The anatomy of perception (1)

This begins a brief series on the anatomy and phenomenology of perception, using quotes from Blaise Pascal, Pensées: Thoughts on Religion and other subjects, translated by William Finlayson Trotter. The original suggestion to discuss the senses (which I refuse to try and enumerate, by the way) came from a post at Susan’s blog, so it seems only appropriate that I begin there, with all due apologies for this attempt to speak in her voice. (Susan has shown herself to be a quite competent poet in her own right.)

I expect the series to last the rest of the week. The final sections are at present still in a very rough state.


Let us imagine a body full of thinking members.

The uterus knew what I
& the doctor did not.
It threatened mutiny.

The mind is more than brain,
I’d say, the body’s
a net of nerves,

which makes the womb a net
within a net. Mine wasn’t
about to let its catch be killed

when the baby still sat
ass-downward & they talked
about turning it. Something,

everything said NO.
I chose the Caesarian.
When they went in, they found me

so deformed, they took
pictures. The baby had sat
the only way she could fit

& turning her would’ve killed her,
ruptured the uterus. Call it
instinct, sixth sense.

I opted for mild sedation,
& if they’d let me
I would’ve watched. I was

that detached. Only
the thought of the turning
made my insides flip.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

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