The following is a response to Sondra Perl’s “Understanding Composing,” an essay published in “College Composition and Communications 31” (pp. 363-369), and Antonio Damasio’s “The Feelings of What Happens.”
In an exercise conducted during a research-based course at New York University, writing teachers were asked to tape their thoughts while composing on the given topic out loud. Eventually, patterns of composing emerged. The professionals that participated in the exercise found that their writing was more recursive than linear and that they often moved backwards—rereading what they had previously written. I realize that I do this when I am composing; specifically, rereading for me occurs when “a ‘chunk’ of information has been written (p. 364).” I reread often so that I can get back to the topic, to make sure that I haven’t “gone off on a tangent.”
Perl sheds light to E. Gendlin’s term felt sense. “[Felt senses are] feelings or non-verbalized perceptions that surround the words, or to what the words already present evoke in the reader.” Perl goes on to say that the topic written about evokes this felt sense, that “This topic calls forth images, words, ideas, and vague fuzzy feelings that are anchored in the writer’s body (p.365).” This with a doubt is supported vicariously through Antonio Damasio’s work. This felt sense sounds like an extension of “extended consciousness.” Damasio theorized extended consciousness to arise in the structures in the human brain he described as image spaces and dispositional spaces.