“Feel” Project Part 2: I’m Not Going to Pretend

I’m not going to pretend like I know what the hell I’m doing with this “feel” project. I’m not going to pretend like I know where it’s going. I am going to pretend that blogging about it matters and will affect the development in a meaningful way.

Something that I want to resolve is the difference between a feeling and emotion.

Neel Burton wrote the following for his article “What’s the Difference Between a Feeling and an Emotion?” in Psychology Today:

“An emotional experience, by virtue of being a conscious experience, is necessarily a feeling, as are physical sensations such as hunger or pain (although not all conscious experiences are also feelings, not, for example, believing or seeing, presumably because they lack a somatic or bodily dimension). By contrast, an emotion, being in some sense latent, can only ever be felt, sensu stricto, through the emotional experiences that it gives rise to, even though it might also be discovered through its associated thoughts, beliefs, desires, and actions.”

So we feel emotions, but emotions aren’t the only thing we feel. And we come to understand emotions by feeling them but can also come to understand them through other means.

My initial interest in “feel” partially arose from feeling as in feeling emotions but also feeling as in touch but also feeling as in hunger. Most of the pieces I currently have seem to focus on emotion and only one focuses on touch.

The idea of feeling something like hunger or pain also brings up the role senses will play in this project. Back in college, one of my favorite creations was an interactive presentation for my public speaking class called “Beyond Five Senses” which I delivered to introduce my classmates to the kinesthetic sense, sense of pain, and sense of balance by way of demonstration.

This past summer, I noted down the different senses as a way to spur some new writing. I would consult the list, considering which senses I wanted to engage for the reader. Here’s that list:

  • Hearing
  • Sight
  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Touch
  • Balance
  • Fullness
  • Heat or Cold
  • Hunger
  • Itch
  • Kinesthetic
  • Magnetoception
  • Muscle stretch
  • Nausea
  • Oxygen / Lung Inflation
  • Pain
  • Pressure
  • Thirst
  • Time
  • Vibration
  • Accomplishment
  • Agency
  • Beauty
  • Belonging
  • Caution
  • Common
  • Community
  • Control
  • Direction
  • Entitlement
  • Familiarity
  • Fashion
  • Fulfillment
  • Gratitude
  • Guilt
  • Humor
  • Joy
  • Judgment
  • Justice
  • Knowledge
  • Longing
  • Loss
  • Loyalty
  • Meaning
  • Morality
  • Nature
  • Normalcy
  • Nostalgia
  • Obligation
  • Ownership
  • Place
  • Purpose
  • Quality
  • Relief
  • Responsibility
  • Self
  • Sixth
  • Style
  • Unity
  • Urgency
  • Value
  • Vulnerability
  • Wonder
  • Worth
  • Echolocation
  • Electroreception
  • Infrared sensing

There is some real overlap between these senses and emotions. Almost all of these are felt.

Today I read Melissa Dahl’s “10 Extremely Precise Words for Emotions You Didn’t Even Know You Had” in New York Magazine’s Science of Us. This article introduced me to Tiffany Watt Smith’s The Book of Human Emotions: From Ambiguphobia to Umpty — 154 Words from Around the World for How We Feel. I’m now reading this book and it may prove to be very influential on this project.

Here’s the book’s official description:

“A thoughtful, gleeful encyclopedia of emotions, both broad and outrageously specific, from throughout history and around the world.

How do you feel today? Is your heart fluttering in anticipation? Your stomach tight with nerves? Are you falling in love? Feeling a bit miffed? Do you have the heebie-jeebies? Are you antsy with iktsuarpok or filled with nakhes?

Recent research suggests there are only six basic emotions. But if that makes you feel uneasy, suspicious, and maybe even a little bereft, THE BOOK OF HUMAN EMOTIONS is for you. In this unique book, you’ll get to travel across the world and through time, learning how different cultures have articulated the human experience and picking up some fascinating new knowledge about yourself along the way.

From the familiar (anger) to the foreign (zal), each entertaining and informative alphabetical entry reveals the surprising connections and fascinating facts behind our emotional lives. Whether you’re in search of the perfect word to sum up that cozy feeling you get from being inside on a cold winter’s night, surrounded by friends and good food (what the Dutch call gezelligheid), or wondering how nostalgia evolved from a fatal illness to enjoyable self-indulgence, Tiffany Watt Smith draws on history, anthropology, science, art, literature, music, and popular culture to find the answers.

In reading THE BOOK OF HUMAN EMOTIONS, you’ll discover feelings you never knew you had (like basorexia, the sudden urge to kiss someone) and gain unexpected insights into why you feel the way you do. Besides, aren’t you curious what nginyiwarrarringu means?”

This idea of what the basic or “core” emotions are is one I’m looking into and apparently there’s no clear consensus.

The Science of Us article cites a published study in which a team of psychologists used the latest brain-imaging to identify nine distinct emotions: anger, disgust, envy, fear, happiness, lust, pride, sadness, and shame.

The intro to The Book of Human Emotions identifies six common emotions among the many different models of emotion: disgust, fear, surprise, anger, happiness, and sadness.

There’s Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions, which shows eight basic emotions along with magnitudes and combinations:

Then there’s also this emotion vocabulary wheel made by English teacher Kaitlin Robbs, which builds from the same six basic emotions the aforementioned book intro identifies.


And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the basic emotions Pixar chooses for Inside Out. Nerdwriter has a good video essay about this movie: Inside Out: Emotional Theory Comes Alive. There’s also this chart made by Vox of all the other emotions you can get from combining those used for the five emotions in Inside Out.

And I’m still thinking about the role of memes in this whole thing.


Here’s a meme I saw recently that does a humorous job explaining Radiohead’s different albums. It focuses on personality and isn’t the best representation of what I’m thinking about, but Radiohead’s music is very emotional so it’s an interesting reference point.

I’ll be diving further into the meme aspect of this project in future posts.

To cap this update off, I also wanted to share that my explorations today reminded me about 100 Years – Wisdom From Famous Writers on Every Year of Your Life by Joshua Prager with visualizations by Milton Glaser, a very famous graphic designer known for creating the I ❤️ NY logo. The book celebrates every age from birth to 100 with quotations from the world’s greatest writers. It’s well-curated and an interesting concept. I’ve read through it once and enjoyed it. It’s full brilliance seems to be how there’s a compelling reason to continually revisit as I age. It addresses the human experience in an elegant way and has something that everyone can potentially connect with.

Like most of my projects, I want this thing to be an experience that goes beyond an average reading experience. I want the words and visuals to be gateways to experience itself while documenting the human experience through a certain creative perspective to hopefully inspire, entertain, and get others to see the world or themselves in a new and exciting way.

This is Part 2 of “Feel” Project Behind-the-Scenes Blog.

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