Reflection #3: Haptic Visuality

Just by looking at the title of this article, the first thing that came to mind was the actual image of being able to touch something with your eyes. This image seems really silly when you first think about it but as a visual person that is the image that popped into my mind. While reading this article it reminded me of the article that we read during first semester called Twenty-Seven Ways of Looking at Vision by Desjarlais. This article was actually one of my favorites because I never thought that the different ways in which we communicate with our eyes, all those things can be considered senses. The way in which our society tends to favor the sense of vision is something really important to take into consideration, especially when thinking about how this may affect the way we experience the world. Reading the article Haptic Visuality: Touching with the Eyes, taught me to literally “see” the sense of vision differently. Learning about this new term which I had never heard of before which was Haptic was something very interesting to me, I had never heard of vision being seen in this way. “The term haptic is used in psychology to indicate the tactile, proprioceptive, and kinesthetic senses” (80). Thinking about vision as something that also can be considered when talking about movement or any type of physical activity seems like something odd to think about. There is a great question that gets pointed out within this article that I found quite fascinating to consider. The question of “how can we keep looking for the sources of life in what we observe?” (79). This is an interesting perspective, because how can we try to find the answer to things in our lives when we conform to what we can visually see. This is something very strong in the belief of Christianity; one of the main beliefs within this religion is the idea of having faith to believe in something that we cannot visually see.

Though we cannot see this truth there is also the ideas that were brought out by the haptic critics where they talk about how the object will look back at us. “As our seeing comes closer to the surface, the object begins to see us from its own depth. Haptic criticism assumes that its object has aura – that it relates to me, looks back at me” (80). This affects the way in which our brains work because of how like it says in the article it is something that causes schizophrenia. Though when thought about through religion we can say that this statement is true due to how even though we cannot visually see God, there is the belief that he can see us and that he is watching over us. Looking at the sense of vision as something that is not only about what we can see, but as well as something that includes physical movement and communication. I had never considered it before but I am someone who uses vision as a means of communication all the time. Sometimes I do not even need to say one word to communicate with my best friends or even with my sister, all I have to do is look at her a certain way and she completely understands what I want to say. I know that many people communicate this way, and should take into greater consideration the way in which this is used in their lives.

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Response #2 Mariam Rojas

First of all let me just say WOW! kudos to you for being someone who is very active and got the chance to grow up in a very active and motivating family. Unfortunately that definitely was not my case while growing up so I see things through a very different lens. I had a grandfather who is obsessed with the sport of baseball and made sure to teach each and every one of his twelve grandchildren how to play the sport. Though it was really entertaining to play the sport with my cousins, learn and eventually be a pretty good baseball player myself, the pressure that was placed on me to use my skill was too much for me to handle. I was an active child in different ways though, I loved to dance and used to do it very often, especially as someone who comes from a Hispanic background. This was done as something more for entertainment than for exercise or for keeping active. I really liked the fact that you talked about the idea of femininity and masculinity and how our perceptions of it are still flawed. Especially when you stated “How much you can lift does not change the fact that you are still a woman, it does not make you a man”. I really agree with this statement that you made, especially because I do know many women who seem to be a lot stronger than their male counterpart. One thing I do not really understand or agree with is the idea that you feel that exercise needs to be a part of the definition, being fit usually, well in my opinion means being able to perform or have ability. Therefore it does not necessarily have to include the person going to the gym, especially when we think about social justice issues and what people have access to in their lives. 

Response #1 Parveen Sandhu

I find it really interesting that you consider games to have different viewpoints about life. Looking at the way in which games or more likely board games will reinforce societal ideologies of the “order” in which we should do things. I never would have thought of the fact that even though we were all trying to copy each other in that in class project we were still being ourselves. No matter the fact that we were all trying to do the same thing, we were still doing it in our own way, with our own twist to it. The definition of what critical play is, demonstrates the idea of how “art imitates life” thinking about how you can literally let mimesis be be a part of play but at the same time what you imitate is life itself. We work together as a community to make sure that these societal ideologies are actually instilled as well as part of what we imitate. This is also something that you pointed out in your reflection where you talked about how even though we were imitating each other, we were also communicating through body language and action. I find your final opinion to be very interesting, I like how you pointed out that we sometimes allow games or what we have learned to be truth through these games, is something we still believe. Maybe for some people or most of the new generation this type of thinking is “old fashioned” but at the same time it is still part of some morals that people still believe in.

