Kind response to Radical Empiricism: Speculative Field Notes (complete)
by Jeff Tangel
I really appreciate this exploration of “pure experience”–for me, a helpful look at James’s thinking and how that can be employed to do the same work Speculative Realism aims at–namely reorienting ourselves, horizontally—as best we can—in the scheme of things. Our thinking in the Anthropocene is richer for it!
And too, of late I’ve taken to aimlessly wandering around my neighborhood in the evening. Wandering without purpose my perspective is, as you say, constantly changing and I am constantly surprised, made aware of things I would never notice on an errand. Sights, sounds, smells, my own mind, the wind—its speed, direction, how it moves the trees of different kinds, some of which hang low and brush against my head —stars, moon, the color of the sky and moving clouds; birds with distinct markings whom I see in regular places, rabbits, raccoons and the occasional surprised opossum; topography that I would have never noticed otherwise (going up heretofore undiscovered inclines are felt in my calf muscles, while going down has the distinct sensation of falling), voices of children playing, the glare of streetlights and headlights, to walk in and out of shadows. I am in an “ecological field”.
I have occasionally tried to combine aimlessness with an errand and it has always been a disaster. While the errand gets done (duh), the experience is shallow and frustrating, as if the necessity to “accomplish” something literally destroys the ability to experience. And so, I now always aim to avoid that muddying.
And I should mention, some other human beings in the neighborhood have noticed. One has called my wife’s sister and asked, “What’s up with Tangel? I saw him wandering around the neighborhood.” As if there was something wrong with me.
There is. But aimlessly wandering appears to be helping.
As has this lovely essay.