mediatheory

Automobility and “aristocratic silence”

We will explain how and why the car-manufacturing industry promoted mechanical, convenient, and aristocratic silence as distinct conceptions of sound and what this orientation meant within contemporary car culture. The pursuit of silence reflected an ideal more than a reality, but, as we will argue, the silencing effort sustained the highly valued visual experience of the driver.
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“Speed is the aristocracy of movement, yet silence is the aristocracy of speed.” This aphorism was formulated by Maurice Goudard, president of the French Society of Automotive Engineers in 1935. /…/
We have alreadu explained that until about 1900 loud sound possessed a rather straightforward connotation of power, both within and beyond the engineering community. For twentieth-century mechanical and automotive engineers, however, the loud sounds generated by machines gradually came to be seen as the by-product of energy-absorbing friction and, as such, became noise, or unwanted sound. Culturally speaking, the symbolic links between loud sound and power were less easy to decouple. As many historians, soundscape scholars, and anthropoligists have shown, Western societies have long been ordered in such a way that those in powerful and high-ranking positions possessed more rights to create loud sounds and make themselves heard than those in lower-ranked position.
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All these associations between aristocracy and silence can be found in the car ads of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. /…/
Our study of European literary sources showed that in the first decades of the twentieth century literary motorists described driving as being elevated above everyday life, experiencing the world as being more distant and less intrusive than normally, similar to the experience of watching a movie. The closed car body impeded this experience, however. /…/ It was exactly for this reason, as we have come to know by following American engineers, that the automotive industry started to study the multisensorial percaption of noise, vibration, and harshness by drivers, and invested in improvements in suspension systems and tires. This effort contributed to preserving the tourist gaze associated with early automobility.
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Reducing noise was about creating a sense of trust in the car’s reliability, but silence was also sold by referring to its convenience and aristocracy. In doing so, advertisers made use of long-standing cultural connotations. They published images of animals that exuded both strength and silence (the swan, the panther) and tapped into the links between wealth and tranquility – controlling one’s acoustic environment – or between elites and the ability to keep deferentially silent. At the very same time, they unlinked earlier, or other, notions that connected noise to power.

Excerpt from Sound and safe. A history of listening behind the wheel by Karin Bijsterveld, Eefje Cleophas, Stefan Krebs, and Gijs Mom (Oxford University Press, 2014).

“Nätkultur, autonom mytologi och Luther Blissett-projektet” (upphittad, ofärdig översättning)

Textfil hittad på hårddisken, daterad mars 2003. Mängden av X i texten visar på en ofärdig översättning. Vem som översatte är oklart. Troligen blev översättningen aldrig färdigställd, men texten cirkulerades i de kretsar som samtidigt var i färd att starta Piratbyrån.

Sånger från skogen: Nätkultur, autonom mytologi och Luther Blissett-projektet
F. P. Belletati 1999

Vad som främst av allt satte igång det hela var en löst sammanhållen strömmning inom italiensk marxism, kallad operaism (“arbetarism”), som absolut inte hade något att göra med kommunistpartiet.
I början av 1960-talet började operaisterna undersöka förändringar i arbetarklassens socialogiska sammansättning. Då var den unga massarbetaren i de fordist-tayloristiska fabrikerna fortfarande tungan på vågen, den viktigaste sektorn inom proletariatet. Operaisternas deltagande i klasskampen baserades på en deltagande observation av massarbetarens beteende. Massarbetaren tog uttryckligen avstånd från den äldre generationens arbetsetik och disciplin.
Denna XinsubordinationX var den främsta roten till konflikt på arbetsplatsen. Sabotage var inte längre något osynligt: vid sidan av tider av öppen kamp (strejker och demonstrationer) florerade en mängd mikro-taktiker syftande till att sakta ner eller stanna det löpande bandet.
Operaisterna gick in för att studera dessa beteenden och definiera dialektiken mellan klasskamp och kapitalismens utveckling som jag tänker summera i korta drag. Den kontinuerliga konfrontationen mellan kapital och levande arbete var orsaken tll alla teknologiska innovationer och förändringar i arbetsorganisationen, som i sin tur provocerade fram nya förändringar i klassammansättningen, vilket fick konflikten att fortsätta på en högre nivå.
Efter den så kallade “heta hösten” (1969), en årstid av generalstrejker och radikala kamper med miljoner av arbetare på gatorna, så ökade den proletära XinsubordinationX. Kampen blev mer och mer “autonom” (det adjektiv med vilket de vilt strejkande arbetarna beskrev sin XsysselsättningX: “assemblea autonoma”). 1973 så gav självupplösandet av den post-operaistiska gruppen Potere Operaio (“Arbetarmakt”) upphov till den scen som kom att kallas “autonomia operaia organizzata” (“organiserad arbetarautonomi”).
På 1970-talet började de autonomistiska teoretikerna i Italien (däribland Toni Negri) undersöka och definiera existensen av och det subversiva beteendet i “operaio sociale”.
Ett så ambitiöst kollektivt substantiv – knappt översättningsbart – användes för att beskriva både den yngsta generationen fabriksarbetare som hade brutit med arbetsetiken en gång för alla, och hela den kast av frustrerade servicearbetare, “proletariserade” studenter och tjänstemän, arbetslösa kvinnor och män och subkulturella ungdomar vars konflikt var klart “anti-dialektisk”.
“Anti-dialektisk” innebär att självorganisering, vilda strejker, ockupationer och sabotage inte ägde rum inom den förhandlande klasskampen, dessa bröt till och med med det traditionella dialektiska förhållandet mellan kamp och utveckling, och utmanade fackföreningarnas lugnande funktion och vänsterns politiska kontroll.
För att kunna trycka ner dessa okontrollerbara eruptioner och utbrott (framför allt 1977 års rörelse), tvingades den härskande klassen införa undantagstillstånd. Det blev ett blodbad. Vid decenniets slut, hade de flesta militanter antingen dödats, kastats i fängelse, flytt landet eller börjat skjuta upp heroin. Men det är en annan historia.
Som några har föreslagit, använder jag från och med nu termen “composizionismo” i stället för “(post-)operaismo”, eftersom den förra är mer precis och inte automatiskt syftar på ett särskilt segment av arbetarklassen (fabriksarbetarna). Den så kallade “tredje industriella revolutionen” gjorde det möjligt för kapitalet att XsupercedeX det fordist-tayloristiska paradigmet, och gjorde information till den viktigaste produktivkraften.
Med syftning på de passager i Grundrisse där Karl Marx använde uttrycket X”allmänt intellekt”X, började compositionisterna använda beskrivningar som “massintellektuella” och X”diffused intellectual”X för att referera till de XmultifariousX subjektiviteterna i den nya klassammansättningen.
“Massintellektuella” är kort sagt de människor vilkas levande arbete består i en XsubordinatedX XoutputX av “kreativitet” och social kommunikation (i compositionistisk jargong: “immateriellt arbete”). Detta segment av operaio sociale sträcker sig från datorprogrammerare till arbetare i toyotistiska fabriker, från grafiska designers till copywriters, från PR-folk till kulturarbetare, från lärare till socialarbetare och så vidare.
Framför allt Negris analys baserar sig på de “kommunismens förutsättningar” som finns inbyggda i den post-fordistiska kapitalismen. Med “kommunismens förutsättningar” menar NEgri de kollektiva former som skapas av tidigare kamp och ständigt omskapas av arbetarnas XtendenciesX, attityder och reaktioner till utsugningen. Några av dessa former blir till och med till institutioner (till exempel delar av välfärdsstaten) innan de går igenom en serie kriser: social konflikt skapade dem, social konflikt håller dem igång och med nödvändighet oavslutade. Dess kriver genljuder i hela samhället och får konflikten att fortsätta på en högre nivå.

