Thursday, June 14, 2012

re-embodiment and the ipad?

Recently, I have been using an iPad in place of my plucky technological companion, the aptly named "tiny computer." While I finger through postings for the perfect job, I can't help but think about Deleuze (naturally), Peirce, and mediated experience. Of course, this is my default reaction whenever I find myself immersed in screens, widgets, and websites. However, substituting the iPad for the clackity-clack of the keyboard and the clickety-click of the mouse has indeed created a different--dare I say--more human, Internet experience. It occurred to me while I chatted with a friend. It is true, over the past year I have grown to hate instant messaging more and more with each passing day. But. On the iPad, it doesn't seem quite so bad. Yes, the screen name still stands in for the body. Yes, through the utilization of technology for intimate communication, one still subtly advocates for impoverished relationships. Yes, we're still fooling ourselves into thinking that the instant message in its immediacy is somehow an adequate substitute for embodied conversation. But. The symbolism of touch is powerful. Touch reminds us of our humanity, of that which makes us, as Dissanakaye would say, Homo Aestheticus. We are evolutionarily predisposed to touch, to make and to make contact. Thus the touch screen restores a modicum of our humanity.

 These things are important to think about, certainly. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: we need to be cognizant of the increasing technological presence in our lives, our families, our relationships. A wise man once said that media technology is an extension of man. Were he alive today, this wise man would be shocked, even horrified, to see the actualization of his prophetic message. What is truly fascinating is that as we dissociate from the body, we approach it's absolute simulation. Consider the Internet. First, we we have email: an electronic letter with similar (although undoubtably accelerated) temporal qualities as its material progenitor. The email is succeeded by the instant message--accelerated and deformalized, a nascent substitute for speech. Programs like Skype and its Google equivalent allow for the digitization of the voice and a two-dimensional simulation of the face. What comes next is the total simulation of the body. From my perspective, that is pretty terrifying and will require an awareness, that even now, is lacking.

But. For now, for right now, I recognize the value of the tablet.

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