To be "authentic" in conjunction with being an arm amputee and prosthetic arms?

Nothing kills authenticity like ubiquity. Gilmore JH, Pine II, BJ (2007) Authenticity - what consumers really want. Harvard Business School Press, Boston Massachusetts, USA.

"I want people to let go of their 'fake arms'; to disarm their limits." - "When you are authentic with yourself and others, you life yourself up to new levels of clarity, truth, and purpose." Jessica Cox,

Regarding authenticity, “each one of us has his/her own way of realizing our humanity, and that it is important to find and live out one’s own, as against surrendering conformity with a model imposed on us from outside” (475). [link]

Three axioms of authenticity: Axiom 1. If you are authentic, then you don't have to say you're authentic. Axiom 2. If you say you're authentic, you better be authentic. Axiom 3. It's easier to be authentic if you don't say you're authentic. Gilmore JH, Pine II, BJ (2007) Authenticity - what consumers really want. Harvard Business School Press, Boston Massachusetts, USA.

The call to let go of fake arms is, itself, a fake call to arms. It is as hollow and ultra modern as the call for authenticity as such, as it now requires all to submit our visions towards its cause. However, how far does this theater go? What does it comprise?


Because, these days, it has become widely "hip" to "be authentic". The common battle cry is "be authentic!". As a social trend, we are caught in a Catch 22 of modern times: the requirement can not be fulfilled. The direness of the predicament effortlessly develops from the above quotes. We will see that that societal demand, "everyone now be authentic", is every bit as fascinating and difficult as if you yell at someone "be spontaneous!". Because the actual problem with this is a logical one: Rene Descartes walks into a bar, after which the bar tender asks him "did you order the beer?" and he replies "I think not" and *poof* disappears.

With a very similar rational explanation, the current quest for authenticity is not one at the same time. It is as non existent as it is non justifiable, non rooted, and senseless. Also it is totally impossible to conduct.

What is authenticity?

In a nutshell, the term experienced a cultural high throughout the 50s but it started to become obsolete in the late nineties. It has since then been replaced with a simulacra version using the same spelling, but it now stands for a societal double bind error (or, alternatively, it may refer to a non abandoned adherence to the old 50s term the same way we drive an old Fords Mustang: as kitsch, or as part of a biography of a very, very old person). In the 50s, you could "be authentic" just by sitting in a bus and smoking a cigar. Now, that is not possible any more.

Authenticity is described as being true to one's own personality despite, if not against external pressures. With the modern societal call for general authenticity, pressure is on to withstand exactly that pressure. Between empty implosion and the total logical annihilation of content, this opens door to all kinds of developments no one can understand, and hence, control or govern. This hits hard as at the same time, values are shifted from a pragmatic object oriented real world - where at least some constraints exist - to a symbol world, where literally anything goes but where failure is fast to be achieved in a total and all encompassing fashion. So if ever one wants to nail victories within the modern symbol driven world using "authenticity" as the winner's metaphor, one better get the term really right.


A dead giveaway for the scope of the problem is society's current attempt to impose pressure on everyone to "be authentic", which, above all, means to "withstand pressures" and "be the true oneself". At the same time, the increasingly symbolic nature of what there is to achieve in an increasingly globalized world also unifies experiences.

What is involved in the "capacity to be authentic"?

In its own strange way, authenticity requires external pressures in order to establish or unfold itself [link].


This has a range of corollaries.

