Notes for Friedrich Kittler Gramophone, Film, Typewriter
Key concepts: .
Philosophy and other arts are computed in information networks. Hints at media studies discovering clues, which to Hayles is the new way of doing science, of end-of-literature digital media in other media.
Related theorists: Freud, Lacan, Nietzsche, Saussure, Sterne, Turing, Zizek.
Originally started in April of 2010, reread for Grajeda in Fall 2011.
TRANSLATORS' INTRODUCTION: Friedrich
Kittler and Media Discourse Analysis
MEDIA AWAKENINGS: THE USUAL SUSPECTS
Translator: persistent nasty cliché in media studies that Phaedrus provided a comprehensive critique of computers.
(xiii) Of the many learned cliches circulating in the widening gyre of media studies, the most persistent may be the assurance that all the nasty things we can say about computers were already spelled out in Plato's critique of writing in Phaedrus.
(xxxix) Tap my head and mike my brain, Stick that needle in my vain. [THOMAS PYNCHON]
In terms of rhetorical effect, few critical works addressing the human situation with respect to technological media more compellingly cast the serious need to study it than the first paragraphs of this preface.
This is why Fred Miller asked me to define virtual reality; it is also significant that this German translation starts with a non-translated English quotation from Pynchon.
(xxxix) Media determine our situation, which–in spite or because of
it–deserves a description.
(xxxix) Indeed: in 1941, with the knowledge of files and technologies, enemy positions and deployment plans, and located at the center of the Army High Command in Berlin's Bendlerstrasse, it may still have been possible to take stock of the situation.
A pessimism that the thought world of the machines is beyond human reach, somehow related to Ong rejecting the study of programming languages and their texts; nonetheless, by a putatively psychoanalytic styled method media situations can be discerned from other media, yielding stories and myths, the stuff of humanities.
Kittler technological determinism based on war as mother of all things. Obsolete media like pinball machines running x86 8-bit ISA circuits Kittler may have comprehended.
Yet the situation must be more readily understandable now for being modulated by decades of psychological research and studies of human computer interaction shaped by the tendency to recast everything in rationalized terms amenable to modeling (Simon; Turkle): I propose that there is value in teasing out a more detailed theory of what happened to the mutually augmenting human computer symbiosis such that its trajectory has now veered towards diminished human capacity to thoughtfully interact with machines permitting an equilibrium to exist in which the latter continue to become smarter, and the former, dumber, taken as less mobile, industrious, more striated.
Hayles declares Kittler a technological determinist hooked on the ancient philosophical position privileging war as primary ontological factor affecting evolution of technologies; nonetheless this strong statement on the obscurity of the present situation substantiates his claim elsewhere of the charlatanism of the putative philosophers of computing of the time, misunderstanding the differences between hardware and software, ignoring the moral hazards of protected modes and trusted computing; their shortcomings have led to the current state of siren server dominance as latest instantiation what Heidegger declared as a sort of language machine carried by the combination of humans, media, media machines, networks: that human writing liquefies into network phenomena makes mass misconception of objectives once combinatory level of humans and machines is better understood.
(xxxix-xl) The present situation is more obscure. First, the pertinent files are kept in archives that will all remain classified for exactly as many years as there remains a difference between files and facts, between planned objectives and their realization. Second, even secret files suffer a loss of power when real streams of data, bypassing writing and writers, turn out merely to be unreadable series of numbers circulating between networked computers. Technologies that not only subvert writing, but engulf it and carry it off along with so-called Man, render their own description impossible. Increasingly, data flows once confined to books and later to records and files are disappearing into black holes and boxes that, as artificial intelligence, are bidding us farewell on their way to nameless high commands. In this situation, we are left only with reminiscences, that is to say, with stories. How that which is written in no book came to pass may still be for books to record. Pushed to their margins even obsolete media become sensitive enough to register the signs and clues of a situation. Then, as in the case of the sectional plane of two optical media, patterns and moires emerge: myths, fictions of science, oracles.
Psychoanalytic analysis of books about media: this is where the music enters finally after being rejected by default logic since Plato. I am back to the Symposium after years in Phaedrus. Computarar. It is really for the below realization that I recovered from Lacan.
(xl) This book is a story made up of such stories. . . . Those early and seemingly harmless machines capable of storing and therefore separating sounds, sights, and writing ushered in a technologizing of information that, in retrospect, paved the way for today's self-recursive stream of numbers.
Kittler sees this Heideggerian shimmering on the boundary of polar opposites as well, although I detect in his language a reticence at throwing oneself life long into programming. Through extrapolation of this statement we reach coding philosophy into popular digital culture. As he tells the story before electronic computers and dreams of photon computers, I tell the middle age when personal electronic computers shaped digital popular culture. The analytical tool I am developing to test these hypotheses is a free, open source software project creating ensoniments of Plato's Symposia, symposia.
Heidegger confused writing with textbook writing, unable to perform the exploratory psychoanalysis of media themselves that Kittler does here as well as in DN.
(xl) Heidegger said as much with his fine statement that technology itself prevents any experience of its essence. However, Heidegger's textbook-like confusion of writing and experience need not be; in lieu of philosophical inquiries into essence, simple knowledge will do.
Such as knowledge of how these technologies work, in order to philosophize PHI PHI (with them).
From the machine side of reality human souls are encased in network phenomena.
A profound and sobering statement about our inability to get to the bottom of understanding media; we are left with machine embodiment engineer perspective probing the unconscious of technology.
Sterne in Audible Past carefully develops argument against transcendental original/copy distinction in sound reproduction that is echoed here with respect to the requirement of using media in order to contemplate anything, including the nature of media.
