Legging it out with Sobchak's subjective, self-based Reality: the Fetishization of Virtuality as a Requiem for the Removal of Society, Objectivity

By way of our globalized culture’s heavy dependence on the Internet, perhaps it isn’t so hard to analogize Sobchack’s prosthetic leg to other out-of-body prostheses such as the smartphone (in addition to other various forms of computers which keep us connected to the Internet) which arguably not only “augment” our reality (in one form or another, positively or negatively) — but, more importantly, virtualize it


This means that the fetishization of such objects has advanced from mere, simplistic fetishization to a brand of “requirement” —- a requirement which parallels Sobchack’s explanation of her prosthetic “… as a material but also phenomenologically lived artifact “


Dissimilar to Sobchack’s prosthetic, however, smartphones/computers are not just “lived artifacts” nor are they mere objects which have “life”; within the same vein, they also don’t have identities, per se, “… because there are both an oppositional tension and a dynamic connection between the prosthetic as a tropological figure and a dynamic connection between the prosthetic as a tropological figure and my prosthetic”


The aforementioned is crucial to Sobchack’s definition of her prosthetic and its role on her Reality because a smartphone/computer is a part of the global citizen, an extension of itself AND a manner in which it legitimizes its “global citizenry” 


Again, the previous notion does not mean that ”… both the prosthesis and the body are generalized in a form that denies how bodies can and do ‘take up’ technologies of all kinds “


In such instance, the opposite is actually valid: today, smartphones/computers are one of the most definite, specific means to “define” a virtualized reality &/or realized virtuality


In turn, this reality is a confluent, imbricated “reality” which, in turn, is not just subjective & almost completely self-based —- ultimately, it may also banish objectivity & society all the same



Sobochak’s basic premise is that academic theory has in many ways used the notion of the prothesis as a comfy metaphor to talk about the extended breadth of human control or interaction with the world: be it photography, or cars , or the internet.  As an amputee he can’t just take this lying down.  He persistently declares that the metaphor is empty and incorrectly formed by armchair academics not concerned with the real meaning of a prothesis for a disabled person.  
Assumably the main point is that prothesis are not sensual extensions but replacement numb stumps that serve a functional return to normal appearance and mobility.  None of these flashy new technologies are a replacement for a loss but arguably like adding a fourth or fifth redundant prothetic leg on.  Certainly these technologies are sensual and textural in ways.   
A successful prosthesis is one that is ‘invisible” in the daily life of the user.    There continues talk about the ins and outs of prosthesis types and costs and touch upon the famous runner amputee athlete Amiee Mullins.   Not much more to be gleans about technology and interface other than fleeting glimpses of prosthesis improving upon humans towards ends of fastest running times,  but Amieee can’t even standup in her running legs,  As usual there is a trade off  for embracing technological advantages.


Reading Response to Connor

“Touch appears to be the most versatile and various of the senses, partly because it threads through all the other modes of sensory apprehension, and also because it seems itself to be formed differently depending upon the particular kind of apprehension it delivers, whether of shape, texture, volume, space, tightness, heat, or weight. “


I find all senses to be interconnected.  Connor’s emphasis on touch, especially in relation to sound, seems contrived.  Touch can be invoked through sight in a haptic response or we can hear the results of our fingers dragging across wires, but this is a co-dependent response and I would argue against a higher level of versatility.



“…..ventriloquism seems to need the confirming circuit of touch, which acts both to intensify and to protect against the disembodiment of the voice.”


Ventriloquism is an act of connection, but I would not describe it as touch in sensory terms.  Technically you are touching the dummy but I doubt the ventriloquist is focusing on what the inside of this puppet feel like.    



“Hearing has the reputation of being more passive than seeing. The association of hearing with feeling rather than cognition probably comes from our modern sense that feelings happen to us rather than being willed or subject to conscious direction. This has sometimes impelled claims that a culture based more around sound and hearing than around sight might be a gentler, more participative, less dominative culture (Fiumara 1990).”


Why would hearing be associated with feeling rather than cognition?  In a classroom, students are more likely to be described as listening to the teacher rather than seeing the teacher. 


“We will mistake if we try to use the history of the senses as a way of softening the rigor mortis of a social body that we imagine has gone deaf and dumb, blind and numb. If there seems to be plentiful evidence of a demand to “feel the noise,” for sonoro-tactile pathos, this need not be taken as evidence of a deficit to be made good in the social body. “


Until this last sentence, I had no idea this article was discussing the “social body” and so I am confused by this statement and missed the evidence presented to tell me why I should imagine that we have “gone deaf, dumb and blind.”


Unpulsed considered by Derek Franz

Pulse confidence is what we strive for or refer to as a “rockin song”. Compositional economy is a relatively small subject’s capacity to sustain a relatively large narrative. Like a miser crone withjust a little genius stash of money spent in jsut the right way to make it through the long month.
“Unpulsed” in this software is when  music timespans form no periodic/repetitive patterns.
THis program perhaps exposes the limits of mathematical utility in perception of complex rhythms by our sensuous bias. Expectation of events in the future is related to metric reguarity, and of course pulse confidence…right? Stream segregation- discerning the various layers, poly rhythmic intelligibility?

