The act of sensing

Some further explanation is needed for Body Moves. As mentioned, these are pragmatic rhythms (Gill et al. 2000; Gill 2007) and express transitional moments in body and speech sound movement patterns, where the participants’ movements become coupled. This coupling is considered to be part of the process of understanding each other.

The rhythmic quality of body moves can be understood with the example of everyday greetings. We shake hands, hug each other, kiss on cheeks, etc. Greetings are highly culturally variable (Duranti 1997; Mallery 1891): Maori rub noses, Russians kiss on the mouth, and Japanese bow. But universally, irrespective of culture, these bodily acts are about gauging one person’s sense of another. Greetings are essential to giving us a chance to trust in the communication that will unfold and afford us time to achieve the possibility of mutual synchrony later in that unfolding (Condon et al. 1970). The greeting is a parallel coordinated act, and the mutual synchrony of body and voice in greetings expresses ‘a commitment to communicate’ that may be likened to a form of phatic communion (Malinowski 1923) for social bonding.

Body Moves seem to be salient ‘phenomenal beats’ that have phenomenological experience already embodied (Tolbert (2001). In their pragmatic function, Body Moves express how each person is perceiving and understanding the other, i.e. sense-making. They are expressions of mutually manifest intentions to understand the other (Sperber and Wilson 1986), sensed in the relation between each others’ movements. Intentional lies in how each perceives and responds to another’s gesture or vocal sound, or movement. This sensing of intention is spontaneous, and within the act of sensing is an essence that is true.

In their entraining function that pulls the attention of one to the other, Body Moves serve to sustain our commitment to engage with each other, to transform our states of tacit knowing such that we are able to arrive at understandings. They may be considered to be a form of social entrainment (Phillips-Silver et al. 2010) and are moments of empathic connection akin to heightened emotional accents in music (Gill 2007). They culminate in a crescendo of which the ultimate peak is a moment of simultaneous mutual synchrony (parallel coordinated move).