Thursday, February 21, 2008

Below, in the precious dark

I recommend The Prosodic Body: Building A Perineum, the new project that Daria Fain (choreographer) has been presenting with Robert Kocik (poet/architect) in association with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's Swing Space program.

Yesterday--after getting an orientation to the project--I spent an hour in Fain and Kocik's Anechoic Darkroom, a comfortable, tiny womb they've created below ground in a bank vault in a Wall Street skyscraper. Imagine that!

Sealed off from light and stretched out on a bench with two pillows beneath my head, I opened my eyes to the velvety darkness and mentally chanted Hindu mantras to calm my racing brain and to fully open to the experience. I heard the subway rumbling nearby and had a profound and abiding sense of the verticality of the building. Although I maintained awareness of my body--especially the beating of my heart--all sense of my body's boundaries vanished. At once, I felt aligned with the building and its nervous system and protected and nurtured by the dark. I remembered that some years ago I had experimented with using psychic practices in pitch darkness and found that very powerful.

Fain imposes no directions about what to do in this chamber. Each visitor is on his or her own, and everyone's experience will be unique. Once my brain settled down, I merely enjoyed relaxing into the dark, sensing the faint odor of its wall's wool padding, and connecting to the reality of the building. On two occasions, clairvoyant and clairsentient information came to me, and I experienced a sensation of my legs and feet being stretched from within, followed by the immediate relief of one foot's chronic ache.

I lost conscious sense of time in the darkroom, but I'm used to waking up in the morning on time without an alarm clock. So, no surprise: at a certain point, my body suddenly signaled that it was time to shift around, stretch and sit up. No sooner did I do that than I heard Fain making small noises outside the chamber so that she would not startle me. Soon after, she asked permission to open the door, and she interviewed me about my experiences. We chatted about the creative and healing potential of this chamber and various parallels with ritual practices across cultures.

Sorry to say, this darkroom will be dismantled after tomorrow, Friday, but Fain and Kocik hope to find ways to further develop their work with it and with other aspects of The Prosodic Body.

Click here for complete details about the Anechoic Darkroom. You can also schedule time in the darkroom and receive the full schedule of activities of the Prosodic Body--including a talk this evening at 6:30--by calling 718-450-1356 or emailing All events require reservation.

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