Den viktigaste av kommunismens förutsättningar är den kollektiva dimensionen i det kapitalistiska produktionssättet, som skapar mer och mer socialt samarbete.
Tyngdpunkten måste här läggas på den mest strategiska formen av dagens levande arbete, som X”allmänt intellekt”X, immateriellt arbete, “kreativitet”, you name it. X”Allmänt intellekt”X (till skillnad från Taylors “scientific management”) är självaktiverat. Den massintellektuellas arbetskraft är inte organiserad av kapitalet, eftersom social kommunikation föregår entreprenörskap. Kapitalet kan bara återhämta sig och underkuva social kommunikation, kontrollera de massintellektuella från utsidan efter att ha erkänt och även stimulerat deras kreativitet och vittomfattande intelligens.
Konflikten fortsätter på sin högsta nivå: kapitalets “progressiva” eggelse är över, autonomi håller på att bli en XpremissX snarare än ett mål.

The common being och nätet

Ett compositionistiskt förhållningssätt till datornätverk avslöjar att:
* Nätets horisontella och transnationella utveckling skapar ett potentiellt autonomt socialt samarbete.
* De flesta nätmedborgare faller inom de antropologiska, socialogiska och ekonomiska definitionerna av “massintellektuella”.
* Dagens nätlandskap är en syntes av många molekylära XinsubordinationsX och några viktiga avgörande segrar (till exempel “blue ribbon”-kampanjen mot xCDAx) och det omskapas kontinuerligt genom konflikt.
* Betraktat som en “institution”, genomgår nätet en tillväxtkris som reflekteras i hela samhället. I detta förlopp är krisen en drivkraft bakom konflikter.

Med andra ord, nätet tycks vara kommunismens förutsättning par excellence. Detta är ingen okritiskt utopisk syn på datornätverk, naturligtvis finns det ett stort gap mellen det potentiella och det verkliga, arbetskraften och arbetet, langue kontra parole, kapital kontra levande arbete, konsumism kontra social kommunikation. “The net is the OK Corral”. Det är paradoxalt att efter allt snack om “den molekylära revolutionen” går vi raka vägen mot X”a new molar impact”X.
Den globala anti-pedofili-mobiliseringen är det undantagstillstånd med vilket de styrande försöker lägga munkavle på nätmedborgarna. Återtagandet av kunskapen och de massintellektuellas självorganisering kräver försvaret av nätet mot baktalare och policerazzior. Vi måste behålla denna “institution” ofullbodad och öppen för alla möjligheter, förhindra kapitalets försök att fylla den ovan nämnda klyftan med censur och XcommodificationX. Det är inte bara ett liberalt slag för yttrandefrihet: det är ett klasskrig.
Men detta räcker inte. Vi måste skapa historia, inget mindre än det – fylla klyftan med autonomi och självorganisering. Vi behöver också myter, berättelser som sporrar de massintellektuella att agera. Varje historisk fas i klasskriget kräver mytologier fungerande som propellrar, och det är inget fel med det. Georges Sorel har alltför länge blivit baktalad och missförstådd. Som Luther Blissett uttrycker det:

…felet är inte myternas “falskhet”, utan det faktum att de överlever de historiska formerna av de behov och önskningar som de kanaliserade och omskapade. En gång ritualiserade och systematiserade, blir föreställningarna till spegelbilder av den rådande makten. Myterna om social förändring blir till grundarmyter i det falska samhälle som byggs och representeras av makten […]
Myten om “Proletariatet” var också rutten: i stället för att bekämpa för självupplösningen av proletariatet som klass, hade den kommunistiska rörelsen mystiska XwanksX över allt som ansågs som “proletärt”, som arbetarnas “härdade händer”, deras “moral” […]
proletärer definierades enligt sociologin och identifierades med fabriksarbetare i bästa fall, eller med de “fattiga” i Bibeln i värsta fall, eller till och med med båda dessa, medan Marx hade skrivit “Antingen är proletariatet revolutionärt, eller så är det inte alls”. De direkta konsekvenserna var Zdanovs socialrealism, puritanism, sexuellt förtryck mot “borgerlig dekadens” och liknande skit.
Hur som helst, […] “förstörelsen av myterna” är meningslöst, vi måste koncentrera våra strävanden i en annan riktning: låt fantasin flöda, förhindra den från att kristalliseras, försök att förstå när och hur myter bör dekonstrueras och glömmas bort innan mångfalden av bilder reduceras till en annan absolut.”
(Mind Invaders: Come Fottere I Media, Rom 1995)

Vi behöver öppna, interaktiva … rhizomatiska mytologier. Men det är alltid ett XcommunityX som skapar, förändrar och återberättar mytologier. Vilket XcommunityX talar vi om här?
Låt oss starta på nytt från Xgeneral intellectX. “General” betyder “common”, literally “belonging to the genus”, till exempel mänskligheten, vår art.
I Om judefrågan och XEkonomisk-filosofiska manuskriptX (1844), använde Marx två viktiga koncept: Gemeinwesen (common being) och Gattungswesen (species-being). Klasskamp, proletariatets självupplösande som klass och slutligen revolution skulle överbrygga de mänskliga varelsernas alienering från deras egen Gemeinwesen och Gattungswesen, för att i stället bygga ett globalt mänskligt samhälle som sammanföll med mänskligheten själv, bortom raser och nationalstater, bortom medborgarskap. Vi kan inte förstå den compositionistiska teorin som härrör från Grundrisse om vi inte håller fast vid Marx humanistiska samhällssyn.

The Waldganger’s Black Game
Luther Blissett-projektet startade medvetet om ett experiment i nätverk som mytskapande. “Luther Blissett” är ett mångfacetterat namn som vem som helst kan anta. Målet är en antropomorfisering av det Xgeneral intellectX: sedan 1994 har mängder av människor som inte ens känner varandra byggt på Luthers rykte som en “Homo Gemeinwesen”. Och samtidigt är det som Bifo uttrycker det: “Vi får nte övervärdera Luther Blissetts betydelse. Vi kan till och med säga att Luther Blissett inte spelar någon roll alls, vad som är betydelsefullt är det faktum att vi alla är Luther Blissett”.

Här är några sub-mytologier som har studerats och praktiserats av Luther Blissett:
1. Den nordiska myten om Der Waldganger, rebellen som “drar till skogs”. 1951 skrev den tyska reaktionära författaren Ernst Jünger en pamflett med titeln Der Waldgang. Jünger beskrev samhället som styrt av Xplebiscitary patternsX och panoptiska system för social kontroll. För att undkomma kontrollen, måste rebellen dra till skogs för att organisera motståndet. År nittonhundra-jävla-ett! Vad ska vi säga idag? Echelon, avlyssning, videoövervakning överallt, elektronisk registrering av våra banktransaktioner… Att dra till skogs är nödvändigare än någonsin.
Några hackers har jämfört “Luther Blissett” med Robin Hoos. Faktum är att denna dunkla myt har mycket att göra med Xmulti-use namesX. I 1200-talets England blev de saxiska bönderna illa behandlade av den normandiska härskarklassen och uttryckte sitt missnöje och vardagsmostånd genom att hänvisa en mängd anonyma aktioner (verkliga och påhittade) till en bandit ur vilken “Robin Hood” gradvis växte fram. Förnamnet antyder att denna folkhjälte (åtminstone till en början) bar en huva – han hade inget ansikte, representerade ingen. Det är så myten fungerar, även om den under medeltiden bara kunde ge tillfällig tröst för en ytterst begränsad gemeinschaft.