(xl-xli) We can provide the technological and historical data upon which fictional media texts, too, are based. Only then will the old and the new, books and their technological successors, arrive as the information they are. Understanding media–despite McLuhan's title–remains an impossibility precisely because the dominant information technologies of the day control all understanding and its illusion. . . . What counts are not the messages or the content with which they equip so-called souls for the duration of a technological era, but rather (and in strict accordance with McLuhan) their circuits, the very schematism of perceptibility.
We can include circuits, but should continue in virtual reality by writing computer programs, by programming, thinking pro and gramming as a historical sequence from the present to previous electronic and Greek grammata as external marks in Phaedrus eras, stain the visual (could be audible) field with their marks, after Kittler and Manovich declare that software has taken command, despite the complaint that inscrutable machine processes are not worth attempting to comprehend, since in the end we will encounter either reflections of our own concepts of cognition, or the limits of perceptibility.
If by this statement Kittler does invite study of technological circuits, it necessarily extends beyond physical configurations into software, and, following Sterne, social and cultural practices (medium is a recurring set of contingent social relations and social practices); it is just that the machines themselves may have evolved or necessitated their own equivalents of social and cultural practices, so can settle for sensing the circuits of an electronic pinball machine.
(xli) Whosoever is able to hear or see the circuits in the synthesized sound of CDs or in the laser storms of a disco finds happiness. A happiness beyond the ice, as Nietzsche would have said.
War spawns technological media inventions: like the selfish meme, the unconscious of technology and the unconscious and consciousness of all artificial intelligence.
These four levels are apparent: Kittler, PHI: Lacan, Benjamin, Foucault, McLuhan, Ong, Deleuze, Heidegger, Nietzsche?
(xli) In 1945, in the half-burned, typed minutes of the Army High Command's final conferences, war was already named the father of all things: in a very free paraphrase of Heraclitus, it spawns most technological inventions. And since 1973, when Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow was published, it has become clear that real wars are not fought for people for fatherlands, but take place between different media, information technologies, data flows. Patterns and moires of a situation that has forgotten us . . .
GRAMOPHONE, FILM, TYPEWRITER
Any machine including writing and sounds can exist on optical fiber networks. Images and sounds relate to: images as noein and legein, and sounds as what?, that missing mode of perception always impossible to literary state of the art. Ever since the flute player was dismissed it has been a single speaker at a time world, hallucinating many at once, expressed scientifically as compound citations. We are in the postliterary where it makes sense to read and write program source code in addition to literature.
(1) Optical fiber networks. People will be hooked to an information channel that can be used for any medium – for the first time in history, or for its end. Once movies and music, phone calls and texts reach households via optical fiber cables, the formerly distinct media of television, radio, telephone, and mail converge, standardized by transmission frequencies and bit format. The optoelectric channel in particular will be immune to disturbances that might randomize the pretty bit patterns behind the images and sounds. Immune, that is, to the bomb.
Consumer media consumption is pleasurable byproduct of warfare media control, though possibly planned that way, spawning discussions about unintended uses that are popular to critics of technological determinism; must Kittler be read as either a psychoanalyst or a determinist?
(1) The Pentagon is engaged in farsighted planning: only the substitution of optical fibers for metal cables can accommodate the enormous rates and volumes of bits required, spent, and celebrated by electronic warfare. . . . In the meantime, pleasure is produced as a by-product: people are free to channel-surf among entertainment media.
Taken to its extreme where all media converge in machine intelligence networks, the pursuit becomes pointless; media cannot be identified in the homogeneity of converged media, a different convergence that Henry Jenkins conceives it.
(1-2) Sound and image, voice and text are reduced to surface effects, known to consumers as interface. . . . a total media link on a digital base will erase the very concept of medium.
This enumeration of storage media, writing, film, and photography, map on typewriter and film, which implies gramophone, giving reason for the title of the book, as the basic containers of intelligence that govern things beyond and including the military usage. Instantiation of writing, film, photography, gramophony in virtual realities emanating from the machine network (Internet) is unthinkable to the ancient Greeks whose perspective so structures our current sciences and explanations of reality. Connect this to Thibaud and other texts in sound studies as kindred discipline. I mean Bassett.
(2) Today's standard comprises partially connected media links that are still comprehensible in McLuhan's terms. . . . Accordingly, the large media networks, which have been in existence since the thirties, have been able to fall back on all three storage media – writing, film, and photography – to link up and send their signals at will.
His statement implies computers are not conscious, capable of manufacturing believable content for humans: it is only data like any other data. The storage media. Likewise Stern ignores possibilities of programmed ensoniment of written texts.
Assumption that media systems do not compute data consumed by humans like acknowledgment that living writing idealized by Plato does not exist, leaving only adjustments to technological nonconscious implied by psychoanalytic cure overcoming the ignorance of the chicken, whereas permitting enough of a soul to the machinic Big Other to have cognitions alien to our ken reopens the philosophical wilderness foreclosed by biases of humanists swayed by Zizek and others.
(2) Our media systems merely distribute the words, noises, and images people can transmit and receive. But they do not compute these data. They do not produce an output that, under computer control, transforms any algorithm into any interface effect, to the point where people take leave of their senses. At this point, the only thing being computed is the transmission quality of storage media, which appear in the media links as the content of the media.
A striking statement that death is primarily a radio topic, today leading up to the quote I was really looking for to connect to Stern and Reddell, who both dismiss Kittler.
I suggest the real problem is Lacans ocularcentrism limiting possible programmed sounds; that is why I am creating the example of symposia, to demonstrate something the collective would never budget a staff to produce: bazaar thinking versus cathedral production, which Kittler points out Nietzsche criticized as subhuman.
Telegenic face, radiogenic voices made for mass media, although media had to link up in uncanny Lacanian way.
