The Minor Gesture
Erin Manning is a friend and colleague who lives in Montreal and heads up the SenseLab at Concordia University. Her book Relationscapes—Movement, Art, Philosophy profoundly influenced my own work at the intersection between the sciences and the arts. When I met her in the fall of 2014, she urged me to extend my readings in Deleuze, W. James and J.J. Gibson to include A.N. Whitehead, and during the winter of 2015, I took part in the class she taught on Whitehead’s Process and Reality. The Minor Gesture could be viewed, in many ways, as a natural sequel to Relationscapes, and is strongly informed by her insightful readings of Whitehead as well as the philosophy of William James. When my colleague Cora McLaren at Ryerson University in Toronto, through whose work as a Ph.D. student I was introduced to Relationscapes, indicated she had a yearning to read The Minor Gesture, I took this as a sign and a portent – time to provoke the world (or a small part of it) into engaging with me in a reading-dancing again into Erin’s wonderful rhythms of thought.
Note that although reading The Minor Gesture requires an effort to understand the philosophical concepts on display, one of the strengths of Erin’s writing is that she is as preoccupied with matters of practice as she is with matters of theory. The reading therefore provides not just insight into the latter, but it can be used to guide how one engages in practice. Herself a dancer, installation artist and fashion designer, she draws on these and other artistic sensitivities to illustrate and draw out her ideas.
The Book We’re Reading
Erin Manning’s The Minor Gesture is the latest release in the Thought in the Act book series, published by Duke University Press, which explores how research and creation can be transformed by philosophy. In The Minor Gesture, Manning draws heavily fro …