Saturday, December 09, 2006

Sense Perception in Literature

How's everyone doing?
So a thing that I have wanted to talk about for quite some time is the concept of sense perception in Literature. I know that this was a subject discussed a very long time ago, but I would like to explore the concept of "Sense Perception" by analyzing how it is talked about in reference to Literature.

Here’s my take on the concept of Sensory Perception in Literature. Good literature (especially poetry, but prose as well) has the ability to make you feel whatever it is trying to portray to you. Your inner eye (as well as inner nose and inner fingers and inner everything else) becomes stimulated by words on a page and the experience of reading becomes much more than just staring at glyphs on a sheet of paper (or computer screen).

The last statement can be disputed on this thread. Indeed, additions (or subtractions) to that statement are welcomed.
However, if we accept that SP in literature includes appeal to the inner senses then what exactly is Sense Perception? If we accept that sense perception is also the concept of the inner self, then what is the difference between sense perception and plain old perception?

Consider the poem below.


The winter's evening settles down
With smells of steaks in passageways.
Six o'clock.
The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
The grimy scraps
Of withered leaves across your feet
And newpapers from vacant lots;
The showers beat
On empty blinds and chimney-pots,
And at the corner of the street
A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
And then the lighting of the lamps.
-T.S. Elliot
Isn’t it pretty? I think so…

1 comment:

devin said...

Well, to add a little vague opinion to your explanation of being affected by reading: I don't think the senses are affected by the reading itself - I think that by reading the words memories are triggered that relate to that word automatically and the most appropriate memory is applied to the situation, which then makes one feel like they're not reading so much as experiencing. For example, if I read the following sentence "The apple fell from the tree" - instantly I think apple, tree, apple falls, apple was on tree, man gets hit on head, gravity. My train of thought related to that sentence created an experience of the sentence that is unique for me. So that's my take on that.

As to the sense perception vs. perception question, I don't think there's a difference. In order to perceive something, the senses have to be involved in some way, so all perception is sense perception, although some is more balanced perception (all senses working together) than sense perception through literature which usually focuses on targeting a few key memories/senses.