplicity of viewpoints, of perspectives and horizons: for is not the world of perspectives a consequence of a dancing thought? Virtuous is the dancer that opens meanings to new perspectives from his chance becoming, he who deploys his thinking on-the-move, he whose way of thinking is mobility, she flew in his fugacity can capture the birth of thinking. In pedagogical terms, Zarathustra also teaches us with the language of dancing, puts us before a form of bodily language where something happens (to us) in the body: it is source of movement; however, with dancing it is not a question of place or direction or technique, but of happening.

I no longer breathe easily once this music begins to affect me; that my foot soon resents it and rebels; my foot feels the need for rhythm, dance, march; it demands of music first of all those delights which are found in good walking, striding, leaping, and dancing. But does not my stomach protest, too? my heart? my circulation? my intestines? Do I not become hoarse as I listen? And so I ask myself: What is it that my whole body really expects of music? I believe, its own ease. (NIETZSCHE, 2002a, p. 391)


The game as aesthetic dimension

Although dancing and laughing our closely related in Nietzsche, there is no laughing or dancing without the dimension of the game. The game destabilizes, breaks the unity into multiplicity, opens distinct perspectives and favors a diversity of outlooks and interpretations. The game appeals to the creative and ludic dimension of human existence. One of the fundamental roots of the idea of came is found in the reference it makes to the Greek structure of the agon. Although the agonal impulse is competence and rivalry,

[…] the reason why the agon acquires a greater relevance when Nietzsche relates it with the purely ethical or with aesthetic principle – what problem opens up between us when we investigate the relations between the agonism and the conception of work of art –, since all creative force rises and manifests itself by struggling. (DE SANTIAGO, 2004, p. 554-555)

The game is always a fight for something, it is contention, uncertainty, it is a putting to the test of skills and abilities, it is inclement; although since Heraclitus the game does not have a why, does not have any finality, particularly in the agon the games have a meaning, they require a why "precisely because the game is also guided by the principle of sufficient reason that exists in every motion" (HOLZAPFEL, 2003, p. 74). This is also the reason why authors such as Thierry Lenain, Eugen Fink, Frederick Johannes Buytendijk, Johan Huizinga and Roger Caillois developed the idea of ludic reason, in which, paradoxically, the game is something that is not guided by a finality or goal and, at the same time, it is the very scenario of creating; in other words, the finality the game has lies solely in itself. For example, the child turns the game into an essential model for the creative activity, and the game in its happening represents its true essence. Oblivious to the why the child creates her own characters that constitute her world; it looks as if the child has an unlimited power of fantasy to create.

The important thing is the game in its very happening, the significant is that something that is at stake, these struggling, contentious forces, the agonal impulse, this creative force that rises and manifests itself. Playing, as Skliar (2011, p. 217) puts it,

[…] should always be said in the infinitive. A search for what is coming. A meaning that is about to be found. A utility that is null, or deserted, or ignored, or unintended. A time in which objects are not the objects, words are not the words, voice is not the voice, and time is not the time. It is like the freedom of spirit and thought.

This same idea is given to us by Brougère (1998), that the game is the free expression of a subjectivity and the producer of multiple interactions.

The game is important to us as a bodily practice not just for its disinterested attitude, but also because playing means inventing, transforming, transforming oneself, creating and creating oneself. Dionysus is a Deus ludens, it is the god that plays with his masks, there where the face becomes, where the I is displaced, is metamorphosed. The game is a state of risk. The game is for the man a becoming and, in its turn, a form of symbolic expression of the happening of life; perhaps, what is important in the game is not its character of destruction, but the fact that in playing a kind of earnestness takes place. Beyond the fact that the child constructs castles in the sand and soon destroys them, what is important in the game is its creative dimension, this creative expression of life.

Once again Zarathustra, just like he had reprimanded the higher men because they did not know how to dance and did not know how to laugh, returns to his pedagogical refrain: the higher men also know how to play. In order to overcome himself and create above himself, he has to learn to play, he must know how to play. (DE SANTIAGO, 2004, p. 573)

We can invest the game with an aesthetic dimension by establishing a parallel between a child's play and the artist, just like the child plays, so plays the creative artist, both in the child and in the artist there is a desire to create. The child tires of playing, throws the toy away, recovers it and goes back to playing, this impulse of the child and this desire are characteristic of the artist. It is a creative thought and therefore sensitive. One form of experiencing an artist-thought is to generate new aesthetic and ethical ways of living, inventing possibilities of life, modes of existence. Let us recall that a game has two qualities: innocence and earnestness. Innocence is opening, forgetfulness, new beginning, suspension of the why, it affirms chance; behind the game and its apparent arbitrariness and indifference there exists, therefore, the earnestness, this ludic earnestness with which the child, for some time, turns into a man or into a father, creates his/her own order, the game is a becoming. Because of that, the earnestness of the game consists in the fact that those that take part in it surrender to it, it is the game that is played or that develops.

