Brain Dropping #54
Tactile – perceptible by touch. All living things have the faculty of touch and respond to being touched. the quality of that touch triggers a wide range of reaction from fearful withdrawal to purring approval. Among humans touch is a particularly strong factor in the development toward maturity. The tactile bonding of mother and child is a vital element in brain development. (See Joseph Chilton Pearce “The Biology of Transcendance”). In a study done in England half of a group of pre-mature new-borns were given smooth sheets to sleep on, the other half slept on lamb’s wool. Both groups were fondled equally by the maternity nurses. The lamb’s wool babies flourished at a significantly greater degree.
Biologically, we need to touch things, to feel the textures of our lives at our fingertips. If I may coin a word, we are in the midst of an era of “de-tactilizing” our lives – distancing ourselves from direct sensory contact with the natural world. The digital world is tactile free with little texture to prompt our need to touch. As we watch received images on the glass screen are we damaging our sensory faculties? Think of standing before Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” with it’s thick impasto, deeply textured brush strokes inviting us to touch (when the guard isn’t looking) – then think of the same painting on your computer screen reduced to an impeccably featureless, smooth surface.
At the school where I taught art there was, for awhile, an excellent industrial arts program – woodworking, metal working, hammering, sawing, grinding, building ,carving. It was soon dismantled and now. in its place is row upon row of computers. The clamor of the workshop was replaced by the eerie silence of young boys and girls staring at illuminated screens.
The world of sensory deprivation, or distancing from the natural world, is dramatically illustrated by the mighty automobile which encapsulates us in glass and steel. speeding along we have a limited understanding of what we see, smell and hear, arriving at our destination with a dulled sense of the multifaceted texture of the landscape we were too quickly transported through. The need to be aware of that landscape, the need to touch and to interact with it in all its infinite variety of shapes and textures, has been imprinted upon us from the time of our origins in the savannah.