Dialogs on Gravity Kinesthetics

After my Article “Structures in Free Float” appeared in Rolf Lines in 1996, the Editors received a letter from Mrs. Veck and Zorn. My response to this letter was printed in the same edition of Rolf Lines. It follows the Veck and Zorn Letter. This happened in 1997. My article, Gravity, Motility and Rolfing Theory and Practice was published in Rolf Linesin 1998 a year after this exchange.
Pages: 1-5
Year: 1998
Dr. Ida Rolf Institute

Rolf Lines – FALL 1997 – Vol. 25 – Nº 4

Volume: 25
After my Article “Structures in Free Float” appeared in Rolf Lines in 1996, the Editors received a letter from Mrs. Veck and Zorn. My response to this letter was printed in the same edition of Rolf Lines. It follows the Veck and Zorn Letter. This happened in 1997. My article, Gravity, Motility and Rolfing Theory and Practice was published in Rolf Linesin 1998 a year after this exchange.

From Christopher Veck and Adjo Zorn

Dear Editor


In Rolf Lines 1/1997 there was an article called “Structure in Free Float” by Liz Gaggini. The author tried to open the perspective of a new understanding of Rolfing using concepts of Einstein’s General theory of relativity. Being physicists and Rolfers we consider this article to be pseudo-scientific and are concerned about its publication.


Among the mistakes in the paper: The author assumes that Einstein added time and dynamics to the static universe of Newton. Newton was, in fact, far away from a static universe. his dynamical laws are still intact and can’t be thought of without the concept of time. The author assumes Maxwell’s field theory is static. The other name for Maxwell’s theory is, for good reason, “Electro Dynamics.” The author assumes that movement patterns of material objects are always predictable. Even three free objects in a Newtonian universe are not completely predictable, not to mention a falling water drop or a hurricane.


The author assumes that there isn’t any spontaneous, involuntary or upward directed movement in a Newton or Maxwell universe, evidently not considering air molecules or crystal electrons?


The author assumes a painter falling from a top of a building “has a speed relative to the amount of mass that is curving the local space-time”. The painter wouldn’t have “a speed” but an acceleration (a time changing speed), like Newton’s apple. If he would jump away from the building his trajectory would follow a parabola. This parabola is indeed influenced by the curvature of space, but to express this, we would need more zeros after the decimal than this article  has letters.


If a teenager at college would intermix dynamics and relativity he would get into trouble. For the leading magazine in the Rolfing world to publish such an error is embarassing. For someone who has not studied physics it might be hard to distinguish the thoughts developed in the article from fantasy because they sound nice and fit into a particular view of Rolfing, but someone with experience in studying physics cannot respect such an article.


The exercise the author suggested, that of sensing the earth moving in orbit, only gives you an example of the power of your mind. You only sense what is in your imagination and you get far away form the world you are in. It is nonsense to use time space to approach a concept like motility. Whatever motility is in physical terms, it is not excluded in any way in the Newtonian view.


To support clear physical thinking we make the following suggestions: Although we know better, why not see the earth as being flat for an understanding of human motion? Jumping ten metres on a flat plane or jumping ten metres on our planet makes a difference of less than 0.000000000001. You can neglect the curvature of the surface of the earth. Similarly, as long as a human body travels much slower than the speed of light and is located far away from the next black hole,  you can forget its influence on the curvature of 4D space-time completely. For such an object Newton’s and Einstein’s universes are absolutely identical. The suggested “person’s 4-dimensional world line” is not at all different from a “3D+T” one in the Newtonian universe.


The difference between movement and motility is artificial in physics. Newton’s universe is full of spontaneous, voluntary, upward directed and unpredictable movement. The main difference between Newton’s apple and a human body is human motor intelligence. And it is much more sensible to use Newton’s laws instead of trying to violate them. As long as we don’t do Rolfing aboard the space ship “Enterprise”, thinking in the fourth dimension will not extend but rather confuse our understanding of human structures.


