Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sensing Self

"...with an eye made quiet by the
power of harmony and the deep
power of joy, we see into
the life of things.

William Wordsworth

Sensing Self

....Every time that I touch something, I am aware of the part of me that is touching as I am of the thing I touched. Tactile experience tells me much about myself as it tells me about anything that I contact. I am constantly using the world to explore my reactions just as much as I am using my reactions to assess the world. My sense of my own surface is very vague until I touch; at the moment of contact, two simultaneous streams of information begin to flow: information about an object, announced by my sense, and information about my body announced by the interaction with the object. Thus I learn that I am more cohesive than water, softer than iron, harder than cotton balls, warmer than ice, smoother than tree bark, coarser than fine silk, more moist than flour, and so on.

We could even say that this is the role of the tactile senses in establishing a fuller and fuller sense of self is their primary function. An infant approaches objects not with an initial idea of research into and manipulation of externals, but with an idea of self-stimulation; and it discovers other objects. We can never touch just one thing; we always touch two at the same instant, an object and ourselves, and it is in the simultaneous interplay between these two contiguities that the internal sense of self--different from both the collection of body parts and the collection of external objects--is encountered.

Since [my ideas of] both the body and the world have to be built up, and since the body in this respect is not different from the world, there must be a cebtral function of the personality which is neither world nor body. There must be a more central sphere of the personality. The body is in this respect periphery compared with the central functions of the personality.

That is to say, my tactile surface is not only the interface between my body and the world, it is the interface between my thought processes and my physical existense as well. By rubbing up against the world, I define myself to myself.

This dialectic is life-long, and its informative power can hardly be overstated. It establishes preferences and aversions, habits and departures, becomes the very stuff in which attitudes are ingrained. The "feel" in my skin and the "feelings" in my mind, what I "feel" and how I "feel" about it, become so confounded and ambiguous that my internal "feelings" can alter what my skin "feels" just as powerfully as particular sensations can shift my internal states.

It is not too much to say that sensory activity of the skin is a major element in the development of disposition and behavior, an element with enough sophistication and plasticity to account for wide divergences of experience and observation.

The skin itself does not think, but its sensitivity is so great, combined with its ability to pick up and transmit so extraordinarily wide variety of signals, and make so wide a range of responses, exceeding that of all other sense organs, that for versatility it must be ranked second only to the brain itself.

{Job's Body: A Handbook for Bodywork ~ Deane Juhan}

{Images Linked/Art By RODICA MILLER/Music By Fleet Foxes}

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