Introduction: Sense

Venka Purushothaman

DOI: 10.33671/VEN

Inebriated by a sense of not knowing, I vacillate between a noun and verb: Sense.

But then again how can I sense this vacillation? As my optic fibres unleash themselves, I cannot help but be invoked by Pier Paolo Pasolini’s poetry, The Privilege of Thinking (1961), in which he writes:

Ah, to withdraw into myself and think!

To tell myself, here, now, I’m thinking, sitting

on a seat, by a friendly window,

I can think!

But can I? I sense the impending awaiting to be unearthed out of these pages of Issue.

From invoking our fives senses to making sense of conditions around us to sensing mathematically synaptic conditions, these pages unfold an inquiry into what it means to sense, make sense, create sense and flip into non-sense. As an interplay of words, moods and ideas, the rich and abundant literature on the concept of sense leaves us all knowing too much. Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell provided a useful starting point in meaning-making for us to make sense of the world, whilst Marshall McLuhan and Walter Ong introduced and elaborated on the sensorium or sensory apparatus that envelopes us. It provided a useful pier to explore dissociated associations, sometimes alternatively described as synaesthetic structures, that colluded with extremes as seen in contemporary artistic expressions such as visual music, sound art and dance film. Synaesthetic structures provided a way to unpack institutionalised and scientific understanding of our kinesis and sensory perceptions.

This edition of Issue is curated around the question: what do we make of ‘sense’ today? How do we make sense today? As the world twirls into an overdrive of ideas and polemics, confronted by a leitmotif of vaporising identities and boundaries, the act of ignoring our mediatised surrounding may be the opportunity to commence a study of sense, sensing and sense-making. As inter-medial relationships effuse into strange unseen moments of pain, surprise and oddity, what is left of common sense?

To not force an error by contextualising the texts, I invite readers to touch, see and read the tincture of these pages through renewed hope. Read slowly and slowly.

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