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Response 3: To Leo Calogero Reflection 4 October 25, 2011

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It seems that we shared similar experiences when reading the Seremetakis article, the article was very detailed and filled with a lot of academic jargon and the underlying message was hard to grasp. However the one quote that you singled out from the article is a very informative, it ultimately does encompass a lot of what the article has to say about sensing as a mean of communication and exchange of experience. Moreover your summary of the Stoller article was very informed in that the major issues of the sensuous body were acknowledged, including your focus on ocular centrism which I for some reason overlooked in my reflection.  Moreover the mention of the high and low sensation one experiences was a good point to bring forward in relation to how the body interprets its surroundings. It is fascinating how Stoller distrusted the lower body; I was not aware of this and will actually go back and read the prologue to see why this is.


Reflection 5: Exchange of Sensorium October 24, 2011

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The articles for this week dealt very much with the notion of how to actually experience the senses, what the senses actually mean to the mental and spiritual being. This idea was presented through the Seramatikis reading called Divination, media, and the networked body of modernity and the Stoller article titled Sensuous Scholarship. Although the subject matter of the two articles is vastly different the underlying message is essentially the same, heavily revolving around how the senses are interpreted.

The Seremetakis reading primarily relies on divination to present ideas about the sensing through the body to gain knowledge. The process of divination is described as being one that deeply involves the senses as listening to the body is an integral part of the exchange of senses that takes place during the process. Seremetakis takes this idea of “…opening of the body and its senses to exchange” (2005:338) and applies to modern society and how these ideas are sub-consciously present within society. I found Seremetakis’s analogy’s about society and divination quite fascinating because essentially everything in the world is a sort of bodily interaction and an exchange of sensory experience. Seremetakis states that everything interacting with the body in the world (modernity) “ are the substances that are deployed to represent the body in a state of self-distantiation in the coffee-cup and evil-eye readings—substances that are deployed to reassemble the body in interpersonal divination”( 2005:349). It is interesting to imagine

The second article discussed the disengaged nature of academic from that of the sensory world. Essentially article discussed how sensory experience in academic writing is broken down to such arbitrary definition and that the academic’s doing these fail to actually gain any experience from studying these observations.  Moreover he discusses how the nature of sprit possession is more than simply an act but an entire mode of experience life and its history. As Stroller notes “Songhay spirit possession is a sensory arena of counter memory. The performance of spirit possession ceremonies re-enacts…the experience of the Songhay”( 1997:63). The spirit possession process is a act to not only experience but to embody the life histories of the ancestors and loved ones. I found this quite fascinating not only because of the nature of the spirit possession but also how the anthropologist was able to so deeply engage with the “other” culture that he was able to so deeply understand their customs. I believe this is the true point of the article to successfully interact and learn to experience and sense in new ways.


Works cited:

Seramatikis, C. N (2009) ‘Divination, media, and the networked body of modernity’, American Ethnologist, 36:2, pp. 337-350

Stoller, P. (1997) sensuous Scholarship (excerpts).

Response 2 : To Julia Falotico Reflection 3 October 20, 2011

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Hi Julia I really enjoyed reading your reflection you were very concise in your summary as well your analysis. Not only that it seems that for the most part we drew similar conclusions from the articles, such as the importance of the bodily experience in southeast Ghana culture as well as the idea of the hegemony of visual culture in western society. However although I believe the visual aspect was the main focus of the Pallasmaa article, I do not completely agree that people in western society do not experience full body understanding, instead I think that we simply do not acknowledge it. Just as Geurts explained that although she felt the intensity of running over the rock she was not able to properly realise what she had experienced until she learned of ‘seselelame’. Thus referring to your movie example, it’s not that we do not feel the emotion and bodily experience that comes with viewing a movie it’s just not taken seriously, at least not in the mainstream. Obviously there are people who attend movies for the entire emotional experience and those who go just to see things blow up. However even those who go to see things blow up are experiencing a totality of sensorium stimulus, they are just not aware of it on a deeper level. Also I really enjoyed the video clip, its provides great insight to how different cultures feel and experience aspect’s of life that we think often think are treated universally, such as death.

