Once in a while, I get shocked into upper wakefulness, I turn a corner, see the ocean, and my heart tips over with happiness – it feels so free! Then I have the idea that, as well as beholding, I can also be beheld from yonder and am not a discrete object but incorporated with the rest, with universal sapphire, purplish blue. For what is this sea, this atmosphere, doing within the eight-inch diameter of your skull? (I say nothing of the sun and the galaxy which are also there.) At the center of the beholder there must be a space for the whole, and this nothing-space is not an empty nothing-space but a nothing reserved for everything.
This quote from Saul Bellow’s Humboldt’s Gift is used as an epigraph for the last chapter of Alva Noe’s excellent “Out of Our Heads”. As he concludes -
I hope I have convinced you that there is something perverse about the very idea that we are our brains, that the world we experience is within us. We don’t need to have the world within us: we have access to the world around us; we are open to it. I take this to be the import of Bellow’s language in this chapter’s epigraph.