Manning, Erin. Touch as Technique

Manning, Erin. “Taking the Next Step: Touch as Technique.” Senses & Society 4.2 (2009): 211-26. Web.

To remember:

We move to touch and touch to move. Touch operates as a technique of the moving body, inciting it to direct its movement. The direction is relational, it is towards.Touching towards means igniting a relation that does not occur between subject and object, but toward the between that Simondon calls the margin of indetermination. To situate touch in the margin of indetermination of the relational “between” challenges the sensory-input model of the senses. Here, touch is not received, it is enacted. To touch is to activate relational movement-toward. (1)

That might answer to my Sedgwick sticking point about technology and touch!

Activation depends on an elsewhere that must not simply be thought of as an outside.Topologically, inside and outside are merely different perspectives of a folding-space-time. What is inside is an infolding that tendentially reaches-toward either an outfolding or an increasing minuteness of its own infolding. Without outfolding, the figure shrinks and shrinks until what is left is hardly more than the ‘nothing’ of … ‘Worlds within worlds within words” (216).

Enjoying the concept of “an elsewhere that must not simply be thought of as an outside.” Maybe because Gnarls Barkley.

Manning on Whitehead:

  • prehension vs. will (prehend is to create an opening toward worlding; not sense-specific – amodal activation that causes a qualitative change in the passage from rest to movement)
  • perceptual ‘pulling out’ (foregrounding creation of events that make up worlds)
  • ‘actual occasions’ vs. events (mode of perception not towards subject, but toward and between actual occasions)
  • there is no single location where events occur once and for all
  • there is no world that precedes experience
  • we do not simply respond to sense perceptions – we activate them as they activate us
  • no two experiences can be exactly the same because they are always made up of different prehensions leading to new events
  • when prehension links causal and sensory, it activates the sensing body in movement
  • “Reaching-toward (this can be an immanent reaching), I find I have (been) moved to touch. This displacement is not simply a sense event: it is a technique for recomposition” (217)


Perception emerges from relation (217).

Thinking about:

  • touch as technique
  • amplified touch through technology (what counts as technology?)
  • where does our skin end?
  • potentialities of prehension

Next steps: 

  • Massumi, Parables for the Virtual
  • Gilbert Simondon, Du monde d’existence des objets techniques
  • Whitehead, Symbolism
  • Whitehead, Process and Reality

2 thoughts on “Manning, Erin. Touch as Technique

  1. Pingback: performing empathies [the empathics] | {kin}aesthetic composure

  2. Pingback: Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. [Part I] | {kin}aesthetic composure

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