The topics this week have something to do with tactility (the sense of touch) and proprioception, or the way we perceive our bodies in the world. Your response should be between 300 and 600 words.
1. Roland Barthes published “Soap Powders and Detergents,” along with the other essays in Mythologies (1957), in the monthly magazine Les Lettres nouvelles (New Letters). Describe someone who seems to be engaged in a comparable practice of observation and “de-mythologizing.” It doesn’t have to be a writer in the traditional sense. Explain how his or her work resembles or differs from Barthes’s.
2. According to Barthes, foaming, burning, and depth are tactile metaphors whose meanings are mostly unconscious and culturally specific. Describe another feeling, texture, or sensation that carries “mythical” meanings in our culture(s). Why is it important for us to recognize this metaphor/myth? Feel free to imitate Barthes. This option is the written counterpart to the optional “Tactile Object” presentation on Friday and Monday.
3. Write a review of one of the objects Sara Hendren profiles on her adaptive-design blog, Abler. (Scroll down to page 3 or earlier for more posts devoted to specific objects.) Do you like the way it looks? How do you think it would feel? Would you want to use it on a regular basis? What are the object’s practical benefits and shortfalls (e.g., for helping someone get around)? What might be its less tangible effects (e.g., changing the way we perceive something)?