Thanks to RJ Scott for inviting me to be part of her “The Five Senses Blog Tour” for autism – go have a look at the master post here. Today I’m talking about Shakespeare and senses! Why, you ask? More on that below – and a chance to win one of my books (your choice of an eBook or a signed paperback). First check out the fascinating fact below about autism:
Autism Fact: A Singapore scientist, Dr James Teh, has invented the T-jacket, a vest that provides deep pressure that simulates the feeling of a hug. “Deep pressure is a form of calming agent,” said Dr Teh. “So it basically helps to provide a sensation which an individual with autism, for example, can focus on. It helps to shut out all the other sensory inputs from the environment.” A smartphone app controls the intensity of the hug that the T-jacket gives, with the maximum being akin to a bear hug.
So why Shakespeare? Because it’s only the dude’s freaking birthday! Yes April 23rd, as well as being St. George’s Day, is William Shakespeare’s birthday *throws rainbow confetti*.
This man, this writer above all writers, who invented new words and coined phrases that have become part of our everyday language and wrote exquisite beautiful lines – he above all writers endlessly revisits the idea of the senses being our gateway to the world and to understanding ourselves and everything around us – such as in this well-known speech..
I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal’d by the same means, warm’d and cool’d by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, do we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that…
Shylock, The Merchant of Venice
He uses this idea – of all the senses together – again and again when he writes of what it is love, whether because everything about the beloved is delightful…
Had I no eyes but ears, my ears would love. That inward beauty and invisible;
Or were I deaf, thy outward parts would move each part in me that were but sensible: Though neither eyes nor ears, to hear nor see, yet should I be in love by touching thee.
Say, that the sense of feeling were bereft me, and that I could not see, nor hear, nor touch, and nothing but the very smell were left me, yet would my love to thee be still as much; for from the stillitory of thy face excelling comes breath perfum’d that breedeth love by smelling.
Venus and Adonis
…or, because nothing is, yet still he loves.
In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes,
For they in thee a thousand errors note;
But ’tis my heart that loves what they despise,
Who in despite of view is pleased to dote;
Nor are mine ears with thy tongue’s tune delighted,
Nor tender feeling, to base touches prone,
Nor taste, nor smell, desire to be invited
To any sensual feast with thee alone:
But my five wits nor my five senses can
Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee…
Even his comic characters muse on the senses, though in Bottom’s case, in a rather muddled way:
The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was…
Bottom, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
And actually, this last, comic quote is the one I’m thinking of today as I muse on the purpose of this blog hop. Because what are our senses, really? They are like a shared language – blue is this colour, sour is that taste – and through this shared comprehension, of the world, we connect to others. But sometimes – as with language – our experiences are not the same. Sometimes our sensory language diverges. That doesn’t mean I can’t connect with you – it just means I need to take the time to understand what your experience is. And that’s what RJ’s blog hop is all about really.
Leave a comment for a chance to win a book – the winner can select either any eBook from my backlist or a signed paperback (paperbacks only available for Provoked, Beguiled, Enlightened, Unnatural, The Dream Alchemist or Unforgivable).