ABSTRACT

In a meditation on the placement of the hands-in both playing piano and typing a text on the type-writer-Sudnow asks himself how the hand knows it should use this rather than that fi nger for an opening note/word if there is no explicit instruction by the mind beforehand. How do the hands know-in playing piano, writing on the keyboard, making iconic and deictic gestures over and about geometric objects-without being told so, without following a plan that they have received beforehand? How did my own hand remember my supervisor’s telephone number and how do my hands write when I have a conversation at the same time? My hunch-informed by such works as that of Michel Henry and Pierre Maine de Biran-is that this memory is the one that arises from the auto-affection of the fl esh, which thereby remembers without requiring the sign-mediated memory of the mind. This immanent capacity underlies everything I do, not only with my hands, but also in the recognition of the movements of the hands of others. This, as recent cognitive science research has shown, exhibits itself in the phenomenon that movements are recognized only when we are already able to enact them or hear them in the case that the actions are always accompanied by an action-specifi c sound.1 Moreover, this is consistent with the fact that we can see and even hear in the actions of others the intentions underlying their actions, and such intentions can only arise if the auto-affection has already occurred such that a movement knows to reproduce itself.