Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Reach Out and Touch - From Chapter Two


Relationship is the core communications issue associated with the second chakra: the transponder of attraction and the center of one’s creativity. From here, one radiates the primordial drive for union embedded in our very protons and electrons, seeking on the physical plane to “reach out and touch someone.” In the spiritual domain this energy at its simplest fuels the hunger to connect with powerful nature spirits, and at a more “sophisticated” level, to merge with one’s vision of the Divine Beloved.

The quality of our inner “analog relationships” is reflected in how we use the most familiar external extension of our nervous system into the Infosphere: the telephone. A ringing telephone demands our attention not only with its sweet siren ring, promises to have a live person on the other end.



From Cyclopedia of Telephony (1919)

Indeed, a quality of intense longing permeates the social history of telephony. In 1876, the first words heard through a working telephone were that famous cry for help, “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you!” After Alexander Graham Bell, spilled battery acid on himself; so unlike the declarative, “What hath God wrought,” clicked out by Samuel F. B. Morse to announce the birth of the telegraph. Bell’s urgent plea (on a device he intended for the transmission of multiple "harmonic telegraph" messages, each carried on a different tone) - really heralded the coming technology of feelings, of want and desire: the creation of what Erik Davis calls “the ultimate animist technology ... an inert thing full of voices.”


To many, talking on the phone is virtually synonymous with love. Behavior over the phone also reflects the consequences of injury to this desire. A person with an overcompensating second chakra is often emotionally codependent, bouncing from the highs and lows on the waveform of emotional communications, needing to be connected at all times. Such a person has a hard time recognizing boundaries, and if their first chakra has been compromised, they are usually afraid of standing alone in their own psychological space. In an often-alienating urban landscape, it is not surprising to find every roof and hill topped with a cell tower. Telecom moguls may have erected them for profit, but it is the universal human need for connection and validation from the other that makes the technology inevitable and successful. As the late columnist Herbert Stein wrote, most of us say that we’re using our cellphones to keep in touch with family, friends or business associates, but could we really be calling out to be reassured us that we’re not alone? “You may think you are checking on your portfolio, but deep down you are checking on your existence.”

6 comments:

Steven said...

A great story about cellphones in the developing world is at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/13/magazine/13anthropology-t.html

Steven said...

In my book I give some examples of cellphones+GPS as a way of hearing "places tell their stories." A recent example from Germany is in "My Life as a Video Game..." in NY Times 4/9/08, p.6.

Steven said...

I was reminded once again about how a telephone call goes right to the second chakra energy (of love, family and relationship), by a sad front page story in today's [4/29/08] NY Times about how people in Mexico are receiving false kidnapping ransom requests via cellphone. "Sometimes, people are told to turn off their cellphones for an hour so the service can be repaired; then, relatives are called and told that the cellphone's owner has been kidnapped."

Steven said...

A video from the TED Conference features Jan Chipchase from Nokia talking about his field research on how people in the developing world use their cellphones. Jan is featured in the NY Times story cited in my first comment.

See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qn2NR901NMY&feature=user

Steven said...

In this week's (June 9th) New Yorker magazine, Watson's great-granddaughter (and novelist) Susan Cheever, debunks the "battery acid" story, telling us that Watson made that tale up late in his life, and that the first phone message was on a day like any other.

Steven said...

In my book I write about how the telephone takes us to "dream space," where we create the image of our lover to go along with the "whisper in the ear." New research reported by the New York Times (6/6/08)confirms this model:

"It may be, the study said, that when people talk to someone who is not present, the visual-processing parts of their brain create a mental representation of where the other person might be."

See: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/03/health/research/03brai.html