2. Några andra journalister beskriv Luther Blissett som en “pirat” eller “sjörövare”. Det är ett fel. OK, nätkultur och ortodox undergroundkultur är sprängfylld av sjöfartsmetaforer och, ja, “pirat” innebär också någon som illegalt kopierar upphovsskyddat material. Men Luther Blissett är en jordisk myt. Du andas inte bräckt luft i skogen. Havet är långt bort, möjligen en utopisk horisont mot vilken Xthe outlawX stegvis rör sig.
Om det finns ett utopiskt element i Luther Blissett-berättelsen, är det den kriminella klassens utopi: “fuck them over and taka the French leave”, som den melankoliskt frammanas i Gary Fleders Things to do in Denver when you’re dead, en gangsterfilm vilkas karaktärer hälsar till varandra genom att säga “Boat drinks!”. Detta är det glada slutet av alla filmer vilkas Xprotagonists manage to pull a fast one (a fraud, a robbery…)X. I den sista sekvensen ser du dem allihopa seglande runt Antillerna, tysta sippande på sina Daiquiris.
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3. Den sista återkommande beskrivningen är “kulturterrorist”, vilket är mindre oacceptabelt men likväl inkorrekt, eftersom “terrorism” är en term som de härskande klasserna använder för att smutskasta allt och alla, och också för att “terrorism” och statens repression alltid speglar varandra (ETA vs. GAL, den beväpnade islamiska gruppen vs. den algeriska arméns “ninjas” etc.). Dialektiken mellan polisstat och “terrorism” baseras på emulering. Men trots det så kan statsapparaten bidra med några användningsbara bilder åt oss. Jag talar om X”intelligence”X och svart propaganda.
XMulti-usa name bearersX från Italien och andra länder nämner och citerar ofta en bok, Ellic Howes The Black Game: British Subversive Operations Against the Germans During the Second World War (Queen Ann Press, London, 1982). Under andra världskriget var Howe den hemliga Xpolitical warfare executive’sX specialist på att fabricera tryckta falserier. PWE:s uppdrag var att underminera de tyska soldaternas och civilas moral genom desinformation och psykologisk krigföring. Tack vare ett nätverk av agenter i länder ockuperade av fienden, kunde PWE ge ut falska cirkulärbrev med NSDAP som avsändare, om strider inom partiet, fingerade myndighetspåbud angående deserteringar, en skrämmande “pest-broschyr” med hälsoministeriet som påstådd avsndare och flygblad uppmanande kvinnlig armépersonal att inte ha sex med soldater på grund av könssjukdomar. PWE producerade också ett halvdussin utgåvopr av Der Zenit, ett fejkat astrologiskt magasin som avrådde sjömän från att lägga ankar på vissa “farliga” dagar (naturligtvis datum för viktiga sjöoperationer). PWE uppfann även Gustav Siegfried Eins, även känd som Der Chef, en icke-existerande tysk dissident som pratade i en påhittad underjordisk radiostation (faktum var att sändningarna skedde från brittisk mark), som underhöll sina lyssnare med invektiv mot nazistiska politiker och deltaljerat (om än falskt) skvaller som deras sexuella perversioner.
Från projektets födelse, har Luther Blissett spelat den sortens svarta spel. Detta är en annan XviableX mytologi för massintellektuella. MEd tanke på den nya XmolarX dimension i konflikten, är detta det molekylära vi kan hitta och arbeta med. Försök hitta alla dessa tricksters, impostors and transmaniacs som möts ute till skogs, spridande rykten och svart material, inympande dödliga virus i det globala elektroniska femte rikets territorier och sen … “boat drinks!”.

september 1998

Parallellen till subcomandante Marcos, ett fenomen som inte minst fått nytt liv bland de vita overallernas mytologi, är kanske onödig att påpeka (ö.a.)

In the beginning was the copy (Eva Geulen on Walter Benjamin)

Authenticity is a belated effect. In the beginning was not the original, but rather the reproduction, which makes the concept of authenticity posible in the first place. Authenticity becomes ‘authentic’ only against the background of reproducibility. That means, however, that authenticity is compromised from the start, inauthentic from the start, for its origin lies not in itself, but rather in its opposite, reproduction.
Like authenticity, the aura is essentially determined through its loss. The decline does not happen to, but rather constitutes the aura. The content and contours of the definition of the aura are determined by the fact that it appears only as it is disappearing.
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However, the loss of the aura requires no further explanation, for the aura itself is the explanation. To the extent that Benjamin attempts to circumscribe history ‘in its name’, the aura is just as much the result of a shattered tradition as the act, the deed of shattering. That is why the aura is not a concept in the classical sense, but rather in the Hegelian one: act and result at once. That a concept such as the aura has at all become conceivable is thus a sign that art is no longer auratic. But the fact that Benjamin describes the history of art from the perspective of its aura, and the manner in which he describes this, gives the concept performative qualities.

Eva Geulen: “Under construction. Walter Benjamin’s ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction'”
In Gerhard Richter (ed.): Benjamin’s ghosts. Interventions in contemporary literary and cultural theory
Stanford University Press, 2002

Kulturrådet (1979) om “Fonogrammen i den framtida kultur- och samhällsmiljön”

Dessa tendenser leder i ett förlängt perspektiv till ett samhälle där fonogramområdet och andra massmedier helt behärskas av några få multinationella koncerner. Vid sidan av dessa koncerners verksamhet kan en rad små fonogramverksamheter äga rum, men dessa kommer inte att tillåtas bli så stora att de kan hota koncernerna. De stora koncernernas utbud kommer att forma människornas medvetande från unga åt. De kommer att formas till passiva fonogramkonsumenter och styras i arbete och varuhus med hjälp av fonogram med bakgrundsmusik.
Om inte den statliga kulturpolitiken omfattar ett program för åtgärder inom fonogramområdet kommer fonogrammens roll i det framtida svenska samhället att bestämmas av de multinationella koncernernas ledningsgrupper. Då kommer troligen den ovan skisserade framtidssituationen att bli verklighet. En sådan utveckling vore en kulturpolitisk katastrof.
Med ett samhälleligt stöd till motverkande krafter kan emellertid utvecklingen länkas in i andra banor. Fonogrammen kan spela en viktig positiv roll i kulturlivet. För att uppnå det fordras en kulturpolitik där fonogrammen ses som en självklar och viktig del av kulturlivet, jämställda med t ex böcker.
/…/
Fonogrammen bör inte användas på ett passiviserande och isolerande sätt. Inte för att skapa ljudkulisser och dölja buller, särskilt inte i offentliga miljöer och miljöer där barn och ungdom vistas. Ljudväggar får inte skapas mellan människor, t ex mellan vårdare och barn eller mellan ungdomar genom så högt ljud att det inte går att föra ett samtal (t ex på ungdomsgård eller diskotek). Fonogrammen bör inte heller användas som ett medel att fly en tung vardag och undvika konfrontationer med akuta problem, t ex genom ständigt ljudskval som kallats ‘elektroniskt morfin’.
/…/
Kulturpolitiken skall främja en aktiv användning av fonogrammen för kontemplativ lyssning, till dans och andra rörelseaktiviteter samt som del i medvetna inlärningsprocesser av olika typer. Samspel mellan verksamhet med levande musik och fonogram bör främjas. Detta gäller även fonogramens roll som förmedlare av gehörstraditioner (spelstilar, berättarkonst etc.) och som inspirationskälla till eget musicerande.
Fonogrammen bör ingå i sammanhang som präglas av gemenskap. De bör vara ett kommunikationsmedel mellan människor och medverka till en djupare förankring i den egna gruppens kultur. De bör ge möjligheter till gemensamma upplevelser när man spelar upp skivor och band för varandra i spontana sammanhang eller inom ramen för t ex studieverksamhet.
/…/
Fonogram skall inte utformas och användas med syfte att exploatera och manipulera individer och grupper, t ex genom att artisters och upphovsmäns arbete styrs och förvanskas, genom att kundernas beteende i varuhus styrs eller för att döva trötthetskänslor och höja produktionen på arbetsplatser.
Kulturpolitiken bör motverka att fonogram används för att sudda ut delkulturer och skapa en utslätad, minsta gemensamma nämnarens kultur.
/…/
Såväl produktion som distribution av fonogram bör i framtiden ske under större offentlig insyn och ökad demokratisk förvaltning.
/…/
De förslag som kulturrådet lägger fram i denna rapport utgör endast ett första steg i en fonogrampolitik som helt svarar mot målen för den statliga fonogrampolitiken.

Utdrag ur Kulturrådets rapport 1979:1, “Fonogrammen i kulturpolitiken” – se även här.