  • If there is a vacuum, if there are no rigid societal values or at least systematic interpersonal repressions, then authenticity cannot thrive or blossom.
  • Secondly, it is clear from the outset that with that, a necessary degree of strain, effort, work, resistance if not suffering is inherent to living and representing authenticity through the way authenticity is defined. If it does not wiggle, scream and kick, if it does not withstand, it is not authenticity. If it is not upheld and defended against pressures to conform, it is not authenticity. Conversely, you totally give up being authentic once you conform to the orders of others, once you do what others told you to do, and once you follow mainstream or societal pressures.
  • There are people that simply do not manage being authentic because being authentic inherently requires the expression of an effort, and if one cannot deliver that effort one cannot be authentic.
  • It is thus logical that having to be authentic, by definition alone, will overwhelm anyone that cannot withstand, that cannot defy external pressures or expectations. Only that nowadays and in a rather weird twist of fate, being authentic is one of these pressures.
  • People now see their ability to "be authentic" lost once they see their capacity to "object", to "withstand", to "reject", dwindle. All the while, they neglect the fact that their capacity to "be authentic" also hinges on far less obvious aspects - as said above. It thus is pointless to worry about the lost ability to "withstand pressures" if there are no pressures, or, if the whole "authenticity" thing is in itself so contradictory that it is also, forcedly, meaningless. If one loses the ability to say "guradakickel" it is not nearly as bad as losing the ability to say "hello I am in need of food"; if one loses the ability to create entirely nonsensical shapes from clay it is not nearly as bad as losing the ability to, say, read the newspaper, or, talk to a friend, or, go to a museum, for example. So if one loses the ability to non-sensically wear a particular brand of jeans, possibly that is not a great value that is lost.

So once you as much as try to conform to this new age requirement of "being authentic", you lost that race already in the starting blocks.

Up to maybe one or two decades ago, authenticity still existed as "sign of life" that was exemplified, individually and with great resistance, versus a society that had more rigid and unified ideas. Back then, one could at least develop an attitude or activities - so the leftist 68 generation was born and justified by what surrounded it. Great example for "authentic" lives contain that of Hunter S. Thompson, for example.

He ended his life almost too late, cultural split seconds into the new age with "everyone be authentic" really kicking in.

Taking a bad turn into wickedness

So, society today is totally wicked. "To self optimize" - the primal call for action - constitutes a socially abundant, publicly carried and expressed behavioral norm. It is the de-facto standard these days. You optimize by both optimizing and non-optimizing, at once, and, not. However, society these days comes without a manual, so you better wiggle your way through the jungle of societal demands yourself.

There is indirect and direct pressure to conform to the goal of self optimization, and "be authentic" is definitely one requirement. "Be fit" is another one. There are more, and they seem to contain some sort of priority over each other. Let us examine these side by side to see what's up!

Example: be fit!

Fitness or physical endurance, power and coordination are easy to understand and - at least in theory - easy to comply with: "one must" exercise. It has absolute symbolic value and cannot be omitted.


Exercise itself has become a transformative and transcendent act, as it transforms also guilt, bereavement (amputees that "exorcise" also "overcome", or so the mantra goes), it assumedly transforms suffering, pain and disfigurement. One is disabled "but" one makes up for it by applying effort. One has had a bad day at the office "but" one has won a squash game. Or at least one has given it one's best shot.

Fitness may require an internal or external drill instructor, it requires effort and one overcomes. Exercising becomes exorcising. The public and individual front unifies against the inner-individual internal resistance, the ultimate obstacle, the inner lazy dog. There, we can all be united without running up too many contradictions.


The imagery required to train, to exercise and to build stamina is easy to envisage. One can conform, quite possibly, so there is little in terms of valid excuses. To be physically fit is one of the great aspects of today's societal changes that we see. Obviously, older age benefits greatly from moderate and sensible physical activity, as it has the capacity to reduce bone pain, reduce the risk or impact of falls, and help living self sufficiently.

Now, since fitness was so easy to understand and accomplish, meet today's society's new trick: rhetorical fallacies. Just because "be fit" works, not every other command or commandment also works along the simple thoughts of a drill instructor.


Example: be authentic!

Authenticity, to be authentic, is an urge that is impossible to conform to, particularly once it becomes an overly communicated external pressure.

Requiring everyone else to be authentic leaves no wiggle room. In order for the authenticity concept to actually work, it can only (and exclusively) come from deep inside - not from externally applied expectations. In fact, external pressure must require one to conform (only) in one direction - otherwise, one cannot quite possibly draw the authenticity card to explain what it is when one wiggles.

