Lost Touch

Opening title sequence. Graham and Ria sit in their car shortly after being rear-ended.

Graham: "It's the sense of touch."

Ria: "What?"

Graham: "Any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something."

Officer (looking into car): "You guys okay?"

Ria: "I think he hit his head."

*     *     *

It's funny how sometimes you watch just the right movie or hear just the right song at just the same time that a bunch of ideas that have been swirling around in your head begin to crystallize and take form. Recently for me it was Gattaca; sometime last year it was No Maps For These Territories; and before that it was DJ Spooky's Polyphony of One. Each time, it seemed that of all the memes speeding through the collective consciousness of the media-sphere, the right two collided together and joined to form something larger.

The collision metaphor is perhaps too-cutely apropos, since tonight's movie was Crash, by Paul Haggis. While an excellent movie, I must admit that it really doesn't have very much to do with the normal content of sportsBabel. Except for that wonderful opening sequence.

"It's the sense of touch."

Yes … touch. Something I have written about quite a bit recently.

I noticed this when I was biking to work: we are losing our sense of touch, but more primally, we are losing our own internal sense of body awareness and proprioception.

*     *     *

This is what the movie Fight Club was really about. Not the fighting, but the sense of body awareness you have during and after a fight. The sense of having-been-in-fight. But instead of that messiness, we watch the movie, marvel at Brad Pitt's abs and Ed Norton's cool, and go to bed.

This is what BDSM sex is all about. One brings the body to a heightened sense of tactile awareness, before the "actual" sex begins. But instead we download the clip, mechanically produce another orgasm, and go to bed.

And in a more mainstream sense, this is what the NFL is all about. For the players, bodily immersion in the cacophony of the moment, deeply inhaling the smell of grass, of sweat, and of pain. But we lipidinals tune in via the home theatre, generate a flood of sympathetic adrenaline, and go to bed.

Put another way, we sleepwalk through a world in which all of our touch has become electronically mediated and/or remoted. This is the essence of the chrysalis digitalis. Consider:

- Aggression from a distance (the fist): remote control guns.

- Sex from a distance (the penis and the vagina): teledildonics.

- Sports from a distance (the musculoskeletal system): sports videogames.

*     *     *

I reject the term surveillance as describing the mechanism facilitating this control state — even in its contemporary usage, which admittedly encompasses more than just watching through a camera — because in practical terms, it still focuses on the surveiller — the SEEING. In doing so, it draws focus away from our beings as existing via mediated touch or without touch at all.

In reality, the control system operates as a pantactile system. There is no focal point as one finds with the eye … touch occurs everywhere. To conceptualize the control system that is currently manifest, we must first understand it in terms of (lost/mediated/omnipresent) touch — and then look for liberating possibilities within.

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  1. sportsBabel » A Conversation with Galeano: Part Four says:

    [...] I think Galeano would agree that those which occur (goals, orgasms) are increasingly mediated by technology. Date: March 15, 02006Feedback: 0 comments | Permalink: [...]

  2. sportsBabel » comma, garçon says:

    [...] actually having to submit to its intensity once again. We allow a class of worker-athletes to experience the touch of pain for us instead, which we then consume in mediated and narcotic form. We cut, sever and otherwise realign the [...]