Mindfulness is a part of improvisation. So is play. Often there is a narrative structure as well. I am thinking improvisation in terms of performance as in performance studies or theatre and drama ‘games’ and also in Twitter. I love to watch people, I also like to listen. In Twitter you can’t, if you ‘know’ the person n the ‘real’ or material world you can picture their face and ‘hear’ their words from your memory of them. On the other hand, if you don’t actually know them as physical embodied beings you don’t know what their voice sounds like, whether they use their hands a lot, whether they go red when passionate about what they are saying, what emotion they are feeling, that they speak softly when they are very angry and so on. All you have to go on are their words on the screen. The rest are acts of imagination and projection.
Getting to know people through words on a page is nothing new, and neither is deception in this context. The play Cyrano de Bergerac is a superb illustration of this. People can fall in love simply because of black marks on the page. Is the writing persona reliable? And what are our imaginations doing with constructing the voice, body and character behind the words ? How far are we projecting our own desires onto the words?
These were questions that held great importance when letter writing was an important form of communication and social glue. Letter writing played an immense role in courtship and seduction, then the telephone took over. We had the voice and could imagine the rest. Now it seems that telephones are becoming anachronistic and we have returned to writing as an important form of communication
So to return to my initial point about improvisation. Normally it is an embodied act of communication held in a specific place and space. There are tacit rules of engagement participants understand when they enter the performance space. I am starting to wonder how far this applies to certain floating worlds in Twitter. How do you react if someone suddenly acts out of character or takes something that is clearly an improvisational game too seriously?