Christopher Veeck, Rolfer, Rolfing Movement Teacher and

studied Quantum Filed Theory and the General Theory of Relativity, Vienna


Dr. Adjo P. Zorn, Rolfer, Rolfing Movement Teacher and

Engineer, Ph.D. in Physics, Berlin.



My Response


To the Editors:


I am impelled to respond to Christopher and Adjo’s letter concerning my article on gravitation. However, I am primarily struck with how much they misinterpret of what I wrote. I don’t know if it is because I was unclear or because of the language difference. As a result of this article, I have had many interesting discussions with Rolfers, physicists, athletes, dancers, and others.  The importance of this shift in view from the Newtonian conception of gravity to that of Einsteinian gravitation is evident to most.  I have received encouragement from many forums for both my analysis of the physical theory and the speculation about motility that I present in the article.


Quite frankly, I feel that many of Christopher and Adjo’s comments are so far off of my subject and the intention of my article as only to be creating unnecessary confusion.  I am very hesitant about getting into a discussion of what are to begin with misinterpretations of my work.  I have faith that these misinterpretations are inadvertent.  However, there is also something predictable in the nature and tone of their dismissals.


I have considerable advanced education and experience in doing reasoned and well documented academic work.  I wrote and defended a thesis over 20 years ago that explained Einstein’s special theory of relativity as it illuminates the human experience of coincidence and fate.  I am not concerned about my credentials and feel that Christopher and Adjo’s cautions to the community are unfounded.  I have offered documentation of my central ideas.  Christopher and Adjo choose not to refer to this documentation.  They offer no documentation of their own.  We are expected to accept their own assessment of their personal superiority in matters of physics.   I would be more persuaded by an accurate and reasoned presentation that followed some proper protocol of academic presentation.


One should know one is in trouble when people are making assumptions about what they assume are one’s assumptions. I will say flatly, I have made none of the assumptions I am here accused of. In order to arrive at their assumptions about my comments Christopher and Adjo’s primary error is to pull ideas from my work which are explanatory and report them as if they are topical.  As one example of this, the topic of my discussion of time and stasis in 3-dimensional physics concerns the absolute nature of space and time in the Newtonian view of gravity.  Perhaps I was unclear, or perhaps it is a language problem, but Christopher and Adjo seem to misunderstand my use of the word static.  I use the word static to describe a reality where time and space are fixed, immutable, non-interactive and definitely not affected by material objects.  I use this word as it is used particularly by PCW Davies in his book, Space and Time in the Modern Universe, but also by John Archibald Wheeler in, A Journey into Space-time and Gravity.


Absolute space and time give us absolute states of rest as the background to all motion. In relative gravitation there is no absolute state of rest.  The significance of my discussion of the static quality of three dimensional physics (including Maxwell’s field theory) was to build an understanding of how fundamental this view is to the notion of gravity being a force that acts at a distance (the now disproved Newtonian view).


I wished to demonstrate that this notion is fundamental to block models of structural analysis.  It is a misunderstanding on their part to believe that I am saying that Einstein added time and dynamics to the Newtonian universe.   It is a misunderstanding on their part to assume that I believe movement patterns of material objects are always predictable.  (I honestly can’t even guess at how they came up with that assessment.)  It is a misunderstanding on their part to assume that I am saying there isn’t any involuntary, unpredictable, or upward directed movement in a Newton or Maxwell universe.


Christopher and Adjo definitely intermix dynamics and relativity in their discussion of the painter’s fall from the building in a way that I definitely did not in my article, and then accuse me of the intermixing.  I could say that the leading journal in Rolfing should be embarrassed about printing such a deceptive ploy, but I do not believe they are being deliberately deceptive.  I will use the word acceleration rather than speed to discuss the painter’s fall if it pleases them.  That doesn’t alter the presentation of the topic in this part of my paper.  This was Einstein’s seminal example, not mine.  It is relayed by John Wheeler, who is the most revered of sources on Einstein’s work and on geometric gravitation.


