I’ve seen “visceral” used to describe something I perceive as instinctual or pathological from the context, but honestly, I don’t know what the word means, so I looked it up. Oh, what do you know: It can mean instinctual. Visceral means “relating to deep inward feelings rather than to the intellect” according to my dictionary, and it also means relating to the visceral nervous system. Now to look up what that is. Ah, it is another term for the autonomic nervous system.
OK, so visceral is that stuff in us, literally or figuratively, that is beyond our conscious control, our conscious thought. It is that part of us that responds before we’ve had a chance to form a thought about what we are responding to.
I realize that a lot of my reactions are visceral. I feel or sense things and cannot give a good intellectual reason for the sensation or description of it. That actually frustrates me because I understand my world best when I can put it into words. But the body doesn’t use words, and sometimes I have to accept that I feel a certain way and I cannot translate the feeling into language or logic.
Modern man has been taught to think, and therefore perceive, with language. And so all of our thoughts involve words. It is actually a reconnection to our non-intellectual, original selves, to think without words, to perceive without sentences, grammar and structure, when we allow ourselves to be visceral and not try to move beyond that. Let the feeling itself be the perception, let the instinct be all the thought you need.
The challenge, of course, is that if you do want to share it will take words. But if you are by yourself there is no need for a translator. Just feel.