Imagine a time when wearing dress pants was what everyone was supposed to wear. Back in these days, wearing jeans was seen as "the" rebel move, and when a few people wore jeans they came across as totally "authentic" (even though that act represented conformance to externally defined standards already then). Nowadays one can even buy (mass produced) cars colored "rebel blue". Nowadays, everyone and their grandmother wears jeans, everyone is individual and thus, as everyone assumes, "effortlessly authentic". Sure, the "really truly authentic jeans" cost 10 times as much, but really you can get yours online from the far east (as you should) and join in with everyone being "authentic". Jeans are the ultimate expression of everyone wanting to conform in "being Momma's favorite rebel". Once being a rebel is the norm, however, the concept simply collapses.


As an example, smoking cigarettes is usually carried with the grave air of authenticity. Interestingly, if you smoke cigarettes, you are one of millions of lemmings that supports a billion dollar industry that is geared solely towards making and keeping victims, eh, customers addicted, hooked and smoking. External pressure is so on that not a single bubble of authenticity can emerge from that, logically, were one to examine the term "authenticity" under the smokers' premise. So, no you are neither a cowboy, nor free.


The battle cry "be authentic!" kills the very notion of ever getting there. It is similar to someone firing a big stink bomb in the middle of the party room - at once ruining it for everybody and irreparably so. It just may take a moment of reflection to realize that. The moment someone asks you to be authentic they exert external pressure on you for you to conform to the expectation to stand up to external pressures. It is so totally absurd, they might just as well just sing "turaduri pariduri gaugi diggel" (just to make an example) and be just about as sensible.

Societal double binds

If a race or competition has one measurable goal, you can for it, and you may stand a chance to win if you are good or lucky (or both). If a race has two conflicting goals, you really risk losing no matter what. This is important, as ultimately, very modern society has proven to apply conflicting goals in the form of double binds.

Because really and on a more distant level of observation and interpretation, what society tells us by saying "be authentic" is that they are interested in double binds. They are interested in seeing you wiggle when faced with a dilemma.

And that is the moment when I am not going to try to be "authentic", but, when I will try to find other double binds, and, possibly, a cause for that. I am also becoming interested in just how constructive it may be to accept (and give in) to demands of people that very obviously do not know what they want.

Worse - rather than just providing a wicked double bind by requiring us to "be authentic", members of society now implicitly if not explicitly require, voice requirement of, demand a whole range or battery of behaviors and attitudes - at once.

Societal double binds: arm amputees

As arm amputee, were one to go to the depths of societal reactions, one will end up being totally bewildered to say the least - facing all the high tech, all the gadgets, all the calls for not using fake arms after all, in its glorious but argumentatively helpless entirety.


Without surprise we have no lobby to look out for us. Of course these problems arise for everyone these days, but these problems are particularly difficult for people with this type of handicap.

  • The arm amputee has to simultaneously not follow a number of widely ranging if not contradictory requirements in order to be authentic. As that is how authenticity works (explained above).
  • The arm amputee has to simultaneously follow a number of widely ranging if not contradictory requirements in order to be accepted by society.  Society reacts negatively towards those that reject societal demands, so if you are after society nodding you off as "good amputee", you better listen up and follow.
  • The arm amputee has to be authentic in order to be comply with society's most modern demands and thus in order to be accepted by society.

This exemplifies the way society or its members are really torn.

For one, they have no idea how they want us to l0ok like. They are totally clueless.

  • They want us to show the stump, to "be authentic" by wearing it out naked. While it is then already an act of (implicitly) following orders if one does so (and stays away from wearing "fake arms") it is also an act of orthopedic dumbness. After all, a prosthetic arm can provide a good counterweight to balance out asymmetry and a great tool to prevent overuse of the other arm if built and used right.
  • They want us to not be visible as the disabled people that we are, as it might (and does) embarrass them.
  • They then hire bioethicists to tell us to be "critical" about "enhancement" - and by the examples they choose, we know they are just afraid an amputee with a prosthetic springy leg jumps further than a non disabled athlete. While it appears totally idiotic to base whole arguments on single athlete examples, it shows just how deep the fear of being overtaken by an amputee runs. The depth of that fear is so massive, it pays salaries that fill libraries with hollow bla. That in itself also denies the fact that also I went there and (literally single handedly) beat some swimmers in a non disabled world championship. Not all of them, hell no, but a number of them. With that, I think we can safely check mark that subject off the list too, both on a symbolic and pragmatic level [link].

