So Present, Yet Unreachable: Phenomenological Aesthetics of Distant Touch


  • Erika Natalia Molina García Universidad de la Frontera, Temuco, Chile


As touch remains commonly defined by the closeness it physically implies and it rhetorically evokes, the mere notion of distant touch and of distal haptic perception seems peculiar. But Aristotle’s perspective, which I wish to take as a point of departure, is firm: we perceive the objects of touch, the hot and the cold, the hard and the soft, the curved and the sharp, through other things: δι' ἑτέρων. In this article, I would like to explore this ἕτερος by showing how the otherness of perception always implies an intermediary, a middle point (μέσος), i.e. an other not so other, an other that is able to translate the much more distant otherness of the perceived object. To explore these forgotten layers of alterity that fall into what we commonly conceive of as the impalpable emptiness of distance, I propose to study the idea of distant touch from the perspective of phenomenological aesthetics. In order to do so, I will first examine some aspects of the Husserlian account of perception and will then focus on the phenomenology of distant touch in Alejandra Costamagna’s novel El Sistema del Tacto [The System of Touch] (2018).