(2-3) A composite of face and voice that remains calm, even when faced during a televised debate by an opponent named Richard M. Nixon, is deeped telegenic and may win a presidential election, as in Kennedy's case. Voices that an optical close-up would reveal as treacherous, however, are called radiogenic and rule over the VE 301, the Volksempfanger of the Second World Ware. For, as the Heidegger disciple among Germany's early radio experts realized, “death is primarily a radio topic.”
Lacanian coincidence leading to media genesis: film and phonogram (gramophone) as the first mechanical recording apparatus operating on the flow of optical and acoustic data, before electronic as the after the literary.
Zizek fantasy comes first, eventually the Lacanian Big Other replies as AI.
(3) But these sense perceptions had to be fabricated first. For media to link up and achieve dominance, we need a coincidence in the Lacanian sense: that something ceases not to write itself. Prior to the electrification of media, and well before their electronic end, there were modest, merely mechanical apparatuses. Unable to amplify or transmit, they nevertheless were the first to store sensory data: silent movies stored sights, and Edison's phonograph (which, unlike Berliner's later gramophone, was capable both of recording and reproducing) stored sounds.
Ears and eyes become autonomous; media always already beyond aesthetics, defining what really is.
(3) Ever since that epochal change we have been in possession of storage technologies that can record and reproduce the very time flow of acoustic and optical data. Ears and eyes have become autonomous. And that changed that state of reality more than lithography and photograph, which (according to Benjamin's thesis) in the first third of the nineteenth century merely propelled the work of art into the age of its technical reproducibility. Media “define what really is”; they are always already beyond aesthetics.
Acoustic is unthought; optical has been divided into noein and legein, the all-at-once and sequential forms of totalities. This guy invokes Lacan; I love him! Should read recent, untranslated German texts.
(3) What phonographs and cinematographs, whose names not coincidentally derive from writing, were able to store was time: time as a mixture of audio frequencies in the acoustic realm and as the movement of single-image sequences in the optical.
Bottleneck of signifier in media systems fundamental to alphabetic writing systems.
(4) Texts and scores – Europe had no other means of storing time. Both are based on a writing system whose time is (in Lacan's term) symbolic. Using projections and retrievals, this time memorizes itself – like a chain of chains. Nevertheless, whatever ran as time on a physical or (again in Laan's terms) real level, blindly and unpredictably, could by no means be encoded. Therefore, all data flows, provided they really were streams of data, had to pass through the bottleneck of the signifier. Alphabetic monopoly, grammatology.
Thus the translators subtitle their introduction Friedrich Kittler and Media Discourse Analysis to signal the need to iterate upon discourse analysis as media discourse analysis.
(5) And Foucault, the last historian or first archaeologist, merely had to look things up. The suspicion that all power emanates from the returns to archives could be brilliantly confirmed, at least within the realms of law, medicine, and theology. . . . Even writing itself, before it ends up in libraries, is a communication medium, the technology of which the archaeologist simply forgot. . . . Discourse analysis cannot be applied to sound archives or towers of film rolls.
Everything used to be communicated via writing; thus its unconscious is also instructive of questions it never answers, such as this kind of thought about capabilities of different media from written archives to optical fiber networks: is it similar that orality does not question itself, whereas literacy can question itself as a memory technic, but not at the level Kittler claims occurs naturally now as electronic media proliferate?
(5-6) More simply, but no less technically than tomorrow's fiber optic cables, writing functioned as a universal medium – in times when there was no concept of medium.
A psychoanalytic approach methodologically, but opens to sound studies (Sterne).
(6-7) Such research [Ong] remained unthinkable as long as the
opposite of “history” was simply termed (again following Goethe)
“legend.” Prehistory was subsumed by its mythical name; Goethe's
definition of literature did not even have to mention optical or
acoustic data flows. . . . However, since it has become possible to
record the epics of the last Homeric bards, who until recently were
wandering through Serbia and Croatia, oral mnemotechnics or cultures
have become reconstructable in a completely different way. . . .
“Primary orality” and “oral history” came into existence only
after the end of the writing monopoly, as the technological shadows
of the apparatuses that document them.
(7) Writing, however, stored writing – no more and no less.
According to footnote, Nietzsche translation on Delphic oracle to Zeno; compare to my finding in DL.
(8) When the Stoic philosopher Zeno asked the oracle at Delphi how he should best lead his life, he was given the answer “that he should mate with the dead. He understood this to mean that he should read the ancients.”
Reign of writing, which only stored writing, since Plato until fantasy machines come into being, was hallucination of virtual realities in human bodies described by Hegel, Novalis and Schlegel.
(8-9) Silhouettes or pastel drawings fixed facial expressions, and
scores were unable to store noise. But once a hand took hold of a
pen, something miraculous occurred: the body, which did not cease not
to write itself, left strangely unavoidable traces. [shame of
handwriting in Botho Strauss fiction] . . . Before their [phonography
and cinema] invention, however, handwriting alone could guarantee the
perfect securing of traces. . . . As Hegel so correctly observed, the
alphabetized individual has his “appearance and externality” in
this continuous flow of ink or letters.
(9) “If one reads in the right way,” Novalis wrote, “the words will unfold in us a real, visible world.” And his friend Schlegel added that “one believes to hear what one merely reads.” . . . Effort had been removed from writing, and sound from reading, in order to naturalize writing. The letters that educated readers skimmed over provided people with sights and sounds.
Living writing realized as hallucinations of sights and sounds. Goethe produced human soul powered virtual reality generators.
(9) Aided by compulsory education and new alphabetization techniques,
the book became both film and record around 19800 – not as a
media-technological reality, but in the imaginary of readers' souls.
As a surrogate of unstorable data flows, books came to power and
(10) Once storage media can accommodate optical and acoustic data, human memory capacity is bound to dwindle. Its “literation” is its end.
