Introduction to The Politics of Deafness, continued
The physical and linguistic exclusion of the Deaf that is built into the practices of these mental and material technologies is also intimately linked to the body of the deaf, physically as well as metaphorically. The body of the deaf has been site of surgical explorations; these have been medically legitimated voyages of discovery in search of the missing Word, the physical site of human language.

The curious obsessions of Alexander Graham Bell produced the telephone, the most enduring artifact of this long-standing conflation. Both in the mental and material domain, through those obsessions and the profits of his invention, his legacy has empowered medical experimentation--the colonial explorations of the physical bodies of the deaf--underwriting cochlear and neural implant technologies ever in search of the site of language, the unmediated experience of the word. The console cowboy jacked into the net via a direct neural connection, a cranial jack, to achieve an unmediated experience of dataspace is not fiction. This is merely the next commercial artifact being medically mined from the physical body of the deaf with U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.

The arguments made and questions raised in this part of the work are disturbing and resistant to simple solutions. They are meant to be. I accept Connolly's challenge to ask embarrassing, impertinent, upsetting, and even annoying questions. I cannot say that I necessarily like all that I describe, but the linkages with the body of the deaf, though often bitter or ironic, are unmistakable.

Finally, chapter 6 explores certain intractable problems that emerge both from the theoretical issues raised and from the practical decisions facing those who would present demands (and must confront their desire) for inclusion in the face of exclusion. One of the recurring difficulties is the question of meaning and language. Meaning may have been cut loose from its moorings, but language is still tied--although only by convention--to acoustics, a way of being that is linear and sequential. But if meaning and its expression are related, as in an expressivist view, then our concern with either spoken or written signs obscures a prior choice of modality. Sign languages, and those who use them, pose troubling questions to most of the dominant schools of language theory. But, as is made visible here, there are indeed circumstances in which language does not belong to talk.

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