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Subject, Object, Reject, Abject

I am the subject who takes the action and makes the choices.

I am the object acted upon by others, by expectation, by memory.

I am the rejected aspects of self. Some of what I am I perceive as a threat to my safety.

I am the abjected aspects of society. Some of what I am is perceived as a threat to society.

This is all of us.

We are moving constellations of agency, life, death, shadow, hope, resignation, fear, devotion, both the hidden and the exposed, the welcomed and unwelcomed.

Moving is an important word. We are, after all, autopoietic systems. We are people who create ourselves by moving and engaging with other self-creating people along the way.

Some of our longing or sense of stuckness can be attributed to the current state of our constellation. We can feel when it's been a period of too much object and not enough subject, too few puzzle pieces of self to feel whole, too much contorting ourselves into acceptability.

Not nearly enough enchantment, not nearly enough freedom, not nearly enough vitality, not nearly enough passion, not nearly enough play.

What moves us more strongly into active subject versus passive object?
Self-trust created via novelty, presence, and improvisation. Solidarity and interdependence created via collaboration and generative partner work. Dishabituation created via game, play, and contained risk-taking. Narrative agency via mythic or creative retelling, forum theatre, or role play. Somatic agency via experiences of healthy power and developmental movement patterns that promote self/other/boundary. Creative arts that, by definition, put you in creatorship, especially performing arts that allow you to be witnessed in that creatorship. Exploring and redefining your relationship with space. Movement, dance, walking arts, improv, Social Presencing Theatre, Theatre of the Oppressed, and puppetry are particularly good for this.

What returns rejected aspects?
Discovering them and trying them out, using them in the creative space with a lot of care in a strong container with a start and an end. Rehearsing them and practicing them in a playful and safe way in order to decouple the pain associated with these ways of being. Noticing that you are still safe and becoming more comfortable hearing and seeing yourself in these ways, acknowledging that your worth is not dependent upon your personality. Being with other people who dare to expose their rejected parts, too. Voicework, role play, and fool are excellent for this.

What returns abjected aspects?
Same approach as the rejected aspects, but it can be much harder because abjection brings with it the weight of collective shame. Trying it in small ways in the company of trusted people who are trying it too. Working alongside abjection is often a more effective approach than staring it down. Mythic and aesthetic distance become quite important here because abjection exists in you and outside of you, belonging at its root to collective consciousness. Using play and exaggeration, acting out visual disobedience and pushing it into the grotesque can be very helpful. Mask work, bouffon and its body mask, and puppetry with disobedient-bodied puppets can provide the freedom and permission needed to begin to explore abjection.

I am teaching Fool on March 11 and April 15, Deep Puppetry beginning in two weeks, and Voicework for Disobedience during the month of April, all of which are designed to investigate and redistribute the stars in your constellation of subject, object, reject, and abject.

The root -ject means cast or throw, and I do not take it for granted when you join one of my events. I know it's most often having to take a leap and cast yourself into something that feels potentially scary. Whether you try some of these ideas on your own, with a friend, with me, or with a different facilitator, I remain your cheerleader. I believe in you and in your ability to follow the still, small voice of your own longing.

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