from the preface to the Phenomenology of Perception;
I cannot conceive myself as nothing but a bit of the world, a mere object of biological, psychological or sociological investigation.I cannot shut myself up within the realm of science. All my knowledge of the world, even my scientific knowledge is gained from some experience of the world without which the symbols of science would be meaningless. The whole universe of science is built upon the world as directly experienced, and if we want to subject science itself to rigorous scrutiny and arrive at a precise assessment of its meaning and scope, we must begin by reawakening the basic experience of the world of which science is the second order expression. Science has not and never will have, by its very nature the same significance qua form of being as the world we percieve, for the simple reason that it is a rationale or explanation of the world…Scientific points of view, according to which my existence is but a moment of the worlds, are always naive and at the same time dishonest, because they take for granted, without explicitly mentioning it, the other point of view, namely that of consciousness, through which from the outset a world forms itself round me and begins to exist for me. To return to things themselves is to return to that world which precedes knowledge, of which knowledge always speaks, and in relation to which every scientific schematization is an abstract and derivative sign-language, as is geography in relation to the countryside in which we have learnt beforehand what a forest, a prairie or a river is.
To build the Thanatoscope from hardwood was to continue the traditions of the instrument and clock makers at the turn of the last century and before, hardwood is valued for its stability and unlike metal it is imbued with the “naturalistic attitude” of objectivity through seasons of steady growth, immersions and susceptibility to seasonal fluctuations, coldness, heat, wetness, dryness through the moderating parameters of its being a former tree, imbued with manyfold influences and deep seated characteristics which extol discernible aesthetics by simply existing.
Although hardwood is stable, the inside of the Thanatoscope would be painted with a reflective Gesso Sottile made from hide glue and Cornish China Clay and the outside would be dyed with a black stain obtained by collecting Ink Fungi after being covered in Irish Flax.
Materials that recall their existential genesis, described by Merleau-Ponty as the Logos of the aesthetic world, he understands the term ‘aesthetic’ in the original Greek sense of aisthesis, meaning primary mode of experiential expression which embraces both perception and imagination.
A Video of Mischas performance with the Thanatoscope will appear here when I have the time/knowledge.