It’s the completion of the line within the line that caught my attention: “only differently coordinated and aroused.” As statements go, it’s a mouthful. Like the perfect Crème brûlée, all hot cream and egg yoke jiggling just beneath a crisp of caramelized sugar. It’s also a poetic reminder that as human beings our bodies and thoughts, our experience, responds and reflects our intent and purpose.
I can experience the gratification of dance even while it appears that I’m simply walking.
From ‘Poetry and Abstract Thought,’ Paul Valéry: An Anthology
“Walking, like prose, has a definite aim. It is an act directed at something we wish to reach. Actual circumstances, such as the need for some object, the impulse of my desire, the state of my body, my sight, the terrain, etc. which order the manner of walking, prescribe its direction and its speed, and give it a definite end. All the characteristics of walking derive from these instantaneous conditions, which combine in a novel way each time. There are no movements in walking that are not special adaptations, but, each time, they are abolished and, as it were, absorbed by the accomplishment of the act, by the attainment of the goal.
The dance is quite another mater. It is, of course, a system of actions; but of actions whose end is in themselves. It goes nowhere. If it pursues an object, it is only an ideal object, a state, an enchantment, the phantom of a flower, an extreme of life, a smile — which forms at last on the face of the one who summoned it from empty space.
It is therefore not a question of carrying out a limited operation whose end is situated somewhere in our surroundings, but rather of creating, maintaining, and exalting a certain state, by a periodic movement that can be executed on the spot; a movement which is almost entirely dissociated from sight, but which is simulated and regulated by auditive rhythms.
But please note this very simple observation, that however different the dance may be from walking and utilitarian movements, it uses the same organs, the same bones, the same muscles, only differently coordinated and aroused.”