The anatomy of perception (1)

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Anatomy of Perception


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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