Tuesday, March 27, 2012

If history perceived its organs... The body of memory

"The facts which our senses present to us are socially performed in two ways: through the historical character of the object perceived and through the historical character of the perceiving organ. Both are not simply natural; they are shaped by human activity, and yet the individual perceives himself as receptive and passive in the act of perception."

I found these words on the frankfurd school Wikipedia page. They originally came from the fingers of frankfurt school theorist Max Horkheimer. This truly is a remarkable paragraph, it presents to us two ways that the facts are socially performed. First facts are preformed as the historical character of objects perceived and second their preformed as the historical character of perceiving organs. Both objects and perceiving organs have history. Wait!!?! Perceiving organs have history... Is there really a history of eyes, ears, mouths, noses?

Well yes. Of cures! And, in a sense all history is the history of these organs because there would be no history with out the recording of events preserved through these organs, but what is special about the history of perceiving organs if all history is the history of perceiving organs? I suppose that the history of the perceiving organs would differ from other history in that it would stress the changes made in the perceiving organs over time, where as other histories would stress events as they pass over time. But what changes have been made to the perceiving organs? Well! the first thing that comes to mind is evolutionary changes, but I think that there also must be other changes to the perception organs that are not properly speaking evolutionary changes. These changes would be like the way eyes adjust to light.

The "perceiving organs" are shaped by "human activity." There is a history of perceiving organs and that history is history it’s self. How do we access this history of the perceiving organs? Through the artifacts and documents perceiving organs that is art. Art; poetry, architecture, painting, music, and all other forms of history are in actuality the artifacts and past events of the perceiving orgens.

Horkheimer’s paragraph here also identifies the history of the perception of objects and perceiving organs as natural, and that these histories shaped by human action are also shapers of human action. We humans shape our perceiving organs (squinting at the sun) and our perceiving organs are shaped by the objects of the world(pupils dilated).

Imagine a history of perceiving organs. Imagine a civilization who saw their history as the history of their perceiving organs! Max Horkheimer, lets rewrite the history books with sights and smells.

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