And thus the game drives us to create. And thus Zarathustra will associate the child with the capacity to create and with a child's innocence. Where is innocence? Where there is will to create something.

The eternal child. We think that stories and games are things of the childhood: how shortsighted are we! As if we could live at any age of life without stories or games! It is true that we give other names to all that, and that we consider them in a different way, but this is precisely the proof that it is the same thing, for the child also feels the game as his work and the story as his truth. (NIETZSCHE, 2002b, p. 129)


Eulogy of the walking

Where do the intense pleasures sought after by the walking and running come from? Walking, in the sense of giving steps, of being underway, evokes an image that makes it possible to think of walking as a practice of the sensible where one explores new ways of seeing and opens up horizons.

Taking to the woods, to the paths and trails, do not exempt us from our responsibility, ever increasing, towards the disorders of the world, but allows us to recover the encouragement, to sharpen the senses, to renew the curiosity. Walking is often a detour to reunite with oneself. (LE BRETON, 2011, p. 15)

The body of a practice of walking is related to watching, with opening one's eyes, with being alert, with generating a new outlook, which is not synonymous with acquiring a new perspective or a determined vision, but that is equivalent to displacing our sight; "to open one's eyes is to see what is evident when we are alert or exposed" (MASSCHELEIN, 2006, p. 299). Under a pedagogical perspective, it is something like displacing one's own sight in order to see in a different way; we see the visible: terrains, curves, distances, and we remain in this passive course; walking allows us a new experience of making steps along the path.

Masschelein (2006, p. 297) tells us that

[…] it is not that walking offers us a better perspective nor a more certain and complete understanding, but that it allows us to overcome the limits of our perspective, walking affords us and Outlook beyond any perspective, a vision or a sight that transforms us, and as an experience also leads us.

The outlook we have when we walk along a path will always be different because it corresponds to a different point of view, a different perspective; an example of that is that we see differently a path or a street when we walk along it and when we cross it an automobile or fly over it on a plane: not just the perspectives from above or below change, but we see in a different way; they are different ways of linking with the world, with the present and with what is present. Benjamin tells us: someone who flies just sees, but someone who walks knows the power that conducts, that is to say, experiences how that something presents itself, becomes evident and guides our soul, crosses us. The path cannot touch someone who flies, better to say, it cannot cross nor determine his route.

Is there anyone who has not once been stunned, emerging from the Métro into the open air, to step into brilliant sunlight? And yet the sun shone a few minutes earlier, when he went down, just as brightly. So quickly has he forgotten the weather of the upper world. And as quickly the world in its turn will forget him. For who can say more of his own existence than that it has passed through the lives of two or three others as gently and closely as the weather? (BENJAMÍN, 1987, p. 92)

Walking is exposing oneself, to be out of place. This bodily practice can make us attentive, displace the outlook, offer a new outlook before what we were used to see, because it does not lead us to a previously determined place, but takes us without any destination or guidance, displacing therefore the outlook we had; it is, therefore, an attitude towards the present.

Walking is also to increase the critical distance, which does not mean to reach a meta-viewpoint, but rather a distance that allows the soul itself to dissolve from the inside. (MASSCHELEIN, 2006, p. 300)

Space, originally, presents itself as the field or medium where the human being exercises his activity. Space offers itself to the person as a task. Our relation to it is not that of merely being or finding oneself in it, but of inhabiting it, which means to be at a space possessing it, appropriating the possibilities that we find in it in order to configure ourselves. In synthesis, I am in the world; my installation in it changes, my being in the world has a biographical structure, and it is my body what makes it possible that we experience it. Thus, a travel, for instance, leaves impressed in me marks, footprints, signs, impressions, images. Everything that has affected me is inscribed in my body.

We could say that walking is an expression of the corporality that helps us to think in a different way the pedagogical perspective of motricity, in so far as it is not inscribed in any horizon, does not offer traditions or the presentations, does not seek something beforehand nor conducts to any perspective; it provides, simply, trajectories, suggests lines that trap, mobilize and shift the outlook; the line does not intend to show any scene or presentation, it helps to think the body movement as openness and possibility of a transformation. To Masschelein (2006, p.308) "walking along this line is to walk without program, without objective, but with a load, with a charge: what is there to see, to hear, to think?"