Grid of symbolic required by arts to pass through human users and maintain their being: these technologies store reality directly, and break Cartesian (and the whole modern philosophy period) doubt of sensation because media guarantee representation being mechanically produced by their objects.
(11-12) In contrast to the arts, media do not have to make do with
the grid of the symbolic. That is to say, they reconstruct bodies not
only in a system of words or colors or sound intervals. Media and
media only fulfill the “high standards” that (according to Rudolf
Arnheim) we expect from “reproductions” since the invention of
photography: “They are not only supposed to resemble the object,
but rather guarantee this resemblance by being, as it were, a product
of the object in question, that is, by being mechanically produced by
it – just as the illuminated objects of reality imprint their image
on the phonographic layer, or the frequency curves of noises inscribe
their wavelike shapes on to the phonographic late.
(13) The realm of the dead is as extensive as the storage and transmission capabilities of a given culture.
(13) Of course the Pentagon does not keep a handwritten list of good and bad days. Office technology keeps up with media technology. Cinema and the phonograph, Edison's two great achievements that ushered in the present, are complemented by the typewriter. . . . In order to store series of sights and sounds, Old Europe's only storage technology first had to be mechanized. Hans Magnus Malling Hansen in Copenhagen and Christopher Latham Sholes in Milwaukee developed mass-producible typewriters.
(14) Remington, not Edison, took over Shole's discourse machine gun.
Edison/Jobs, Gates: unlike mythical Theuth, media are now on course from differentiation to convergence where everything abides in fiber optic networks.
(14) Thus, there was no Marvelous One from whose brow sprang all
three media technologies of the modern age. On the contrary, the
beginning of our age was marked by separation or
(14) In standardized texts, paper and body, writing and soul fall apart. . . . The historical synchronicity of cinema, phonography, and typewriting separated optical, acoustic, and written data flows, thereby rendering them autonomous. That electric or electronic media can recombine them does not change the fact of their differentiation.
Lacan real, imaginary, symbolic symptoms of differentiation of modern, postliterate media technologies: literation is the symbolic, cinema the imaginary.
(15) Lacan's “methodological distinction” among the real, the
imaginary, and the symbolic is the theory (or merely a historical
effect) of that differentiation. The symbolic now encompasses
linguistic signs in their materiality and technicity.
(15) Thus, the imaginary implements precisely those optical illusions that were being researched in the early days of cinema.
Where does phonography manifest itself, you guessed it, the real, the cool place Zizek likes, too; but what of the symbolic owned by machine communication?
(15-16) Finally, of the real nothing can be brought to light than what Lacan proposed – that is, nothing. It forms the waste or residue that neither the mirror of the imaginary nor the grid of the symbolic can catch: the physiological accidents and stochastic disorder of bodies.
Evidence of his psychoanalytic approach in addition to invocation of Lacan.
(16) The methodological distinctions of modern psychoanalysis clearly
coincide with the distinctions of media technology.
(16) Thus, the symbolic has the status of block letters. . . . Thus, the imaginary has the status of cinema. . . . Thus, the real – especially in the talking cure known as psychoanalysis – has the status of phonography.
Enter AI functionalism as machines take over functions of central nervous system.
(16) Machines take over functions of the central nervous system, and no longer, as in times past, merely those of muscles. And with this differentiation – and not with steam engines and railroads – a clear division occurs between matter and information, the real and the symbolic. . . . So-called Man is split up into physiology and information technology.
Human being is equated to natural automata running programs; how does this distortion of human being affect our distorted view of the Lacanian Big Other? A quote from Nietzsche that would be very valuable to locate. Also a diagram of a Markoff chain.
Markoff chain view of consciousness; Nietzsche wondered about programmed nature of humans.
Thought is replaced by a Boolean algebra, and consciousness by the
unconscious, which (at least since Lacan's reading) makes of Poe's
“Purloined Letter” a Markoff
the symbolic is called the world of the machine undermines Man's
delusion of possessing a “quality” called “consciousness,”
which identifies him as something other and better than a
“calculating machine.” For
both people and computers are “subject to the appeal of their
signifier”; that is, they are both run by programs. “Are these
humans,” Nietzsche already asked himself in 1874, eight years
before buying a typewriter, “or perhaps only thinking, writing, and
(17) Alternate translation “they are not human beings but only flesh-and-blood compendia and as it were abstractions made concrete” (85-86) for “or perhaps only thinking, writing, and speaking machines?”
(18) That's all. But no computer that has been built or ever will be built can do more. Even the most advanced Von Neumann machines (with program storage and computing units), though they operate much faster, are in principle no different from Turing's infinitely slow model. . . . And with that the world of the symbolic really turned into the world of the machine.
Our posthuman situation, although narrowly focused; expand scope with Hayles.
(19) All data streams flow into a state n of Turing's universal machine; Romanticism notwithstanding, numbers and figures become the key to all creatures.
(23) Wagner's Gesamtkunstwerk, that monomaniacal anticipation of modern media technologies, had already transgressed the traditional boundaries of words and music to do justice to the unarticulated.
(24) Nevertheless, Wagner's musico-physiological dream at the outset of the tetralogy sounds like a historical transition from intervals to frequencies, from a logic to a physics of sound.
The real takes place of symbolic that cannot extend into alien temporalities meaningfully for humans; historical example of belt driven, five key mouth sculptures sound producing instrument.
(24) The measure of length is replaced by time as an independent
variable. It is a physical time removed from the meters and rhythms
of music. It quantifies movements at are too fast for the human eye,
ranging from 20 to 16,000 vibrations per second. The real takes the
place of the symbolic.