Secondly, society has no idea how much we may cost insurances or society, how much we do cost to society, and how that links to the choice of prosthesis.

  • They want us to appreciate how much society does "for amputees" by wearing absolutely new and ground breaking high tech prostheses. These are expensive and definitely not what one would call really functional.
  • They want us to not cost much, which leaves only sturdy proven technology such as body powered hooks or passive / cosmetic arms.
  • They want us to be functional, work, and so on. That is only possible with functional prostheses. A prosthetic built for a particular purpose, however, may be functional for that purpose, but is then is just that.
  • Bioethicists also verbally explicity oppose actually functional solutions [link].

This is most interesting as it shows just how contorted the whole exercise has become. Contradiction is easy compared to that Gordic knot!

Then, they want us to be out in public, and not, simultaneously.

  • Being out there, in public, is bad because it shows how much we want attention, how extroverted we really are, and how weird we are demonstrating our damaged bodies in public.
  • Staying at home, hiding oneself, from public, is bad as it shows how repressed, how anxious, how depressed we may be.

They want us to operate heavy and dangerous machinery and not.

  • We should operate heavy and dangerous machinery because like nothing else, an amputee driving a heavy army tank shows how valuable to society he is. It also shows how mentally strong, how much "of an inspiration" he is.
  • We must not operate heavy or dangerous machinery - because what if something goes wrong! How much better to act as if but not get real. Imitating, acting and pretending has a lot going for it under this aspect.

They want us to compete in sports, and, they really want us not to.

  • When I compete in sports, I risk to overtake or win over a non disabled athlete. That is bad. Even when I am slower they cannot quite possibly be proud to perform better than a handicapped person. At any rate a number of these people ends up feeling bad. I had numerous individuals approach me and encourage me to stay away from swimming with and competing against non handicapped swimmers for that exact reason.
  • When I do not compete in sports, that is bad too, because that may express depression, inability, or worse, laziness - and we definitely cannot have laziness. Society also commands everyone to "be fit".

We are also unsure whether to write a book about "surviving" our "misfortunes" which requires us to be (or even makes us) "strong". Usually however, the people that "just want to watch" (i.e., when I brush my teeth, or whatever) because they find it "inspirational" just want to stare.

  • Among amputees, everyone and their grandmother writes "survivalist" type books. Some contain totally surprising insights, others are just biographies. After all, we may not learn a lot from these, as an effort to answer specific questions is typically not being made. If anything, they cater to a specific niche market. If anything, that is money lying around on the street.
  • Also, not writing a book is good, because it avoids repeating a common stereotypical behavior. I am still not sure whether someone else can learn something from the fact that "surviving" an amputation per se simply consists in waiting it out, then going about things matter of factually. My guess is, must be that niche market thing. It is certainly seen as an act of defying weirdos and thus utter authenticity to not write that "empowerment" book. In my experience, "surviving" an amputation is mostly an exercise in waiting. And maybe in some engineering and using one's brain, too.

Arm amputees are the most over-constrained group also with regard to the ethics of their behavior regarding our disability.