Pulsed  versus Unpulsed
Rhythmic is on pulse   continuos stream events connected to previous gestures in a recognized recurrence or patterned repetition

Compound melody: tonal twists to rhythmic stints
Racking melodies upon each other or one particularly sophisticated ratio collection that filters down to our ears as separate parallel identities of time speed.

expectancy   :   i think i know whats happening next

wait for it wait for it   -|*(+)*|-   yeah!

metric reinforcement


Unpulsed  has four or more main windows of interface  culminating in a time line for note output from these daunting probabilty algorythyms, and you can fine tune visually!!!! I find the radial explorer to be the multitudinously interesting environment for visual interaction with probability.   I commend the visualization window as a method of casting light upon probability and its interrelations.  Turning off a high probability de-cloaks subtler lower probabilities allowing them to reemerge and positional possibilities.
At first I wanted to use this interface as a more direct DJing environment  where the program auto compiles a random set sample of its current state every measure, and changes you make in real time tinker with the eventuality of beat and cadence.  It seemed to be rhythmically.  I have trouble understanding the depth of interaction I have with the variability of the sound but find it strange that an arbitrary random sampling mix down is the closest the composer gets to directly designing patterns in unpulser.

The world unpulse is somewhat of a conundrum.  A rhythm that you can’t hear in the sound doesn’t quite qualify of a rhythm. I guess one part of designing this software was confronting the limits of perception of design/ratio for the human ear using a spectrum cross range of truly obscure periodics.   3 7 9 13, odds seems more outlandish and less nested versus the ever reliant evens.

I wonder about the relevance of this rhythmic output to pitch.  Im note sure how Ben has integrated melody divining to a system that seems to function specifically for rhythm.  bt I’m sure Im just missing a drop down menu setup procedure.  But again I wonder how these time rations could be directly or relevantly transferred to pitch ratios for the whole composition  or wandering per step dauduling through possible scale motions.

I found this article and computer software instructive to be of an abstract content I rarely encounter and found difficult to reflect up in this writing in my normal intellectual capacity.  The drop down menus of arcane quasi major scales  coupled with the deep nested commentary regarding steps 1 2 3 4 or 1:1 1:2 1:3 1:4 and various forms of a and a’ to be confusing but also highly fascinating.  I doubt my mind could form a coherent grasps of all specifics of the notation sequence facets.  I just feel music without language much more specific than screaming and yowling; perhaps singing along on occasion to a syncopated jig.


Syncretism Run Amok!

Connor’s article seemed to me syncretism run amok! I wish he would give a bit more reference to his arguments, as the things he is playfully engaging would be more fun if they had more justification. In the space of roughly a page we have Amphion’s magic lyre moving stones into place, medieval whispered sound, the theologian Lactantius’s Son of God, and the telephone. I wish he’d gone slower!

When I took issue with his assumptions, it made it hard to keep giving the benefit of the doubt. For example, when he mentions the telephone it makes me think of wireless towers now, and how voices emanate out in signal fields. Very different from rotary, or party lines and telegraph. Also, he doesn’t engage digital media or the internet in his argument, which seems unforgivable given that it was written for 2001.

Also, in the Pathos section, why is sound privileged for violence and suffering? What about paparazzi, the ubiquity of violation through surveillance, and unwanted blows and caresses? Also, the descent into preposterous argumentation…that Muppet is a conflation of mouth and puppet. I’m happy to grant creative discourse, but framing it philosophically seems silly to me. So I started to think more about the reading as a prompt than a position.

What are the corresponding semiotics of each sense? Clearly sight and sound are easy…handled with language written and spoken. Semiotics of touch I was thinking the handshake, the vibration of a phone, the touch on the leg under the table. Is that equivalent? Semiotics of smell and taste are harder. Perfumes and deodorants convey attitudes of sportiness and seduction perhaps, or naturalness. For taste the only thing I could think of was chicken noodle soup, or “down home cooking” and how food becomes culturally embedded. But I’m not sure that’s equivalent.

For the Sobchack article and prosthesis in general, a long-standing question I’ve had concerning it is that for people with artificial limbs, the lines for what constitutes normal physicality or ability seem fairly clear. But what I’m curious about (and this does totally dive into techno-fetishism, and may be tired) is that will there come a time when we honestly consider technology like smartphones a prosthesis? With the shift to credit cards over cash, will that eventually effect a person’s ability to survive in a city? Is that a fair argument? Personally speaking I would like to read more about technology as prosthesis, though I do like that we have Sobchack to start us out grounded in the prosaic and the practical.

Outside References

The Connor reminded me strongly of William Gass’s On Being Blue which is gonzo syncretic but doesn’t state a specific ideological point so much as provide a linguistic tour de force. Also, an amazing book on puppets and the nature of the sub/super-human is Victoria Nelson’s The Secret Lives of Puppets, which is also syncretic but felt much more rigorous and thoughtful.