Reflection 4: Sensing Everything October 19, 2011

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Once again the western assumption that there are only five distinct senses is challenged in the readings for this week.  However instead of attempting to dispute the number or type of senses the article for this week attempt to describe how the sense can be thought of as a whole. Instead of creating a situation where we interpret each individual sense as a separate input the articles attempt to overcome this barrier by showing how sensing can be thought of as an entirely bodily experience. The entire body is in engaged in a state of extending it one true sense, the sense of tactility or in other words touch.

The Geurts article documents how the Anlo-Ewe people view the sensorium as opposed to western common thought. In their particular culture the sensorium isn’t broken up into different categories but is instead viewed as a whole, described with the word “seselelame” which “represents  a  cultural  meaning  system in which  bodily feeling is attended  to as a source  of vital information” (Geurts 2002: 198) . In their particular context sensing is the embodiment of information, such as the example of Geurts running over a rock, that one act actually provided a wealth of information that she ignored at first due to her western mentality, however she later realized “I experienced  a flood of sensations,  emotions,  and intuitions  that I nonetheless  ignored  since  my  “cognitive  system”  concluded  that  it was  simply a rock” (Geurts 2002:198). It is amazing of this way of interpreting the world brings meaning to even everyday objects, knocking your foot on a table can be interrupted as a inconvenience or in teh Anlo-Ewe context a knowledge that bring new aware to the object including sensations, new presumptions about the object as well of feelings ( most probably ones of anger, if it were me). As Geurts notes “Sidzenu”can be roughly translated to “thing recognized”.

Moreover the Pallasmaa article attempted to validate the holistic approach of sensing through the use of vision. Pallasmaa’s overwhelming argument seems to be that vision is idealised in modern society and that computer, art, architecture work in conjunction to supplement these ideas. However Pallasmaa goes on to state that the vision aspect is just a medium through which we feel, in other words it is simply another form of touching. Becuase although art is visual it’s purpose and bodily response is deeper, “ [art] addresses all the senses simultaneously, and fuses our sense of self with the experience of the world”( Pallasmaa 2005:4). At first I was sceptical of this notion, however after further reading I found this to be a very plausible assumption, moreover it relates directly to the idea of a general sensory body that works as a whole and not in separate parts. For example when I play video games, which is predominately a visual experience, why is it that I find my self jerking my body during aspect of the game that require precision (kinaesthesia), why is it that my heartbeat begins to accelerate when in a difficult scenario. All the elements of the sensorium work in conjunction to “recognize”; to experience as a whole of part not as a division.

When we open ourselves to think of the whole a new way of perceiving the world is made aviable to us as Geurts noted “We  should  not  mistake  this  consciousness  as  simply  about  people  seeing the  child  walking lugulugu and thinking that  he  was  wayward,  but,  rather, informants  were  quite  clear about  the  sensations  the child would experience in the body” (2002: 190). The body is not something that can be broken into important and unimportant parts, instead it has a sort of complete agency in its sensing experience. As Pallasmaa states “All the senses, including vision, are extensions of the tactile sense; the senses are specializations of skin tissue, and all sensory experiences are modes of touching, and thus related with tactility” (2005: 10)

Works Cited:

Pallasmaa, J. (2005) ‘touching the world”, chapter 1 in Architecture of the Senses, pp. 9-73

Geurts, K. L. (2002), “On Rocks, Walks, and Talks In West Africa: Cultural Categories and an Anthropology of the Senses’, Ethos (30), pp. 178-198.

