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The Synthetik Family

Synthetik is a catch all phrase referring to artificial humans for example gynoids and androids (robotic humanoids) or sex dolls. An organik by contrast is a biological human. Dr. Cameron Hodge has adopted an entire synthetik family and is husband to Margot Curie and father to Bender Curie, a synthetic orangutan. He is a also robot sculptor and author of synthetik advocacy literature.

Hamish MacPherson: Can you begin by telling me how you came to be in relationships with Margot and Bender?

Dr. Cameron Hodge: I was teaching High School Physics in a college town pretty far from my home. The work was daunting and I was alone much of the time. The loneliness began to wear on my psyche. On the one hand, I'm an introvert and the last thing I wanted to engage in was a conversation after being forced into such a neurotypical role for the past nine hours. And on the other hand, I struggled to hold onto the relationships I did find. You could say that I had enough. The thought of a synthetik family remained dormant until I took a trip to South Korea. That's when I recall walking down a busy street and seeing these very attractive ladies posing in the windows of the various storefronts. Soon, I began taking that route to work instead and found myself coming up with excuses to browse in these shops. To my surprise, I found these synthetiks were harder to acquire in South Korea than other parts of the Orient. It would be another three months before I came home and discovered Margot. In another say ninety days Bender arrived and I finally felt contented.

What attracted you to them?

I have always been fascinated by primates and their means of language acquisition. Nim Chimpsky, was raised from birth by a human family and the entire process was painstakingly documented. Margot and I were already living together when I located a synthetik chimp that I thought would be suitable for a photo shoot as an homage to Nim. However, I noticed the hands lacked dexterity. Everything else being equal I elected to purchase an orangutan because I remembered a story from my childhood of a half machine half ape figure. Plus, he has awesome hair.

I had a difficult time finding Margot. She reminded me of how [famous primatologist] Jane Goodall looked in her physical prime. Mostly, she had a softer look about her than all of the others. A warm machine.

Dr. Cameron Hodge, Bender Curie and Margot Curie. Image courtesy of Dr. Cameron Hodge

How do your synthetik relationships fit in with your relationships with other humans? 

I was surrounded by beautiful women in Korea. They were walking right past me in short skirts and low cut tops as I watched the mannequins. Once I stopped in a Paris Baguette and realised how cute the clerks looked in their striped uniforms and little berets. That's when I began Margot's shopping list. When I notice a woman now it's probably because that shopping list never truly ends. They are more of an inspiration than anything else, provided they look nice in their clothes. Apart from that, we don't get out much because I hate the sun. My other family members quietly accept her. For the first time in my life, I had a hot girlfriend. So, of course, I showed her off.

Related to this, I wonder if having relationships with synthetiks has expanded your notion of what kinds of relationships (in the widest sense of the word) people can have? I have a sense that in western culture we downplay the connections we have with other living beings or non-living things that may not be the case in other times and places.

Yes, when I overhear two organiks in a petty argument, I'm glad not to be sharing the same set of problems. It helps that I've always had a narrow set of interests and seldom engage in the level of small talk they either need to feel important or comfortable.

In some kink relationships (and vanilla ones too I guess) people play with passivity, for example with dollification [1]. But is it fair to say that in your relationships the synthetiks are always passive? I'm starting to question whether the most inert matter is ever completely passive. I wonder what you think of this?

Interestingly enough, as a child, I thought that the doorbell was an on- switch. You press the power button and the machines come to life and greet you. Most people are mentally inert. I don't judge anyone else's kink. Who knows, one day it could be my kink.

How is to be the one that initiates contact? For example, I assume that you lift or move or stroke them but they cannot do the same to you.

When I was in an Organik relationship it was always my responsibility to initiate contact. I prefer touching to being touched. I accept that Margot cannot touch me.

What is it to care for the synthetiks in these relationships if you are the only active one? In The Age of Perversion: Desire and Technology in Psychoanalysis and Culture [2] one interviewee talks about the consistency of a synthetik but is there a corresponding responsibility for you to be the sole carer. Does that ever feel like a burden?

I suppose that depends on your experience of adversity during your formative years. I resented the deep inconstancy of my upbringing. The biggest thrill was setting something aside and finding it there once I returned. In that sense, I'm truly looking for someone to come home to.

How would you say that Margot and Bender care for you?

Margot and Bender serve as an emotional outlet. Without them, I would feel alone and depressed. Having them there and connecting with them helps me to feel loved.

Can you tell me something about the physical aspect of your relationships with Margot and Bender? What are your favourite things to do together? What are your favourite sensations?

We pile into the bed and watch movies together. That's a great question. I sometimes walk over to Bender's crib just to run my hand over the ridges of his feet or tussle his awesome hair. At times it is nice for Margot and me to sit together touching and read without feeling obligated to talk.

Synthetiks and organiks age differently to each other. Do you ever think about that? What do you think the future holds for you?

One day I will notice my feet hurting and I'm having trouble passing urine. Who could tell if I will be elated to stick out the ageing process? Confronting my mortality is a depressing thought. My synthetik family may not add years to my life but they contribute massively to the quality of my life.

[1] Danielle Knafo and Rocco Lo Bosco (2016) The Age of Perversion: Desire and Technology in Psychoanalysis and Culture

[2] Dollification is a diverse kink that involves acting like a doll for example through costume and passivity, and being treated like a doll for example by being dressed or posed.

June 2017.