Time-geography and touch

From Hägerstrand’s “Action in the Physical Everyday World” (in Cliff et al., Eds, Diffusing Geography: Essays after Peter Haggett)

“Touch — or contact — is the most fundamental and general relation we encounter, directly with the body and indirectly by experiencing its importance in the living and non-living world around us.”

We cannot argue with this, especially since it invokes a pre-Socratic, almost primal legacy that realizes all perception and interaction in the world as based on ‘contact’, common to all nutritive life including plants, animals and man.

Thanks to Rob Sullivan at UCLA for sending this – his book Geography Speaks: Performative Aspects of Geography with Ashgate came out in November – see it here.

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4 Comments

  1. for me ‘interaction’ could appear to outweigh ‘perception’ which seems to return to ‘the social’ vs ‘phenomenology’ discussion… Hägerstrand’s dual statement “Touch — or contact” maybe a sidestep of this important debate. Touch is an intensely personal experience whereas contact or interaction is observable and ultimately re-searchable for social scientists. Not to detract from the primacy and wonder of human touch of course but more to point out that there is a significant difference between touch and contact, perception and interaction and particularly so in the practice of socially specific research.

    1. Dean, thanks for your comment – hadn’t thought of his phrasing in that way. You’ve got a point – the intersubjective nature of touch has outwardly observable characteristics as ‘contact’. And ‘self-touch’ ends up in solipsistic territory. But ‘touch’ encompasses a wide range of sensation and human practice, including ‘professional’ touch (care-givers, masseurs) as well as the more intimate, private form of touching. Hägerstrand isn’t writing in a sophisticated way about touch per se.

      By the way, have you seen there’s a new fiction film about human-robot relations? It just opened here in the States – ‘Robot and Frank’ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1990314/

  2. Hi Mark,
    I used to be one of your students in Geography at Exeter University… I recall an online lecture of yours being available on the web… I have clicked on the link I once had but it no-longer exists due to the removal of your staff profile on the Exeter servers.
    Do you know of any way I can access this still? It would be greatly appreciated, I’m trying to explain some haptics theory to a friend and I remember this being it in a nutshell
    Thanks
    Jack

    1. Jack, good to hear from you! I did some digging into my hard drive and found the lecture I think you’re referring to. There’s no way to attach the Powerpoint to this reply, but I have found your email address so will email with it directly.

      Let me know what you’re up to sometime!
      Mark

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