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Getting Back Into Place, 4, Dimensions, 2-7

Mark Douglas

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II

Above and below, ahead (before) and behind, right and left. These are the six bodily dimensions. These dimensions are relative to us and dependent on us. This means that determinations of height, breadth, and depth depend upon the placement of the original body. What follows will be "a description of the embodied implacement of the six dimensions. 

III

The distinction between up-down is "the most fully differentiated" and following that are front-back then left-right. (p. 77) We project the up-down onto the before and behind. The stuff lying before me is 'up'. Moving into it moves me implicitly uphill. Stuff coming toward me is on the way down. This is quite clear when the baseball catcher has finished with warming up the pitcher between innings and he calls "COMING DOWN" to the short-stop and second baseman in order to practice his throw to second base. The players yelled to need to know that the ball is 'coming down' to them.

Up and down span the most primitive and encompassing dimension. The way we relate phenomena to the up and down is so ingrained "that we become aware of it only when our habitual sense of what is properly up or down comes into question" (pp. 78-79). The body has two tendencies related to the up-down dimension. The body tends to orient itself with the vertical in reference to the horizon. It tends not to tilt to the right and left. The body also tends to orient itself against forward and backward tilt. It has an "upright posture".

The above and below correspondingly articulate with body parts that are above and below each other such as the head and the neck. This signals the "continual interleaving of body and place effected by the interaction of both pairs of terms" (p.80). This means that somebody's corporeal above and below is enmeshed entirely with the world's above and below. We also differentiate between the value of what is above or below. Good is above and it gets worse on the way below. We orient ourselves in-the-world from head to toe.

IV

Always already are we in our bodies between the front and back. We find ourselves bound within the ahead-behind dimension. "Unlike the here (which is borne by my body and found at the nonsimple location locus of my body) and in contrast with the there (which stands away from me in apparent independence), the ahead and behind encircle me, clinging to my body on pain of being nothing at all" (paraphrasing Timaeus, 52c, p. 82). 

The ahead and behind are delimited by the horizon at most and typically by sight and sound. Whatever lies beyond the horizon may be considered an event. What is near enough to be ahead is "the most broadly effective--aspect of our bodily insertion into place" (p.84). This being ahead puts things intentionally in place. We take "advance positions" as we tend toward what lies ahead. There is the "just ahead" of the near sphere and the "far ahead" in the far. 

Going ahead brings my front toward the front of what is ahead. Things behind are behind my body and they are hidden in the back of experience.  Pivoting in motion works to segment and share the ahead and behind. We get our bearings using both the above-below and front-back sometimes as ourselves being the center of orientation AND sometimes from our surrounds as orienting agent. Both of these include the body in determinations of direction and dimension.

V

The right-left dyad afford the body greater range of action and movement in their "extensive possibilities of articulation" (p. 92). The body relates to place through concordance and embrace. "To be in concordance with something and to embrace it is to relate to it as something possessing more than a merely instrumental significance. ...To be in concordant embraces with regions through our bodies is to know regions as familiar part of our experience." (p. 96).

VI

Bodies aren't simultaneously able to locate themselves near and far, here and there, above and below, before and behind, right and left. Because of this the body is constantly at the crossroads of a choice. Also, the here-there and near-far are connected as a dialectic or continuum while the other binaries are not necessarily a situated polarity. We are always at or toward one end of the near-far, here-there whereas with the above-below, before-behind, left-right we find ourselves between these. 

VII

All these terms about the body in place are meant as "a minimal description of how we find our way in and to place, on the basis of which other, more extensive descriptions can be undertaken" (p. 100). However, the here is an absolute and body-based designation. Also, while place is not strictly constituted BY bodies, the here and there are. "Places belong to bodies" (p. 102). "Body and place are congruent counterparts. ...[and] place is where the body is... [and] there are no places without bodies. ...So long as we (or other living organisms) have once been there, it has become a place--and it remains a place, insofar as it bears the sedimented traces of our presence. ...[T]hey can be inward memory traces possessed by all who have shared that place" (p. 103). The body "is the abiding resource of all the places I know....[and] is the locatory agent of lived places, the subtender of sites, the genius loci of all that has come to be called "space" in the West.