Militär psykoteknologi, informationskapacitet och amfetamin (1961)

Martin Johnson: ”Militär psykoteknologi. En teknisk prospektering”
Militärpsykologiska institutet (MPI)
Rapport nr 14, september 1961

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C. Angelägna forskningsuppgifter vars resultat kan stärka totalförsvaret

Människans informationskapacitet och dess optimering
Av mycket central betydelse i samband med både utbildning av personal och utveckling av teknisk material är ökade vetenskapligt grundade kunskaper om människans informationskapacitet på olika sinnesområden. På goda grunder kan man tala om att människan i vår civilisation råkat ut för en påtaglig ”snedbelastning” vad gäller synsinnet. Vid de flesta kontroll- och trackingproblem som operatören av en komplicerad teknisk apparatur har att ta ställning till, är synsinnet inbegripet, vanligtvis som den helt dominerande perceptionskanalen. Detta har i huvudsak sin grund i detta sinnesområdes imponerande precision och flexibilitet. Dock ligger i sannolikt betydande utsträckning rent konventionella skäl och vanetänkande bakom att databjudning, i så stor utsträckning som fallet nu synes vara, på ett överdimensionerat sätt förutsätter synsinnet som förmedlare i akten: maskin-människa. I vissa fall sker databjudning i ett människa-maskinsystem i en sådan omfattning ensidigt visuellt, att avsevärda felkällor p g a överbelastning härvid uppkommer.
/…/
Så mycket kan sägas, att i nuvarande läge finns varken inom industrin eller försvaret några människa-maskinsystem som nått fram till någon optimal arbetsfördelning vad gäller den mänskliga perceptionsutrustningen (syn, hörsel, tryck, vibration, värme och köldförnimmelse).

/…/

E. Naturliga potentiellt negativa faktorer på effektivitetsoptimum
Som främsta faktorer under denna rubrik kan sömnbrist, hunger, törst, utmattning samt extrema temperaturförhållanden anföras. /…/
Av speciellt både militärpsykologiskt och kanhända också allmänt personlighetspsykologiskt intresse vore initierandet av omfattande forskningar över den mentala verkan av sömnbrist. En del vetenskapliga rön om effekt av sömnbrist föreligger redan (se t.ex. Handbook of Human Engineering, Del II). Förvånande är, att den negativa effekten av åtminstone tillfällig, långvarig vaka synes vara avsevärt mindre förödande på mentala, sensoriska och motoriska funktioner, än vad man vanligen föreställer sig. /…/ Att en soldat under stridsförhållanden, om motivationen är hög, kan fungera adekvat under upp till en hel veckas oupphörlig vaka har flerfaldiga gånger visats.
/…/
Artificiella potentiellt negativa faktorer på effektivitetsoptimum
Till denna grupp av faktorer kan främst alkohol, nikotin och de flesta droger hänföras. /…/ Av militärt intresse vore att närmare studera den negativa verkan som man redan vet rökning utövar på synkänslighet och mörkerseende.
/…/
Artificiella potentiellt positiva faktorer på effektivitetsoptimum
I alla föreslagna försök under rubriken E förutsattes samarbete mellan militär, psykologisk, medicinsk och farmakologisk expertis. Så även i detta sammanhang. De försök som här främst åsyftas är experiment med droger, studier som tar syfte på kvantitativa och kvalitativa bestämningar av psykologiskt mätbara förändringar orsakade av droger och psykofarma. Ett militärpsykologiskt studium av benzedrinets inverkan på soldatens effektivitetsoptimum vore helt säkert av intresse. Forskningar över benzedrinets inverkan har vanligtvis gett rätt motsägande resultat. I vissa fall har mycket gynnsamma resultat uppnåtts, i andra fall mera tveksamma eller rent av negativa. Reproducerbarheten från försök till försök synes vara dålig. Subjektiva och sannolikt gerontologiska inflytelser har spårats. På benzedrinets pluskonto brukar man bl a sätta:
a) förbättrad cirkulation
b) tendens att motverka trötthetskänsla hos sensoriskt styrda muskelrörelser
c) motverkar vissa typer av synrubbningar hos extremt uttröttade personer
d) förbättrad koordination, speciellt hand-rörelse-koordination
e) statistiskt signifikant förbättring av reaktionstider
f) subjektiv känsla av välbehag, avspänning
g) förbättrad attityd till trötthetskänsla
h) positivt utslag på variabeln ”sociability” (variabeln innefattar bl.a. förbättrad känsla av samhörighet med den sociala gruppen och större tolerans gentemot andra).

Av givna redovisning förefaller det inte uteslutet att benzedrin, rätt och individuellt utprovat, under vissa bestämda förhållanden skulle kunna vara en faktor som höjde soldatens prestationsoptimum i speciellt krävande situationer.

/…/

Som militäröverpsykologen framhållit (Psykoteknologi och militärt försvar etc, p. 6), är det nödvändigt att en mjuk och successiv igångsättning av psykoteknologisk verksamhet sker, så att behövliga praktiska och metodiska erfarenheter efter hand kan samlas och tillgodogöras.

Jacob Wren om teater, risk och feghet

skillnaden mellan måleriets svar på uppfinningen av fotografiet och teaterns svar på uppfinningen av filmen.
/…/
En målare som målade i en rent historisk stil, som om fotografiet aldrig hade uppfunnits, skulle idag närmast ses som löjlig.
Det är snarast en underdrift om jag säger att teaterns svar på filmen inte utvcklade riktigt samma kreativitet eller energi. /…/
Mitt spontana svar blev att eftersom den tidiga filmen var svartvit och stum medan teatern innehöll både färg och dialog kanske hotet inte verkade stort i början. Den senare utvecklingen i form av talfilm och senare färgfilm kanske kom så gradvis att det inte blev någon riktig chock. /…/
Måleriet är grodan som släpps ner i kokande vaten. /…/ Teatern är den långsamt uppvärmda grodan. /…/
Jag vill faktiskt gå så långt som att säga att filmen är teaterns nutida form. /…/ Teatern kommer aldrig bli nutida eftersom den redan, för över hundra år sedan, har ersatts av något mer nutida /…/

Att börja se film och TV som den chock för teaterns grundförutsättninar som de faktiskt är /…/
Vid en jämförelse mellan teatern och filmen kan man snabbt konstatera det uppenbara: en stor styrka för teatern är att publiken och skådespelarna /…/ befinner sig i samma rum. /…/
Deleuze säger: ‘Det moderna faktum är att vi inte längre tror på den här världen. /…/ Det är inte vi som gör filmen, det är världen som påminner om en dålig film.’ /…/ Detta är förstås också den nutida teaterns situation. Att den helt enkelt tycks ‘falsk’, känns mindre verklig än det vi är vana att se på bio eller TV. Just denna känsla av ineffektivitet, patos och overklighet delar teatern med våra förmodat verkliga liv. Eller med andra ord: även teatern liknar ofta en ‘dålig film’.
Jag påstås absolut inte att teatern någonsin kommer att kunna läka detta sår. /…/ Det är obehagligt att titta på en teaterföreställning, eftersom det alltid är obehagligt att befinna sig med okända människor i samma rum /…/
en teatersituation är en skräcksituation: /…/ teaterns feghet är bara andra sidan av medvetandet om att ett rum fullt med främlingar stirrar på en /…/
Givetvis kan man, på den konkreta nivån, säga att det bara handlar om rädslan för att inte behaga publiken, eller för att inte bli förstådd /…/ Men på en subtilare nivå menar jag, tvärtemot vad man kan tro, att det också handlar om en skräck för att allför väl bli förstådd, att få en alltför direkt och intim kontakt, en kontakt som man känner är falsk (eller kanske tom). /…/

Ju mer man försöker hantera denna grundläggande relation mellan skådespelare och publik, desto mer inser man i hur hög grad teatersituationen är okontrollerbar. /…/ Även på den mest konventionella teater fungerar det dock så att alltför mycket kontroll förstör just de aspekter som gör teatern annorlunda än filmen, de aspekter som gör att teatern fortfarande kan vara relevant i vår desperat övermedialiserade värld. /…/
Dessa aspekter går i någon mening aldrig att fånga in, att ‘fånga in’ dem skulle nämligen innebära att på något sätt hålla dem kvar eller spela in dem /…/

Det finns förstås en annan, mer affärsmässig, orsak till att måleriets svar på fotografin var så mycket kraftfullare än teaterns på filmen: bildkonstmarknaden ser helt annordlunda ut än teatermarknaden. En målning köps av en troligen rik individ eller av en institution (som ofta leds av en individ). /…/ Teatern måste sälja många biljetter och måste alltså kunna locka till sig många olika individer. /…/
Om teatern vill förbli en konstform måste den ta problemet med sin egen ständigt ökande irrelevans på allvar och söka möjliga vägar bort från detta gungfly. /…/

Ofta är jag inte säker på om det finns några lösningar. Verklig risk är mycket sällsynt i teatern (liksom i livet).

