touching [writing, writing] feeling

Handout/notes from yesterday’s WIDE-EMU ’16 presentation with my brilliant colleague, Thomas Passwater.

touching [writing, writing] feeling

The sense of physical touch itself, at least so far, has been remarkably unsusceptible to being amplified by technology (Sedgwick 15).

The experience named “writing” is this violent exhaustion of the discourse in which “all sense” is altered, not into another sense or another way, but in this excribed body (Nancy 27).

The object of touch is internal (Aristotle 41).


In this ongoing project, we have been reflecting on the intersections of affect and materiality, on the intra-actions and extensions of bodies in our composing process, on the way that selves and objects mean.

We invite you to compose your way into this project with us by responding to the materials we’ve supplied. Each participant should spend time in at least 3 different composing situations (but as many as you’d like or is possible) over the next 40 minutes.

Depending on the potentialities and constraints of the materials and/or your sense of familiarity with them, you might wish to begin with a brief independent fast write and then reflect on the sensed experience of composing with the materials OR you may begin composing by directly responding to the materials at hand.

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still from Miwa Matreyek’s Myth and Infrastructurephoto cred: Gwenaëlle Gobé

theoretical orientation

When we write or read we take up particular bodily orientations… We do not simply think, but relate to the keyboard or book through particular bodily dispositions and practices … the body is never simply left behind (Blackman, “Introduction” 6).

Epistemology is concerned with reference: it asks whether representations of reality are accurate … Since enactments come in the plural the crucial question to as of them is how they are coordinated (Mol viii).

the body is not bounded by the skin, where we understand the skin to be a kind of container for the self, but rather our bodies always extend and connect to other bodies, human and non-human, to practices, techniques, technologies and objects which produce different kinds of bodies in different ways (Blackman, “Introduction” 1).

Haptic, or affective, communication draws attention to what passes between [human and nonhuman] bodies, which can be felt but perhaps not easily articulated … non-visual, haptic dimensions of the lived body distribute the idea of the lived body beyond the singular psychological subject to a more intersubjective and intercorporeal sense of embodiment (Blackman “The Subject of Affect” 12).

the technical frames of the biomediated body, specifically ‘biomedia’ that make possible the mass production of genetic material, and ‘new media’ where digitization makes possible a profound technical expansion of the senses (Clough 2).

Language … would seem to function differentially in relation to [intensity] … matter-of-factness dampens … qualifications of emotional content enhanced images’ effects … resonated with the level of intensity, rather than interfered with it … emotional qualification breaks narrative continuity for a moment to register a state … skin is faster than word (Massumi 25).

Nothing else happens to writing, then, if something should happen to it, except touching. More precisely: touching the body … Writing touches the body by essence … that’s where it’s touching (Nancy 13).

For to touch … is, touching what one touches, to let oneself be touched by the touched, by the touch of the thing, whether objective or not, or by the “flesh” that one touches and that then becomes touching as well as touched (Derrida 276).

works cited

Aristotle. De Anima. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993. Print.

Blackman, Lisa. “Introduction: Thinking Through The Body.” The Body: The Key Concepts. Oxford New York: Berg, 2008. 1-13. Print.

Blackman, Lisa. “The Subject of Affect: Bodies, Process, Becoming.” Immaterial Bodies Affect, Embodiment, Mediation. London: Sage, 2012. 1-25. Print.

Clough, Patricia T. “The Affective Turn: Political Economy, Biomedia and Bodies.” Theory, Culture & Society 25.1 (2008): 1-22. Web. 13 July 2016.

Derrida, Jacques. On Touching – Jean-luc Nancy. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005. Print.

Hickey-Moody, Anna, and Tara Page. “Making, Matter and Pedagogy.” arts, pedagogy and cultural resistance: new materialisms. London And New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016. 1-20. Print.

Massumi, Brian. Parables for the Virtual. Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2002. 23-28. Print.

Mol, AnneMarie. The Body Multiple. Durham: Duke University Press, 2002. Print.

Nancy, Jean-luc. Corpus. New York: Fordham University Press, 2008. Print.

Sedgwick, Eve. Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity. Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2003. Print.


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