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Reflection 3: Opposite Poles, Sensing the World Differently October 17, 2011

Posted by HSDC in Uncategorized.

It is difficult, quite difficult to imagine living life without the ability to see or hear, at least for me personally. I have always had this fear of going blind and/or deaf, for me it seemed as if your life would come to an end, you would no longer experience the world for what it is. However that’s where the articles for this week interject, “experiencing the world for what it is” is simply that, experience, the article gave great insight into how those who sense the world differently interact and engage in order to create their own forms of embodiment. I have always held the assumption that people who are blind or deaf are in a constant state of lack, lacking what “normal” people have and they do not, however the articles explain that is not the case, people who are deaf and/or blind create their own individual forms of alternative embodiment, these types of embodiment are difficult for non blind/deaf to understand or even appreciate (as was my case).

The “Sound Deaf studies” article explores many different forms of perception for the deaf, including how they may be deaf in other ways then just with their ears. The article discusses how sound cross’s the barrier to tactility by engaging senses of touch, because sound is simply a series of vibrations and thus a form of mediation. Not only that this extra prevalence for the deaf to be more acute of senses of vibrations allows for them an alternate sensorium experience, as the waves and sign conference showed  “It may produce shared experience, but it does not therefore produce identical experience; even within “one” individual, sense ratios and relations may shift and mix synesthetically”( Friedner and Helmreich 6). I found it interesting that the amplification of other senses along with synesthetic effects helps to elimate the presumption that deaf people are “all the time people of the eye”( Friedner and Helmreich 7). However, I may have now have a greater understanding of the communal bounds that deaf people share, along with the unique forms of embodiment deaf causes , I still find myself unable to understand why people would object to cochlear implants, I find that being able to gain the senses of hearing as very alluring, I personally would never be able to object if I were deaf, however that may just be an outsider looking in opinion.


Moreover in the second article which discussed how the blind see I was able to gain great appreciation for the many different ways in which the blind are able to create the world around them. It is amazing how the blind are able to so vividly create these mental worlds “He speaks of how the sound of rain, never before accorded much attention, can now delineate a whole landscape for him”( Sachs 2003). This is fascinating because for me, someone with the ability, it is very difficult to create a mental image of anything accurately. For example after reading the article I tried to listen to the rain in my backyard, and although it sounded soothing I was unable to create any sort of image of my backyard even though I knew exactly what it looked like. It maybe a learned skill but I find it difficult to imagine anything vividly, my recollection of York University, my street, anything. I know what each place looks like yet in my mind I am only able to create a very basic dull recreation. This just goes to show how the mind learns to ignore sensory input when we become  accustom to them, similar to what Jeff Warren stated about trees and forests. How when we become so used to something that it beings to be blocked out, the saying “In one ear and right out the other” can be applied in this context, but instead referring to all the senses. As Sach’s states “one can no longer say of one’s mental landscapes what is visual, what is auditory, what is image, what is language, what is intellectual, what is emotional–they are all fused together and imbued with our own individual perspectives and values”(2003).


Works cited:

Stefan H. and M. Friedner (manuscript) “Sound Studies Meets Deaf studies”

Sacks, Oliver. “THE MIND’S EYE.” The New Yorker 28 July 2003: 048. Canadian Periodicals Index Quarterly. Web. 17 Oct. 2011.






















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