Monday, August 27, 2007

The Unself, by Marco H. (JAGUARITO)

A dear friend of mine recently blogged about Merleau-Ponty's notion of The Flesh, which has inspired this post. Towards the end of his short life, Merleau-Ponty wrote less and less of "the Body" and more and more of "the Flesh". As I understand it, he used this concept of the Flesh to describe the realm of the intersubjective.

This is something which I have hitherto been trying to theorise as the "Unself" - that space between us where self and other merge; That immaterial domain of relations which nonetheless has such material effects. The Unself, however, is not limited to intersubjectivity between people, but also between people and the natural world: where the world becomes an extension of mind. The Unself is a subjectivity which supercedes the traditional liberal notion of the Subject; a subjectivity which transgresses the delimitations of skin and skull. Everything is connected, I keep thinking to myself. What always comes to mind at these moments is that brilliant philosophical movie, "I Heart Huckabees". Hahaha :-) Yes, everything is connected... I haven't read enough about Merleau-Ponty's concept of the Flesh yet to know if what I am saying approximates what he was saying, but I believe the Unself and the Flesh might be synergistic concepts. Furthermore, Merleau-Ponty's move from a discourse on the Body to a newer discourse on the Flesh is encouraging for me, seeing that I had always thought that notions of the Body and Embodiment never went far enough... Yes, embodiment connects the mental with the corporeal... but apart from embodying thoughts, desires, values, etc., should we not also have to ENACT them? Thus, while "embodiment" connects the mental with the corporeal, perhaps the concept of "enaction" could be used to connect the corporeal with the social. It's the movement through which a conscientisised [1] subject plugs into the social ecology... an intentionality geared towards the recomposition of the social web, towards a context-generative collective imagination! (as opposed to simply a "context-driven" imagination). I believe Francisco Varela has written of the concept of "enaction", though I'm not yet sure if he uses it in the same way I do. There are so many leads for me to explore! Notes: [1] I am translating this word from the Portuguese word "conscientizado", though I'm not sure if the English version holds. I really don't know if there is an English equivalent.

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