Jacob Wren: “Världen som liknar en dålig film. Några tankar om teater, risk och feghet”
Visslingar & Rop, 22-23/2007
s. 65-73

Random perspectives on Haruki Murakami

“The dissociation of the world into two sides is a theme which can be seen in many novels of Murakami. In the novel Dance, Dance, Dance, there is another world on the other side of the wall or in the other hotel. In Hard-boiled Wonderland and the end of the World and Kafka on the Shore, two different parallel stories go on; in one chapter one story, in the next chapter the other one. the other world has the clear implication of a mythological world, the world of Gods and of the dead. The connection to and dissociation from the other side is an important theme in Murakami’s novels. /…/
Something essential is lacking and is probably on the other side. Because of the missing essential, this side is not complete; literature, music, and love are not true. And reality, as such, is not complete. /…/ One can think of this as the cultural complex that Murakami is exploring. /…/
So there is a meaningful but sexless relationship on one side and a meaningless sexual relationship on the other side. This dissociation might be reflected in modern Japanese society where teenaged prostitutes and couples in sexless relationships are often reported.
According to Murakami’s novels it is typical for postmodern consciousness in Japan that there is still a sense of lack and longing for what is lost. /…/ The Japanese soul is still between postmodern consciousness and the list mythological world. This dissociation is possible bevause modern consciousness, in the Western sense, has never been established in Japan. /…/ In many ways, Murakami’s novels and the postmodern consciousness of his characters reflext the emergence of a cultural complex in the Japanese collective psyche. /…/
It is probably a misunderstanding to try to overcome the dissociation and find literal union again. As Jung says, we should not try to overcome the dissociation, but to be thaught by it. /…/
If negation and dissociation are dominant, how can people be connected? In this novel, phone calls and letters are important. In other novels or Murakami, the computer plays an important role. It is not the problem of media to be understood. The point is that there is no directness.”

Toshio Kawai: ‘Postmodern consciousness in the novels of Haruki Murakami’. In The. Cultural Complex, eds. T. Singer & S. Kimbles. London: Routledge. Murakami, H. (2000).

“It was demonstrated in an earlier chapter that the vexed question of Japanese modernity turns on the problem of an inadequately defined subject and subjectivity. /…/
In Nejimakidori, Murakami has utilized three versions or aspects of the sublime in order to deal with the complex issue of referentiality in such a way as to not foreclose new ways of thinking about the subject of/in Japanese modernity. These three versions can be described, in broad terms, as the ‘psychoanalytic sublime’, the ‘historical sublime’ and the ‘political sublime’, and it will be demonstrated that the major narrative strands of Nejimakidori variously employ one or more of these. Each of these versions of the sublime indicates and engagement with the problem of ‘presenting the unpresentable’ as a disjunctive modality of the simultaneous affirmation and negation of the subject, whereby the limits of such subjectivity remain uncertain and tentative.
In narrative terms, these aspects of the sublime are integrated through the discursive trope of irony proposed by White, and assume their apotheosis in the figure of Wataya Noboru, where their threat to subjectivity is expressed in terms of an incommensurability in the modalities of presentation of that which cannot be directly presented – ultimately, that is, in the form of what Lyotard has termed the ‘differend’. /…/
we nevertheless cannot ignore the subject of Japanese modernity in terms of a tendency towards a system of pervasive, ongoing ‘fascism’ in the post-was system of political and economic practices and structures, aptly described by Miyoshi and Harootunian under the rubric of the term ’emperorism’. Nejimakidori is implicitly concerned with all of these issues, and this fact is justification enough to make it a text worthy of serious critical attention. /…/
The aspects of the sublime with which we will be working in these chapters are based primarily on Kant’s discussion of the sublime /…/, as well as on Hayden White’s ‘historical sublime’ and Lyotard’s re-reading of the Kantian sublime and subsequent invocation of a form of ‘political sublime’. /…/

in our discussion of Nejimakidori we are faced with a consideration of whether it is possible (or indeed desirable) to reconcile three seemingly irreconcilable perspectives on the nature of historu:
(i) History is a recuperable, representable reality which can be spoken and written.
(ii) History is simulacral – it arises merely as an effect of speaking and writing, and is not co-extensive with any referent.
(iii) History inheres only in the unutterable aporia of meaning/sense, arrayed between memory, thought, speech and writing.
Clearly, these competing views on the nature of history are related to the question of subjectivity and Japanese modernity, and turn on the possibility of being able to stipulate history-as-subject, or, alternatively, the subject in/of history. The first proposition incorporates what have been broadly described as ‘reconstructionist’ (empiricist) and ‘constructionist’ (‘social theory’) forms of history. The second and third propositions are somewhat complementary, and indicatice of what can be described as a ‘post-structuralist- view of history. /…/

“The opening passage of Nejimakidori, with its cacophony of sound-images – boiling water, whistling, ringing telephone, and radio broadcast – sets a remarkably ‘auditory’ mood for the presented world of the novel. It also helps establish the physicality, the marked corporeality of many of the protagonist’s narrated experiences. /…/
In Nejimakidori, there is no doubt that the focus on the auditory sense broadens the range of interpretative possibilities of the work as fictional art. /…/ The central trope of the mysterious, screeching cry of the unseen ‘wind-up’ bird which marks out ‘individual’ and ‘historical’ time and is often heard by characteers in the in-between state of dreaming and waking, consciousness and unconsciousness, is one of the most obvious examples here, but there are various episodes throughout the novel in which specifically auditory hallucinations and images figure. /…/
In terms of the social dimension, Koizumi suggests that in Nejimakidori Murakami is conducting an original and sustained critique of the hegemony of the visual in contemporary Japanese culture. /…/ stridently ‘anti-mass media’, ‘anti-televisual’ – in short, anti-visual /…/
This critique of the visual exposes the myth of Japan as the ‘information society’ (jôhô shakai) which emerged in the eighties, and is clearly connoted in the figure of the thirty-year-old unemployed Boku whose life is effectively in moratorium mode – he neither watches television nor reads newspapers – and is connected to the outside world only through the auditory modality of the telephone.
In stark contrast to this, claims Koizumi, the figure of Wataya Noboru, the consummate political performer and ‘television man’, violates Kanô Kureta [Kreta Kano] through an ‘act of seeing’ – and this is part of a larger, generalized violence of the visual that permeates and controls every corner of contemporary daily Japanese life. /…/
taking as our starting point the basic fact of the sign as being comprised of an audio-image (signifier) and a visual-image (signified), we are left to ponder the implication of how the privileging of the auditory over the visual might prescribe the range of subject positions available to the reader of Nejimakidori. /…/
Freud acknowledge that although in dreams we do ‘make use of auditory images’, in these non-waking states ‘we think predominantly in visual images’. So there is, in terms of the Freudian system, a clear distinction between the visual and audio in relation to the unconscious. /…/
From this it can be surmised that if we could identify a strong opposition between the audio and the visual as dominant narrative tropes or modalities in Nejimakidori, we could extrapolate from the reading of that text an implied threat to the Lacanian symbolic order, which suggests a movement back to the presymbolic stage of the imaginary and the undifferentiated self-perception of the subject, in a way not dissimilar to – and even indicative of – the moment of the subject just prior to abjection. It will be argued later that this is perhaps one of the effects of the privileging of the auditory: to indicate a potential dissolution of the presented Oedipal configuration in Nejimakidori, constructed around the figure of Wataya Noboru.”

