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Jay Lemke is Professor Emeritus at the City University of New York. He has also been Professor in the PhD Programs in Science Education, Learning Technologies, and Literacy Language and Culture at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) and most recently adjunct Professor in Communication at the University of California - San Diego and Senior Research Scientist in the Laboratory for Comparative Human Cognition (LCHC). Professor Lemke's research investigates multimedia communication, learning, and emotion in the context of social and cultural change.

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Chronopaths: Feelings in Place #2

The Covered Lane in Provence

 In a small and very old town in the south of France, this covered lane steps down a hillside from the town center toward an outer street. Even though much restored and very lightly modernized to accommodate people living and visiting here, you still get the feeling of heavy, old medieval stone building -- a darker, cooler passageway, a short escape from the hot summer sun.

 

What is there about old stone building and narrow passages that give us a feeling of security, of being protected from sun, from rain, and perhaps from the surprises or dangers of open spaces?

There is a strange paradox in human feelings about comfort and security, that on the one hand we feel comfort in protected and enclosed spaces, but on the other we also rejoice in openness and freedom of movement. Walking down this passageway you feel that you want to reach out your arms and touch the walls on both sides. You want to feel their solidity and the coolness of the stone. You want to look up at the archways above, which are often decorated at the top because others for generations have also looked up. And you want to look down at the cobblestone steps to keep your footing as they force you to maintain a wariness that balances with the feeling of relaxation and comfort of being in the enclosed passageway.

Feelings have an interior dynamic. They are not all one thing or another. They both push us and pull us, lift us and enclose us, keeping us both relaxed and alert. We can name one part of a feeling or another, but there are no names for the wholeness of what we feel.

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