Friday, May 14, 2010

Direct perception

One of these negative sleep epiphanies; this time connected with awakening and nausea.

On my way home in the evening I eat a sandwich with an old date (*). It tastes stale but not really bad.

In the middle of the night I awake and think of the sandwich in my stomach. I am not really feeling sick, but I feel the place of the sandwich in my stomach, and my nervous system is slightly stressed: I am potentially sick. But then it feels like the ground is being pulled from my feet when I think of how extremely strange it is that I was mentally focussing on the eaten sandwich in an immediate way! Isn't it the case that the details assume their meaning by their place in the geography, their place in the narrative and grammar of the text? Don't I have to read the whole landscape, the whole story? Is "direct perception" (direkte Anschauung) actually possible? My head keeps spinning, I am scared. I am convinced that epistemology under normal circumstances rests on a reading of geography as grammar, but that one can be capable of direct perception if for example one is going crazy, or extremely sick. And all the time that eaten sandwich is keeping me reminded of itself, without me having to imagine the entire gasterointestinal system – the absence of the entire 9 meters of it is so dramatically striking, a blank book, a blank map. Is it extremely sick or crazy that I am becoming? Then I fall asleep again.

The dream that followed was obviously geobiographical, and so can be read on the Cormorant council page.

(*) the ambiguity of this formulation became an element in the interpretation of the material. Originally it was just poor linguistic skills, I didn't know the best way to refer casually in english to a slightly old sandwich, the best-before-date of which had already passed.


Anonymous said...


On a tangent of your interesting message, I recall an old drunk experience of mine. I was near to throwing up by a tree, kneeling on the ground, when I began to feel I was going to several different places, taking part in relations with unknown, but comfortable people. Some kind of oneiric images grouped in series, coming out under stress. It lasted for five minutes or so, and I couldn't remember most of it. yet I was left with the impression that it was important, satisfying. Much of it took place in a kind of altered speed, as if seen from slightly farther away from the room itself in question. As the Beast from X-Men might say, 'fascinating!
Cheers, Shibek

M said...

Thanks Shibek,
it seems like your experience as well as mine points to the crucial importance of the gasterointestinal canal in our sense of space.

You know how some musicians usually say that there is a sense of time/rhythm in all of us based in the regularity of our heartbeats (but there are many other aspects of biological time, cf ).

While epistemological processes usually are clad in spatial metaphors (charting and mapping, conquering new areas and new lands, sorting things into boxes and compartments, getting overview, etc) - this is of course also what lies behind the marvellous ability of our dream-shaping processes to express mental processes in spatial drama, which not only dream geographers but all dream interpreters notice.

So if temporality is based on heartbeats (and several other biological processes) as pillars, then spatiality is all extending from the gasterointestinal canal and its center the stomach? The inner space. Why not.

KF said...

Dear both,

today I was browsing through the list of recently published papers in physics. The abstract of one paper was intriguing: it claimed to give a definition of the "speed of time". Apparently, the speed of time was related to temperature. In relation to your discussion, I would thus like to ask:

- How is the speed of time defined by heartbeats or other biological processes? Notice that the speed of time is a subgroup of temporality in general, and the naive answer "faster heartbeat means higher speed of time" is clearly not correct.

- How is the gasterointestinal canal related to the "speed of space", and what would that mean? And what is the relationship between the two speeds?

Kristoffer F

Anonymous said...

Merdarius, Kristoffer: You both have very interesting and suggestive comments and questions on this subject which I can't attempt to answer right now. But let's not forget Nietzsche's comments about the role of indigestion and 'the reactive swamp.'