Sunday, January 27, 2013
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Is functional fixedness universal?
Monday, January 21, 2013
Sunday, January 20, 2013
What could the new sciences and methods be, then? We learned that Jacques Lacan rewrote Sigmund Freud with the help of new media, with computing, in short, since Freud's psychoanalysis was based only on the first industrial revolution, not the second. Subsequently, we were also asked to rewrite the history of whatever branch of or in the humanities in terms of media. That was the task, his aim, or our goal. And we learned many other stories relating theories with technical media... That McLuhan was actually a scholar in literature and that he was strongly inspired by Harold A. Innis and his book "Empire and Communications"... That the famous sentence "The Medium is the Message" was "stolen" from the Bell Labs and was originally called "Fitting the Message to the Line"...
Kittler - he - would go during these days much further than McLuhan and Foucault together. Foucault ended with the typewriter, Kittler evidently claimed. Indeed, we don't read from Foucault anything on radio or on tv or on vinyl as such. Just a bit on the typewriter. The theoretical distinction by Jacques Lacan, the real, the symbolic, and the imaginary, got with Kittler a "historical base": We learned to read RSI as gramophone, typewriter, and film. And so on and so on... In addition, nobody else except Kittler would talk to us about media like Godard or Straub and Huillet. He was the only one in Berlin. So, of course, we went to his lectures again and again. Without question, and questioning Kittler - for us - was a "New Foucault", a Foucault of media - of old media, and with new media in particular.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
An Introduction to Kulturtechnik: American Liberalism as a Cultural Technology
Humans or machines? Discourse or hardware? Since the mid-1980s these were the methodological questions that divided the anthropocentrism of Anglo-American cultural studies from the technophilia of German media theory. However in the past decade an emerging field of research known as Kulturtechnik—which may be translated as cultural technologies or cultural techniques—has deconstructed these oppositions. By rereading the media theoretical approach associated with Friedrich Kittler through the analytic frameworks of actor-network theory and the ethnographic methodology of Marcel Mauss, theorists of Kulturtechnik have developed a non-anthropocentric epistemology that is equally attentive to the role of human techniques and material technologies in constituting cultural form and practice. Despite the successful institutionalization of Kulturtechnik in Germanophone universities' departments and curricula, and its complementarity to a host of non-humanisms developing in Europe and North America, this methodology remains largely unknown outside the German-speaking world.
This paper introduces the conceptual and methodological frameworks of Kulturtechnik through a re-interpretation of American liberalism (ca. 1790-1900). Classical theories classified liberalism as a style of economic and political association founded upon the reason and consent of autonomous, self-possessing individuals. This emphasis on the rights and autonomy of human individuals furnished opponents of state tyranny and coercion with a powerful device for rhetorical critique. However it also tended to produce a vision of society as what William James once termed a "congeries of solipsisms," wherein each mind was aimlessly adrift from the next.
Drawing on recent research in Kulturtechnik, I argue for a reconceptualization of liberalism as a "cultural technology of synchronization." According to this interpretation, American liberalism shifted the task of binding and regulating the body politic from the sovereign and the state to private networks of communication including the press, interstate commerce, and political meeting. A strategic assembly of instruments, techniques, and rights ordered individuals' associations. Through considerations of the essential role played by the printing press, canals, and railways, I demonstrate how technical media were coextensive with the form of liberal politics and content of liberal reason. The resulting analysis offers an historical and ethnographic account of liberalism as a hybrid form of political life based on the strategic association of human and non-human actors.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Monday, January 7, 2013
Sunday, January 6, 2013
Thus according to Bataille's theory of consumption, the accursed share is that excessive and non-recuperable part of any economy which is destined to one of two modes of economic and social expenditure. This must either be spent luxuriously and knowingly without gain in the arts, in non-procreative sexuality, in spectacles and sumptuous monuments, or it is obliviously destined to an outrageous and catastrophic outpouring, in the contemporary age most often in war, or in former ages as destructive and ruinous acts of giving or sacrifice, but always in a manner that threatens the prevailing system.
The notion of "excess" energy is central to Bataille's thinking. Bataille's inquiry takes the superabundance of energy, beginning from the infinite outpouring of solar energy or the surpluses produced by life's basic chemical reactions, as the norm for organisms. In other words, an organism in Bataille's general economy, unlike the rational actors of classical economy who are motivated by scarcity, normally has an "excess" of energy available to it. This extra energy can be used productively for the organism's growth or it can be lavishly expended. Bataille insists that an organism's growth or expansion always runs up against limits and becomes impossible. The wasting of this energy is "luxury". The form and role luxury assumes in a society are characteristic of that society. "The accursed share" refers to this excess, destined for waste.
Crucial to the formulation of the theory was Bataille's reflection upon the phenomenon of potlatch. It is influenced by Marcel Mauss's The Gift, as well as by Friedrich Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morals.
Volume 1 introduces the theory and provides historical examples of the functioning of general economy: human sacrifice in Aztec society, the monastic institutions of Tibetan Lamaism, the Marshall Plan, and many others. Volumes 2 and 3 extend the argument to eroticism and sovereignty, respectively.
The book was first published by Les Éditions de Minuit in 1949, but was re-edited in 1967. It is collected in volume seven of Bataille's complete works.