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Organizer: Liza Michaeli

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Kafka. All this agitation should be controlled

Weil.  May this body move or be still, with perfect suppleness or rigidity, in continuous conformity to thy will

Peter 4 : 7. Be ye therefore Sober

What is rigor, where does rigor begin?  What does it mean to consider rigor, in the realm of feeling and of living?  Is rigor a self-imposed standard, is it inherent in a form of life?  Physically, emotionally, what does it mean to be held to your own vigilance? 

For Kierkegaard, the sentiment is in the revolt hatching inside, indignant scratching.  For Levinas, rigor is an anchingly physical insistence, an acute feeling of being held fast to the insomnia of being.  For Weil, rigor is to be enclosed in a tight circle that smothers.  For Rilke, it is something in the blood.  

In this realm, is technique adequate?  Where does the obsessive act end and the religious practice begin?  Wherein resides the rigor, in the practice or in the experience?  Is rigor "kept," or is it entrenched within?

In these instances, rigor is subtler than intensive practice.  It undermines and overtakes legislative strictures of religious pragmatism.  It is unlike "doing it over and over until you believe it"; it is a fidelity of another kind. 

There is another meaning, a plain one.  Rigor is in the pain of sobering up, of living closer to the bone.  Rigere bears out a command that reiterates its own conflicted motivation, rigor mortis and rigor vitae: to be severely alive, without letting up.  Rigor is in the thing within, touching life with minimal interference.  It is not removed from being, helplessly, in a body; it originates there. 

In the spirit of sincerity and intimacy, this seminar invites involved meditations—in the serious meaning of involvere—on what it means to live rigorously, or rather, to be rigorously alive.  This may extend, but is not limited to: religiosity and religious experience; the conflict between intention, deed, and feeling; holding still and acting; rhythm and repetition; faith and fidelity; proximity, expression; despair and consolation; obsession, structuration, and neurosis; urgency, participation, commitment, and emotional life.  It invites an attenuation to the rigours of interiority, to the grain of the voice, and the beat of the body, a consideration of the tempo at which we feel and move, what it means to be alive, and physically, the ardor it involves. 

This seminar proposes a dedication to the "up against," to life unyielding.  Do you feel it, too?  We cannot say it.  And we are closer still. 


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