The peripheral once again
For those who don’t know it… apart from Tango, I like reading science fiction books and one of my favorite authors is William Gibson. He is one of the most visionary persons in the world and his books in the 80s, describing the future of the internet, seem to be so realistic today. In his latest books, he is introducing the concept of the peripheral which is a robot able to transfer to its user all the different sensorial inputs through a brain-computer interface. Imagine that you simply wear a head-mount device and when you switch it on you are immediately transferred to this robot, living, and sensing whatever it can sense. It feels like transferring yourself into another body. Whoever is interested, there is also a series on Amazon Prime based on the book. Check it out.
I have written about this concept in the past to highlight the fact that technology today changes the way of being present, in contrast with Tango which forces us to really be present in the time and space we dance. When I was writing the post about how Tango forces us to realize how incomplete we are I also realized something else.
The people in the book who were connected to the peripherals were cut off from their current reality. They could not sense anything from their environment. This means that they were able to be present (with all their senses) only at one specific time and place at a time. So even with such advanced technology… even if people could connect through these devices to the future or the past… they were still bound to have only one presence! They were not able to be (with all their senses) in two places and time moments at the same time.
Our biggest problem
We are all experiencing the world from our unique perspectives. We can only be in one body sensing things from a single point in time and space… from a single unique perspective. You cannot dance a tanda and experience it at the same time as a leader and as a follower. Even if you can dance both roles, it is impossible to dance both of them at the same time. Right? If someone has done it… let me know! So our experience of the dance is only partial. We only can experience it from our perspective and we can only guess how our partner feels and experiences the same tanda.
At this point, one could suggest that an outside observer can experience the dance more completely than the dancers themselves since they are able to see both of them. But is “seeing” the only sense involved in our dance. What about touch? Can an outside observer really experience the embrace? Isn’t this an integral (I would dare to say the most essential) part of the dance? How can you experience the whole dance without it? Not to mention the rest of the senses.
So, not only do we need both roles to co-create the dance… not only the dance is incomplete without both roles… but we are also inherently flawed to be unable to experience it as a whole! We are all flawed, incomplete peripherals, and the irony of the dance is exactly that. You need two to dance it but you will never experience it in its entirety. You can never understand the dance in its entirety.
Tonight’s Goodnight Tango
Tonight’s Goodnight Tango is titled “If I could understand” and the singer is in pain because he cannot understand the reasons why his love left him. Of course, this is a different context, but still, it points out how we are unable to understand how other people experience emotions and sensations. Even if we have been through the same situation… every one of us is so unique that we will never be able to fully grasp and understand how other people experience certain events. We can only assume and empathize, but we will never be able to experience them as they do. Much like we can never understand (only assume) how is the experience of our partners when we dance.