Reflection #2 The Influence of gaming

Video games have been a great part of my childhood; I used to really enjoy playing all the Mario bros games. At the beginning of Thomas Malaby’s article he explains what games are considered as, as well as how misunderstood the influence is. “Games, the author argues, are domains of contrived contingency, capable of generating emergent practices and interpretations, and are intimately connected with everyday life to a degree heretofore poorly understood” (95). What this quote is basically stating is that games are things that are now a part of everyday life but are misunderstood, as in the capability and influence that they actually do have to those who use it in everyday life. For some people gaming is a part of their lives, or sometimes to the extreme it is their entire life. Gaming was my sense of escape, my way to enjoy myself and have a more social interaction with my family and friends. Gaming was something that created a bond with my uncle and I, he would teach me about all the short cuts in the game, and tricks on how to complete the levels with the best results possible. The reasons behind gaming can be something that varies among different people, depending on how they use the games in their lives. This essence of play was always something that I used to consider gaming to be, this was my way to “play” with others, especially with my male friends. Within the Malaby article gaming is considered to be used in three different forms, for separation, safety and pleasure. Malaby explains these terms in different ways, “it is separable from everyday life (especially as against “work”; it exists within a “magic circle”), safe (“consequence free” or nonproductive), and pleasurable or “fun” (normatively positive).

The idea of games being separable from everyday life is a reason why most people use these games in this generation, the idea of walking away from responsibilities for a least a little while and staying away from daily worry is relieving. Games as well as many different types of technology in this era are about separating yourself from all the worries of society and hardships. We can definitely see that with students in the classroom and the way in which they use their cellphones for gaming in between lectures or classes as a way to escape from the school environment. The concept of gaming being a “safe” environment is also something that those who use virtual life games will understand the idea of safety and how there are no consequences for actions in these worlds. Video games such as grand theft auto, allow the player to be and do as they please without having to deal with actual consequences. There is the idea of being able to live a second life or even live the life of a dangerous alter-ego without actually dealing with the law. The last concept of pleasure or fun is one of the main reasons why many people use video games and the main reason as to why they were created, as a means of entertainment.

Reflection #1: Good articulations

Bruno Latour talks about the ways in which we consider our body, the ways in which our society has formed our definitions of identity. We can see these aspects as good or bad articulations. The way in which Latour talks about the body demonstrates to us that there is more than one way of looking at the body, there is more than the simple senses to be able identify things. Latour explains this term as something with many features as well as the thought, “… is it interesting? Fecundity, productivity, richness, originality are crucial features of a good articulation” (Latour 11). We can see this in our technology assignment that we had to do in class, as well as many of the different activities that we have done in our workshops. We have learned about the way in which specific technology can be used as bad articulation, therefore having a bad effect to our system. We have seen how different workshops have affected us, we noticed that the workshop that included speakers who were personal trainers was a very interesting workshop. We noticed that the way in which they would express themselves would either have a positive or negative affect in the way in which we responded to them.

The way in which some of the speakers addressed the class gave us either a good articulation of the information or a bad articulation. The second speaker of the workshop brought forth a bad articulation through how Latour defines it. “Boring’, ‘repetitive’,

‘redundant’, ‘inelegant’, ‘simply accurate’, ‘sterile’, are all adjectives that designate

a bad articulation” (Latour 215). Due to how she was very repetitive towards her own opinion as well as constantly feeling the need to reinforce her own ideas on everyone in the classroom instead of listening to the opinion of those there. This type of thought is very evident within my life, especially when thinking about the things that affect my senses. Usually something that I am uncomfortable doing in my life is something that may bring a “good articulation” because just how Latour said in his article “good articulation” sometimes takes risks. Sometimes it is mandatory or essential to take risks to be able to create a good articulation, therefore taking risks in your life that are out of your comfort zone are a way in which you can end up producing good articulations. New technology and different sensory enhancing products in our society today are things that were created thanks to the idea that scientists or creators decided to take risks. When we learn something new or we are exposed to something that is different but effective in what it is teaching, then it is easy for us to be a part of a good articulation.