Michael Seats: “Murakami Haruki: The Simulacrum in Contemporary Japanese Culture”

David Wellbery – Post-Hermeneutic Criticism

Foreword to Friedrich Kittler, Discourse Networks, 1800/1900 S. xi-xvi

Kittler’s work cannot be classified as Derridean, Foucauldian, or Lacanian; rather, it grounds itself on what might be termed the joint achievement of the three. Perhaps this is the major methodological innovation of Kittler’s book. By eliciting from the divergent elaborations of post-structuralist thought a collective epistemological apparatus, Kittler establishes a positive research program for a post-hermeneutic criticism.

The first component of this program–the premise that determines its overall perspective–might be termed the “presupposition of exteriority.” The task of Kittler’s critical investigation, in other words, is not to reabsorb the scattered utterances and inscriptions of the past into an inwardness that would endow them with meaning, be this inwardness the reflexivity of the subject as in Romantic hermeneutics or the reflexivity of language itself as in Gadamer. Rather, he practices what Foucault, in an early essay on Maurice Blanchot, called the “thinking of the outside,” the thinking of language as a domain recalcitrant to internalization. Later in his career, Foucault named this domain “discourse” and set out to develop a lexicon of exteriority–series, event, discontinuity, materiality– with which to describe it. Kittler’s discourse analysis follows the Foucauldian lead in that it seeks to delineate the apparatuses of power, storage, transmission, training, reproduction, and so forth that make up the conditions of factual discursive occurrences. The object of study is not what is said or written but the fact – the brute and often brutal fact–that it is said, that this and not rather something else is inscribed.

Inscription, in its contingent facticity and exteriority, is the irreducible given of Kittler’s analysis, as the original German title of his book– Aufschreibesysteme–makes evident. That title, a neologism invented by Dr. Schreber, can be most literally translated as “systems of writing down” or “notation systems.” It refers to a level of material deployment that is prior to questions of meaning. At stake here are the constraints that select an array of marks from the noisy reservoir of all possible written constellations, paths and media of transmission, or mechanisms of memory. A notation system or, as we have chosen to translate, a discourse network has the exterior character–the outsideness–of a technology. In Kittler’s view, such technologies are not mere instruments with which “man” produces his meanings; they cannot be grounded in a philosophical anthropology. Rather, they set the framework within which something like “meaning,” indeed, something like “man,” become possible at all.

Writing (or arche-writing) as the condition of possibility of metaphysical conceptuality: this, of course, is a major tenet of Derrida’s work. In Lacan, the cognate notion is that our existence is a function of our relation to the signifier. Kittler concretizes this post-structuralist theme by situating his analysis not at the level of writing or the signifier in general, but rather at the level of the historically specific machineries–scriptural and otherwise–that in their various arrangements organize information processing. His post-hermeneutic criticism, in other words, renders explicit and productive the tendency toward a radical historicism that is in fact immanent to the work of all the post-structuralist thinkers. To be sure, this historicism is no longer the narrative of a subject–a hero of knowledge, labor, or liberty–in the manner of the master plots of modernity; nor is it a particularist anamnesis of the lived past such as the socalled new historicism pursues. Like Foucault’s, Kittler’s historiography has a systematic thrust, tends toward the delineation of types. These types, denoted simply by the dates 1800 and 1900, are the discourse networks – the linkages of power, technologies, signifying marks, and bodies–that have orchestrated European culture for the past two hundred years.

The presupposition of exteriority, I claimed, determines the overall perspective of Kittler’s post-hermeneutic criticism. The field within which that criticism operates, its domain of inquiry, is carved out by a second major premise, which I shall call the “presupposition of mediality.” Here too Kittler develops insights that emerged within post-structuralism, for instance, in the investigations of the cinematic apparatus carried out by Christian Metz and Jean-Louis Baudry, investigations themselves strongly influenced by the Lacanian notion of the unconscious as a machine. Of course, the studies of Metz and Baudry are concerned with the medium of film alone, and it is principally in the area of film studies that, in both Europe and the United States, the concept of medium is broadly employed. The decisive methodological step undertaken by Kittler is to generalize the concept of medium, to apply it to all domains of cultural exchange. Whatever the historical field we are dealing with, in Kittler’s view, we are dealing with media as determined by the technological possibilities of the epoch in question. Mediality is the general condition within which, under specific circumstances, something like “poetry” or “literature” can take shape. Post-hermeneutic literary history (or criticism), therefore, becomes a sub-branch of media studies.

This reclassification of literary criticism necessarily elicits a rethinking of its object of study. First and most obviously, if literature is medially constituted–that is, if it is a means for the processing, storage, and transmission of data–then its character will change historically according to the material and technical resources at its disposal. And it will likewise change historically according to the alternative medial possibilities with which it competes. In this regard, too, Kittler’s work leads to a radical historicism that finally dissolves the universality of the concept of literature. Moreover, this dissolution does not bear merely on distant epochs such as the medieval period, where the question of orality versus literacy has long been a focus of research. It operates in our own historical backyard, severing, as Kittler shows, Romantic “poetry” (produced under the monopoly of print and universal alphabetization) from modern “literature” (where writing enters into competition with the technical media of phonograph and film). From this perspective, the typewriter, still a component of our historical a priori, can be seen to initiate a fundamental mutation in the mode of existence of language.

But the notion of mediality recasts our notion of literature in another sense. As soon as we conceive of literature as medially instantiated, then we must view its meaning as the product of a selection and rarefaction. All media of transmission require a material channel, and the characteristic of every material channel is that, beyond – and, as it were, against – the information it carries, it produces noise and nonsense. What we call literature, in other words, stands in an essential (and again, historically variable) relation to a non-meaning, which it must exclude. It is defined not by what it means, but by the difference between meaning and nonmeaning, information and noise, that its medial possibilities set into place. This difference, obviously, is inaccessible to hermeneutics. It is the privileged locus, however, of post-hermeneutic thought.

A criticism oriented by the presuppositions of exteriority and mediality has no place for creative human subjects, allows no room to psychology and its internalizations, refuses to anchor itself in a notion of universal human being. This non-anthropological bent of Kittler’s work will seem disturbing to many readers of the book, who will rightly ask: What is the interest that motivates this critical enterprise? Where are its bonds of solidarity? An answer to these questions, I believe, is implied by the third premise of post-hermeneutic criticism, the premise that defines not its analytical perspective (exteriority), nor its domain of study (mediality), but rather its point of reference and focus of concern. I call this premise the “presupposition of corporeality.”

The reason that the concept of corporeality defines the point of reference for post-hermeneutic criticism is clear. The body is the site upon which the various technologies of our culture inscribe themselves, the connecting link to which and from which our medial means of processing, storage, and transmission run. Indeed, in its nervous system, the body itself is a medial apparatus and an elaborate technology. But it is also radically historical in the sense that it is shaped and reshaped by the networks to which it is conjoined. The forerunner of this thinking in terms of corporeality, of course, is Nietzsche, whose philosophy follows, as he put it, the body’s guiding thread and whose aesthetics, as he often insisted, is a physiology. Among the post-structuralists, Foucault cleaves most closely to this aspect of the Nietzschean program, especially in his work on the history of punishment and on sexuality. But in Lacan, too, for whom subject formation takes place at the intersection of the body and the sign)fier, and in Derrida, whose reading of Freud focuses on the question of intra-psychic inscription, the theme of corporeality is insistent. One widespread reading of post- structuralism claims that it eliminates the concept of the subject. It would be more accurate to say that it replaces that concept with that of the body, a transformation which disperses (bodies are multiple), complexifies (bodies are layered systems), and historicizes (bodies are finite and contingent products) subjectivity rather than exchanging it for a simple absence.

The presupposition of corporeality has two major methodological consequences for post-hermeneutic criticism. The first is that the question of agency recedes into the background. The body is not first and foremost an agent or actor, and in order to become one it must suffer a restriction of its possibilities: the attribution of agency is a reduction of complexity. As a result, culture is no longer viewed as a drama in which actors carry out their various projects. Rather, the focus of analysis shifts to the processes that make that drama possible: to the writing of the script, the rehearsals and memorizations, the orders that emanate from the directorial authority. This (in my view) important conceptual shift can be formulated somewhat less metaphorically as follows: post-hermeneutic criticism replaces the foundational notion of praxis (the materialist version of subjective agency) with that of training. Culture is just that: the regimen that bodies pass through; the reduction of randomness, impulse, forgetfulness; the domestication of an animal, as Nietzsche claimed, to the point where it can make, and hold to, a promise.

