I have ogled Michel Serres’ The Five Senses for a long time already. (I must say I am shocked to see that it has been translated into English only in 2008, 23 years after its original publication and 15 years after the German translation.) The title always seemed neat to me, the German subtitle Eine Philosophie der Gemenge und Gemische did so too, and who does not want to demonstrate academic sovereignty with even more Suhrkamp Verlag publications on his or her bookshelf? But it took a reviewer to finally push my nose into the pages of this book – I am writing about fog in an article on absence, and Serres dedicates one of the subchapters of his book to fog…
So today, after reading all the Derrida that this and another reviewer also condemned me to, I finally opened my Five Senses and started to read, my eyes still blurry from staring their way through contorted Derridean sentences. Even before turning pages for the second time, I suddenly realized that my heart was beating loudly. Not just beat, hammer in excitement and anxiety about the next sentence. This is philosophy? I say! Or rather, my heart says: it might be much more than that.
Usually, I might furrow my brows, sometimes sigh or smirk my way through a book on theory or philosophy. Sometimes I might even smile or find that expression of realization or, even better, of wonder on my face. But a thrilled, beating heart? This definitely is a new experience. If only for that: I must recommend reading this book. I have only finished the first subchapter and started on the second one, but if you might be interested in an example of extraordinary writing in academica, then go out and get this book. And don’t wait too long until you start to read it!
Tags: Michel Serres, philosophy, reading, senses, writing