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Metaphor, feeling, embodiment

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by

Helen Smith

on 12 April 2016

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Transcript of Metaphor, feeling, embodiment

The ‘messages’ noted by Raphael were not interpreted as cinematic images, but rather the messages catapulted him into a consciousness premised on movement and emotion... For Anlo people, these are the ways in which seselelame (feeling in the body, flesh, or skin), gomesese (understanding), and sidzedzenu (recognition) are implicated in the making of consciousness. Consciousness implicitly involves bodily feeling and inter-subjectivity. In addition, accounts of consciousness often involve complex references to movement and sensorimotor activities. For Anlo people, there is a clear connection between bodily habits and who you are or who you become: your character, your moral compass is embodied in the way you move, and the way you move embodies an essence of your nature. The logic or consciousness that I have just described is not merely about people seeing the child walking lugulugu and thinking that he was wayward, but about the sensations the child would experience in the body, and then the imaginative structures that would develop in the mind. Sensation, sensual presence, is still more, more than embodiment, more than perceptual figure-grounds, more than the potential for synesthesia. It was Henri Bergson’s insight, long ago, in Matter and Memory, that ‘there is no perception which is not full of memories. With the immediate and present data of our senses, we mingle a thousand details out of our past experience’. ...Bergson’s problem – linking the active body as a place of passage to processes of making memory – is developed in Edward Casey’s (1987) Remembering. He writes:
Moving in or through a given place, the body imports its own emplaced past into its present experience: its local history is literally a history of locales. ... Orientation in place ... arises within the ever-lengthening shadow of our bodily past’. Durkheim explicitly spelled out the relation between the consciousness of the individual and that of the collectivity ... in terms of a thoroughgoing distinction between sensation and representation.

... the contrast between the ephemerality of sensations and the durability of representations.
... sensations are private and individual, representations are public and social. From a phenomenological standpoint ... the world emerges with its properties alongside the emergence of the perceiver in person, against the background of involved activity. Since the person is a being-in-the-world, the coming-into-being of the person is part and parcel of the process of coming-into-being of the world. As in any craft, the skilled maker who has a feel for what she is doing is one whose movement is continually and subtly responsive to the modulations of her relation with the material. Conversely, the clumsy practitioner is precisely one who implements mechanically a fixed sequence of instructions, while remaining insensitive to the evolving conditions of the task as it unfolds. Telling a story ... is not like unfurling a tapestry to cover up the world, it is rather a guiding the attention of listeners or readers into it. We have inherited from the Western philosophical tradition a theory of faculty psychology, in which we have a “faculty” of reason that is separate from and independent of what we do with our bodies. In particular, reason is seen as independent of perception and bodily movement. We form extraordinarily rich conceptual structures for our categories and reason about them in many ways that are crucial for our everyday functioning. All of these conceptual structures are, of course, neural structures in our brains. This makes them embodied in the trivial sense that any mental construct is realized neurally. But there is a deeper and more important sense in which our concepts are embodied. What makes concepts concepts is their inferential capacity, their ability to be bound together in ways that yield inferences. An embodied concept is a neural structure that is actually part of, or makes use of, the sensorimotor system of our brains. Much of conceptual inference is, therefore, sensorimotor inference. Our claim is ... that the very properties of concepts are created as a result of the way the brain and body are structured and the way they function in interpersonal relations and in the physical world. Rather notice, mon cher,
that the moon is
tilted above
the point of the steeple
than that its color
is shell-pink.

Rather observe
that it is early morning
than that the sky
is smooth
as a turquoise.

Rather grasp
how the dark
converging lines
of the steeple
meet at a pinnacle—
perceive how
its little ornament
tries to stop them—

See how it fails!
See how the converging lines
of the hexagonal spire
escape upward—
receding, dividing!
—petals
that guard and contain
the flower!

Observe
how motionless
the eaten moon
lies in the protective lines.
It is true:
in the light colors
of the morning

brown-stone and slate
shine orange and dark blue

But observe
the oppressive weight
of the squat edifice!
Observe
the jasmine lightness
of the moon. Seeing is touching Form is motion Events are actions The body continues to be regarded as nothing more than an input device whose role is to receive information to be ‘processed’ by the mind, rather than playing any part in cognition itself. Listen, dreary dessicated thing! Why have you, a foul thing of earth, afflicted me?
(Soul and Body II)

O, WHO shall from this dungeon raise
A soul enslaved so many ways?
...
O who shall me deliver whole,
From bonds of this tyrannic soul? Constrained not only to endure
Diseases, but, what's worse, the cure;
And ready oft the port to gain
Am shipwrecked into health again. The mind is an enchanting thing

is an enchanted thing
like the glaze on a
katydid-wing
subdivided by sun
till the nettings are legion.
Like Gieseking playing Scarlatti;

like the apteryx-awl
as a beak, or the
kiwi's rain-shawl
of haired feathers, the mind
feeling its way as though blind,
walks with its eyes on the ground.

It has memory's ear
that can hear without
having to hear.
Like the gyroscope's fall,
truly unequivocal
because trued by regnant certainty,

it is a power of
strong enchantment. It
is like the dove-
neck animated by
sun; it is memory's eye;
it's conscientious inconsistency.

It tears off the veil; tears
the temptation, the
mist the heart wears,
from its eyes -- if the heart
has a face; it takes apart
dejection. It's fire in the dove-neck's

iridescence; in the
inconsistencies
of Scarlatti.
Unconfusion submits
its confusion to proof; it's
not a Herod's oath that cannot change. http://untappedcities.com/newyork/2011/01/28/sequence-art-in-new-york-city/
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