On Becoming A Tortoise

There’s been quite a gap between this post and the last, and one of the reasons is that I’ve been pulling myself in to my ‘shell’ so that I can cope with what I have to do to ensure the life and livelihood of necessary parts of my living. However, this kind of activity, withdrawing to protect oneself, can have harmful enkinaesthetic implications which I’ll now try to describe.

It is a commonplace to say that when we are fearful we try to make ourselves as small as possible so that we will go unnoticed, but a corollary of this is that it requires a contraction of the muscles and sometimes holding oneself very still. We might think of it enkinaesthetically as a preconceptual desire not to have our presence felt by the other; that the backgrounded affective co-agential living with this particular other comes to the fore, we sense ourselves in relation to the other, and we do what we can to stifle their co-sensing of us.  We have pulled ourselves into our carapace and hope that nothing will discover us.

There is no doubt that every so often this is a useful strategy, after all, we all need to retreat, occasionally; but if we stay in retreat we stifle our openness to sensation and action possibilities. We strive to disentangle our lives from those things which cause discomfort, but in so doing, we create discomfort and dis-ease.

In drawing ourselves into our shell we create musculo-sensory constraints and fragmentation in our enkinaesthetic agential relations. Fragmentation of this kind includes a loss of harmony or attunement with others, characterised by a depletion or diminution of affective anticipatory interplay, feelings of ostracism, alienation, paranoia, long-term failures of trust, problems of identity and personhood, and so on. Where this withdrawal becomes habituated it can begin to feel normal, and we develop a faulty sensory, social, and cognitive appreciation of ourselves in the world.

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