Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Logotango: Tango with personal meaning

Dr Frankl suggested that a "Statue of Responsibility" be placed
on the West Coast to compliment the "Statue of Liberty."
This sketch in part of the the current plan.

The story of Viktor Frankl's life is the story of Logotherapy.  He was the founder of the so-called "Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy," following Sigmund Freud (the will to pleasure) and Alfred Adler (the will to power).  However, Dr. Frankl felt that humanity's will to have meaning was more important than pleasure and power.  ["Logo" comes from the Greek word "Logos," signifying meaning, reason among other things.]

From Viktor Frankl's lead, I am suggesting the term Logotango: Tango with personal meaning and purpose.

For those interested in the background of this remarkable man and how his work and philosophy fits into tango, I have a permanent resource page that gives a larger background of Dr. Frankl and Logotango.  The shorter version of this post continues below.    

Logotango describes the positive and powerful influence has in many people's lives.  If you are going to dance tango for more than just a fad season of you life, it will have to "survive" many things.  If it has a purpose, then it will survive.  I will even go so far as to say that you must dance Logotango if you wish to dance through your life.  Otherwise, my guess is that someday you will be "cured" from your tango addiction (a Freudian, negative philosophy).  Logotango lives on and continues to bring you and others joy.  But purpose and meaning must continue to be redefined and rediscovered.

The four elements of how many people understand the meaning of life are: purpose, values, efficacy, self-worth. Baumeister and Vohs (2002) have synthesised these four factors from their interviews with many people. If you do not build these things into your tango, who will?

I will share my explanations of Logotango using the four above categories:

Purpose:  I am aware of basic needs being met in tango.  I need air/food/water/shelter.  I get all of those at a milonga.  I need human touch.  I get this more than anywhere else in the world as a single man at a milonga.  I need to move.  All human beings would soon die if they were not allowed to move.  A person would soon go mad.  I could run or bike or walk, but dance is the best of all.  Now, my purpose beyond some basic needs as described by Freud:  My purpose in tango is to share the joy of the music with another person.  They way I share this with her and she with me will be a unique experience.  My purpose too is to be a part of the larger community of tango.

Values:  I love the sense of culutre that counters a world without values, kindness, gentleness.  The tango world has only the values I bring to it.  Sure, I am influenced by what others have defined as "Tango Culutre."  But ultimately, I must express my values as a gentleman and live my values of kindness.  What a great community to practice these and receive these!

Efficacy:  After a tanda, there is a sense that "we made it there together."  What a great moment to share, over and over.  I maintain efficacy by taking classes and always learning/practicing efficiency, the twin sister of efficacy.

Self-Esteem:  Skill development only starts after about 700 hours of work on most skills.  In tango there are skills upon skills upon skills.  And they all keep returning to the basics.  I have put in my 700+ hours, and this builds my sense of self-mastery.  In my case, my years of musical study and practice adds another level of joy and mastery, and tango allow me to return to a part of my life that I had somewhat abandoned as a former professional musician.

Logotango is tango with meaning.  The meaning must be yours.  Share it with me!  Perhaps it will bring meaning and purpose to my world.

PS:  Also see the article: The Meaning of Life (in Under 300 Words), which attempts to succinctly describe the meaning of life in just a few hundred words:
  1. Purpose - this could be living happily ever after, going to heaven or even (whisper it) found at work. Whatever it is, meaning in life comes from reaching goals and feeling fulfilled. Even though fulfilment is hard to achieve because the state fades, people need purpose.

  2. Values - people need a moral structure to work out what is right and what is wrong. There are plenty to choose from: some come from religion, others from philosophy and still others from your friends and family.

  3. Efficacy - people want to make a difference and have some control over their environment. Without that, the meaning of life is reduced.

  4. Self-worth - we all want to feel we're good and worthwhile people. We can do this individually or by hitching ourselves to a worthy cause. Either way we need to be able to view ourselves in a positive light.