(26) The synthetic production of frequencies is followed by their analysis. Fourier had already provided the mathematical theory, but that theory had yet to be implemented technologically. In 1830, Wilhelm Weber in Gottingen had a tuning fork record its own vibrations. He attached a pig's bristle to one of the tongues, which etched its frequency curves into sooty glass. Such were the humble, or animal, origins of our gramophone needles.
(28) A telegraph as an artificial mouth, a telephone as an artificial ear – the stage was set for the phonograph. Functions of the central nervous system had been technologically implemented. . . . Helmholtz, as the perfecter of vowel theory, is allied with Edison, the perfecter of measuring instruments. Which is why sound storage, initially a mechanically primitive affair on the level of Weber's pig bristle, could not be invented until the soul feel prey to science.
Suggests models of brain developed reciprocally with invention of phonograph; Kittler includes long passages by Guyau, Rilke, Renard, Friedlaender as tutor texts.
(29) Thanks to the invention of the phonograph, the very theories that were its historical a priori can now optimize their analogous models of the brain.
JEAN-MARIE GUYAU, “MEMORY AND PHONOGRAPH” (1880)
Reading and writing as indispensable operations of any universal machine, including the brain.
(33) Unlike Gutenberg's printing press or Ehrlich's automatic pianos
in the brain metaphors of Taine and Spencer, it [the phonograph]
alone can combine the two actions indispensable to any universal
machine, discrete or not: writing and reading, storing and scanning,
recording and replaying.
(36) Voices that start to migrate through frequency spectra do not simply continue old literary word-game techniques such as palindromes or anagrams.
(37) Songs become part of their acoustic environment. And lyrics fulfilled what psychoanalysis—originating not coincidentally at the same time—saw as the essence of desire: hallucinatory wish fulfillment.
RAINER MARIA RILKE, “PRIMAL SOUND” (1919)
(48) A subtractive sound analysis, that is, one controlled by frequency filters, transfers the proportional relationships of graphic depictions (rectangles, saw tooth curves, triangles, trapezoids, and maybe even sine curves) into the music envisioned by Mondrian and Moholy-Nagy.
MAURICE RENARD, “DEATH AND THE SHELL” (1907)
SALOMO FRIEDLAENDER, “GOETHE SPEAKS INTO THE PHONOGRAPH” (1916)
Friedlaender story plays on idea of recording residual vibrations of Goethe voice; answers question from the future: how we experience machine consciousness, where do we find it is in these literary works and in physical devices that interact with humans.
(70-72) As a modern engineer who
wants to spread his knowledge using everyday language, Professor
Pschorr minces no words: “Whenever Goethe spoke, his voice produced
vibrations as harmonious as, for example, the soft voice of your
wife, dear Reader.” However, the fact that what Goethe had to say
was “meaningful” enough to fill the 144 volumes of the
Grossherzogin-Sophien edition is irrelevant. Once again notions of
frequency are victorious over works, heartfelt melodies, and
signifieds. . . . [quoting Rudolph Lothar The
Talking Machine: A Technical-Aesthetic Essay]
The unit of measurement for all wave motions is the meter, the unit
of time is the second. . . . Sound vibrations exhibit significantly
lower frequencies than those described above. . . . But engineers
like Pschorr are ahead of “other people,” even radio wave poets:
their “spirits hail”--to quote the engineer-poet Max Eyth--”not
from the world that was but from the one that will be.” . . . (To
posthumously film Goethe would require technologies capable of
recording in the terahertz range.)
(72) But although he invented a relatively sensitive powder microphone (as opposed to Hughes's carbon microphone), Edison was not able to access the dead. . . . Goethe's bass frequencies, vibrating in infinity between 100 and 400 hertz in his Weimar abode, remained unmeasurable.
(72-73) Pschorr's miraculous microphone could only have worked with the help of tube-type technology. Short stories of 1916 require the most up-to-date technologies. . . . As the first precursor of the revolutionary media poets Brecht and Enzensberger, Pschorr assumes that transmitter and receiver are in principle reversible.
(73-74) The reconstructed respiratory system of a corpse as a band-pass filter, a microphone- and tube-type-enhanced phonograph as a storage medium—Pschorr is ready to go to work. He has engineered a crucial link between physiology and technology, the principal connection that served as the basis for Rilke's “Primal Sound” and all media conceptions at the turn of the century. Only today's ubiquitous digitization can afford to do without such “radicalness,” which in Pschorr's case consisted in short-circuiting “cadavers” and machines. Once the stochastics of the real allow for encipherment, that is to say, for algorithms, Turing's laconic statement that there would be “little point in trying to make a 'thinking machine' more human by dressing it up in artificial flesh” is validated.
(74) Rilke's and Pschorr's projects are far removed from fiction.
(75) Once Saussure's Cours de linguistique generale turned into a general algorithm of speech analysis and production, microprocessors could extract the phonemic repository of speakers from their speeches without having to fear, as did the media-technological heroes of yore, the blood and poison of corpses.
Automatic action of repeated hearings replace memorization; technology helps forgetful living, inviting audio version of Plato critique of writing.
(80) Illiterates in particular are their prime consumers, because
what under oral conditions required at least some kind of
mnemotechnology is now fully automatized. “The more complicated the
technology, the simpler,” that is, the more forgetful, “we can
live.” Records turn and turn until phonographic inscriptions
inscribe themselves into brain physiology. We all know hits and rock
songs by heart precisely because there is no reason to memorize them
(83) The wheel of media technology cannot be turned back to retrieve the soul, the imaginary of all Classic-Romantic poetry.
Epoch of nonsense begins with mechanical recording and reproduction (nod to Draculas legacy), inviting psychanalysis by turning ears into similar technical apparatus, like a telephone receiver.
(85-86) Thanks to the phonograph,
science is for the first time in possession of a machine that records
noises regardless of so-called meaning. Written protocols were always
unintentional selections of meaning. . . . Mechanization relieves
people of their memories and permits a linguistic hodgepodge hitherto
stifled by the monopoly of writing. . . . The epoch of nonsense, our
epoch, can begin.
