Stickman Readers' Submissions June 6th, 2006

Have We Lost Our Senses?

We humans are complicated creatures. Look at the world we live in, and how it’s changed, say over the past ten years. It gets more hectic by the day, doesn’t it? No longer do we live in small, close-knit communities. No. The boat, then the motorcar, and after that air travel, proceeded to shrink the world almost overnight.

You are no longer awed by the tales of the explorer who went to, say, Africa, on safari, and came back with a lion’s head trophy. Nor could you get away with it today.

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Radio, the telephone, and finally television were also developed, and progressed at about the same pace. You didn’t have to wait weeks to months at a time for a letter to arrive anymore. It became a matter of hours, then minutes, before you could speak on the telephone to someone halfway across the world back then. And television! No longer did you have to go to a movie theatre; you were entertained, informed, and educated by what you saw. You didn’t have to be in Africa to see a safari any more. Influenced, too, by the latest entertainment, fashions and fads halfway across the globe, even though by the time you saw it, it would have been six months out of fashion in the original country.

Some people would spend so much time watching that their world revolved around it, a fact of life that is still sadly true today.

And sadly…

No more quiet family chats after dinner. We don’t gather round the piano anymore like when we were kids when Mum pulled out the Shirley Temple songsheets for us to sing along. Back then, I learnt to play the ukulele, then the guitar, to play accompaniment. It very seldom comes out of the closet these days.

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No, you don’t need these things any more. Real skills don’t matter. These days, our minds and senses are overwhelmed with instant gratification. More than two hundred channels off the cable television network. Movies-on-demand. Everyone I see has a mobile telephone. This included a lame beggar I saw on a very quiet side street just last week – okay, it wasn’t the latest model, but if he could afford to maintain it, plus he had somebody to talk to, why was he begging?!

Don’t forget computers and the internet.

You don’t need to be able to play an instrument any more. With the correct program, you could probably write a sonata in five minutes, and hear the full orchestra play it almost immediately. Homework doesn’t need tedious hours of research in your local (or sometimes national) library any more. No, you just go to a website, and if you like it, copy, paste, print it out and get back to the on-line game of golf you’ve got going.

You’re hungry, so you order pizza on-line, and it gets delivered to your doorstep thirty minutes later. No need to leave the house at all. Such convenience.

You’ve lost touch with the real world. Who hasn’t, really, to some degree?

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I think we’ve lost our senses as well. Err… not in that sense, but as in how often do you use any of your senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch – for what nature intended them to be used for?


Prehistoric hunt I

Imagine prehistoric man, off on a hunt. Your keen eyesight spots traces where the undergrowth has been disturbed. From the looks of it, a fair-sized animal has passed this way. On closer examination, you spot a familiar hoofprint. Food! You examine it more closely, and the faint remnants of it’s scent confirms that it’s what you thought it would be. It’s worth the effort to track it down.

Carefully, you follow the trail, your keen sense of hearing picking up even the faintest rustle in the leaves, your weapon at the ready. Then… a stronger smell… you spot droppings! They look quite fresh. You pick up a bit of it and rub it between your forefinger and thumb. Definitely feels fresh. You sniff it to make sure it comes from the animal you’re tracking , then… Well, you wipe it off your fingers, of course. I’m telling a story, not a joke.

A little further on, you hear a rustle in the bushes, then catch a quick movement out of the corner of your eye. Yes! You catch up with your quarry, and with your trusty club, you beat the life out of it. You half smile as you drag the thing back, knowing you will have a full meal tonight. Fortunately you have discovered fire.


Prehistoric hunt II

Imagine prehistoric man, off on a hunt. Your keen eyesight spot traces where the undergrowth has been disturbed. From the looks of it, something fairly large has passed this way. The remnants of it’s scent tells you that… it’s a female.. of your species… in heat! Yes!

You follow the trail as you usually would, and finally catch up with your quarry. But, instead of beating the life out of it, you just beat it senseless and get on with the job…


Present-day hunt I

You spot the flashing sign half a mile away. ‘All-Night Supermarket’. Food! You enter, and with your supermarket cart at the ready, you prepare for your hunt. The piped elevator-style music, announcements over the public address system, phones ringing, people talking – it’s too noisy. You shut it out of your mind. As you walk around the aisles, the only smell you get is that of disinfectant, mixed with that of a chemical air freshener. You shut that out, too.

All you need is your eyesight. So many different pretty-coloured labels on the cans, all promising an enticing culinary treat inside. Wouldn’t it be great if they were just plain cans, without any labels on the outside? You’d be able to pick things off the shelf with your eyes closed, then…


Present day hunt II

You spot the flashing sign half a mile away. ‘All-Night A-Go-Go’. Females! You enter, and with your beer in hand, start hunting the stage for something suitable. The disco music is being played at a brain-numbing volume, it’s almost impossible to shut it out. The smell of the air freshener is completely overwhelmed by the smell of stale tobacco and spilt beer. You can’t shut it out either. Just join it, then. The strobes and flashing lights cloud your vision, and the beers begin to affect your sixth sense. You may as well be picking someone with your eyes closed. Plus, you didn’t bring your most useful gadget, your faithful Dana™ Tranny Detector…


I think that one of the few things left in this modern world that employ practically all of the senses together is when you go for a good meal. The first impression is usually the visual impact; a good presentation and a mix of colours. This is usually accompanied with a wonderful aroma, though this may sometimes precede the dish arriving at the table. This alone is enough to stimulate the taste buds and start the salivary glands going.

Next, you get into the texture, or feel, of the dish. A decent steak should cut well, and not involve a lot of sawing. Vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli should still retain their colour and firmness; and once you get these morsels in your mouth, they still retain their flavour.

It is a combination of all these stimuli – sight, smell, touch, taste – that either make the meal, or don’t. I’d definitely be disappointed if I was served a shapeless mass that passed for mashed potatoes, colourless carrots and broccoli, boiled to death, and that disintegrated when you touched it with a fork, and a steak that masqueraded as shoe leather.

In the same way, female companionship can be either savoured or not, but here with the added stimuli of speech and hearing.

Imagine you spot the girl of your dreams, she smiles at you and comes over. She sure smells good. Those pheromones are beginning to stimulate your hormones and start some other glands going. There’s some very complex chemistry going on here. Her touch; warm, silky yet with a firm texture… the combination has the same feel of a good meal in the making…

Wouldn’t you be disappointed if a dowdy, blubbery mass of indeterminate female, with a soft and pudgy touch, sat down next to you instead? And a whiff…

There is a difference in having a bath three times a day and a bath every three days.


Of course I’m being a little facetious here, after all, what’s life without a bit of a laugh? Sure, life is more than just stimulating the senses, but I’ve made my choice. I like what I see here. The LOS may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but to me, it is home.

Where do you want to be?

Stickman's thoughts:


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