Response 1: To Reflection 1 by Diegor Chan October 18, 2011

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I found your reflection quite intriguing, in that you were able to very concisely summarize the key aspects of the two articles. Moreover, you were able to draw connections with the Mechanical Model and the Representational Model of sensing, which I thought was quite interesting, the idea that the two models are combined in order to create a landscape was quite interesting, in that people took what they knew of the world and combined it with their own unique sensual experience in order to have their own unique alternate embodiment. I also liked how you discussed the idea of when your thinking of a conversation and it beings to seems like your actually hearing it, I too have similar experiences however mine often involve music. Quite often when I’m recollecting a song it begins to feel like I’m actually hearing the song, however as soon as I make myself aware of this fact the sensation quickly disappears. I never thought to associate this experience as an alternate mode of sensing but in a way it is, since there is no real input occurring. Only know when I think about do I realize the amazing aspect of hearing music without it actually playing, I wonder is people who are deaf/blind have similar experiences, in which they are not actually sensing but only recreating the sensation.

Reflection 3: Opposite Poles, Sensing the World Differently October 17, 2011

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It is difficult, quite difficult to imagine living life without the ability to see or hear, at least for me personally. I have always had this fear of going blind and/or deaf, for me it seemed as if your life would come to an end, you would no longer experience the world for what it is. However that’s where the articles for this week interject, “experiencing the world for what it is” is simply that, experience, the article gave great insight into how those who sense the world differently interact and engage in order to create their own forms of embodiment. I have always held the assumption that people who are blind or deaf are in a constant state of lack, lacking what “normal” people have and they do not, however the articles explain that is not the case, people who are deaf and/or blind create their own individual forms of alternative embodiment, these types of embodiment are difficult for non blind/deaf to understand or even appreciate (as was my case).

The “Sound Deaf studies” article explores many different forms of perception for the deaf, including how they may be deaf in other ways then just with their ears. The article discusses how sound cross’s the barrier to tactility by engaging senses of touch, because sound is simply a series of vibrations and thus a form of mediation. Not only that this extra prevalence for the deaf to be more acute of senses of vibrations allows for them an alternate sensorium experience, as the waves and sign conference showed  “It may produce shared experience, but it does not therefore produce identical experience; even within “one” individual, sense ratios and relations may shift and mix synesthetically”( Friedner and Helmreich 6). I found it interesting that the amplification of other senses along with synesthetic effects helps to elimate the presumption that deaf people are “all the time people of the eye”( Friedner and Helmreich 7). However, I may have now have a greater understanding of the communal bounds that deaf people share, along with the unique forms of embodiment deaf causes , I still find myself unable to understand why people would object to cochlear implants, I find that being able to gain the senses of hearing as very alluring, I personally would never be able to object if I were deaf, however that may just be an outsider looking in opinion.


Moreover in the second article which discussed how the blind see I was able to gain great appreciation for the many different ways in which the blind are able to create the world around them. It is amazing how the blind are able to so vividly create these mental worlds “He speaks of how the sound of rain, never before accorded much attention, can now delineate a whole landscape for him”( Sachs 2003). This is fascinating because for me, someone with the ability, it is very difficult to create a mental image of anything accurately. For example after reading the article I tried to listen to the rain in my backyard, and although it sounded soothing I was unable to create any sort of image of my backyard even though I knew exactly what it looked like. It maybe a learned skill but I find it difficult to imagine anything vividly, my recollection of York University, my street, anything. I know what each place looks like yet in my mind I am only able to create a very basic dull recreation. This just goes to show how the mind learns to ignore sensory input when we become  accustom to them, similar to what Jeff Warren stated about trees and forests. How when we become so used to something that it beings to be blocked out, the saying “In one ear and right out the other” can be applied in this context, but instead referring to all the senses. As Sach’s states “one can no longer say of one’s mental landscapes what is visual, what is auditory, what is image, what is language, what is intellectual, what is emotional–they are all fused together and imbued with our own individual perspectives and values”(2003).


Works cited:

Stefan H. and M. Friedner (manuscript) “Sound Studies Meets Deaf studies”

Sacks, Oliver. “THE MIND’S EYE.” The New Yorker 28 July 2003: 048. Canadian Periodicals Index Quarterly. Web. 17 Oct. 2011.