The sense of touch as the sense of our world

Institutional Communication Service

14 April 2020

ISI's Faculty members offer online short talks on themes that will lead the audience on a fascinating journey into the world of literature, art and history. A chance to turn this particular moment we are experiencing into a time for reflection. Stefano Prandi, director of the Institute, proposes the talk "Sense of touch, sense of the world".

It takes a moment like this, of loneliness and isolation, to understand the value of meeting in person, not through the screen of a mobile phone, and the importance of a handshake or a hug.  The upcoming short talk is a reflection on the meanings that the sense of touch has taken on in literature and art. A sense that for centuries it has been considered the least "noble" because far from the speculative dimension. However, science today tells us that this is not the case, and that through touch also comes self-awareness our knowledge of the world.

In ancient times, however, all this had already been understood. Stories were told in which, through touch, something higher and wider was revealed. Referring to three very distant works, Homer's Odyssey, Michelangelo's creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel and Stanley Kubrick's 2001 Space Odyssey, this talk will try and highlight what seem to be the three fundamental functions through which literature and art have represented the, so to speak, "transitive" character of touch, that which is able to open us to realities greater than our finiteness: recognition, creation and metamorphosis.

The sense of touch as the sense of our world