Photo credit:
Go see more about the plans for Frankl's vision of a "Statue of Responsibility" to balance off the "Staute of Liberty":  http://www.sorfoundation.org/


  1. Thanks for sharing your very interesting thougts. I'm not sure wheter I would appreciate transfering psychlogical ideas so deep into tango.

    I know (and admire) Victor Frankl - he gave hope to people in a hopeless situation (the concentration camps in Nazi-Germany) by just mentioning the word Sinn (that is in my opinion the nearest german translation of logos in this context).

    I'm not sure if it is wise to operate with this ideas in tango. Well, tango is more than movement but is it a substitute for therapy?

    Just my two cents


    (Sorry for my English - I'm not trained. :-( And... I really enjoy your brilliant blog!!!)

  2. @Cassiel: No worries about tango being suggested as a "substitute" for professional therapy. Therapists are doing important work helping many people, and many people rely on tango for too much good in their lives. Balance is everything. However, "therapy" does not belong to professionals alone. "Therapeo" is the word "to heal" in Greek. The word in Greek has a sense of "wholeness." Your concern is EXACTLY the negative psychological perspective that Frankl fought against. The present philosophical "Reich" in the "mental health" industry has confused us all. This industry would make us all feel that we all struggle with some "illness." Then we all need to go to fix our "sickness." Frankl indeed believed in therapy by professionals, but started with what is right with people and built from there. This is positive psychology. Tango brings WHOLENESS to many people. In that way it has meaning and is therapeutic. You are right Sinn (in German) means "Logos" in Greek. Sinnvol means meaningFUL. Sinn should FILL everything we do -- family, friends, work and even tango. And that is what Logotango is. Don't be surprised if you tell a professional therapist about how much you love tango and how much time you dedicate to it, that he might tell you that you are "addicted" to tango. I hope if this happens you (or anyone!)return to this article and consider the alternative: Tango brings wholeness and meaning to your life and tango is therapeutic not an "illness."

  3. I find this a very Yang/masculine/linear way of
    looking at tango. I experience tango in a much more Yin/feminine/circular way.......... and I am not talking about gender here.

    If I had all that in my head when I danced I would miss the joy present moment - certainly miss the pleasure of the embrace and feeling the music through my partner's body.

    Thanks for the blogs, I really enjoy them. I am also a therapist and you certainly make me think........ just don't want to do it on the piste.

  4. Querida Deidre: Your comments will have me thinking about this a long time. For one, I just do not understand what you mean! I think of yin/yang as being both circular, rotating (dancing) around each other, not as separate concepts. But I am sure that in this area I have much to learn. Assuming that you are right that logotango as I have presented it is is a masculine view, I guess I would have that right as a male writer. The majority of tango blog writers are female and they have their own special way. But is your analysis fair that my thoughts on tango-with-meaning are "linear"? If my personal "logos" (meaning) in tango is the embrace being fully given, the absolute surrender to the music, and the sharing of spontaneous improvisation that is inspired by both partners, is that Yang/Masculine/linear? I would hope this concept is a balanced (yinyang)perspective. Perhaps what I have said is unbalanced, so you can help me understand. Please email me. Second, please do not assume that I think these things while dancing! :-) But after having a great tanda we can say "wow" and that is about as deep as we get with words, or we can come up with words to describe a tanda that looks beyond a single word. "Wow" by the way, is perfectly good on the dance floor. Perhaps my "wow" in this blog became too intellectual, but "wow" or other longer statements about "wow" sometimes miss important reasons why a tanda felt so good and went so deeply into our soul. Lastly, your point about taking these ideas of healing to the dance floor: If you hold me and fully accept me, hear the music, and playfully accept the interplay of improvisational tango, perhaps I will feel a wonderful therapeutic effect. Then you will have unwittingly brought "therapy" [wholeness] to the "pista" -- I am sure that you do this. Ask a few of your partners who love to dance with you, and you will see. Ask: "Would you describe the feeling of a great tanda as a sense of wholeness?" Their answers may surprise you. I wish you more than wow-tango. I wish you a life of logotango.

  5. Addendum to Deidre: I just went to your web page. Fascinating! I have much to learn from you. Today's blog may present a better balance to the Yin side of things:



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