Monday, December 27, 2010

Telephone conversations with my mother

--Hello. The weather's fine. I'm eating. Good to hear from you and to know that you're ok.

The breathing, sensing body draws its sustenance and its very substance from the soils, plants, and elements that surround it; it continually contributes itself, in turn, to the air, to the composting earth, to the nourishment of insects and oak trees and squirrels, ceaselessly spreading out of itself as well as breathing the world into itself, so that it is very difficult to discern, at any moment, precisely where this living body begins and where it ends. (46)

--Hello. Good to hear from you and to know that you're ok.

We can experience things--can touch, hear, and taste things--only because, as bodies, we are ourselves included in the sensible field, and have our own textures, sounds, and tastes. We can perceive things at all only because we ourselves are entirely a part of the sensible world that we perceive! We might as well say that we are organs of this world, flesh of its flesh, and that the world is perceiving itself through us. (68)

--Hello. Good to hear from you and know that everything's ok.

The differentiation of my senses, as well as their spontaneous convergence in the world at large, ensures that I am a being destined for relationship; it is primarily through my engagement with what is not me that I effect the integration of my senses, and thereby experience my own unity and coherence. (125)

--Hello, hello, I can't hear you.

Prior to the spread of writing, ethical qualities like "virtue," "justice," and "temperance" were thoroughly entwined with the specific situations in which those qualities were exhibited. The terms for such qualities were oral utterances called forth by particular social situations; they had no apparent existence independent of those situations. . . "Justice" and "temperance" were thus experienced as living occurrences, as events. Arising in specific situations, they were inseparable from the particular persons or actions that momentarily embodied them. (110)

--H e l l o?

In the waters that surge in waves against the distant edge of the land, still stranger powers, multihued and silent, move in crowds among alien forests of coral and stone . . . (49)


[Italicized language from David Abram's The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World. NY: Vintage, 1996.]

[The other language is that of my mother's typical phone conversation for the past two or three years. In recent weeks, she has begun to drop the phone almost as soon as it's passed to her. Add in the sound of ambient noise: television, caretakers, gathered plates.]

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