The second methodological consequence of the presupposition of corporeality is that the sufferance of the body, its essential pathos, becomes a privileged locus for the analysis of discourse networks in terms of both their systematic character and their effectivity. In other words, the point at which discourse networks reveal most sharply their specific impress is in the pathologies they produce. Just as post-hermeneutic criticism focuses on the difference between information and noise, sense and nonsense, that defines every medium, so too it attends to the difference between normal behavior and aberrance (including madness) that lends every cultural formation its identity. The victims who people Kittler’s book–the Bettinas, the Gunderodes, the Nietzsches, the Schrebers–speak the truth of the culture they suffer. Whoever would look for the bonds of solidarity that orient Kittler’s investigation will find them here: in its unmistakable compassion for the pathos of the body in pain. Hermeneutics would appropriate this corporeal singularity in the construction of a meaning. Post-hermeneutic criticism, however, draws its responsibility precisely from the unassimilable otherness of the singular and mortal body. This is the ethical reason it stops making sense.

Marshall McLuhan on recorded sound

From “Understanding Media” (Routledge Classics, 2001), first published 1964

300: “The phonograph, which owes its origin to the electrical telegraph and the telephone, had not manifested its basically electric form and function until the tape recorder released it from it mechanical trappings.”

300: “Just how obliquely the phonograph was at first received is indicated in the observation of John Philip Sousa, the brass-band director and composer. He commented: ‘With the phonograph vocal exercises will be out of vogue! Then what of the national throat? Will it not weaken? What of the national chest? Will it not shrink?’
One fact Sousa had grasped: The phonograph is an extension and amplification of the voice that may well have diminished individual vocal activity, much as the car had reduced pedestrian activity.”

302: “In [Edison’s] own case, his determination to give the phonograph, like the telephone, a direct practical use in business procedures led to his neglect of the instrument as a means of entertainment. Failure to foresee the phonograph as a means of entertainment was really a failure to grasp the meaning of the electric revolution in general. In our time we are reconsiled to the phonograph as a toy and a solace; but press, radio, and TV have also acquired the same dimension of entertainment. Meantime, enterteinment pushed to an extreme becomes the main form of business and politics.”

303: “Electric media, because of their total ‘field’ character, tend to eliminate the fragmented specialties of form and function that we have long accepted as the heritage of alphabet, printing, and mechanization. The brief and compressed history of the phonograph includes all phases of the written, the printed, and the mechanized word. It was the advent of the electric tape recorder that only a few years ago released the phonograph from its temporary involvment in mechanical culture.”

304-305: “It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of complex mechanical forms such as film and phonograph as the prelude to the automation of human song and dance. As this automation of human voice and gesture had approached perfection, so the human work force approached automation. Now in the electric age the assembly line with its human hands disappears, and electric automation brings about a withdrawal of the work force from indystry. Instead of being automated themselves – fragmented in task and function – as had been the tendency under mechanization, men in the electric age move increasingly to involvement in diverse jobs simultneously, and to the work of learning, and to the programming of computers.
This revolutionary logic inherent in the electric age was made fairly clear in the early electric forms of telegraph and telephone that inspired the ‘talking machine’. These new forms that did so much to recover the vocal, auditory, and mimetic world that jad been repressed by the printed word, also inspired the strange new rhythms of ‘the jazz age’.”

305: “Jazz is, indeed, a form of dialogue among instrumentalists and dancers alike. Thus it seemed to make an abrupt break with the homogenous and repetitive rhythms of the smooth waltz. /…/ The waltz is precise, mechanical, and military, as its history manifests. /…/ To the eighteenth century and to the age of Napoleon, the citizen armies seemed to be an individualistic release from th feudal framework of courtly hierarchies. Hence the association of waltz with noble savage, meaning no more than freedom from status and hierarchic deference. The waltzers were all uniform and equal, having free movement in any part of the hall.”

306: “If jazz is considered as a break with mechanism in the direction of the discontinous, the participant, the spontaneous and improvisational, it can also be seen as a return to a sort of oral poetry in which performance is both creation and composition. It is a truism among jazz performers that recorded jazz is ‘as stale as yesterday’s newspaper’. Jazz is alive, like conversation; and like conversation it depends upon a repertory of available themes. But performance is composition. Such performance insures maximal participation among players and dancers alike.”

306: “The separate virtuousity of voice and instruments became the basis of the great musical developments of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The same kind of fragmentation and specialism in the arts and scieces made possible memmoth results in industry and in military enterprise, and in massive cooperative enterprises such as the newspaper and the symphony orchestra.

306-307: “Certainly the phonograph as a product of industrial, assembly-line organization and distribution showed little of the electric qualities that had inspired its growth in the mind of Edison. /…/
It was radio that finally injected a full electric charge into the world of the phonograph. the radio receiver of 1924 was already superior in sound quality, and soon began to depress the phonograph and record business. Eventually, radio restored the record busines by extending popular taste in the direction of the classics.
The real break came after the Second War with the availability of the tape recorder. This meant the end of the incision recording and its attendant surface noise.”

308: “To be in the presence of performing musicians is to experience their touch and handling of instruments as tactile and kinetic, not just as resonant. So it can be said that hi-fi is not any quest for abstract effects of sound in separation from the other senses. With hi-fi, the phonograph meets the TV tactile challenge.
Stereo sound, a further development, is ‘all-around’ or ‘wrap around’ sound. /…/ The hi-fi changeover was really for music what cubism had been for painting, and what symbolism had been for literature; namely, the acceptance of multiple facets and planes in a single experience.”

309: “But the rape recorder in combination with l.p. revolutionized the repertory of classical music. Just as tape meant the new study of spoken rather than written languages, so it brought in the entire musical culture of many centuries and countries.”

309: “A bried summary of the technological events relating to the phonograph might go this way: /…/
The telephone: speech without walls.
The phonograph: music hall without walls.
The photograph: museum without walls.
The electric light: space without walls.
The movie, radio, and TV: classroom without walls.
Man the food-gatherer reappers incongruously as information-gatherer. In this role, electronic man is no less a nomad than his paleolithic ancestors.

Hans Magnus Enzensberger: Constituents of a Theory of the Media (1970)

Originally printed in the New Left Review, no. 64, 1970, pp. 13-36.

Potentialities of communication media
“For the first time in history, the media are making possible mass participiation in a social and socialized productive process, the practical means of which are in the hands of the masses themselves. Such a use of them would bring the communications media, which up to now have not deserved the name, into their own. In its present form, equipment like television or film does not server communication but prevents it. It allows no reciprocal action between transmitter and receiver /…/
This state of affairs, however, cannot be justified technically. On the contrary. Electronic techniques recognize no contradiction in principle between transmitter and receiver. Every transistor radio is, by the matters of its construction, at the same time a potential transmitter; it can interact with other receivers by circuit reversal. The development from a mere distribution medium to a communications medium is technically not a problem. It is consciously prevented for understandable political reasons. The technical distinction between receivers and transmitters reflects the social division of labor into producers and consumers.”

“The radio wars of the 1950s demonstrated that in the realm of communications, national sovereignty is condemned to wither away. The further development of satellites will deal it the coup the grâce. Quarantine regulations for information, such as were promulgated by Fascism and Stalinism, are only possible today at the cost of deliberate industrial regression.
Example. The Soviet bueraucracy, that is to sat the most widespread and complicated bueraucracy in the world, has to deny itself almost entirely an elementary piece of organizational equipment, the duplicating machine, because this instrument potentially makes everyone a printer. /…/ It is clear that Soviet society has to pay an immense price for the suppression of its own productive resources – clumsy procedures, misinformations, faux frais.”