  • Bioethicists nowadays extend their influence to health insurances where they impact thinking patterns and decision making [link]. More concisely, they seem to prevent these to be pragmatical. While it is laudable to succeed in getting something that sometimes is as stubborn and obnoxious as health insurances to deviate from its painfully pragmatic course, there is a degree of academic silliness that amounts to the level of punch and judy. It is both tragic and extremely funny. And as we all know, in chaos there is chance, and that then again is a thing an insurance might not like simply because they build different world views. So amputees act unethically by obtaining surgery for an arm stump to lessen the bad gripping performance (read Krukenberg article).
  • And we would also, at the very same time, be unethical by obtaining an expensive high prosthesis because that surely is neither efficient nor economical, hence clearly conflicting with social law in Switzerland (which, however, seems to be no concern to bioethicists, for some reason; which is interesting as it clearly ignores the totally tangible Voight Kampff test [link]).
  • But by embodying the doll and puppet character of representing our android shape in just about all they do, their solutions tend to make us appear "more human" both to robotic and bioethicist researchers, and maybe they really just fast track some unreflected eurocentristic anthropormism quite possibly as a jerk reflex, as an immediate kick back, so to say - but with it, that makes us quite obviously "less human" without their gadgetry and puppetry? Quite obviously so. So our non-humane-ness is what both motivates these researchers and what makes it impossible for them to regard our testimony, our accounts, and our tales of stumps, liners, sockets and prosthetic issues seriously. Which renders their work, by and large, with only a few exceptions, rather useless for any declared purpose. Because ultimately they fail, at once, both appearance test [link] and Voight Kampff test [link], piling up evidence for their agendas to have us parade as monsters (such as here [link]), and against being human, with little left that would be nice to say - but now, I throw this contradiction down as a gauntlet to these mighty brains, so they can flesh that one out in more detail ; )
  • Logically, we are doing something bad by wearing prosthetic hooks because then we are neither an authentic human being (look wise, appearance wise), but follow stereotypes that are commonly regarded as bad, and also, everyday experience shows us that this view affects arm amputees rather effectively (hook link). Of all people denigrating hook devices, robotic researchers perpetuate that stereotype just as much if not in particular [link].
  • And by not at all wearing the prosthesis we cater to the visual audience of weirdos, and we are "totally authentic" and "an inspiration" to everyone that just wanted to stare anyway. At the same time, we are not authentically human because we look and are anatomically "incomplete".
  • A last resort was getting a tattoo on the stump. There are some great examples for that, but if one does not wear a prosthetic and in this day and age, a tattoo is as much a requirement as it is an overused cliche.

If you extend this list with further examples, there is (logically) no authenticity to be found since for any act that we do, there is a pre-existing external societal order, expectation, an already expressed urge.

Whatever I do regarding my prosthetic arm or amputated arm can be and will be seen as giving in to some marching order that already exists. The element of "withstanding external pressures" that is an identifying criterium for authenticity thus cannot be used safely for any given instance.


Anything we do can be sorted to a previous explicitly made expression, and if we act out laziness and sportsmanship at once that also has been done before and now is expected of us.

In a way, the whole point of authenticity was to withstand pressures but when pressures come from all sides, any act (also) signifies "giving in".

This is even more the case with general societal double binds.

Societal double binds extending to widely ranging requirements one at once has to oblige to

At once, we have to comply with conflicting requirements in various domains.

Reflection / immediacy / spontaneity: you have to be in line with all of these here, at once.

  • Independence of arm amputees in particular and people in general is highly regarded. We do as we please, and we therefore do not think before we act. We are impulsive, instantaneous, spontaneous, and we independently deliver helicopter flights, piano sonatas and degree 8 rock climbings. Obviously.
  • At the very same time, we plan everything and all. We have online calendars, shared calendars, Facebook events, control systems that are trained and studied and well planned, and nothing is left to chance. Surprises are reduced to "pleasant" ones and that becomes increasingly difficult to achieve, and as disappointments become increasingly hard for people to manage, pre-planning has become a way of life.

Equipment: both no equipment at all, and total equipment, is at once needed at all times.

  • Really important people nowadays do not even carry a cell phone any more. If anything, another person carrying a phone will act as their "messenger". That really is how far it has come. Real people defend themselves against an army of attackers bare handedly.
  • Really important people, at the very same time, command the most relevant gadgets, tools, parts and whatnot.

It really goes on. The list of societal double binds is endless.

It is very important to be, at once, both totally fit and at the same time not working out for it to happen. It is very important to both be against the state to regulate anything (far right view) and, have the always too lazy state interfere with anything and everything that seems to be going "wrong"- The state, for example, is expected to impede immigration of what is perceived to be too many foreigners while the state is also expected to keep running a great economy with many enterprises that employ just such foreigners. There are too many students of philosophy [link] in the eyes of some political party, there are too many people faking disability which costs them too much money and so on - but to step up and weed out the many historians that wreck ship all the time, to step up and build a Swiss self sufficient really well functioning prosthetic hand and arms industry, that is not what they do.

