In the U.S., our weather reports respect both sides of the analytic/continental divide, giving us both the empirical temperature and a phenomenological account of what temperature it feels like (wind chill or heat index). This can lead to some confusion. For instance, I initially thought that it wasn’t that big a deal that temperatures were below zero — most winters, it seemed to me, there had been extended periods when it reached that low temperature. Then it struck me: while it felt like it was below zero during most of those times, now it literally was below zero.
I had experienced something like a temperature of 15 degrees below zero before, but I had never experienced it directly — after all, the temperature was a record low. When I was experiencing 15 degrees below zero, then, what was my point of reference? And now that I actually was experiencing the literal temperature of 15 degrees below zero, I found, to my epistemological dismay, that it reportedly felt like a much lower temperature. In a kind of meteorological différance, each temperature is divided within itself. No temperature “feels like” itself, but only refers to another temperature, which itself “feels like” another temperature, in an endless play of signifiers with no signified.