Immanuel Kant says in the Critique of Pure Reason that “all our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.” I agree, up to the point that the senses receive bearable signals. What happens every time our senses undergo torturing, and a forest is not that near to escape in true knowledge? How can this equation work whenever our senses are tortured? Is knowledge safely led to pure reason under these circumstances?


Let’s take things from the beginning. What is the importance of senses in our life? Senses recall memories. “Nothing revives the past so completely as a smell that was once associated with it” reminds us of Vladimir Nabokov. A sight, a smell or a sound might trigger a memory, positive or not. However, we cannot change the past, but we can change the future, associating our positive memories with a pleasant sense, or even retouching a negative moment with a sense of eclectic optimism initiated by a careful choice of a sensation. If, I say IF this is possible.

In modern decayed cities no matter how many times we lock ourselves into our homes a sound or a smell might enter our private space, intruding like a vulgar threat. A driver’s freaking music, the smell of petrol or burn food invade our homes, violate our memories. Who is more eligible than Helen Keller to say: “Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived? The odors of fruits waft me to my southern home, to my childhood frolics in the peach orchard. Other odors, instantaneous and fleeting, cause my heart to dilate joyously or contract with remembered grief.” What a responsibility of randomness! What a failure of isolation…

I was thinking about all these when for the first time I decided I had to act drastically Unapologetically I decided to make up devices and techniques so that I could isolate myself from the randomness of what my sensed received.

Vision. Close your eyes when you see something you do not like, do not let it print its ugliness into your brain, alternatively dodge visual broadcasts, feeding your eyes with art. Audition. Wear headphones when you are out, or even at home, isolate yourself completely from background noises, create your own sound heaven, select your perception vibration, save your eardrums opting for invigorating frequencies.  Gustation. Cook your own food, don’t taste your animal friends, be selective on flavours, never allow your tongue to have a tasting accident combine a memory with ageusia. Olfaction. Pythagoras advised his students to have prepared their room in such a way that upon waking up they could smell something pleasant. Do this, odorize your moments, direct olfactory receptor neurones. Somatosensation. Sleep in soft sheets, desist tactile connection with anything unpleasant and hug more your loved ones and your pets.

What preceded was an effort to humorously approach a single fact I would really like to communicate, and that is to intervene in our receiving of sensory messages imposed on us. Do not hesitate to look eccentric, to displease someone, if it means that you can save yourself from a really bad memory. Our senses create memories, memories that come back to our senses again, charged with the initial quality. Should we leave this to chance? Trick and transcendent!

Mary Vareli

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