This pedagogical perspective, this bodily practice opts for the position of vulnerability, unconformity, insecurity and risk. Since the subject of this walk is the subject of the experience,

[…] it matters little not knowing how to orient oneself in a city. In return, to lose oneself in a city, as someone who is lost in the woods, requires learning. The labels of the streets must then speak to someone who wanders as the creaking of dry twigs, and the alleys of the downtown boroughs must reflect to him the hours of the day as clearly as the hollows of the hill. This art I learned later. (BENJAMÍN, 1990, p. 15)

Le Breton (2011) reminds us that some authors confess their debt with certain walks. For example, Rousseau says that working has something that boosts and stimulates his ideas; his body must be in motion in order that his spirit may move. Kierkegaard in 1847 writes to Jette and tells him that he has had his most fertile thoughts while he walked, and that he had never found a thought so heavy that walking could not drive it off.

We can say that by walking we learn the meaning of the experience of the body that is produced as experience of the meaning through the sensible, of a knowledge that is exercised in the body, of the perceptive meaning of the body. In fact, perception has to do with learning, and is in relation to knowledge and at the level of sensibility; this way of being sensible that happens in a bodily practice puts us in a place, in the valuation of the sensible. Perception, following what we have said about the bodily practices, can provoke in us a perceptive experience; in fact, senses and perception constitute an experience of powers and grandeur of the body that bring together the feeling and thinking. Let us not forget that perception is also equivocal, fallible, fragile and shifting.

In the wider sense of the expression walking, we find ourselves in need of thinking about the journey to formation. Something like a passage that is expressed in a search, in a trajectory, in a place, in an unknown landscape. And it is so that learning is like travelling, a departure whose result is unpredictable. The departure from our personal world towards a new space awakens us to new experiences of time and space; as fittingly put by Rilke, the space more proper to the man is not the civil or the urban, but that of the pilgrim, a space that the person traverses crossing successive heterogeneities. Let us recall the myth of Ulysses, the prototype of the traveler that returns home because it has (cool importance. The return to Ithaca is no longer in the forefront, or at least it is fainter. As put by Cavafis (1999), when you leave to Ithaca you must pray that the road is long, full of adventures and knowledge, and if when you arrive you find Ithaca empty you should not think that it was all a mistake, Ithaca has given you experience: rich in knowledge and life, as you have become.

Clarice Lispector (2005, p. 497) also recreates this idea in the short story The Flight:

It began turning dark and she was afraid. The rain fell without respite, and the moistened sidewalks gleamed in the light of street lamps. (…) She was tired. She thought over and over: "What's going to happen now? " If she were to keep on walking. That wasn't a solution. Return home? No. She feared some force might push her back to where she had started. Dazed as she was, she closed her eyes and imagined a great whirlwind (…). She waited for a moment until no one was passing by, and then she said firmly, "You won't go back." She grew calm.

Now that she had decided to go way, she seemed reborn (…). Now that the rain had stopped. The coolness felt refreshing. I won't go home. Ah yes, this thought is infinitely consoling. Will he be surprised? Yes, twelve years are a heavy weight, like kilos of lead. The days melt together, fuse, and form a single block, a large anchor. And persons are lost. Their eyes are like deep wells. (…) Their gestures become empty and they have but one fear in life: that something will come and transform the stillness.

We find in Nietzsche (2002a, p. 60) in aphorism 52 of the Gay Science something about walking: "I do not write with hand alone:/ My foot does writing of its own./ Firm, free, and bold my feet engage/ in running over field and page." In the Thus Spake Zarathustra, Nietzsche (2009, p. 223) tells us:

I am a wanderer and mountain-climber, said he to his heart, I love not the plains, and it seemeth I cannot long sit still.
And whatever may still overtake me as fate and experience – wandering will be therein, and a mountain-climbing: in the end one experienceth only oneself.

We can also see in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll (2010), a kind of displacement that Deleuze proposes as a logic of the meaning where the events take on the role of protagonist. Alice grows (becomes bigger than she was) and decreases in size, thence the reversal of growing and decreasing. We know that in the adventure Alice experiences feelings of sadness, rage, curiosity, surprise, loneliness, indignation, awe, perplexity and these are precisely the singularities to which the event refers.

