Animalia · Bio · Human-ities · Performativity · Philosophy

A Philosophy of Tickling

Aristotle famously defined man as the rational animal (zoon echon logon), and as the political animal (zoon politikon). But there are also passages in his work that indicate another less remarked upon, though no less profound, definition. In Parts of Animals, he writes: “When people are tickled, they quickly burst into laughter, and this is because the motion quickly penetrates to this part, and even though it is only gently warmed, still it produces a movement (independently of the will) in the intelligence which is recognizable. The fact that human beings only are susceptible to tickling is due to the fineness of their skin and to their being the only creatures that laugh.” Perhaps this notion of the “ticklish animal” was further elaborated in the second book of the Poetics, the lost treatise on comedy; indeed, the relationship between ticklish laughter and comic laughter remains an open question. Should tickling be investigated under the heading of comedy or of touch? Touch, Aristotle argues, is the most primary sense, and human beings are uniquely privileged in possessing the sharpest sense of touch thanks to the delicate nature of their skin. Though other animals have more advanced smell or hearing, “man’s sense of touch … excels that of all other animals in fineness.” We might view tickling as a side effect of the hyper-sensitivity of human touch. Our peculiar vulnerability to tickling is the price to be paid for more sophisticated and discriminating access to the world.

Excerpt via Cabinet. Continue THERE


Stress best: How Uncertainty Makes Us Stronger

Long periods of stability allow risks to accumulate until there is a major disaster; volatility means that things do not get too far out of kilter. In the economy cutting interest rates at the first sign of weakness stores up more trouble for later. In markets getting rid of speculators means prices are more stable in general but any fluctuations cause greater panic. In political systems the stability brought by regimes such as Hosni Mubarak’s in Egypt was artificial; without any effective way for people to express dissent, change leads to collapse.

The principle applies to career choices too. An apparently secure job within a large company disguises a dependency on a single employer and the risk that unemployment will cause a very sudden and steep loss of income. Professions that have more variable earnings, like taxi-driving or prostitution, are less vulnerable to really big shocks. They also use volatility as information: if a cabbie is in a part of town where there are no fares, he heads to a different area.

Excerpt of an article via The Economist. Continue HERE

Performativity · Photographics · Social/Politics

Wig Outs by Jen Osborne

Jen Osborne: “While living in Vancouver I resided in the demonized area known as the Downtown Eastside (DTES). I worked part-time in some of the residential housing programs and produced this series as an independent photographer. I met some of these drug-addicted subjects through work, met others at bars or in the street in front of my apartment. I am always impressed by these particular women on various levels. They are very complicated, and have been through tremendously damaging experiences.

Despite their difficult pasts, they are funny, humorous and loving people whom are much more vulnerable than I first expected. My subjects often display such strength and power. The discovery of their fragility lead me to wonder how they physically present themselves to the world in order to feel safer or get what they need to survive. In photographing these women, both before and after they dress for the day. I wanted to communicate the idea of vulnerability and women’s presentation of one’s self to the world. All of us dress accordingly because we are all vulnerable and want to come across in our respective desired way.

The DTES contains many people who are very good at heart and some may resort to illegal behavior such as prostituting, drug-dealing, stealing and car-jacking. I want to speak of the hardship linked to illegal activity by photographing this transition into the alter-ego. These outfits often help these women dodge the police because they become unrecognizable after they finish dealing drugs, panhandling or sex-working.”

Jen Osborne