Saturday, December 08, 2012

Terms, Tears

Two definitions:

SADNESS The first powder to be abided upon waking. It may reside in tools or garments and can be eradicated with more of itself, in which case the face results as a placid system coursing with water, heaving.

EMOTION, n. A prostrating disease caused by a determination of the heart to the head. It is sometimes accompanied by a copious discharge of hydrated chloride of sodium from the eyes.

The first is from the "Terms" section of the "Sleep" chapter of Ben Marcus's The Age of Wire and String (p. 13). The second is from Ambrose Bierce's Enlarged Devil's Dictionary (p. 79).


Andrew Shields said...

"of the heart to the head": it's not Bierce's fault, but I find myself growing quite tired of the use of "heart" as a metaphor for "emotions" as opposed to "head" as a metaphor for "reason."

Both because of the false dichotomy of "emotions" and "reason" (where the former so often gets privileged over the "coldness" of the latter) and because of the dependence of the "heart" metaphor on pre-modern anatomony and physiology! :-)

Thomas said...

I think I have to confess I'm committed to a heart/mind dichotomy. I think we can, in fact, distinguish phenomenologically, but not, I'll grant, anatomically, between what goes on when we "feel" something and when we "think" something. Moreover, we can distinguish between WHERE these things go on. As a matter of a phenomenal fact I feel in the chest and think in the head. I call the center of my emotions my "heart" and the center of my concepts my "mind". I don't mean that if you open my body up you will find thoughts in the tissues of my brain and emotions in the muscle of my heart. I just mean that's what it's "like" to experience these things.