(87) Since 1897, the year of Dracula's publication, this procedure has no longer belonged to the realm of fiction. A science has emerged that turns it and all its particulars into a method: psychoanalysis.
(88) And for good reason: the psychoanalyst in his chair would also be faced with the problem of repressing or filtering the communication of an alien subconscious with his own subconscious had he not from the very beginning turned his ears into a technical apparatus. . . . [quoting Freud “Recommendations to Physicians Practising Psycho-Analysis”] he must turn his own unconscious like a receptive organ towards the transmitting unconscious of the patient. He must adjust himself to the patient as a telephone receiver is adjusted to the transmitting microphone.
The famous passage that establishes Kittler as technological determinist reducing everything to military operations, contrast historical developments by Sterne and Hayles.
(94) Berliner's gramophone record
of 1887, which no longer allowed consumers to make their own
recordings but which since 1893 has allowed producers infinite
reproductions of a single metal matrix, became the “prerequisite of
the record mass market,” with a return that exceeded the 100
million dollar mark before the advent of radio.
(96-97) The entertainment industry is, in any conceivable sense of the word, an abuse of army equipment.
(97) For the simple purpose of avoiding the anarchistic abuse of military radio equipment, Germany received its entertainment radio network.
(99) In order to locate Cocteau's submarine ghosts, a world war, the second one, had to break out.
(103) Survivors and those born later, however, are allowed to inhabit stereophonic environments that have popularized and commercialized the trigonometry of air battles.
(105) Frequency modulation and signal multiplexing, the two components of VHF, are of course not a U.S. commercial discovery of the 1950s.
(107) As Ludendorff had pointed out, it is a truth of Total War that “the mass usage of technological equipment can be tested much better in wartime than would ever be possible in peace.” The motorized and mobilized audiotape finally delivered radio from disc storage; “Yellow Submarine,” or “war as acoustic experience,” became playable.
(107-108) The world-war audiotape inaugurated the musical-acoustic present. Beyond storage and transmission, gramophone and radio, it create empires of simulation. In England, Turing himself considered using a captured German Magnetophone as the storage mechanisms for his projected large computer.
Collage using sound addressed in Hayles as aspect of posthuman; Pink Floyd welcome to the machine appropriate.
(109) Editing and interception
control make the unmanipulable as manipulable as symbolic chains had
been in the arts. . . . “Welcome to the machine,” Pink Floyd
sang, by which they meant, “tape for its own ends—a form of
collage using sound.”
(111) Rock songs sing of the very media power which sustains them.
(114) Before Hendrix, the paratrooper of the 101st Airborne, cuts his machine-gun-like guitar to the title song, tape technology operates for its own sake: tympana, jet engines, pistol shots. Writing can write nothing of that. The Songbook for Electric Ladyland notes the tape's forward and backward motion as well as its changing speed and the test points of a blind but manipulable time. The title on the cover—that which does not cease not to write itself.
(115) Since its inception, cinema has been the manipulation of optic nerves and their time.
(119) Optical signal processing in real time remains a thing of the future.
(119) Phonography and feature film correspond to one another as do the real and the imaginary.
(120) Nietzsche's ghastly night is the first attempt to christen sensory deprivation as the background to and other of all technological media.
(122) Coupled with the afterimage effect, Faraday's stroboscopic effect became the necessary and sufficient condition for the illusions of cinema.
(124) The history of the movie camera thus coincides with the history of automatic weapons.
(128) On the three fronts of war, disease, and criminality—the major lines of combat of every invasion by media—serial photography entered into everyday life in order to bring about new bodies.
(133) Total use of media instead of total literacy: sound film and video cameras as mass entertainment liquidate the real event.
SALOMO FRIEDLAENDER, “FATA MORGANA MACHINE” (CA. 1920)
(140) Deaf, mute, and blind, bodies are brought up to the reaction speed of World War n+1, as if housed in a gigantic simulation chamber. Computerized weapons systems are more demanding than automatized ones. If the joysticks of Atari video games make children illiterate, President Reagan welcomed them for just that reason: as a training ground for future bomber pilots.
(146) The age of media (not just since Turing's game of imitation) renders indistinguishable what is human and what is machine, who is mad and who is faking it.
(149) With the somnambulism of his medium, Dr. Caligari already programs “the collective hypnosis” into which the “darkness of the theater and the glow of the screen” transport an audience.
Theory of unconscious crosses cinematic cutting technologies. Model becomes reconstructed Golem made of Golems.
(153) Only in the competition
between media do the symbolic and the imaginary bifurcate. Freud
translates the uncanny of the Romantic period into science, Melies,
into mass entertainment. It is precisely this fantasizing, anatomized
by psychoanalysis, that film implements with powerful effect. This
bilateral assault dispels doppelgangers from their books, which
become devoid of pictures. On-screen, however, doppelgangers or their
iterations celebrate the theory of the unconscious as the
technology of cinematic cutting,
and vice versa.
(155) Books (since Moses and Mohammed) have been writing writing; films are filming filming. Where art criticism demands expressionism or self-referentiality, media have always been advertising themselves.
(161) Cinema is a psychological experiment under conditions of everyday reality that uncovers unconscious processes of the central nervous system. Conversely, traditional arts such as theater, which Munsterberg (following Vachel Lindsay) continuously cites as a counterexample, must presuppose an always-already functioning perception without playing with their mechanisms.
(162) [quoting Munsterberg] The close-up has objectified in our world of perception our mental act of attention and by it has furnished art with a means which far transcends the power of any theater stage.