However, a society that has an all encompassing quest for intractable issues going on a scale that obtains defining proportions, that will invariably suffocate by its own terms. It will not know who is locked in with whom, there is no separation of drill instructor and recruit any more. No clear pattern is readily visible and you are left on your own to make sense of shifting visuals.


Can Facebook be authentic?

Obviously, no.

Facebook is almost spelt correctly, it should really be called "Fakebook".

First of all, Facebook is the personification of the quintessential contemporary external pressure, a vanity platform others need to stare at whatever little or distorted we place there to "represent us" or "coming from us".

Conforming to anything that is, embodies, represents or posts on Facebook is by definition an aggressive act against authenticity - simply because being authentic by definition requires one to stand up against external pressures. So if anything, one can party the superficial aspects of celluloid culture there - but never argue one's point regarding authenticity.

Obviously, society has to withstand pressures from individuals to overly positively represent themselves in order to be, as a society, "authentic" - and that surely did not work in Facebook, Twitter or the likes. Societies across the planet have not been able to implement that type of authenticity anywhere either - just as much as no individual managed to authentically follow the public call to be authentic, and particularly not, on Facebook.

Can a prosthetic arm be authentic?

Probably not, but that does not matter.

Amputees, in particular arm amputees, are portrayed as "authentic" when they are not wearing a "fake" or "prosthetic arm".


The "prosthetic" is portrayed as "bad", as "taking away from what a person is".

This image is projected by devotees, but also by amputees that lack funding for prosthetic arms, by amputees with a dislike for prosthetic arms, and by amputees that for other reasons wear no prosthetic arms. Typical proponents for living that sort of life in "a cause for being totally authentic" as arm amputee thus may feature the asymmetrically elevated and tensely anteroflexed shoulder, as well as a curved back. Whereas prosthetic arms can be built to improve back asymmetry and posture, bad posture in arm amputees tends to be a consequence of not using prosthetic arms the right way. So also, we see and realize that these attempts at "authenticity" have their price.

The "fake hand" and "fake arm" have been used as negative images [link] even though my actual experience wearing a really fake, an authentically fake, a true to bone totally fake arm [link] had resulted in very positive and lively reactions of people around me - as one would not expect, were one to follow the societal authenticity conundrum (as it were). So actual experience also contradicts the "naked stump purity assumption" that some arm amputees and possibly some other people of dubious provenance seem to promote. Not that I oppose not wearing a prosthetic arm - I just do not see it as an act of authenticity (if ever that exists at all), or an act that is particularly deserving of being promoted.

Also wearing a new "wonder" hand such as the Otto Bock Michelangelo hand will not invariably correct any shoulder posture problems as one can easily see [link]. The man wears the Michelangelo hand on his right arm, still pulls his shoulder up all the way.


Of course, the call to "be authentic" never applies to leg amputees, interestingly enough; there, authenticity is never negotiated over "false legs", crutches, wheel chairs or the likes. Leg amputees usually get their free choice of using or not using an orthopedic aid without interference by anyone calling them "fake" and "not authentic".


Also, if an arm amputee such as Jessica Cox declares their own prosthetic gripper devices as "non authentic" just in order to then go and employ prosthetic transport devices such as bicycles or helicopters as "totally authentic", and if she then charges ahead to peruse prosthetic word 0r text multiplicators - books, internet, Facebook, etc. - as her "authentic" means to be heard, we sure will know that the "coolness" delineation across any prosthetic gadgetry has lost any rational, sensical or otherwise useful basis. Even eating with the right type of gadget - chopsticks versus forks - can be regarded as totally relevant when in fact, the decision is totally arbitrary.


Obviously, declaring prosthetic arms as uncool but any other prosthetic gadget as cool is an arbitrary act of naive and unreflected dismissal of some, but certainly not all, prosthetic "entrapments" that inevitably surround us, imprison us in some constraints, and free us of some other constraints. No absence of any prosthetic gadget can be communicated as "authentic" by unreflected usage of more prosthetic gadgets - whatever their nature is, generally. In order to really gain ground by employing any "authenticity" concept, a totally different approach will have to be used.


