A Sense of Things
Andrew Irving (University of Manchester)
Paper short abstract:
If senses of self emerge through everyday habitual activity then we must consider the negation and absence of material artefacts in our corporeal life. This paper explores different kinds of material disembodiment whereby the body is ‘made strange’ and denaturalised within everyday practice.
Paper long abstract:
Reality, and corpo-reality, are generally understood as those things that we can access through vision, taste, touch, hearing and smell within Aristotle's five-fold classification of sense that forms the basis of western models of perception. Meanwhile, our senses, perceptions and experiences of the world are largely formed through movement, which is the primary means through which we encounter the materiality and textures of our surroundings. Accordingly a sense of self is produced through the combination of movement, our different sensory modalities and the materiality of the world insofar as tools, objects and landscapes not only allow us to orientate the body-in-place but also create a sense of the body's existential continuity through time by their seeming ability to remain constant and transcend temporal differentiation. However, movement and physical decay also displace senses of continuity and simultaneously create the possibility for sensing and experiencing new perspectives, discontinuous selves and different forms of being. If the senses are constituted as a type of corporeal 'presence' obtained through movement then we must also consider the negation of sense and sensation through the absence of material artefacts in our corporeal lives and what this symbolises in relation to people's senses of self and identity (likewise when the senses are compromised or through a lack or restriction of movement). Accordingly this paper explores different kinds of corporeal absence, material disembodiment and creative methodology whereby the body is 'made strange' and denaturalised within everyday life and practice, for example through illness, art and the imagination, in pursuit of a better understanding of Post-Cartesian bodies and their relationships with the material world.