The Prosthetic Imagination: Enabling and Disabling the Prosthesis Trope – S. Lochlann Jain
by Masato SHODA
S. Lochlann Jain’s is a professor in the Anthropology Department at Stanford University, where she teaches medical and legal anthropology. Her research is primarily concerned with the ways in which stories get told about injuries, from car crashes to lung cancer, from mountain climbing deaths to space shuttle explosions. Figuring out the political and social significance of these stories has led her to the study of medicine, law, product design, medical error, and histories of engineering, regulation, corporations, and advertising.
This article critically examines how prostheses have been used in recent theories to understand the relationship between humans and technology. Analyzing the trope from a number of angles, including disability, factory labor practices, mass production, and marketing, the author scrutinizes ways in which technologies are simultaneously wounding and enabling in ways for which the prosthesis trope cannot account.
Prosthesis meant “replacement of a missing part of the body with an artificial one” as a term of medical sense until 1704. The author argued that there we could find another meaning that would go far beyond its medical definition “technology as prosthesis” describing with the example that Freud was simultaneously enabled and wounded by a technology. This example illustrates the contradiction of embodiment of faulty technology and extreme optimism about technology.
As she mentions, referencing Hegel’s and Marx’s opinions, one’s humanity comes into reality when working with the real world, one is constituted by interaction with one’s physical surroundings. She thinks prostheses are discursive frameworks as well as material artifacts which have richly intertwined axes of identity: social, physical, and technology.
One influential Prosthetic theory that Lochlann introduced is “Prosthetic Theory: The Disciplining of Architecture.” Lochlann refers to Wigley’s idea as a symbol of the specific reading of the prosthesis in the traditional mind-body dualism, of the ideas of Lou Andreas Salome and Freud. There Wigley claims that prostheses are introduced when there is a defect or deficiency in the body, and something that blur one’s identity at the end. The prosthesis restructures the body and changes its boundaries, claiming that the body itself eventually becomes an artifact. When natural reinforcement is assumed, the body and the prosthesis are already naturalized rather than being understood as socially constructed. It is claimed that the interface between the body and the prosthesis is not a one-way intervention and that the boundary is blurred.
On top of that, Lochlann concluded that we would be a productive and consumptive agent at the turn of twenty-first-century capitalism. And also, she does not mean to draw and maintain clear boundaries between some of the natural, organic “body” and various forms of the prosthesis, but rather, she means highlighting the material differences of absences.
Critics on Lochlann’s text
Judging from her allegations, if a prosthesis exists as a blur between the body and the object, an object is recognized as a body or a body as an object, Superhuman will be born as this title says. It is also possible that the discriminatory bond between the healthy and the disabled will disappear.
I would like to mention about superhuman. Firstly, Italo Svevo have insisted that the difference between people and animals is that humans are imperfect and haveroom for change, and people with such characteristics are called “unfinished humans.” According to the “life crash”, the organisms have made their own evolution by compensating for the missing ability for self-preservation. The completion of evolution means being completed as a living thing. In the evolutionary myths that appear in the journal of Svevo, against the human being who wants to be able to live anywhere in the land as the king of animals, God says, “It would be unfair to be unfair, but you cannot do it. But your body Give him a desire to run, swim, and try to find a way to fly. ” As a result, it is possible to adapt to the environment without having to choose one survival method like an animal and make the body evolve accordingly. In order to compensate for their own weaknesses, humans coexist with mammoths and use something stronger than their own. For humans, others are also devices that compensate for their own abilities, which seems to be the origin of prostheses.
The ideal and desire swirl in the inner side, and it was conceived as a prosthetic to create a scientific civilization. As a result, in today’s society it is a victim of the consumer society in order to satisfy its own needs, as Lochlann mentioned. Is there an identity for a person who is covered with a prosthesis both mentally and physically? I feel that it is worthwhile to consider the life given by the parents, the mind and the body, and the process of trying to become a better human being even if it is not perfect. In today’s consumer society, where things are easy to obtain, I think it is important to have the power to try to get rid of it by itself. Human beings are imperfect creatures, and I try to be able to acquire higher abilities, but I know that I cannot complete perfection with any effort, so I think that it is not a problem to remain imperfect. I want to be an imperfect human who can love me.Humans live by supporting each other. Identity is created by relativizing with others. It is good to rely on objects, but I think that living in support of each other is an important thing that leads to an essential solution in living in this world.
- Mark Wigley, “Prosthetic Theory: The Disciplining of Architecture”, 1991, https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/3171122.pdf?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
- Sawa Ishii, “Uno studio sulla mancanza e sulla protesi in Una burla riuscita di Italo Svevo(Articles)”, 2013, https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/41885467.pdf