On improv and philosophy

Before I met Alex Fradera yesterday afternoon, I tweeted my friend Dougald, “@dougald, journeyman on pilgrimage. I’m seeing Alex in NYC tomorrow. Shall I send your best to him?” He replied, “@andrewjtaggart Wonderful! Please do – and give him a big hug from me.” I did.

Alex finished his Ph.D. in psychology and for six years has performed as an improv artist. Meandering through the Park, we spoke of improvisation and philosophy. He said that one thing he learned, or had confirmed, recently was that impro is not about “striving for” and this in two senses. First, it is not about striving–hence, not guided by the will. Second, it is not about effectuating a desired outcome at all and especially from the start. Without striving, a good improv artist lets be, letting a scene unfold in any number of directions with the end not being announced but discovered. Will it be tragic, comic, absurd? Will it be epic? Will it be undeniably boring?

Near one of the baseball diamonds, we saw an owl kite caught in the tree. It had googly eyes, a mismatching front and back, and it turned and turned about, frontward, backward, dipping and twirling on its string, in tune with the wind. It was funny, sad, boring.

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