A new book on the F. M. Alexander Technique is always an interesting event within the Alexander world. Overall, too few qualified people have committed to paper their interpretations of what it was that Alexander taught. Perhaps they think that everything there is to say about the Technique has already been written; but reiteration in different words can often be helpful, both for those who find themselves hesitant in the face of the existing literature and for those who are seeking additional insight into Alexander’s ideas.
Chris Stevens’ introductory work is one of a series of consumer guides under an Alternative Health sub-title, a category which will ensure him a wide readership. It is unlikely to provide much in the way of fresh stimuli to those who are even moderately well read in Alexandrian terms, but it does fill a gap by virtue of its accessibility. The author has managed to simplify without detracting from his subject. His book, while easy to read and easy to follow, contains all the essential information. Some readers may find his explanations of the primary control and the principle of directions wanting, but it is emphasised that for a more complete understanding of these there is no substitute for a good teacher.
Stressing the Technique as a discipline rather than a therapy should help avoid the creation of too high specific expectations while maintaining general interest. Cartoons are employed to poke gently fun at any incipient portentousness. Only in the poor quality of the accompanying serious anatomical line drawings does the author’s attempt at brevity in popularising the Technique fall short. Otherwise, this represents a valiant effort to spread the word and the work beyond its present confines.
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