Against unionist interpretations of media
“There is the danger of underestimating growing conflicts in the media field, of neutralizing them, of interpreting them merely in terms of trade unionism or liberalism, on the lines of traditional labor struggles or as the clash of special interests /…/ An appreciation of this kind does not go far enough and remains bogged down in tactical arguments.”

Contradiction
“the contradiction between the present constitution of the media and their revolutionary potential /…/ leads, subjectively, to a split between a puritanical view of political action and the area of private ‘leisure’; objectively, it leads to a split between politically active groups and subcultural groups.”

Manipulation?
“The New Left of the 1960s has reduced the development of the media to a single concept – that of manipulation. /…/ it now threatens to degenerate into a mere slogan which conceals more than it is able to illuminate /…/
The liberal superstition that in political and social questions there is such a thing as pure, unmanipulated truth seems to enjoy remarkable currency among the socialist Left. It is the unspoken basic premise of the manipulation thesis. /…/
The electronic media do away with cleanliness; they are by their nature ‘dirty’. That is part of their productive power. In terms of structure, they are antisecterian – a further reason why the Left /…/ has little idea what to do with them. The desire for a cleanly defined ‘line’ and for the suppression of ‘deviations’ is anachronistic and now serves only one’s own need for security. /…/
It often seems as if it were precisely because of their progressive potential that the media are felt to be an immense threatening power, because for the first time they present a basic challenge to bourgeois culture”

“At the very beginning of the student revolt, during the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley, the computer was a favorite target for aggression.”

“Manipulation – ethymologically, ‘handling’ – means technical treatment of a given material with a particular goal in mind. /…/
Thus every use of the media presupposes manipulation. /…/ There is no such thing as unmanipulated writing, filming or broadcasting. /…/ A revolutionary plan should not require the manipulators to disappear; on the contrary, it must make everyone a manipulator.”

“An all-too-widely disseminated thesis maintains that present-day capitalism lives by the exploitation of unreal needs. /…/ A socialist movement ought not to denounce these needs, but take then seriously, investigate them, and make them politically productive. /…/
These desires are not – or are not primarily – internalized rules of the game as played by the capitalist system. They have physiological roots and can no longer be suppressed. Consumption as spectacle is – in parody form – the anticipation of a utopian situation. /…/
‘Open spaces’ and ‘free time’ are concepts which corral and neutralize the urgent wishes of the masses.”

“Intellectual property”, producers and consumers
“The new media are oriented toward action, not contemplation; /…/ Their attitude to time is completely opposed to that of bourgeois culture, which aspires to possession, that is, to extension in time, best of all, to eternity. The media produce no objects that can be hoarded and auctioned. They do away completely with ‘intellectual property’ /…/
It is wrong to regard media equipment as mere means of consumption. It is always, in principle, also means of production /…/
The contradiction between producers and consumers is not inherent in the electronic media; on the contrary, it has to be artificially reinforced by economic and administrative measures. /…/
– the prevailing laws for control of the air are anachronistic. They recall the time when the operation of a printing pres was depentent on an imperial license.”

“It has long been clear from apparatus like miniature and 8 mm movie cameras, as well as the tape recorder, which are in actual fact already in the hands of the masses, that the individual, so long as he remains isolated, can become with their help at best an amateur but not a producer. Even so potent a means of production as the shortwave transmitter has been tamed in this way and reduced to a harmless and inconsequential hobby in the hands of scattered radio hams. /…/
Any socialist strategy for the media must, on the contrary, strive to end the isolation of the individual participants from the social learning and production process. /…/ Anyone who expects to be emancipated by technological hardware, or by a system of hardware however structured, is the victim of an obscure belief in progress.”

Georg Lukács as example of a reactionary position
“‘Anything that culture produces’ can, according to Lukács, ‘have real value only if it is in itself valuable, if the creation of each individual product is from the standpoint of its maker and a single, finite proces. It must, however, be a proces conditioned by the human potentialities and capabilities of the creator. The most typical example of such a process is the work of art, where the entire genesis of the work is exklusively the result of the artist’s labor /…/ In highly developed mechanical industry, on the other hand, any connection between the product and the creator is abolished. The human being serves the machine, he adapts to it.’ /…/
These nostalgic backward glances at the landscape of the last century, these reactionary ideals, are already the forerunners of socialist realism, which mercilessy galvanized and then buried those very ‘cultural values’ which Lukács rode out to rescue.”

On the N.Y. avantgarde and McLuhan
“From the Cabaret Voltaire to Andy Warhol’s Factory, /…/ the apolitical have made much more radical progress in dealing with the media than any grouping of the Left. /…/ Today this apolitical avant-garde has found its ventriloquist and prophet in Marshall McLuhan, an author who admittedly lacks any analytical categories for the understanding of social processes, but whose confused books serve as a quarry of undigested observations for the media industry. /…/
This charlatan’s most famous saying – ‘the medium is the message’ – perhaps deserves more attention. In spite of its provocative idiocy, it betrays more than its author knows. /…/
The complementary mistake consists in the widespread illusion that media are neutral instruments by which any ‘messages’ one pleases can be transmitted without regard for their structure or for the structure of the medium. In the East European countries the television newsreaders read fifteen-minute long conference communiqués and Central Committee resolutions which are not even suitable for printing in a newspaper, clearly under the delusion that they might fascinate a public of millions.
The sentence, ‘the medium is the message’, transmits yet another mesage, however, and a much more important one. It tells us that the bourgeoisie does indeed have all possible means at its disposal to communicate something to is, but that it has nothing more to say. /…/ It wants the media as such and to no purpose.
This wish has been shared for decades and given symbolical expression by an artistic avant-garde whose program logically admits only the alternative of negative signals and amorphous noise. Example: the already outdated ‘literature of silence’, Warhol’s films in which every thing can happen at once or nothing at all, and John Cage’s forty-five-minute-long Lecture on Nothing (1959).”

Writing and talking
“Written literature has, historically speaking, played a dominant role for only a few centuries. /…/ Now it is being succeeded by the age of the electronic media, which tend once more to make people speak. /…/
The formalization of written language permits and encourages the repression of opposition. In speech, unresolved contradictions betray themselves by pauses, hesitations, slips of the tongue, repetitions, anacoluthons, quite apart from phrasing, mimicry, gesticulation, pace, and volume. The aesthetic of written literature scorns such involuntary factors as ‘misdirections’. It demands, explicitly or implicitly, the smoothing out of contradictions, rationalization, regularization of the spoken form irrespective of content. /…/
Structurally, the printed book is a medium that operates as a monologue, isolating producer and reader. /…/
None of the characteristics that distinguish written and printed literature apply to the electronic media. Microphone and camera abolish the class character of the mode of production (not of the production itself). /…/
As at present constituted, radio, film, and television are burdened to excess with authoritarian characteristics, the characteristics of the monologue, which they have inherited from older methods of production – and that is no accident. These outworn elements in today’s media aesthetics are demanded by the social relations. They do not follow from the structure of the media. On the contrary, they go against it, for the structure demands interaction.”

Original and reproduction, document and fiction
“In the productions of the consciousness industry, the difference between the ‘genuine’ original and the reproduction disappears /…/ Strictly speaking, it has shrunk to its legal dimensions. A document is something the ‘forging’ – that is, the reproduction – of which is punishable by imprisonment. This definition naturally has no theoretical meaning. The reason is that a reproduction, to the extent that its technical quality is good enough, cannot be distinguished in any way from the original, irrespective of whether it is a painting, a passport, or a blank note. The legal concept of the documentary record is only pragmatically useful, it serves only to protext economic interests.
The productions of the electronic media, by their nature, evade such distinctions as those between documentary and feature films. They are in every case explicitely determined by the given situation. The producer can never pretend, like the traditional novelist, ‘to stand above things’. He is therefore partisan from the start. This fact finds formal expression in his techniques. Cutting, editing, dubbing – these are techniques for conscious manipulation without which the use of the new media is inconceivable. /…/ The material, whether ‘documentary’ or ‘fiction’, is in each case only a prototype, a half-finished article, and the more closely one examines its origins, the more blurred the difference becomes. (Develop more precisely. The reality in which a camera turns up is always faked, e.g. the moon landing.)”