“In December 1890, on the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota, tribal police arrested and killed Hunkpapa Sioux Chief Sitting Bull in similar circumstances to the earlier death of his fellow Custer battle comrade, Crazy Horse. Two weeks later, jittery Army soldiers opened fire on some 300 unarmed members of the Sioux tribe. Their bodies, mostly very small, very wrinkled, or with breasts, froze solid on the Dakota tundra. Ten months later Chief Charlo, leader of the last band of Salish in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, led his people on a tearful, forced march to a new reservation across the river bridge nearest the future site of Hellgate High School, where I would sit a century later and listen to a pair of neo-Nazis hold forth on misunderstood swastikas, miscegenation and what could be done with public lands were it not for federal conservation laws.”
Humans did not develop a second, inward-looking mindreading system (an inner sense); rather, they gained self-knowledge by directing the outward-looking system upon themselves. And because the system is outward-looking, it has access only to sensory inputs and must draw its conclusions from them alone.
“The spectacular dimension of capitalism has a way of defanging and absorbing any form of resistance or dissent which fails to attack it on a mass, material level. All complaint is commoditized and itself converted into spectacle. The veneer of rebelliousness is retained to gratify us and make us feel like we’re all doing something other than intellectual self-love, but on some level we all must know that’s what we’re doing and we all resign ourselves to being partially satisfied with small bits of libidinal and moral pleasure. Any part of us that could have put up a fight is effectively neutered and reduced to mere performance. Some figure or entity within the industry does something thoughtless and offensive, everyone gets mad, the offending party does their darnedest to remove it, and the whole thing starts all over again.”
“The study of haptic intelligence leads to even deeper questions about the somatic self. Our skin is us because it draws a line around our existence: we experience the world as ourself. We can separate ourself from our eyes and ears, recognize the information they give us as information, but our tactile and proprioceptive halos supply us with the sense that we are constant selves.
“There are rare conditions in which you come to believe that while, say, the right half of your body is you being yourself, the left half of your body is someone else’s—some uncomfortably close-talking, peering stranger you would like to get away from. Out-of-body experiences are related to these illusions, and they are probably key both to religious experience and to tales of alien abductions. The possibility of such illusions suggests that their opposite—our agreed-on coherent sense of a continuous self—may be a convenient fiction, an organized cognitive heuristic that we impose on experience to let us go on having it.” (bold added)
—Adam Gopnik, “Feel Me: What the Science of Touch Says About Us” in The New Yorker
“When I came back out there was a strange light in the kitchen, as if there was a film of silver over everything, like frost only smoother, like water running thinly down over flat stones; and then my eyes were opened and I knew it was because God had come into the house and this was the silver that covered heaven. God had come in because God is everywhere, you can’t keep him out, he is part of everything there is, so how could you ever build a wall or four walls or a door or a shut window, that he could not walk right through as if it was air.
“I said, What do you want here, but he did not answer, he just kept on being silver, so I went out to milk the cow; because the only thing to do about God is to go on with what you were doing anyway, since you can’t ever stop him or get any reasons out of him. There is a Do this or Do that with God, but not any Because.
He experienced neither joy at having escaped nor remorse. War made everything one could say or think about it simultaneously true and false, and there was too much evil and too much good mixed up in every moment for one to be able to judge. One could only hold one’s peace and watch. Beside the window a young soldier was learning how to light a cigarette, clasping it between the remaining stumps of his hands.