Feel it in your jellies

Feel it in your jellies

This is the stupidest fucking blog post and I kind of hate that I'm even writing it. But here we are. I'm trying to blog more, or at all, and this is a good micro-way to scratch that itch.

I have a saying that I use in conversations with a lot of my friends - "I feel it in my jellies". If you haven't seen the really-pretty-good-though-not-life-changing Detective Pikachu - it's a line that the titular Pikachu, which weirdly is Ryan Reynolds - says. Near the beginning, Pikachu has amnesia but is sure that he is a detective. When the protagonist, Tim Goodman, asks him how he knows, Pikachu explains that he "feels it in [his] jellies... it's that thing. You know, you feel it. When you really believe in something despite everyone telling you you're wrong."

Feeling it in your jellies for Detective Pikachu is a shorthand for deep, embodied knowledge. If you feel something in your jellies, you know it's part of you. It lurks under your skin regardless of whether you want it to. It is the kind of knowledge you can't unknow. You might try to shake it off, to think something else, but no matter how hard you try it's still there.

I actually use this distinction in teaching, too - in thinking about the difference between a priori and a posteriori knowledges. A priori knowledges are those that are logically or necessarily true - just by virtue of the statement, it is true. Sometimes these are tautological, which means they're circular or explain themselves. It might be something like 'Mondays are not Fridays'. Much as I would love that to be true. There is a discrete sense of Monday-ness that cannot overlap with Friday-ness and that is contained in the definition.

A posteriori knowledges, on the other hand, are those that require some experience of the world in order to understand if they are true. So if I said 'Mondays can feel like Fridays', in order to tell me whether or not that was true, you would have to have some experience of the world, what Mondays are like, what Fridays are like, and the difference between them. A posteriori knowledges are much closer to feeling something in your jellies. It's a kind of knowledge that is centered on lived experience and enables you to make claims about the world on the basis of your experience and that others.

For me, what feeling something in your jellies does is make clear why sometimes it's so difficult when you know something to be true but you just don't feel it. My go to example is always self-sabotaging behaviours when you're experiencing poor mental health. If you've got to a certain stage of healing or recovery, you might be able to notice those behaviours, or understand why you're doing certain things. You know that you drink a little too much when you're feeling anxious. You know that you should do the washing-up but keep avoiding it. But you don't yet feel it in your jellies. You haven't had the change in feeling or affect that converts that knowledge into experience. You know what's happening, but you feel powerless in the face of it.

Knowing something in your jellies is the opposite of this - it's the feeling of understanding something so deeply that you know it to be true even if you can't find words for it. It can be your sense of intuition, or grounded in your observations about the world - what matters is that you really, truly know it in some essential way. You know it in your jellies because you've experienced it and it describes some of your essential knowledge of the world. Over time, you might find that something you know to be true makes its way to your jellies - it folds itself under your skin and becomes part of your intuition and the fabric of who you are.

So - what do you feel in your jellies? What do you know so deeply without having the words for it? Or what do you know to be true but just can't feel it in your jellies yet?

(I know no-one wanted a blog post about Pikachu and philosophy, but you got it)