The spectetor and the man in the control room

I was sitting in class, listening to a student’s presentation. Suddenly, there was a very loud sound. Immediately my head turned, with full force, to the direction from which the sound came. I felt as though someone else, or something else, turned my head toward the stimulus.

I intentionally wrote “there was a very loud sound” and not “I heard a very loud sound”. The “I” implies my conscious self, which was not the subject of that event, but merely a spectator.

This was intense. For a very short period, someone or something else took control over my motor ability and turned my head. Precisely and firmly- to the direction of the stimulus.  My conscious self was merely a confused spectator, rushing in a bit after everything had already happened.

This gives me the pleasant feeling that I am not alone in my body. That there is someone or something else, already there, already with me, in my body. Waiting. For a sudden fall, a sudden pain,  or a very loud stimulus. There to protect me, or guide me.

I first began to think of the differential relationship between my mind and my body when I lay in bed trying to fall asleep. I noticed that when I turn my attention inward and focus, I can feel the beats of my heart, like little electric pulses all over my body, in every organ. There are certain places, like the artery in my ankle, where I can visually see my vein pumping with every beat.

To fall asleep, I need to turn my attention away from all of the liveliness inside my body.  How can I relax and lose myself when all of these complex actions take place inside me? Who takes charge? Who organizes my bodily orchestra?

If I move my hand, I express my conscious will. Whose will causes my heart to beat, to beat regularly, and to continue to do so?

I noticed that generally speaking, my conscious self has different relationships with different body organs/system. When it comes to the functioning of most internal organs- my conscious self is as a spectator to my body. It can only watch- it cannot take charge or stir things away from their natural course.

I know that I have only one body and that my existence depends on this body. But one consequence of the fact that my conscious self is merely a spectator to my body is that aging means watching my body gradually losing its capacities for regeneration, with only a limited ability to intervene. Theoretically, I can watch my body lose blood and wane, without any way to intervene.

This is also true for my sensory system. I cannot will myself not to smell the breath of the person in front of me. I cannot will myself not to feel the hand that touches me. After a while in a room with a very strong odor, I will get used to the odor, but again, this process takes place outside of my control.

When it comes to my motor functions, however, my conscious mind transitions from being a spectator to being the man in the control room. I can execute various movements with my body, I am in charge, I use my body.

When I’m in extreme pain or illness, however, my body uses me. I cannot allow myself to ignore it, and I grant my body all my mental resources.

Some types of complex bodily activities, such as sleep or breathing, are somewhere in between these two extremes. My mind can influence them, and be the man in the control room, until my mind will take extra leeway, than my body will overwrite my mind’s control and shift back to autopilot- like what happens after I try to stop breathing for more than a few minutes.

So, it seems obvious to me that I would feel greater alienation in regards to my body than to my mind. How can I not feel alienated to a certain degree, if I’m as helpless as a spectator in relation to some of the most essential qualities of the body to which my soul is moored?

 

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Hands

The hands are the most beautiful part of the human body, in my opinion.

First, they form the shape of a reversible bud/flower. Effortlessly, we close our hand to the shape of a bud (which is sometimes erroneously perceived as a fist). We can immediately turn it into a flower again, opening it to the world around us.

Second, in contrast to the paws of four legged animals, in most postures, the inside of our hands does not face the ground, but open itself to the world in one of several directions.

Third, a complete relaxation of our hands reveals the beautiful 1/1 ratio between the length of the fingers and the length of the palm.

When I completely relax my hand, my thumb approaches the index finger, or the fingers in general, from below. My hand then reminds me of how it would look like if I was holding a branch, which is probably the purpose for which it evolved the way it has.

 

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Live and still matter

To sustain a fall, a primitive instinct sets in, causing the body to send both hands forward. I vividly remember what happens when the instinct doesn't set in- as a child I fell right on my front teeth. Luckily, no impact was absorbed by the wrists, only small perforation of the dermis.

To sustain a fall, a primitive instinct sets in, causing the body to send both hands forward. I vividly remember what happens when the instinct doesn’t set in- as a child I fell right on my front teeth.
Luckily, no impact was absorbed by the wrists, only small perforation of the dermis.

The wound after it was cleaned.

The wound after it was cleaned.

Three days post injury. After the bleeding has stopped, the body creates a local infection to reject any bacteria. Local swelling and redness. The wound actually looks worse and is more painful then right after injury.

Three days post injury. After the bleeding has stopped, the body creates a local inflammation to reject any bacteria. Local swelling and redness. The wound actually looks worse and is more painful then right after injury.

Eight days post injury. The wound has practically healed. Almost no pain is left.

Eight days post injury. The wound has practically healed. Almost no pain is left.

 

 

 

I spilled water on my keyboard. I can still use it although it sustained some damage.

This made me think about the difference between live and still matter. In contrast to still matter, live matter can react and re-organize in response to damages. My body matter does it both on the unconscious and involuntary level (healing of wounds, to give one example), and on the conscious level (learning how to fall while minimizing impact).

The mortality of all living things refers to the duration of time in which the ability of matter to reorganize lasts. In this sense, my body creates and constantly recreates time and space. My body creates time as it reverses the damage and returns to an earlier point. My body creates space as it expands and contracts (e.g. losing or gaining weight),  or when it  reworks its lining – the skin – that closes itself once perforated.

The first and essential forms of space and time are therefore dependent upon bodily actions of self-preservation.