Miracle? All of it. (Feel Me)

hands-dan-stockholm-red-clay

We think of hot and cold, or of textures, silk and cotton. But some of the most important sensing we do with our fingers is to register incredibly minute differences in pressure, of the kinds that are necessary to perform tasks, which we grasp in a microsecond from the feel of the outer shell of the thing. We know instantly, just by touching, whether to gently squeeze the toothpaste or crush the can. […]

Computer chess looks intelligent, but it’s under-the-hood stupid. Reaching and elegantly picking up the right chess piece fluidly and having it land in the right place in an uncontrolled environment—that’s hard. Haptic intelligence is an almost irreproducible miracle! Because people are so good at that, they don’t appreciate it. Machines are good at finding the next move, but moving in the world still baffles them. […]

Our bodies are membranes in the world, with sensation and meaning passing seamlessly through them. Our experience of our bodies—the things they feel, the moves they make, and the textures and the people they touch—is our primary experience of our minds. “The brain is just simply part of our bodies” is how the philosopher Alva Noë often puts it. The truer cartoon, in a sense, would be “Outside In,” with the emotions produced by people bumping against one another. A key to being embodied in this way is tactile experience—what we touch, whom we touch, how many we touch, and why we find them touching. Grasping, hugging, striking, playing, caressing, reaching, scratching backs, and rubbing rears: these are not primitive forms of communication. They are the fabric of being conscious. The work of the world is done by handling it. We live by feel. […]

Later, in a café near the square, Keltner has a cappuccino and, sitting at the counter, watches the variety of human touch as it reveals itself in that unending theatre: fingers flying on the keyboard, hands darting out to make a point, heads turning to underline a joke, bodies slouching and primping and jostling and soliciting attention. An intensity of feeling combines, in our tactile lives, with a plurality of kinds.

Perhaps the reason that touch has no art form is that its supremacy makes it hard to escape. We can shut our eyes and cover our ears, but it’s our hands that do it when we do. We can’t shut off our skins. It is the obscurity of the other senses that makes us enliven them with art: touch is too important to be elaborated or distilled. It just is. What we see we long for; what we hear we interpret; what we touch we are. The art we aspire to is a remote sensation, always out of reach. Life is the itch we are still trying to scratch.

~ Adam Gopnik, excerpts from Feel Me. What the Science of Touch Says About Us


Post title inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”


Image: “By Hand” – Red Clay Sculpture by Dan Stockholm

 

Comments

  1. “What we touch we are” Really interesting. 🙏🏻

    Liked by 2 people

  2. touch is something we take so for granted, and yet it is hard for a human to survive without all that comes with and from it. i love this sculpture.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I consume content in a feed reader [as you know, David]. When I can flip through dozens of posts and yet know which one is one of yours by the quality of the title, image and content, then you have built a successful brand. #hugefan #greatwork

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I’ll go with Einstein on this. A miracle of creation on so many levels.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As soon as I read this post, I thought of those disturbing experiments that the psychologist Harlow did in which he deprived baby monkeys from any touch or interaction for months. They emerged severely disturbed and with weakened immune systems. And think of the comfort a simple hug can impart. Touch is critical, and all too often taken for granted. (I love the sculpture, too!)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow. I didn’t recall any part of this post. (Frightening) And your memory, Wow #2.

      Liked by 1 person

      • How can a soul forget this???
        You already have written a book, maybe two. For the love of everything worth loving, put the pieces together and publish it soon.
        Or, I’m doing it 😉

        Liked by 2 people

        • Thank you, Sawsan. Maybe this is like the 100th monkey. If enough of us keep hammering at DK’s keys, he’ll eventually produce that book. Then, again, if he keeps adding to the fodder here on the blog, he’ll have that book waiting for him in retirement (Okay, yeah, that’s a stretch. This guy will never retire).

          Liked by 2 people

          • Smiling….Still smiling. Thank you both for your continued inspirations.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Hi Sandy.
            What you said made me think of a favorite Maya Angelou quote,
            “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
            We don’t see birds trying to release records.
            They sing because they have a song.
            Thank God for “Song Birds”
            I’m a believer that the greatest stories were never written, and if written, were never published.

            Regards

            Liked by 3 people

        • Laughing. You might have better luck. Thank you for your kind words. It means a lot to me Sawsan.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. The fabric of being conscious – fascinating, and yes, a miracle.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. David I never really gave this much thought. I think of sight, hearing and what a blessing they are, but the fact that I am typing this response, and can move around in this body has been made amazing to me through your post. Thank you! ❤
    Diana xo

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Christie says:

    Many thoughts come to mind…I will think and then when I have time, write…to be continued.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Feel me!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Love this one, David. Touch…remembering the touch of a person now gone.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I get tingles every time someone holds my hand. Their touch is felt deep inside. More than a hug, more than a kiss.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. …always out of reach. wonder how this is redirected for someone who has no feeling in their fingers. there is something spiritual about this.
    thank you, David.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Machines are good at finding the next move, but moving in the world still baffles them.” There is something so very non-human about computers and machines (even while they enable amazing things in this world)…thanks for this thought-provoking post, David.

    Liked by 1 person

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