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senses, Thoughts

Michel Serres and Skin

I am having a Ha ha moment. Of course!  for Michel Serres skin is central to the `philosophy of mingled bodies’ that Serres inaugurates here because of the principle of contingence:

in the skin, through the skin, the world and the body touch, defining their common border. Contingency means mutual touching: world and body meet and caress in the skin. I do not like to speak of the place where my body exists as a milieu, preferring rather to say that things mingle among themselves and that I am no exception to this, that I mingle with the world which mingles itself in me. The skin intervenes in the things of the world and brings about their mingling. (97)

According to Steven Connor, for Serres, the skin and touch are a way of being amidst rather than standing before the world, that is necessary for knowledge. Knowledge is a kind of efflorescence, an exploration amid veils, a threading together of tissues. `Tissue, textile and fabric provide excellent models of knowledge, excellent quasi-abstract objects, primal varieties: the world is a mass of laundry’ (100-1) Serres dreams of a one-to-one map of the world, reproducing all its fractal singularity, that would be its skin, in what he calls a `cosmic dream of an exquisite cosmetic on the skin of each thing‘ (36). For Serres, the cosmic and the cosmetic remain in intimate communication with each other: nothing is deeper than adornment.

There are six and not five senses since medieval philosophy decrees the existence of a sixth, unifying or common sense, the sense of selfhood, whereby the self apprehends itself as itself. This Serres identifies with the skin and the faculty of touch: the skin, he says, `carries the message of Hermes‘. Where topography is visual, `topology is tactile’ (99). The skin encompasses, implies, pockets up all the other sense organs: but, in doing so, it stands as a model for the way in which all the senses in their turn also invaginate all the others.

via Michel Serres’ Five Senses.

Hermes is the mythological figure of the Highly Sentitive People:  ” hermes was a god of transitions and boundaries.” So there ancient western reference to the ability to exist within different boundaries and realms.

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