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Rebuilt: My Journey Back to the Hearing…
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Rebuilt: My Journey Back to the Hearing World (2005)

by Michael Chorost

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Showing 5 of 5
Short. A little superficial. The technical & medical parts were a bit over my head (or beyond my patience?) at times. The 'more human' parts were mostly focused on dating, less on friendship, hardly at all on his r'ships with his parents or colleagues. However, there was a lot that was very interesting and I was sufficiently immersed to finish in one night.

One thing a reader will learn from this is how the debate about Deaf (signing) Culture is changing, now that cochlear implants are becoming so effective they can be implanted in toddlers, and those children are then almost 'fixed.' (My oversimplification; not his.)

Another recurrent theme is the exact definition of cyborg, vs robot or Star Trek's Borg or Steve Mann's mediated reality. I'll let you read for details, but it pretty much comes down to Chorost saying that he's a cyborg because his prosthetic is not only implanted and part of him, but it's *controlling* him - it's changing the wiring of his brain.

There's some interesting philosophy, too:

A perspective that sorts everything in the world into good and evil is itself the greatest possible evil because it blinds the storyteller to the complexity and multidimensionality of the world."

When faced with such complexity, with the contradictions and paradoxes of the world and of human nature:

"One can go mad.... One can withdraw from the search for knowledge into the false safety of dogma. Or one can choose to see the multivalence of the universe as an invitation to explore and play."

ETA: For a kid's perspective of the topic, check out the graphic memoir [b:El Deafo|20701984|El Deafo|Cece Bell|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1408469577s/20701984.jpg|40021855]. Great book; almost made me sniffle it was so heartwarming, funny, True, etc.
" ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
This is the treadmill book (like Petra X's handbag book).

Michael Chorost, already partially deaf, suddenly went completely deaf. More than just a memoir of this experience of deafness and acquiring a cochlear implant, Rebuilt's narrative is intertwined with Chorost's thoughts and speculations about becoming a cyborg (that is, a human with "software that makes if-then-else decisions and acts on the body to carry them out" (p. 40). This is a good book to read with Donna Haraway's "A Cyborg Manifesto," which Chorost references extensively, and Myron Uhlberg's [b:Hands of My Father: A Hearing Boy, His Deaf Parents, and the Language of Love|3899622|Hands of My Father A Hearing Boy, His Deaf Parents, and the Language of Love|Myron Uhlberg|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1223317522s/3899622.jpg|3944930].

Chorost's musings can sometimes be tiring. Put the book down and return to it later--it's worth following him through the whole thought, but sometimes his style can be wearing as he delves into semiotics and representation.

Note to Houghton Mifflin: What's wrong with this statement? "...I would find an oak seed in the yard, break its green whirlybird wings in half, and paste the sap-sticky center on my nose...." (p. 32). Clearly, copy editing is a lost art. ( )
  OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
The author, hard of hearing all his life, suddenly went completely deaf in 2001 at the age of thirty-six. Shortly afterward, he was fitted with a cochlear implant. In this book, published four years later, he offers up his thoughts, feelings, and philosophical musings on the nature of life with a bionic ear, and he makes every single one of those things absolutely fascinating. Also fascinating is the technology itself, which Chorost explains very clearly and very well, simultaneously conveying a sense of how utterly amazing it is that human beings can create devices like this and of how frustratingly limited those devices still are. Even more interesting, though, are his personal responses. Chorost has a considerable degree of expertise with computers, but greatly mixed feelings about them, so that the idea of having one implanted inside him both piques his curiosity and badly freaks him out, and he writes about both these reactions with real emotional honesty. From there, he goes on to intelligent, thought-provoking and sometimes surprisingly moving reflections on the nature of perception, the nature of humanity, and the ways in which technology can both diminish and enrich our lives. He's an excellent, extremely vivid writer with a knack for coming up with brilliant, perfectly apt metaphors, and I'd call this non-fiction writing at something very much like its best. ( )
  bragan | Jun 28, 2009 |
This would be a very interesting book for anyone who is interested in cochlear implants (CI)--for either someone planning on undergoing the process; or someone who just wants to know more about what it's all about. Chorost covers the technical aspect very well--analogizing the CI as being "bionic" or cyborg-like. Also well-written is his personal perspective of what it is like being deaf/hard of hearing. This book would not have universal appeal for everyone (but what book does?); but as I said definitely for anyone who is interested in the topic. ( )
  ValerieAndBooks | Dec 5, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0618378294, Hardcover)

Michael Chorost became a cyborg on October 1, 2001, the day his new ear was booted up. Born hard of hearing in 1964, he went completely deaf in his thirties. Rather than live in silence, he chose to have a computer surgically embedded in his skull to artificially restore his hearing.

This is the story of Chorost’s journey -- from deafness to hearing, from human to cyborg -- and how it transformed him. The melding of silicon and flesh has long been the stuff of science fiction. But as Chorost reveals in this witty, poignant, and illuminating memoir, fantasy is now giving way to reality.

Chorost found his new body mystifyingly mechanical: kitchen magnets stuck to his head, and he could plug himself directly into a CD player. His hearing was routinely upgraded with new software. All this forced him to confront complex questions about humans in the machine age: When the senses become programmable, can we trust what they tell us about the world? Will cochlear implants destroy the signing deaf community? And above all, are cyborgs still human?

A brilliant dispatch from the technological frontier, Rebuilt is also an ode to sound. Whether Chorost is adjusting his software in a desperate attempt to make the world sound "right" again, exploring the neurobiology of the ear, or reflecting on the simple pleasure of his mother’s voice, he invites us to think about what we hear -- and how we experience the world -- in an altogether new way.

Brimming with insight and written with dry, self-deprecating humor, this quirky coming-of-age story unveils, in a way no other book has, the magnificent possibilities of a new technological era.

For more information about Michael Chorost and Rebuilt, visit http://www.rebuilt-thebook.com.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:38 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Michael Chorost became a cyborg the day his new ear was booted up. Born hard of hearing, he went completely deaf in his thirties. Rather than live in silence, he chose to have a computer surgically embedded in his skull to restore his hearing. This is the story of Chorost's journey--from deafness to hearing, from human to cyborg--and how it transformed him. The melding of silicon and flesh has long been the stuff of science fiction, but as Chorost reveals in this memoir, fantasy is now giving way to reality. He found his new body mystifyingly mechanical: he could plug himself directly into a CD player; his hearing was routinely upgraded with new software. All this forced him to confront complex questions about humans in the machine age: When the senses become programmable, can we trust what they tell us about the world? --From publisher description.… (more)

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