January 18th, 2006

Coffee Squirrel

Touch Me- Back Off! Part 1

"Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and The Human Brain is Damasio's exploration of how our cognative and emotional lives intertwine. He finds Cartesian dualism to be more typical of persons suffering injuries to the prefrontal cortices than the basis for normal human praxis. A neurologist by training, Damasio argues that sensations and emotions are expressions of our being in the world; they are the means by which the world is interpreted and becomes embodied in our flesh. The materialization of the world in the flesh is absolutely necessary for practical and moral life, because apart from that biochemical "mattering" there is no way for us to realize what "matters" as relevant or valuable in moment-by-moment living."

-"Erotic Morality: The Role of Touch in Moral Agency" by Linda Holler


I'm a touch girl by nature. I talk with my hands. I don't mean gesticulating. I mean what you say to me, what I hear and how I respond is invariably informed by how tight my clothes are, whether I'm sitting in a plush seat or a wooden one. So many talk about smell. I love some smells, but I'm not inordinately affected by them. They can be pleasant or dissonant. The can be awful or inviting. The only smell that induces a gag reflex in me is the smell of old baby milk. Shove your baby in my arms at your peril. Just kidding. Even that, I don't always mind smelling revolting smells. I'm freaky like that. Touch is different. It's important.

It's sexist, but in general I've felt people fight to touch. And, in general, boys physically fight more often than girls. I think those fighting abroad must be very on edge and dissatisfied unless they're working on the ground, kicking in houses and looking into the eyes of those who may be friend or may be foe. No release. To quote the lovely and intelligentrocketllama, "Telvision is to Life what Masturbation is to Sex" -- and as I told him, I've been masturbating a LOT lately. Isn't it far too much like a video game to blast from above as a pilot? Are television and video games training us to do without that real touch? Go see rocketllama's essay for that. I just know I miss it and what is boot camp for but getting you sensitive to what your body might feel?

I think of fish, sharks and how schools of them move. There's no perceptible signal from one to the others -- they...just...TURN. And they all do it at once! I think people have that.  I don't think I'm stepping of line to say that our nervous systems are made of the same 'stuff' and that while it may not be as acute, we have at some level what it would take to do the same. TURN, dammit! TURN with me!

Eric is alone a lot. What I do for him is instinctive, then I read something that confirms the validity of how I work with him. We sleep in the same bed. I massage his muscles. They aren't sure if the stiffening of them is due to schizophrenia or to the powerful medications he takes to treat it. Whatever the reason, at night I rub his stinky feet, his creaky calf muscles until the are supple in my hand. I rub his back, his arms. It makes him less clumsy through the day. There are also times he feels restless and says: "Lay on me!" I lay my full length across him. I rest my chin on his shoulder. If I lay on my back I have held a magazine above my head as I lay vertically "spooned" on him. I guess the pressure makes him feel more secure. Linda Holler talks about that in her book as well.

She metions and explores the work and life of Temple Grandin, a woman with autism who stumbled upon the comforting sensation of the chutes that cows sit in before being killed. She was comforted by one herself and designed one for humans and refined the one for cows.

Work is crazed. Will finish tomorrow. I do have a point...