The most probable case : the hand paradox and gravity in being human

Text in pdf : Clémence Ortega Douville – The most probable case

Before to begin, we always wonder how the hands are going to take over our decision to do things. What we will start with. How we would be able to go uninterrupted.

As well, as it is to pose the question of our origins, we should always wonder how to begin.

Those who read this may be sensitive to the notions introduced before as to the three paradoxes theory and its implications to the comprehension of the anthropogenesis process. We have merely there posed the question of the conditions of possibility to the genesis of the human mind.

Now it is time to speak of something else, that is of maybe the most probable scenario to the progressive elaboration of the proper relational structures to the objects of the world. Which means : the prime elaboration of the symbolic relations. We are looking for the most probable case, that is of course an approximate narrative.

To do that, we will start back to the beginning that is : a world ruled by gravity. In the natural world, most of what has grown part of the environment is down. That means : rooted to the ground and tending to get back to it. Hence all living things eventually end up holding grip on reality : branches, ground, rock, water, …

Our ancestors, surely, did the same.

If you could do the same yourself, as a reader, play chimpanzee. Crouch close to the ground with something similar to a rock in your hand. Short-circuit thoughts and be only playing instinctively your part without playing a role. You will realise that close to the ground, your hand will tend to stay shut on the object. It is mainly ‘an object in your hand’ that you’ll see, that merges with all the diversity of other things that you can see on the ground close to you.

You are close to your own body as well, and you can see your hands quite often.

Now if you get up, your feeling will change. Suddenly, there is more distance to the ground. The vertical effect of gravity will pull more inertia on your limbs. If you keep your hands down, you can’t see them, as you cannot directly see what is at your feet. If you raise your arms and lift the object in you hand to your sight, something will happen : you may feel the fear of loosing the object if in any way you happened to drop it.

How did it happen ? Because things fall if they are unattached. Yourself would fall if you should loose grip on something to hold on. Except that you have been going on standing up on two feet except of four and progressively, your hands have given up on their function of motor support.

If you don’t hold your hands up, they will as well fall, as an effect of gravity.

Yet, two things. One, to hold your hands before your gaze has a peculiar effect on what we called the sensorimotor paradox of the hands : they can’t be at the same time the object of intention and the vector to reach it. Then it stops the neural chains of instinctual reaction and interaction.

Secondly, the perimeter drawn by the distance from your hands is getting equal to the distance you can bend forward until you start falling. If you are raising your hand open in front of you and you bend your head and the top of your body to it, gravity will start pulling you down to the ground.

Therefore the result of this is that there is a perimeter where you can stand and hold it safe, and another world behind it, beyond the capacity of your hands, where things may fall. Hence the adequation may be made on the symbolic level between the holding of your hands and the holding of the world. A balance between the understanding of what doesn’t and keeps from falling in that intimate space of your perimeter for action, and a world beyond what you can’t reach that yet doesn’t fall either.

The stopping of the interaction with the surroundings creates a radial measure of comparison where you are the centre. You don’t need anymore to lean on your environment for motor support, as well as you can’t see your own feet supporting you. But you may start thinking that maybe the world around you stands in the same way that you are making things stand in that perimeter where you are safe, in stopping your direct interactions with the world.

While you were waiting, you expected that something eventually would fall because you haven’t hold a grip on anything and haven’t asked for anything to be of that use : you aren’t asking anymore. However, maybe, now there is something that you were holding in your hand and prevented from falling, and you realise nothing happened that would have made you fall.

While you are holding the object that you prevent from dropping to the ground, you are holding your breath, and yet it is certain that nothing fell much more.

What if then you did not just put back the thing you held, maybe a small rock, on the ground where you found it, but lifted your arm to put it on something else, maybe a taller rock, maybe a rock your size, a stone ? This is something a primate would do, to put an object on another object. Except that here, you would have a purpose : will that rock stand on another rock ? Or will it fall ?

You are checking balance. You are verifying that this works the same as you. Something on another thing stands. And then you enter a system of coordinates, of comparison, of scientific observation, of understanding from artificial conditions that you created.

It doesn’t have to be more sophisticated than that, and even children do the the same. But look how delicate, how fine it is. We haven’t done much more : this thing that I put on another thing, will it stand, or will it fall ? What a most perfect image of metaphor, of contextual mimèsis. Two registers : me, my feeling, my body and the world ; the other, the unmoving object, an object that I took, a coming together that stays together and stands.

It stays together and it stands. Those two things were not bound to be put together to begin with. One was on the ground, the other was already standing from it, but I could merge them together into one single reality that is a fragile and delicate balance, because all things fall eventually. If it is up, in some way it is alive. If it is down and stays down on the ground, in some way I can interpret that it is dead. But so is the order of things.

Relational expectation to objects tells that I expect from some objects I project my intention with that they could be dead, inert, or that they could possibly be alive. Æsthetic sense was most certainly born with the intimate correlation that if things stand like my standing inert – because I am and I feel inert when I stand, most especially when I stand looking at my own hand’s paradoxical feeling – means nevertheless that I am alive, maybe they should in some way be alive too. Maybe I should expect them to be alive if they look like standing. A shadow play.

Objects probably turned symbolic because of that. How could I stand that my standing in solitude – because verticality is a solitude, as a distance to the things on the ground as well as to the remote things all around – should mean that there is only me and my hands and what they take ? No, I cannot do otherwise but doubling my perspectives.

When I stare at my hand, as a focal relational point, perception of the background is still there and continues to exist. The paradox is that I feel more intesely the effects of gravity and pressure on my body, because of the stopping of my reliance on the surroundings – like in a mirror effect where I can’t rely on the image it sends to seek motor support -, and then the surroundings around are under the threat of collapsing.

My intentional force will become a standing point that only can assure that the world around will stand. I, in fact, have to let go of the grip on reality to grant my self with support. I relate that my only intentional force can assure me that the world around will stand, and I can verify, after the delay of my fear and anxiety that it would not, that it has indeed kept on standing, that it didn’t fall.

Therefore the world is alive. And that means that it is alive as a doubled perspective and extended vision of my own potential world for action and its measure. The stability of the world around is then made of a radial quality that the subject resists to gravity by the effort of maintaing a vertical balance. They stop relying totally on sensorimotor interactional support and then find emotional support and reassurance from objects remotely.

The perimeter described by the hand paradox makes it what we could physiologically call a scalar radiation stop, because it gives the measure of an incompressible volume in which a vaccum is made – things from my heights fall – and beyond which I can only prevent the other things from falling. Therefore it creates a force of inertia that is connected to the influence of the gravitational field of the ground, that pulls pressure on the local point where the individual is standing. They are literally sucked up by gravity, but at the same time, the individual standing makes sure that the world can be without them if they only want it to.

The identity of the object, its volume for interaction and symbolic consideration – con sidere, ‘with the stars’ – is created because I want to see if the world is standing, or if it is only me trying.

We are raising things up so they could be at our stand, in a state of balance, ready to fall, but not quite. An approximation, and the force of the metaphor, the paradox of thinking, of language, of signifying, is not much the perfection of reaching the immanent nature of reality, but of getting close enough to it so we could, us too, know that we stand, and are only trying to keep balance, so we would not happen to fall ever again.

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