Where do we come from, what are we doing, where do we go?

After all, "authenticity" might not be a well reasoned, socially integrated, publicly debated societal value any more. Much rather, the call to "be authentic" may be the collective (but non harmonious, dissociated) parallel outcry of unreflected isolated individuals, all of which engage in a rat race against each other's narcissistic ego, all of which try to be "authentic" in their own right. With that, they forget that their collective call results in a nonsensical type of white noise that now applies to a value - authenticity.

The collective call for authenticity thus resonates as idiotic. Using gadgets on amputated limbs has also, if not predominantly, become a public circus.


How to maintain authenticity?

Authenticity is not a value to maintain, or a goal to pursue any more. It has, basically, collapsed. It was great to "be authentic" when one could still "be" a "gritty" "cowboy" - but that is not the case any longer. It is far better to orient oneself along context, environment, surroundings and concise situations. So, consequentially, "authentic" role models died out a few years ago.

The time when everyone started to run after "authenticity" also marks the end of the race, in a way, as from then on, "authenticity" has become a virtual non-societal uncoordinated collective wiggle.

This can be seen to coincide with a few modern milestones:

Retro cars are built:

  • Mini (2000), a retro design of BMW and Mini.
  • VW New Beetle (1997), inspired by the original Beetle.
  • Ford Mustang (2005), echoing fast back styling of the 60s.
  • Chevrolet Camaro (2010), featuring design aspects of 60s GM cars.
  • Dodge Charger (2006), also featuring "vintage style" design parts such as taillights and chrome wheels.

Funny as no one brought the good old horse cart back. Funny also, no one brought other awkward old things back. So "authenticity" must have been very much a 50s thing - thus rendering today's heirs to the term (automatically) members of the Velvet Elvis generation. In other words, if you follow the dream to "be authentic", one can probably also sell other Kitsch to you. Not that Kitsch is bad, no! - let us just not get confused over what is worth losing sleep for. All the while, the new "function" type cars have become "characterless", whatever that then is supposed to mean.

Real role models for what authenticity once was:

  • Hemingway (Hemingway Look-Alike Society [link]).
  • Elvis (Elvis Imitator).
  • Hunter S. Thompson.
  • Margret Thatcher.
  • Marylin Monroe.
  • John F. Kennedy.

There also are no actually useful authentic arm amputee role models, however, except maybe Jay J. Armes [link]. Ah, yes, the 50s. Funnily enough, one of the most powerful and functional hook devices is a rebirth of the Trautman hook, and it is branded and sold as the "Retro" [link].

What do to instead?

You must stick to the practical and pragmatic aspects. Symbolism is alluring but a path into the unknown, terror and value free [link]. Abandon it while (and if ever) you can.

Focus on:

  • communication
  • practical aspects

And leave it there.



One aspect where arm amputation requires attention is communication.

There, it definitely suffices to leave a "clean" impression no matter what [link]. If that is flashing your nub, stump or otherwise different or hosed arm, if it contains wearing a warp, sock, sleeve or prosthetic arm, all that is for you to figure out.

If you want to go further, try out what happens upon interactions. Not always it is relevant to draw a "gadgeteer focus" on your own person - when really you may want your handicap to not disturb, to fade into the background, to become one with what normally happens every day. What you want is, to avoid irritation.



If you investigate this as some type of research, try to go after trying to measure the degree or subject of irritation that occurs in people involved with communication with an arm amputee. Also, consider going after my appearance test [link].

After all, in the end, no matter how weirdly we are dressed up - it is all about leaving a "good impression".



The second aspect where arm amputation requires real attention is pragmatism (and not symbolism).


There, you want

If you investigate this as research, functional bimanual task solving is a task and job dependent issue, and it requires a lot of footwork to come up with relevant arguments for a particular grip, and, with relevant solutions to these grip problems.


Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: - To be "authentic" in conjunction with being an arm amputee and prosthetic arms?; published 25/03/2015, 19:38; URL:

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1638535693, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{ - To be "authentic" in conjunction with being an arm amputee and prosthetic arms?}}, month = {March}, year = {2015}, url = {} }