(Continued from Overview of the book Human, part 1.)
It’s been a hard day in the office. You’re back home. You close the door, take off your shoes and lay back on the couch.
You feel the blood rushing to your feet as they rest on a pouf. What a joy!
Shoes off, feet up–who doesn’t understand what this means?
It means freedom.
The lengthy chapter four of the book Human: Instructions for Use is all about the freedom of barefooting. Why do you take the trouble to wear uncomfortable shoes, anyway?
“According to an unwritten rule, elegant shoes must be tight and uncomfortable. By taking the trouble to wear such shoes you ritually show respect for the cultural norms you belong to and depend upon. Your community responds with approval even though everybody knows the pain you are inflicting on yourself, particularly if you are a woman. It is as if the readiness to have your feet squeezed inside a cast gives a clear message that you’re good at taking on social casts, that you’re a norm-abiding citizen.”
The book Human pierces through common stupidities, and as you’ll learn once you read the book, mandatory footwear is an easy cultural stupidity to debunk.
To understand the (health) benefits of barefooting you should first know the heals health problems induced by wearing shoes:
- fallen or lowered foot arches
- Achilles’ tendon injuries
- blisters, calluses, corns
- ingrown nails (50% more frequent in women due to the shape of their shoes)
- fungous diseases (such as athlete’s foot)
- painful swelling at the main joint of the big toe
- problems with bodily posture
- problems with the vertebra
- shortened calf muscles (mostly due to high heels)
You can learn about health benefits by reading the book Human: Instructions for Use.
Use both hands!
Chapter five opens up the topic of ambidexterity: being equally skilled with both hands. And feet.
Why does this matter?
Remember the last time you hurt your strong hand? You had to use your weak hand to eat, type, tie your shoes, brush your teeth… What torture!
Balancing the use of hands faces the opposition of stubborn cultural norms:
“If you were to look at the current state of affairs regarding the polarity between left and right in human anatomy, you might conclude that right-handedness is organic, left-handedness a statistical anomaly, and both-handedness a mere idiosyncrasy. But this judgment would neglect the millennia of systemic ‘paralyzation’ of the left hand by a surprisingly high percentage of traditions and religions worldwide.”
If you learned to be ambidextrous, it’s because you really needed it. Learning ambidexterity intentionally is more difficult than learning a new language. You need to know why you’re doing it.
If you are a determined learner, willing to challenge your brain’s capacities, come, join me on ambidextrousness quest!
Use your senses!
How do human senses work and what for? In the book Human I write:
“Five basic senses reproduce external reality as a representation in your mind, facilitating orientation. /…/ You rely on all available signals to construct your image of the world around you. Your faculties of perception work as one. … The result is one image of your surroundings, comprised of all the incoming sensual data, your memories, inferences, and imagination.”
In this chapter, I elaborate on sensual perception within a social context. Due to social pressure, you don’t allow yourself to perceive certain real objects and concepts, while you “perceive” other objects and concepts that don’t even exist.
“Social context always affects psychological integrity, and your sensual perception is therefore invariably twisted. You adapt the signals reaching your brain to fit the common image of reality as automatically as you disregard the blind spot in your eyeball.
“In the second case, the anatomy of the eye is the limiting factor and your brain developed a physiological mechanism to get around this limitation. In the first case, the social context is the limiting factor, but the psychological mechanism of disregarding the socially commanded blind spot is pretty much the same.”
Don’t trust your senses! You see and hear what you’re conditioned to see and hear.
To stir up critical thinking and a fresh outlook on the nature of your senses (plus subsenses and metasenses), chapter six includes a few pages about converse senses.
To learn how the book ends, read the Overview of the book Human, part 3.