Synaesthetic perception as a mode of being: crossings of the sensuous and the poetic




Vernon, Adele

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―Synaesthetic perception as a mode of being: Crossings of the sensuous and the poetic‖ seeks to disclose the harmonious interrelationship between synaesthetic modes of being, wildness, the poetic, and education. Merleau-Ponty (1962) and, more recently, David Abram (1997) have both proposed that synaesthetic perception, characterized by the overlapping and intertwining of the senses, is common to our direct, preconceptual experience in the life-world. Although we often disregard and discount synaesthetic capacities because they are non-linguistic and non-rational, they are an essential and rich characteristic of being human. The inquiry suggests that greater sensorial awareness that comes from awakening a trust in our sensuous embodied selves is promoted by being in the presence of the poetics of everyday circumambient wildness and in engagements with certain poetic writings which are grounded in the natural realm. Synaesthetic perception, a non-linguistic mode of knowing, must be accorded greater respect; it must be acknowledged and encouraged in all areas of education. Nature poetry, which is rooted in the texture of our ordinary sensuous experience amid wild others, can be an ally of education in this endeavour. The study proposes that it is through an awakening of the wisdom of the senses that we might recognize and value the importance of cultivating an ecopoetic rootedness in and reciprocity with the earth. The practice of a synaesthetic mode of being might bring about a positive transformative power, one that inspires a resistance to the encroachment of technocratic, dehumanizing controls on many aspects of our lives, and urges us to create a more wholesome, habitable earthhome for both human and nonhuman. This is a poetizing inquiry, an increasingly accepted form of qualitative arts-based inquiry, that is written in verse, and presented in a poetic dialogic format. This methodology, which is congruent with the central position of the poetic in the study, is informed by the writer‘s background in poetry and literature. Each of the four chapter-long stanzas takes up one of the main themes: synaesthetic perception as a mode of being, the pulse of childhood knowing, a poetic sense of dwelling, and the intertwining of the senses and the poetic. A distinctive feature of the dissertation is that each stanza is fashioned as a polyvocal performative dialogue: an intertwining of poems, poetic fragments and the voices of others with the researcher‘s own verse-voice. The inquiry is offered as an experimental work in process. The reader is invited to engage in the dialogues by bringing her/his own sensuous experiences in the wild and knowledge of poetry to the piece, thus becoming a co-creator of the inquiry.



sensorial awareness, transformation, synaesthetic modes