Life without touch (Response #2)

            If I were to give up a sense, it would probably be the sense of touch. It has taken me a couple hours to actually think about this, making a list of positives and negatives towards losing a specific sense. I contemplated what it would be like to lose my sense of smell, but due to the fact that I am someone who enjoys pleasant smells stopped me from choosing this. Later I thought about what it would be like to lose my sense of hearing, and just the thought of it terrified me. This idea terrified me due to how I am such a talkative person and also because I love to listen to music, and living without music or being able to hear different rhythms and tempos would be difficult for me. This kept me thinking, the most common and “privileged” senses are the ones that I do not think I would be able to live without. Then what came to mind was one of my favorite super heroes Rogue. Rogue is an x-men character that has the power to take away powers and manipulate them for a certain amount of time, which she can do through skin to skin contact. Therefore this is a problem for this character due to how she cannot touch anyone or anything without harming them, meaning that she does not have the sense of touch, she is someone who does not know what touch is like.

Therefore I thought about losing my sense of touch due to how I feel that it is one of the senses that I could probably live without. It would be difficult due to how I would have to use my other senses to imagine what it would feel like, but I would not be able to lose any other. “It was only from this line, at first, that he could recognize anything- though this took a great deal of interpretation and inference; thus he learned” (127). This quote from To See and Not See talks about the way in which Virgil had to literally learn his way around the house, due to how with site he now had a new perception. Though this is something that has to do with site, if I were to have no sense of touch and then somehow regain it, I probably would not have the same reaction to things like others do. For example, the reflex that people have to remove their hand from a flame or something hot, without the sense of touch, I probably would end up burning my fingers. If I were to regain this sense of touch, I would not properly know how to react to that pain or sensation. There could be a great sense of disappointment if I were to regain my touch just like how Virgil felt; “we formed a strong impression that his sight was to him almost entirely disappointing. It enabled him to do a little more…but it became clear that the opportunities it afforded him were less than he had imagined…” (139). Therefore this sums up the reason why I would not mind losing my sense of touch, by having it I do have a little more advantage for things, but at the same time, not much more.Image wit

Food and the senses (Reflection #4)

Food has always been seen as something that involves the senses, the intriguing smells, the visual presentation of it and best of all; taste. The idea of food as a sensory experience has been something quite obvious when it comes to the culinary experience. Culinary connoisseurs have used all five senses when approaching their profession of food and judging, but have now discovered new senses with food. David E. Sutton’s article “food and the senses” is a great example of the different ways in which senses can be used to experience food, and to define culture. “I coin the term gustemology for such approaches that organize their understanding of a wide spectrum of cultural issues around taste and other sensory aspects of food” (7). Within this statement we can see the way in which Sutton talks about how culture is incorporated within food and how taste and flavors are senses that define cultural ideals. I watched an episode of the “Rachel Ray” show, she is a cook from Italian decent, who loves to place an Italian-American twist to all the different types of food that she creates. Though I was not able to smell or taste any of the food, the way in which she describes the smells and the way it looked were definitely visually appetizing. The fact that my senses were so restricted when watching this show; it reminded me of one of the statements made within the article about the western society. This has been seen as a great issue “western tradition specifically devalues taste (and smell) as a lower sense that promotes animal appetites rather than reasoned judgment” (3). Though this was a great problem for me, because by using the most “prized and privileged” sense which has been sight, did not allow me to properly experience food the way it is socially meant to be.

The way in which she described the food was the only way in which I was able to recognize, recall and have memories of the way in which the food probably tastes. Her moans every time she would taste something would make me reminisce of the way in which I recall those specific ingredients to taste, and hopefully trying to figure out how they taste. She also recalls the way in which many women enjoy chocolate for dessert; she described how for women at times it seems like “comfort food”. This type of gendering with food also reminds me of the term that Sutton created; gustemology, which refers to the cultural issues around taste. “Consuming sweets, they do what they ‘should’ (observe the etiquette of guest host relations) as well as what they ‘want’ (since they are thought ‘naturally’ to desire sweets), a conflation of moral propriety and desire that obscures the coercive aspects of such consumption” (6). Here we have a claim made which talks about how women desire sweets and how it is something in their natural state as well as how the senses combined with food also have to do with the way we socially portray ourselves. Therefore this demonstrates to me how food also affects different senses, and that something as simple as that is actually synesthetic due to how “it is not simply passively registered but actively created between people” (10). Our society creates these sensory limitations and mentalities without even acknowledging the senses that are being used in the first place.