I just finished reading an article by Jeff Warren in the new Scientist issue of Dec. 24th which is confirming some of my thinking on Highly Sensitive People and embodied thinking. Embodied thinking is a term that encompasses both cognition and sensorial intelligence.
Scientists now know that whales and dolphins have advanced sensorial abilities. Their nervous system evolved to take advantage of echolocation and the properties of water. According to Jeff Warren (2011), these animals may have the abilities to see inside each other’s bodies, and in a sense having a very different notion of self, being connected to each other by more than just visual and vocal communication. The article discussed the potential of merging ourselves with these animals to acquire these extra sensorial abilities. The underlying assumption being that humans do not have the capacity to use this senses as animals do.
I have to wonder. Why wouldn’t humans have evolved in similar ways? Why wouldn’t our bodies have adapted to the elements unique to the environment we live in, such as air, water, magnetic and other fields, heat, wind, etc. Why wouldn’t humans have adapted and developed unique body languages specific to the terrains of the regions they inhabit?
We already know that European colonization has been an attacked not just on other cultures but also a colonization of the body. Feminists and disability groups have made that claim for a long time. But what if it has also been a colonization of the senses. Desensitizing and eliminating populations’ literacies to their sensorial languages. Such desensitization were actually essential to 20th century forms of capitalist life.
The more time a person spends working at making money for someone else, the less time he or she has to take care of themselves, their family and to exist in a natural setting. Existing in our natural habitats require a lot of daily work. Dealing with animals, plants, and the effect of the elements on our bodies, food and dwellings. Paying attention to the needs of our children, mates and other family members. But if a capitalist needs a person to focus his/her life on work, it is important to have desensitized that person to the point where he/she can only rely on modern chemical and mechanical (both physical and emotional) processes to deal with life and family. Creating both a hyper-consumer (consumption becoming the only way to cope) and biological automaton (whose reactions and decision making emerge from socially learned scripts rather then from an understanding of his or her needs), hyper-autonomous individuals who operates in accordance to the behavioral norms, goals and customs set out by a dominant social group via schooling and other cultural institutions such as television. Worshipping competition, negative criticisms and external signs of success as defined by financial and other forms of competitive rewarding.
What if desensitization is a means to prevent people from becoming self-aware and self-actualized? What if we are as humans meant to have an embodied individual and collective self?
What if our search for extra abilities via technology is only a means to colonize the capacities of highly sensitive people and animals by replacing natural capacities with synthetic ones that are controllable by those who define their parameters of use, in other words either the economical or technological intelligentsia? What if our search for technological perfection creates a Borg who eradicates all cultures after having absorbed their substances? A technological human that becomes a new virus that kills all forms of culture by contact, its toxicity stopping other beings from being able to communicate effectively. What if that virus became an extension of colonialism activities pass the boundaries of human culture devastation into those of other sentient beings’ consciousness?
Burgess and years later Umberto Eco warned us years ago that we were in the process of remapping the terrains of our lives, erasing our natural realities and replacing them with artificially generated ones. We are indeed travelling through hyper-reality but It would seem to me that we are far beyond this point, having reached it in the 80s, mediated news colonizing perceptions of realities. Today, the remapping extends much further, erasing our natural emotions, thoughts and sensations, in other words our natural selves. Eliminating our dreams and replacing them with our various fantasies, phantasm and psychosis.
While it is very important to recognize that within a humanist framework this renewal of identity is essential for many marginal groups who through p2p technologies are gaining voice they once lost (Bal, 2011), I, for one, want to remain an highly sensitive people and to continue to exist through my natural senses. I do not want my sensorial thinking, feeling and being to be erased and disappear as one of life’s possibilities.
Modern man is not wise. The last 5000 years of our existence has demonstrated that. When technology becomes a means to remap the human instead of augmenting his or her life, we play god and in the process hurt and usually poison the world and ourselves. Our modern society is the tower of Babel, western culture having developed in siloed cultures of invasions incapable of hearing nor seeing others as anything else then the enemy or the salvage that needs to be domesticated and socialized into insensitive toxic living.
But what if highly sensitive people are people who for some reason have a body that cannot be desensitized without major trauma to the psyche and body? According to journalism Emma Young (2011) there is growing evidence that many modern life factors contribute to obesity and may explain the epidemic we are facing. Factors such as stress, modern temperatures in homes (too warm), lack of protein in diets, food and beverage wrappings full of endocrine disrupter chemicals that can leak in food and drinks, exposure to light at night which alters a person’s metabolism, breathing polluted air can increase fat gain around the stomach and increase risks of developing type 2 diabetes and, finally, lack of sleep. And these are the factors we know about without consideration for the impact of these environments on our sensorial well-being.
Levels of toxicity to humans in urban settings are outrageously high but not just in terms of air and food pollution. Sound, light, airwaves, chemical, social, mental and cultural toxicity are very high and while many have successfully desensitized their bodies to the sensations created by these pollutants, children and highly sensitive people are constantly bombarded by these toxins which make them sick both physically, mentally and spiritually.
Our arrogance lets us believe we are all knowing when in fact we know just enough to be dangerous. What if our Babel tower has created not just incompatible languages of thought but also inhabitable sensorial hell for those who are wired to sense deeply? Our urban spaces are such highly aggressive and depressive sensorial environments. Toxicity emanating from all surfaces and invisible spaces.
Being away from the urban core is making me so much more aware of these pollutants. The ability to be in sync with a natural environments change the metabolism as well as the mental state of an individual. The senses can be rebalanced and recalibrated.
What if all we need is less centralized systems, to disperse and minimize the impact of energy and signals generated by all technological systems… And let nature be part of our daily life. Human and animal scale living instead of industrialized? Jane Jacobs was taking us there but we failed to listen.
What if we woke up and started to listen?