Technology: Language

I am terrified of Google Glass.

Having only peripherally grasped the premise of this technology, I am terrified.

I’m pretty sure that it’s going to damage users’ retinas, cause cancer, make people bump into things while they’re walking and run over other people when they’re driving.

But that part scares me least. It’s the way it will shape our seeing, stimulate our bodies’ chemical responses to more stimuli–more, it’s how it will impact our way of thinking–soon we’ll be reduced to grunts of greeting and conversations will be replaced with google glass proximity exchanges of photographs of our latest lunches and synchronizing with friends’ pinterests–no need for words, we’ll just visual compare our passive reception of the virtual world and call it a day.

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Okay, that’s absurd. But I am terrified of Google Glass–maybe just Google in general.

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For reals–the integration of technology and the human body is always with us. From prosthetic limbs to hair braiding; clothes to synthetically grown heart valves; vitamin pills to Siri–we are mammals inextricable from our technologies.

Which makes me press, what technology is most integral, most influential, most essential to what it means to be human? My intuitive guess is that it’s language, or even more rudimentary, expressive communication–those gestures which communicate, socially, some instinctive notion of friend or foe, love or fear, amorous lunge or attack.

But the realm of gesture could be argued as a biological function less than a cognitive one, lying in the limbic and reptilian mind–or the guts–rather than the lobes.

So I begin to wonder, in the spiritual traditions of silence, stillness, and quieting the mind, in what ways has the technology of language, like all technologies, shifted the way that we interpret our bodies’ feelings. There has been much energy spent in the 20th century (and many preceding eras) exploring the function and way that language shapes us, the meaning making function of language, but I wonder, spiritually, what it looks like to listen, below the technology, to our bodies.

Might we actually know and communicate more viscerally–not to eliminate language, but to refute its supremacy and displacement of our bodies’ ways of being human together. Isn’t this why we interact with each other by crying, laughing, sharing food, grooming, nursing, hugging, biting, patting, snuggling, kicking, fucking, chasing, sitting on, elbowing, kissing, nodding, waving, scowling, nudging, and climbing.

Notably much on this list gets associated with children (or making children).

What wisdom of our bodies do we silence through over-reliance on the technology of language? Surely it is invaluable to be able to clarify, communicate nuance, and transmit complex cultural meaning.

Surely it is crippling to believe that the mode of language is the only, or supreme way of communicating what is most important to communicate between human beings.

It seems that, yes, all those gestures and motions get taken up into the cultural meaning making matrix which is woven with words–but is there something primal and human to the ┬áconnection of bodies to one another that speaks (!) to the communal nature of personhood in which particular individuals partake even across culture and time? Is it romantic or naive that I think so?

I think so.