(166) Mathematical equations can be solved in either direction, and the title “psychotechnology” already suggests that film theories based on experimental psychology are the at the same time theories of the psyche (soul) based on media technologies.
(168) In The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud followed the positivistic “suggestion that we should picture the instrument which carries out our mental functions as resembling a compound microscope or a photographic apparatus, or something of the kind.” Lacan's theory of the imaginary is an attempt truly to “materialize” such models.
(170) Media-technological differentiations opened up the possibility for media links. After the storage capacities for optics, acoustics, and writing had been separated, mechanized, and extensively utilized, their distinct data flows could also be reunited. Physiologically broken down into fragments and physically reconstructed, the central nervous system was resurrected, but as a Golem made of Golems.
(175) As selective as a band-pass filter, the machine positions itself between books and speeches on the one hand and eyes or even ears on the other. As a result, language does not store or transmit any meaning whatsoever for stenographers, only the indigestible materiality of the medium it happens to be. Every night the move-continuum has to treat the wounds that a discrete machine inflicts upon secretaries during the day. An entanglement of the imaginary and the symbolic. The new media link that excludes literature was nevertheless committed to paper: in the shape of a screenplay that was never filmed. Pinthus's Movie Book printed plain text on cinema, books, and typewriters.
RICHARD A. BERMANN, “LYRE AND TYPEWRITER” (1913)
(182) “There are more women working at typing than at anything else.” Film, the great media self-advertisement, has reached its target group and its happy ending.
(183) In the case of “typewriter,” by contrast, everyday language for once matches statistics (see the accompanying table).
(184) Prior to the invention of the typewriter, all poets, secretaries, and typesetters were of the same sex. . . . Only the Civil War of 1861-64 – that revolutionary media network of telegraph cables and parallel train tracks – opened the bureaucracy of government, of mail and stenography, to writing women; their numbers, of course, were as yet too small to register statistically.
(184) The Gutenberg Galaxy was thus a sexually closed feedback loop. Even thought Germanists are fundamentally oblivious to it, it controlled nothing less than German literature. . . . One's own or dictated script was processed by male typesetters, binders, publishers, and so on, in order finally to reach in print the grils for whom Goethe wrote.
Repeats topic of Discourse Networks that German literature was targeted to women.
(186) The literal meaning of text is tissue. Therefore, prior to their industrialization the two sexes occupied strictly symmetrical roles: women, with the symbol of female industriousness in their hands, wove tissues; men, with the symbol of male intellectual activity in their hands, wove tissues of a different sort called text.
Heidegger would agree that industrialiation nullified handwriting; missing how word processing is connected, see Heim.
simultaneously nullified handwriting and hand-based work. . . .
Typescript amounts to the desexualization of writing, sacrificing its
metaphysics and turning it into word processing.
(188) The hard science of physiology did away with the psychological conception that guaranteed humans that they could find their souls through handwriting and rereading. The “I think,” which since Kant was supposed to accompany all of one's representations, presumably only accompanied one's readings. It became obsolete as soon as body and soul advanced to become objects of scientific experiments. The unity of apperception disintegrated into a large number of subroutines, which, as such, physiologists could localize in different centers of the brain and engineers could reconstruct in multiple machines.
Language as feedback loop reflexively desexed like handwriting by type machines; the control system model of human being traces farther back than cybernetics, connect to Hayles study of the formation of the posthuman.
(189) When, from the point of view of
brain physiology, language works as a feedback loop of mechanical
relays, the construction of typewriters is only a matter of course.
Nature, the most pitiless experimenter, paralyzes certain parts of
the brain through strokes and bullet wounds to the head; research
(since the Battle of Solferino in 1859) is only required to measure
the resulting interferences in order to distinguish the distinct
subroutines of speech in anatomically precise ways. Sensory aphasia
(while hearing), dyslexia (while reading), expressive aphasia (while
speaking), agraphia (while writing) bring forth machines in the
(189-190) What therefore became part of the wish list were writing instruments that could coincide with the operating speed of nervous pathways. Since aphasia researchers had figured out the number of milliseconds it takes for a letter to travel from the eye to the hand muscles via the brain's reading and writing centers, the equation of cerebral circuits with telegraphic dispatches had become a physiological standard.
(190) they [Remington & Son] transferred “the standardization of the component parts of weapons, which had been widely practiced since the Napoleonic Wars,” to those of civil writing instruments.
(194) It was precisely their marginal position in the power system of script that forced women to develop their manual dexterity, which surpassed the prideful handwriting aesthetics of male secretaries in the media system.
(198) Only his winter semester in Stalingrad revealed to the thinker [Heidegger] – much to the surprise of his listeners – the relationship among Being, Man, and typewriter.
MARTIN HEIDEGGER ON THE HAND AND THE TYPEWRITER (1942-43)
Heidegger and the typewriter.
(198) The typewriter tears writing from
the essential realm of the hand, i.e., the realm of the word.
(199) In the typewriter we find the irruption of the mechanism in the realm of the word. . . . The typewriter veils the essence of writing and of the script. It withdraws from man the essential rank of the hand, without man's experiencing this withdrawal appropriately and recognizing that it has transformed the relation of Being to his essence.
Nietzsche on writing tools; obvious source of Heim position in Electric Language.
(200) “Our writing tools are also
working on our thoughts,” Nietzsche wrote. “Technology is
in our history,” Heidegger said. But the one wrote the sentence
about the typewriter on a typewriter, the other described (in a
magnificent old German hand) typewriters per se.
(200) Thinkers of the founding age of media naturally did not only turn from philosophy to physiology in theory; their central nervous system always preceded them.
(203) Malling Hansen's writing ball, with its operating difficulties, made Nietzsche into a laconic.
Doyle publication of A Case of Identity year zero for typewriter literature.
