We stroke a pet, reach to draw a curtain and feel the fineness of the cotton, touch the hand of another person. We sleep between sheets, stay warm inside silk underwear and wool coats; cloth is the constant tactile companion to our body. Cloth covers our nudity and makes us social. Its surround is an early architecture and its origins are animal: the fleece of sheep, the skin of bear, the spun thread of a silkworm.
Each extension of a hand or paw is toward contact. Contact with the ground, the air, to someone or something outside the self and from this extension one is always touched in return—that is touch’s reciprocal condition and exchange. When we touch we go from being observers to being included; things seen become felt.
In silence or in speech, reading and being read to are other forms of touch. The words of poets and writers stir us and when this happens we may be compelled to note, copy, or underline and often to share that touch by passing the book from hand to hand—by reading out loud—by sharing the page. The distance between author and reader, and reader and reader diminishes as the capacity of words to compel recognition travels from contact to contact, screen to screen, and perhaps from hand to hand.
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the common S E N S E