"Who are you?" - said the Caterpillar.

This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly: "I... I hardly know, sir, just at present... at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then."

"What do you mean by that?" - said the Caterpillar sternly. - "Explain yourself!"

"I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, sir," - said Alice, "because I'm not myself, you see."

"I don't see," - said the Caterpillar.

"I'm afraid I can't put it more clearly, "Alice replied very politely, "for I can 't understand it myself to begin with ; and being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing." (CARROLL, 2010, p. 55)

In Alice we see a sensible, and therefore absolutely bodily, knowledge (ARCOS-PALMA, 2011), which generates a new way of knowing herself and of inhabiting poetically the world. Alice's sensations are the forces that act in her body, therefore a happening takes place in the body, creates an experience in ourselves to the point that when things happen (to us) we no longer refer to ourselves in the same way, with analysts we learn the possibility of tying the sensible to the thinkable. Alice increases and decreases in size, and this would seem to have no sense, but it is precisely there that the meaning emerges, since thinking is installed in the depth of the sensible, in the body.


Final considerations: the bodily practices as the deployment of powers

The bodily practices allow us to have an experience of empowerment. In the bodily motion there is a language that symbolizes, that expresses and signifies; the bodily practices teach us to think with the body. Thus, dancing, playing and walking offer us a manner of thinking the body of the experience. We are reminded by Serres (2011, p. 137) that

Marcel Proust was given raptures of memory the moment the paving stones became uneven, just like the alpinist learns with the exercise, in a long preparation, the feast of the ascent. Differently, Proust and the alpinist are men of courage because they have reached the flexibility; the cowards flee from the experience and from the expression.

The bodily practices put the body in a game of power, they make the experience real, they explore the powers of the body. When Spinoza says in a scholium that the amazing is the body, that we still do not know what a body can do, Deleuze points out that he wants is to eliminate the pseudo-superiority of the soul over the body, body and soul express one and the same thing because an attribute of the body is also a meaning of the soul (DELEUZE, 2008). What a body can do both in being affected and in affecting stimulates us to think in terms of becoming, as that which is never fixed, but always in motion as pure happening that is open to something new.

In every event something happens to us and also constitutes an experience when we become aware or feel that something (trans)forms us. "A happening makes an experience in us when something happens to us and does not leave us as before" (BÁRCENA, 2004, p.86). However, the happening has the character of the unpredictable, it cannot be predicted, we cannot plan, it is not Promethean, rather, we learn after things have happened (to us), when something impacts us, moves us, when we are affected, when something concerns us, when something gives us thought, when we have a given experience.

The expressions of the sensible red under a pedagogical key put us before the need to strengthen the links between the educative knowledge and the poetic knowledge. Octavio Paz (1994, p. 81) has told us that "(…) the poetic is the other voice. Its voice is other because it is the voice of the passions and of the visions". Expressions of the sensible as the art, the music, the literature, the cinema, the poetry, the dance, the walking and the playing, as they express degrees of intensity, result as central to keep thinking about these conditions of sensibility as the field of study of Bodily Education. In its turn, it is a form of thinking education based on the body, because it is not about making the sensible and appendix of education, but of thinking and drawing the experience of the sensible from the body.

We know that the body in education is still an uncharted territory, as much as its place is concealed in the pedagogical field, there is still much to be revealed. The body is also a poetic language that we propose to be the root of signification and intelligibility for education, and thus the expressions put forward here may be converted, perhaps, in a surface to think the sensible under a pedagogical key.



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Received on 13.12.12
Accepted on 25.03.13



Luz Elena Gallo - Ph.D. in education. She is a member of the Research Group: Studies in Corporal Education. She teaches at the Universidad de Antioquia, Calle 70 No. 52-21, Colombia.



1- Performance refers to any class of bodily motion. Performance appears as the act in which the performers – actors, dancers, musicians – realize, actualize, represent, present, exhibit, execute (Gumbrecht, 2006).
2 - Conference given by Paul Valéry at the Université des Annales on 5 March 1936 with the title of Philosophie de la danse.
3 - Conference published in: VALÉRY, Paul. Teoría poética y estética. Madrid: Visor, 1998, p.173-189.
4 - For Plessner (1960) this "eccentric position" or being "outside oneself" gives the human being the possibility of seeing him/herself from the outside and of reflecting about him/herself. That the human being can be eccentric or capable of being "outside oneself" is an anthropological-pedagogical principle that implies progressivity, dynamism, openness, morality.

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