The Profane Halo: Becoming Breath

Sharp, Helen Frances (2014) The Profane Halo: Becoming Breath. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Breath is a perceptual practice, a form of listening, of attending. These words begin to mark out the unique space of this thesis. It is ‘written from the breath’, a stance that breaks free of the silencing of breath in contemporary language theory. Importantly, the thesis makes the large claim that the closing down of conceptual breathing spaces in the twentieth century parallels the asphyxiation of a spiritual connection with the world. This is seen by Helen Sharp, the author of this posthumous thesis, as ‘the loss of the profane halo’. Sharp acknowledges a debt to Georgio Agamben’s notion of the ‘Halo’ in The Coming Community as composed of a ‘tiny displacement’. She identifies such displacements as breath movement. ‘Each breath event develops as a potentiality of relationship where self is re-conceived and born anew in tiny little flutters…’ of each inhalation and exhalation. Here lies the core of her thinking where the movement of life surges forth in the ‘imperceptible trembling of the finite’. This, she writes, is equivalent to ‘the illuminated field of the breath as halo’. Moving into the realm of the artistic-poetic, the thesis itself comes to take on the character of a work of art. Its three edges are written dialogues, performance prologues, and breath practice including breath dialogue.

Additional Information

Aegrotat Award

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing
Historical > FOR Classification > 2203 Philosophy
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > College of Arts
Keywords breath meditation, breathing, halos, poetry, art, literature, somatic, performance drama, breath time, existence, movement, light, chandelier effect, mindfulness, Central Australia, Trephina Gorge, Helen Frances Sharp, Foucault, Liu Ponomarew, Ilse Middendorf, LeLand de la Durantaye, Deleuze, Judith Butler, Corbin, visceral philosophy, Tarchin Hearn, James Hillman
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