[ORIGINALLY POSTED ON FORMSPRING]
Yeah, so first of all, sorry for waiting for 3 months to get to this one. I hope that my answer is everything you had hoped it would be and more.
Right... so, my first instinct is to go with the abandoning of sensations that I can deal with, or at least mentally or emotionally simulate, by putting my memory to work. For instance, I could probably go with losing Smell first. This is tough, because smell is a powerful and unpredictable sense that has the ability to bring me pack to very specific moments in time... the smell of my week in Cancun is very intense... for whatever reason, Cancun is always what I think of first... but the smell is definitely not hard to reproduce... spilled & drying beer, sweat, bodily fluids, and all the wrong perfumes and colognes clashing = not what I'd call a pleasant smell, but it brings up fond memories that I could just as easily recall from my pictures. DOWNSIDE: I'll really miss personal smells... Mom's classic perfume, for instance.
Okay, second to go: Taste. I probably won't be the first to admit that food is, you know, good for you, but I'm wild foodie and I've been such a picky eater that my nutrition's probably suffered because of it (hooray for vitamins). Doing away with Taste could only help in the health arena as I'd be eating for sustenance and not for pleasure. This could also mean an exciting foray into the world of eating gross things for money. Okay, you know what? I'm changing my mind and losing Taste to begin with. I don't have too many memories tied to Taste anyway. If you're paying attention, Taste, then Smell.
This is where things get a bit more challenging... between Sight, Hearing and Touch, I think I'd opt to lose Sight next. Even though there are some impressive strides in technology that can tie Taste and Sight together, I can ignore that factor because A) I've already lost Sight, B) I assume that the point of this exercise is to assume that the senses are gone regardless of the advancement of tech and medicine and C) there are plenty of blind folks doing amazing things out there in the world. I'm sure I'd get a handle on it, too. Is it a bit of a bummer that I'll never "see" my newborn's face or a pod of whales leaping out of the sea in Arctic waters, but hey, there's a good chance that I'll get realllllly good at sculpting, like the girl from the Lionel Richie video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDZcqBgCS74 ...toward the end, if you're impatient).
Next gone... hmm, Touch. Touch is tricky because there's the real practical, real-life side of Touch, necessary when working with a musical instrument or delicate origami or a baby animal, and then there's the neurological side of touch that tells me that I'm in pain because my ass is on fire. Sports philosophy aside, pain is a biological damage report. So... I'd hate to lose that. Without Touch, I guess I'd need injuries to be horribly grievous so that I could tell that I was close to being "not alive". But then there's this interesting psychological side of Touch... how much mental fortuity does it take to break through the absence of functioning neuroreceptors to allow me to be capable of enjoying a simple hug? A kiss and beyond? Is it even possible? I've had a numb face from local anesthesia before, and numb legs from sitting cross-legged for too long, but what is full-body numbness like? Is the absence of Touch like that at all? However it plays out, I want to be left with my ears.
Audition, unlike most of the other senses, is a sense that one can really get a lot mileage out of. I say this because there's an awful lot in this world that makes noise, and generally speaking, noise is cheap and easily reproduced, but noise is precious. What do we obsess over in the early life our children? Their first word. It really makes them human to us (which is why people are weirded out and fascinated by feral jungle kids). What tells us that our car is acting up? Well, the fact that instead of revving up and running smoothly, it wheezes and belts wail and something "doesn't quite sound right". What allows one audiobook narrator to deliver a line and another audiobook narrator to deliver a line convincingly to elicit an emotional response from the listener? Vocal inflection! Noise is such an information-rich medium that's taken for granted... and I'm not just making that point under the assumption that it's the last form of information available to me in this hypothetical situation. Noise ---> Sound ---> Music. To be terribly, Bjorky, or at least Bjork as portrayed on Saturday Night Live, everything is music. I wouldn't want to live in a world without.Play