The story of an idea is a peculiar things by modern standards. Modern language and concepts struggle to communicate the nature of an idea, its relationships its characters, its story through time.
I begin with a revisiting of an old greek idea. Modern thought is dominated by a reductionist, materialist, scientism. We make the mistake of assuming this has always been present but it turns out to have been a recent addition to our pantheon of thoughts. Much longer in the tooth and by far the previously dominant idea was idealism. Idealism encapsulated the believe that everything has life and spirit in it. trees, animals, even man made objects and of course ideas.
Whilst none of the ideas in this narrative i am about to unfold are necessarily new, they have in recent history been abraded, edited, abused and campaigned against by various institutional policemen of thought. When people stop engaging with and idea and adding their energy to it it diminishes but never disappears completely. Like a lonely cloud wandering the world in search of a receptive mind and environment to rain down its wisdoms upon.
One of the earliest receptive minds to this particular idea was Alexander.
He began his exploration of the relationship between form and function in late victorian times at a time when the dominant mindset of empire was already declining and being reshaped by ideas from all over he empire.
Alexander surmised that poor patterns of habitual posture and movement damaged spatial self awareness and health. He found that posture and movement efficiency could support and even transform overall physical wellbeing. His work began as an amateur aspiring shakespearian actor. Now in theatres there were no sound systems, or amplification technologies available. He discovered his frequent voice loss correlated to an altered head carriage associated with a habitual postural pattern. this pattern had the effect of changing breathing, vocal cavity shape and quality and consequently vocal performance.
Simply put he surmised that structure equals function. In the early 20th century he began working on methods of correcting this and as the idea spread he took in great intellectual heavyweights of this time, george bernard shaw, john dewey, aldous huxley, henry irivin, shared his idea and work and allowed the great ideas folks of the time to propagate it.
Fritz perls, (originator of Gestalt) took it in a different direction, moshe feldenkrais kept the direction and rolled on exploring application further.
The idea of the line then birthed with a new crowd of genii. The heaven and earth line of alexander was then observed as the spine and osteopathic and chiropractic work began to be born.. Palmer, the progenitor of chiropractic treatment siad that the idea came to him by revelation and was a vitalist (a receptive mind to the idea) . chiropractic philosophy takes in holism, the observation that health is affected by everything in an indiviuals environment. It observed that the line , or spine was an influential component of that environment. Thus an individuals health could be positively influenced by adjusting the spine to match the conceptual line. Worth mentioning that the tradition had many references to the vital essence, innate intelligence, energy, and spirit of a person. (one of many reasons it later encountered much conflict with the traditionalist scientism that became medicine) these concepts seemed mystic at the time and were resisted by the thought police of the time.
Once again structure was shown to equal function with a suggestion that structure influenced more than physical function. About this same time andrew still was receiving the same idea which formed into osteopathy.
The shorts were investigating the beginnings of physiotherapy following the impulses of the same idea.
The idea began to multiply and divide. The chiro’s and osteo’s surmised from research and practice that the adjustments could be achieved using adjustments of the head and tail and cranial was born (lots of species),
Ida rolf was already an incredible proponent of scientific method, involved in research at the rockefeller institute in new york, she was a lifetime student of yoga and eastern philosophy, and was also known to the progenitors of most off the aforemention disciplines.
With her enquiring mind she surmised that there were many lines on the body each exerting its own different but equally important influence on the wellbeing of the whole. Her receipt of the idea became “the recipe”
a sequence of sessions to realign the whole body and balance all the lines.
The idea had experimented with reductionism in exploring the cranial aspect and ida stood on the shoulders of the giants whilst exploring a truly holistic application.
In fact she said many times there is no such thing as a closed end revelation.