Relaying Human Experience: Embodied Writing


By Rosemarie Anderson

Embodied writing brings the finely textured experience of the body to the art of writing. Relaying human experience from the inside out  and entwining in words our senses with the senses of the world, embodied writing affirms human life as embedded in the sensual world in which we live our lives. As a style of writing, embodied writing is itself an act of embodiment. Nature feels close and dear. Writers attune to the movements of water, earth, air, and fire, which coax our bodily senses to explore. When embodied writing is attuned to the physical senses, it becomes not only a skill appropriate to research, but a path of transformation that nourishes an enlivened sense of presence in and of the world.
Seeking to relay the living experience of the human body, embodied writing portrays experience from the point of view of the lived body, Leib rather than Körper in Edmund Husserl’s (1952/1989) sense. The researcher collects, analyzes, and reports findings, fully intending to invite readers to encounter the narrative accounts for themselves and from within their own bodies through a form of sympathetic resonance. Ultimately, as a research tool, the efficacy of embodied writing depends on its capacity to engender a quality of resonance between the written text and the senses of the readers that allows readers to more fully experience the phenomena described. The readers’ perceptual, visceral, sensorimotor, kinesthetic, and imaginal senses are invited to come alive to the words and images as though the experience were their own, akin to the way we might read fine poetry or fiction. Embodied writing tries to let the body speak.
Embodied writing tries to make the experience “present” in the writer while writing and in the reader while reading. For this reason, I’m not so much going to tell you about embodied writing, but I will do it as I go along. Rather than pointing with words as though from a distance, I will write from this full-bodied perspective as best I can, even in the didactic sections to follow. I will “cut loose” especially in the last section, in which I reflect on what I’ve learned about embodying the present through embodied writing.

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