the primacy of touch

I drink tea from a Japanese cup. Because it has no handle, when I pick it up, I feel how hot the tea is and will not put it to my lips too hot and scald my mouth.

Eating with my fingers makes sure my food is not too hot. I feel its texture before I put it in my sensitive and subtle mouth. I pick an orange, bring it to my nose and inhale its perfume, peel it, strip it of its white pith undershirt with my nails, and coax it into segments. I pluck a grape and slip its juice-tautened skin from fingers to lips. Why dissect my food with instruments? Why bring their metal to my soft mouth and brittle teeth?

Entering my house, I remove my shoes. Free, my feet spread over the just-yielding wood floor and stroke the fur of a rug. Feet are meant to feel what they walk on. Was it the filth of cities, the skin cutting and piercing rubbish, that made us insist on shoes to mute our feet. Wearing shoes, I no longer hear the crumbling earth speak, nor enjoy the cool slap of stone or lap of water, the slick of grass, the soft, cushioning moss. Upon the flat surfaces that we cover the world with, I walk with deafened feet. True, I will not stub a toe, and, safe from the inconvenience of being alert to the world, I walk blind.

Living much of our lives through screens. We can see and hear anything we wish, but we touch nothing. Seeing and hearing: the remote senses preferred by the voyeur.

If we do not touch the world, are we really in it?



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