(206) 1889 is generally considered the year zero of typewriter literature, that barely researched mass of documents, the year in which Conan Doyle first published A Case of Identity.
Nietzsche as the cybersage prototype, philosophizing with a typewriter and (after his unit breaks down) about the typewriter.
(208) With the collapse of his machine, Nietzsche became a man again.
But only to undermine the classical notion of love. As with men since
time immemorial and women only recently, “a young person” and a
“two-year long marriage” are equally suitable to continue the
failed love affair with a typewriter.
(210) “Our writing tools are also working on our thoughts.” Hence Nietzsche's next thought – four years after the malfunctioning of his typewriter – was to philosophize on the typewriter itself. Instead of testing Remington's competing model, he elevated Malling Hansen's invention to the status of a philosophy. And this philosophy, instead of deriving the evolution of the human being from Hegel's spirit (in between the lines of books) or Marx's labor (in between the differential potential of muscular energy), began with an information machine.
(214) The unwritten literary sociology of this century. All possible types of industrialization to which writers respond have been thoroughly researched—ranging from the steam engine and the loom to the assembly line and urbanization. Only the typewriter, a precondition of production that contributes to our thinking prior to any conscious reaction, remains a critical lacuna. . . . Lacan's three registers cannot possibly be demonstrated more effectively; the real of the writer, the imaginary of his doppelganger, and, finally, as elementary as forgotten, the symbolic of machine writing.
(214) Under such conditions, what remains to be done is to start a register of the literary desk couples of the century (Bermann's film was never realized).
(226) Mechanized and materially specific, modern literature disappears in a type of anonymity, which bare surnames like “Kafka” or “K.” only emphasize.
(228) Hence Derrida's Postcard consists of one continuous stream of typed letters punctuated by phone calls that are frequently mentioned but never recorded. Voice remains the other of typescripts.
(231) Only the excessive media link of optics and acoustics, spellings and acronyms, between the letters, numbers, and symbols of a standardized keyboard makes humans (and women) as equal as equal signs.
(231) Toward the end of the First World War, a young and iconic Carl Schmitt conceived the world history of inscription. To rewrite it here in its entirety is impossible, simply because res gestae and res narratae coincide. It is enough that the diary-typing machines called Buribunks, as well as the “twenty divisions” of buribunkological dissertations, have evolved from humble beginnings into a modern loop of endless replications.
CARL SCHMITT, “THE BURIBUNKS: A HISTORICO-PHILOSOPHICAL MEDITATION” (1918)
Transition to discussion of electronic computers following Schmitt Buribunk story about diary-typing machines, foreshadowing social networking.
(243) World history comes to a close as a global typewriters' association. Digital signal processing (DSP) can set it. Its promotional euphemism, posthistory, only barely conceals that war is the beginning and end of all artificial intelligence.
Diagrams of Z80 microprocessor circuit and standard CPU accompany brief description of stored program electronic computer, which now captures every possible medium, fulfillment of determinism of Laplacian universe in finite-state machines; also promises illuminations beyond human manipulation (fortuitous deformations), that inaugurate post postmodern subjectivity.
(244) And since, from the microprocessor to large processing
networks, everything is nothing but a modular vice, the three basic
functions of storage/transferring/processing are replicated on
internal levels no longer accessible to programmers. For its part,
the CPU includes (1) an arithmetic logic unit (ALU), (2) several RAMs
or registers to store variables and a ROM to store microprograms, and
(3) internal busses to transfer data, addresses, and control commands
to the system's busses.
(244) That's all. But with sufficient integration and repetition, the modular system [of the microprocessor] is capable of processing, that is, converting into any possible medium, each individual time particle of the data received from any environment.
(245) The hypothetical determinism of a Laplacian universe, with its humanist loopholes (1795), was replaced by the factual predictability of finite-state machines.
(247) Every microprocessor implements through software what was once the dream of the cabala; namely, that through their encipherment and the manipulation of numbers, letters could yield results or illuminations that no reader could have found.
Importance of dynamism, logic plus control.
(248) Computer algorithms, instead of simply reproducing a logic,
consist of “LOGIC + CONTROL.” No wonder that governmental
ingenuity invented the impossible job of the data security specialist
to camouflage the precision of such data control.
(258) Obviously, COLOSSUS beat binary addition with binary addition, but even the first computer in the history of science or warfare would have been nothing but a several-ton version of Remington's special typewriter with a calculating machine had it not observed conditional jump instructions.
(258) Conditional jumps, first envisioned in Babbage's unfinished Analytical Engine of 1835, were born into the world of machines in 1938 in Konrad Zuse's apartment in Berlin, and this world has since been self-identical with the symbolic.
Critical importance of conditional jump instruction for formation of computers as subjects.
(258) A simple feedback loop – and information machines bypass humans, their so-called inventors. Computers themselves become subjects.
Philosophy and other arts are computed in information networks: serious thought has to enter the machine world, writing software as a way of philosophizing with electricity in the transhuman environment powering cyberspace (TCP/IP Internet).
Found this thrilling and added to white paper on online learning.
Inspiration for Manovich title software takes command. Summer reading list of Manovich, Montfort and Bogost, and Wardrip-Fruin.
(263) Under the conditions of high technology, literature has nothing more to say. It ends in cryptograms that defy interpretation and only permit interception. Of all long-distance connections on this planet today, from phone services to microwave radio, 0.1 percent flow through the transmission, storage, and decoding machines of the National Security Agency (NSA), the organization succeeding SIS and Bletchley Park. By its own account, the NSA has “accelerated” the “advent of the computer age,” and hence the end of history, like nothing else. An automated discourse analysis has taken command.
Kittler, Friedrich. (1999). Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. Translated by Geoffrey Winthrop-Young and Michael Wutz. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Kittler, Friedrich A. Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999. Print.