Hunting Surprise through Axis Syllabus


Hunting Surprise through Axis Syllabus

Dare Sohei

Surprise is a chimera of sensations and emotions. With the head of Desire, wings of Anticipation, and the tail feathers of Excitement, its body attached together precariously, as if by smoke, existing for one perfect moment, before dissolving back into the ether of life.

To hunt Surprise is a kind of courtship. Hide and seek with your nervous system.
The hunter has to set themselves up to be hunted. Caught unawares. The hunter has to get a bit lost.

A holy grail in these forests is how-to-know-what-we-don’t-know-we-don’t-know. What we can’t know. Until we do.


You’re upside down.

Right now, hurtling through space, you are upside down.

You are, and you know you are.

Take a step forward, I dare you.

You’re a pattern recognizer of the highest order. That’s what you do, and you’re so good at it, you do it without much attention at all. Which is to say, if you put more attention to it, things might get a little weird.
We want weird.
Too weird is unsafe, a threat, or at least a potential one. Not weird enough and we get bored because usually, we get what we expect to get.
We get what we expect.
Attention is waiting for the trap to spring, and wanting it to spring so much, that each diabolical moment reveals itself to be a springing trap… and always was one.

Pick a simple movement pattern. Your hand rises to the sky as if to hail a taxi and suddenly falls, its strings cut by the blade of fate.
Repeat it.
Repeat it.
Repeat it.
Until there’s an automaticity to it. Minimal effort. Notice the lack of effort. Notice that nothing. Does noticing the lack of effort increase the effort?
Feel into the pattern.
What’s the rhythm, the tempo?
Can you slow it down in such a way that only you would know it slowed down?
What’s happening now, what do you notice now? What’s coming up for you? Notice that. Back to the arm.
How many factors are at play here?
Can you begin to get lost in the sheer amount of variables that are available to play with? What realms of discovery await in light of this new sun?

The Axis Syllabus is a wonderful compendium of movement strategies and research that you can read (and watch!) online. Less available though, is a praising of and conversation about the frankly exquisite experiences of your body learning itself, and the sometimes subtle tricks one might play on themselves in order to be snuck up on by the numinous.

The numinous has teeth.

Risk is courting danger.
Risk is flirtation. Risk is anticipation.
You have to gauge your threshold.
One time isn’t enough to know what you’re doing, much less to know how you’re doing it.
But if you stare directly at the sun, you won’t be seeing much at all.

Solving the mystery ruins it. The mystery is the point.
The magic of not knowing and the electric wonder of the land moving under you.

So you play! You repeat the experiment. You rev yourself up or down or sideways to that place where your attention and sensations are singing together and you are listening without any predictions as to what might happen next, where you might slow your perception down enough to witness your self, your body, ride a wave and graciously take you along with it.

The more variables you can alter, the more experience you gather. That much varied experience eventually results in the kind of wisdom reserved for cats and elves. Choices that look like reflexes.

Time becomes spread out like sky across the body, and the body growing ever larger, more detailed, and rich with sensory motor diversity as it winds itself through the fingers of gravity.

There is joy here in the mythic soil of movement and this kind of joy can be your greatest teacher and your greatest ally.

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