No magazine in any field should be embarrassed at presenting this example of free float gravitation.  Christopher and Adjo are mixing dynamics with relativity by understanding this example as one of acceleration, trajectory or the measure of the earth’s curvature.  It was not measuring acceleration, trajectory or the parabola of the earth’s curvature that piqued Einstein’s interest in the falling painter.  It was the painter’s kinesthetic experience of his fall.  To mix Newtonian dynamics into the simple intention of this example is a mistake.


I will tell you of a dialogue I have had with Hans Christian Von Baeyer, a physicist who has published significant works in physics, and who is the Chancellor of Physics at William and Mary College.  (I suggest reading his chapter on gravity in his book, Rainbows, Snowflakes and Quarks: Physics and the World Around Us).  He might fit Christopher and Adjo’s perimeters for a “person with experience in studying physics”.  He is certain that the experience of relative gravitation is available to our experience and that it is a better way of understanding structural organization and many patterns of movement.  He is not certain of this because “it sounds nice and fits into a particular view of Rolfing”.  He is certain of this because it is the real world significance of relative gravitation.


One of the biggest fantasies in operation here is that there is some imaginary place above the earth where the universe shifts and begins to operate by the laws of relativity physics,

while, here on earth, everything is still moving along as if space and time were absolute and non-interactive with matter.  There is not some invisible boundary beyond which relative gravity applies and within which Newtonian gravity is the rule.  The tests that have proven Einstein’s theories of relativity involve great distances and high speeds, however, their explanations of natural fact are universal.  This is what Einstein realized in the painter’s kinesthetic experience of float.


If Einstein, Wheeler, Penrose and Von Baeyer (among others in my documentation) believe that “the influence of 4D space-time” is a local phenomenon that can be experienced by the human kinesthetic senses, then we are safe to believe it as well.  We don’t have to be at a black hole, or in the Enterprise at the speed of light, to be affected by gravitation as a motion expressing the interactive relationship between matter and non-absolute space-time.  It was the case for the painter and it is the case right where we stand and Rolf.  To forget about this completely, as Christopher and Adjo suggest, would be a great loss.


The facts of geometric gravity are not so encrypted as to prevent the average citizen from understanding their significance to experience.  Science and empiricism are not just activities of expensive instruments, laboratories and degrees.  They are most primarily the activity of the human senses.  Believing that we are too impoverished to understand the human experience leads to a dangerous dependence on an overgrown and vastly self interested scientific establishment.  It also retards the development of our own inductive and deductive abilities and diminishes our courage in the face of the most creative thinking of our day.


Christopher and Adjo are concerned about my encouraging the use of imagination to sense what we all know to be true about the motion of the earth saying, that such an exercise will only lead us farther away from the world we are in.  What world would do they believe that to be,  a world where we are not able to sense the nature of reality?  Then let us be led away.


Unlike Christopher and Adjo, I do not see the harm in furthering the exploration of Rolfing theory and practice by looking into the accepted understanding of the laws of relative gravitation.   I am sorry if my way of presenting these ideas has not been as competent as they would like.  However, I believe that many of their arguments are not with me, but with those physicists who believe relative gravitation and relativity physics are a significant factor in everyday experience.  I can only refer them to the resources in my bibliography for evidence of the sort they might find persuasive.  I would wish that they would accord me the same faith of character and intelligence that I accord them and not choose to degrade my work.


My primary intention in writing this article was to open up a wider exploration of subtle kinesthetic experience.  I am attempting to include in Rolfing theory models which are more about living motion and that can include curves, spirals and arcs as factors of structural organization.  It is fine to consider these issues from broadly accepted principles of Newtonian mechanics.  However, this is not a reason to exclude the accepted scientific description of gravity as an additional source of insight.


With appreciation,

Liz GagginiDialogs on Gravity Kinesthetics[:]

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